15 Best Things To Do in Big Rapids Michigan

Last Updated: 26/01/2024.

Things To Do in Big Rapids Michigan
Big Rapids, Michigan

Situated along the scenic Muskegon River in western Michigan, Big Rapids offers the perfect blend of outdoor recreation and cultural experiences. The lively downtown district contains shops, eateries, and public art-lining streets crossed by historic footbridges.

Explore the abundance of adventures in the adjacent Mecosta County region. Journey through kayaking amidst stunning rock formations at Garden of the Gods, or transport yourself back in time to a meticulously restored pioneer hamlet.

With this combination of a vibrant college town and abundant natural beauty, Big Rapids beckons visitors to relish adventures outdoors while also engaging with local arts, dining, and entertainment.

Here are my top picks for Things To Do in Big Rapids Michigan, from museums and parks to unique local shops and restaurants. This guide, Lets save michigan will suggested everything you need to experience the best of Big Rapids.

1. Ferris State University Campus

Things To Do in Big Rapids Michigan
Ferris State University 

Address: 1201 S. State Street, Big Rapids, MI 49307

Ferris State University’s beautiful campus is worth exploring even if you’re not a student. I love strolling under the crimson maple trees and admiring historic buildings like Old Main, an impressive Victorian structure.

Moreover, situated within the complex, you’ll encounter the Jim Crow Museum, committed to documenting the history of racism, the FLITE aviation facility, showcasing vintage aircraft, and the Katokten art gallery.

2. Riverwalk and Bandshell

Things To Do in Big Rapids Michigan
Big Rapids Riverwalk 

Downtown’s Riverwalk along the Muskegon River and adjacent Bandshell provide pleasant public spaces to relax

During the previous summer, I went to the gazebo-style bandshell, a venue known for hosting community concerts, and participated in a complimentary musical event. The riverwalk path is great for a scenic stroll or bike ride.

3. Artworks

<figcaptionh-4-public-arts-big-rapids4. Public Arts Big Rapids

Garden of the Gods

Just 8 miles outside Big Rapids, the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area has some of the most spectacular scenery in Michigan. The winding Muskegon River carves its way through dramatic sandstone cliffs.

I went kayaking here and was amazed by the towering rock formations as I paddled along the water. Hiking, fishing, and camping are also popular.

6. The Yellow Window

French pastries
French pastries 

For delicious from-scratch French pastries, slices of bread, and brunch, I often go to The Yellow Window cafe.

Their almond croissants and creme brûlée French toast are to die for! The quaint interior with flower boxes in the windows creates a cozy European vibe. It serves as an excellent location to recharge during your exploration of downtown.

7. Wild Bill’s Beef Jerky Outlet

Beef jerky
Beef jerky 

At Wild Bill’s Beef Jerky Outlet, you can watch authentic beef jerky being made and sample over 50 flavors like Cajun style and maple whiskey.

It’s consistently fascinating to witness the deli counter slicing fresh jerky daily. This jerky serves as an ideal high-protein snack for road trips. Additionally, the store offers a variety of shirts and knickknacks.

8. Ferris State Racquet & Fitness Center

Ferris State Racquet & Fitness Center
Ferris State Racquet & Fitness Center 

If you want to stay active on your trip, the enormous Ferris State Racquet & Fitness Center offers indoor tennis, track, basketball, racquetball, cardio equipment, weights, fitness classes, and more.

Community members have the option to purchase day passes. On my recent trip to Big Rapids, I engaged in an energizing cycling class.

9. Robin-Hood Airport Observation Area

Roben-Hood Airport Observation Area
Robin-Hood Airport Observation Area 

Car buffs will enjoy watching planes take off and land from the Roben-Hood Airport observation area. This small local airport sees lots of private plane traffic that you can view up close to bleacher seating.

Adjacent to the aeronautics building of Ferris State University, the airport provides a vantage point to observe their training aircraft.

10. Clear Lake County Park

Clear Lake Park
Clear Lake Park 

Clear Lake County Park has a picturesque setting among pines along its namesake lake. I like going swimming on the sandy beach, kayaking across the calm water, and hiking the trails to see wildlife like deer and birds.

11. Big Rapids Community Library

Big Rapids Community Library
Big Rapids Community Library 

Address: 426 S. Michigan Ave., Big Rapids, MI 49307

In addition to books, movies, and wifi, the Big Rapids Community Library provides cultural activities.

On my past visits, I attended free programs like author talks, technology help sessions, and crafting workshops here. They also have passes you can check out for discounts at local museums and other attractions.

12. JW’s Family Billiards

Family Billiards
Family Billiards 

For some old-school recreation, I like to hang out shooting pool, playing arcade games, and snacking on pizza at JW’s Family Billiards.

With 10 billiard tables, dart boards, air hockey, and skeeball lanes, this entertainment center has something for all ages to enjoy an evening out. The great staff and upbeat music create a welcoming vibe.

13. Bulldog Mall

Antiques near Big Rapids
Antiques near Big Rapids 

Downtown’s Bulldog Mall housed in a historic brick building is great for antique hunting. Their multi-dealer setup showcases an eclectic selection of furniture, jewelry, books, glassware, vintage toys, and more.

I always manage to discover unique finds here like concert posters and odd trinkets. You never know what treasures you may uncover!

14. JG’s Pizza

Pizza near Big Rapids
Pizza near Big Rapids 

For the quintessential college town pizza experience, try JG’s Pizza featuring a thick crust and gooey cheese. Their robust 17″ pizzas can easily feed a crowd.

I’m a fan of their signature Gold Digger with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and more meaty toppings piled high. Perfect for replenishing energy after an outdoor adventure or enjoying a relaxed dinner while exploring downtown.

15. Artworks Festival -Things To Do in Big Rapids Michigan

Big Rapids Festival of the Arts
Big Rapids Festival of the Arts 

Each July, the Artworks Festival celebrates creativity with live music, a studio art competition, art vendors, hands-on activities, and street performers.

This was a really interesting event where I saw a chainsaw wood carving demonstration and participated in an outdoor painting session. With all the art, it’s an inspiring festival for creatives.

From the stunning natural beauty along the Muskegon River to cultural attractions like art galleries and historic sites, Big Rapids offers the perfect blend of outdoor activities and enriched city experiences.

The quaint downtown district is lined with unique local businesses, and the creative atmosphere is fostered by neighborhood events like summer art festivals.

With this guide’s recommendations, you’re sure to have an engaging, well-rounded visit showcasing the best of Big Rapids’ community, culture, and landscape.

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