Blend Education with Your Vacation in West Michigan

With school out, kids have a lot of free time on their hands. Instead of having them stay home all summer long, give them an educational vacation! There are hands-on, interactive, and genuinely fun educational experiences that will have kids of all ages learning throughout summer break, whether they know it or not. There are even educational vacations for adults, including in-depth winery and brewery tours. Make sure that the whole family is having a fun summer, while still learning, in West Michigan.

Learn a New Hobby

With the Action Summer Camps at Action Wake Park in Hudsonville, your kids will be introduced to the world of wakeboarding. These camps are the perfect place for eager wakeboarders to expand their skills in a safe and controlled environment. Action Wake Park camps supply your camper with everything they’ll need, including professional instruction. For dates and sign up information, visit Action Wake Park’s website.

Waters Edge Golf Course in Fremont offers golf lessons throughout the summer. In their Junior Program, the less-experienced golfers will learn basic golf instruction, USGA rules, and proper course etiquette. Intermediate to advanced golfers will improve their skills, prepare for competitive golf, and participate in weekly competitions.

Check out the Creative Chocolate Class at Chocolates by Grimaldi in Grand Haven. Designed to cater to your sweeter, more artistic side, the 90-minute class is an adventure that you’ll want to be sure to add to your schedule. You will have the opportunity to learn about chocolate while socializing with friends, family, and other chocolate enthusiasts.

Drop into Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort in Augusta every Wednesday for a half hour group lesson from their PGA pros, five holes of golf, and happy hour food and drinks during their Five-Hole Happy Hour! Cost is only $25 per week, and you’ll golf alongside pros who will offer course tips.

Saskatoon Golf in Alto hosts Junior Golf Lessons and Leagues, perfect for any beginner, intermediate, or advanced player looking to hone their skills. The Junior League requires players to be familiar with golf basics and etiquette. The nine-week league places teams in a bracket to see who can come out on top. Enroll your kids in these lessons or leagues today to see if they have what it takes to rule the greens!

Lodging and Learn

In addition to the outdoor experiences and education you’ll find in Northern Michigan, your stay at Indigo Bluffs in Empire is only a stone’s throw away from even more learning opportunities. Take a day trip to Williamsburg and visit Grand Traverse Butterfly House & Bug Zoo to see an axolotl up close, or head over to the Music House Museum to learn about the history of automated music. You can even visit the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City to explore your inner artist.

A stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Ludington can make every visit a learning experience. Get to know the great outdoors of Ludington and learn how it shaped the area’s history. Lighthouses, trails, and waterways give you an abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation. At the end of the day, return to your hotel for a good night’s sleep and start the next day seeking more educational experiences.

Your stay in Mecosta can easily include education while you vacation. One of the best places to visit is the community library, with a variety of events and programs throughout the summer. If you’re looking for an artistic approach, the area offers art classes throughout the summer, allowing your child to release their inner Picasso. For more information, including where to stay, visit the Mecosta Area CVB’s website.

With your family’s stay in the Marshall area is surrounded by history. Did you know that Marshall has eight museums with specialties ranging from the Civil War to magic? This includes the Marshall Historical Society, which preserves, protects, and promotes the area’s heritage. For information and trip-planning resources, visit Choose Marshall’s website.

By heading over to the Mackinaw area, your family will be steeped in history, from the earliest Native Americans to the French voyageurs and British soldiers to 19th-century businessmen. Visit the Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau’s website to plan your entire stay.

While visiting Mt. Pleasant, plan some time to check out the local museums, outdoor centers, and events. Your time could be spent learning about the Chippewa River or becoming a beekeeper with hands-on activities, with even more educational opportunities around every corner. The Mt. Pleasant Area CVB’s website will help you plan your family’s next learning adventure.

A stay in Battle Creek can quickly become an educational excursion for your family. Visit the Art Center of Battle Creek or the Kingman Museum for two fun, hands-on afternoons of learning. For more trip-planning resources, visit the Battle Creek CVB’s website.

You’ll find education around every corner in St. Joseph, including the Krasl Art Center, Heritage Museum & Cultural Center, and Silver Beach Carousel. To plan your perfect educational vacation, check out the St. Joseph Today’s website.

A stay in the Sault Ste. Marie area comes with many educational attractions. From the Sault Locks to the historic homes of Water Street, every stay includes the opportunity to learn while you vacation.

Muskegon has plenty of vacation and education to keep you busy this summer. The USS LST 393 is a one-of-a-kind museum inside a landing ship tank. The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper is Muskegon’s original ferry, carrying thousands of passengers and automobiles across Lake Michigan from 1941 to 1970. Tour a restored WWII submarine at the USS Silversides Submarine Museum; tour passes include access to the Coast Guard Cutter McLane, a rare prohibition era vessel. Rounding out the group is the Hackley & Hume Historic Site. The site envelops you in a unique living space, bringing late 19th-century craftsmanship to life. Both kids and adults can learn while enjoying summer vacation in Muskegon!

Museum Activities and Exhibits

Located in Grand Haven, the Tri-Cities Museum offers activities for kids all summer long. Check out the museum’s summer theme days, with themes ranging from Find The Cool History Machine Tuesdays to Scavenger Hunt Sundays. For a full schedule of events and activities, visit the Tri-Cities Museum’s website or ask their friendly front desk staff for more information.

Ludington’s Mason County Historical Society includes two iconic educational spots: Historic White Pine Village and the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. Historic White Pine Village has been visited by tens of thousands of visitors who can all agree that the village is a place where history is fun. The nearby Port of Ludington Maritime Museum brings history to life with everything from digital storytelling to engaging interactive exhibits that entertain, enlighten, and inspire a deeper appreciation for the region’s maritime history.

Once known as the “Queen of the Great Lakes,” the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper is now a designated historic landmark in Muskegon. Tours are available every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day, where you’ll learn the history and impact of the 77-year-old ship.

Sailing with Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay during your vacation is an educational adventure. Participants become sailors and scientists for a day, with the opportunity to raise the sails and steer the ship. Science programs include trawling for fish, collecting plankton, examining lake bottom samples, and testing for microplastics. More information about their summer programs can be found on the Inland Seas Education Association’s website.

The Critter Barn in Zeeland has plenty of new animals for you to visit. During the week, the farm is open to the general public and also hosts school field trips. Admission is free, but your donations help support the family farm and their efforts to provide hands-on animal education to all those who stop by.

Situated on 700 acres in New Era, Lewis Farms and Petting Zoo continues to promote fun and education in a farm setting. Learn all about bees and pollination, minerals, animals, and more, all in one place. From alpacas to zebus, you and your family will enjoy learning alongside one another at Lewis Farms!

Fill your family’s summer with fun ways to learn about nature and history at the W.K. Kellogg Manor House and Estate in Hickory Corners. Built in the 1920s, this restored gem gives you a glimpse of years long gone. The nearby W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary should be your next stop, with an opportunity to see a wide variety of bird along their picturesque trails.

The Grand Rapids area has some of the state’s finest museums and educational experiences. The area is home to the Amway World Headquarters, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and Grand Rapids Public Museum. If your family loves music, a performance by the Grand Rapids Symphony is sure to be a treat.

Located near the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan in a historic Carnegie Library, the South Haven Center for the Arts offers visual and hands-on creative experiences in the form of changing exhibitions, art classes, and special programs.

More Museum Activities and Exhibits

Educational 2018 Events

The Michigan Wizard of Oz Festival returns to Ionia on June 8th and 9th. As a tribute to the Wizard of Oz movie, the two-day event includes celebrity guests, world-famous displays, shopping, and more. The movie that started it all will be shown at the historic Ionia Theatre, with tickets priced as they were 70 years ago at only 25¢ per person.

Kids Day at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland showcases learning and exhilarating fun on Saturday, June 23rd. The whole family will learn about wood shoe carving, Dutch food, traditional music, and more. Community firefighters, police, and EMT will be standing by to meet with kids and help them climb aboard their vehicles. The event is free with your donation of school supplies at the door!

Virtue Cider in Fennville is celebrating World Cider Day on June 2nd and 3rd. The two-day celebration of includes special hard cider tasting education sessions in place of their regularly offered tours. Learn about the world of cider, try some for yourself, and show off to your friends with your new cider-centric vocabulary!

The Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph has an exhibit from June 15th to July 28th that features artists from all over Michiana called the Michiana Annual Art Competition. In its 16th year, the event showcases the best in photography, digital imaging, mixed media, painting, drawing, glass, sculptures, and ceramics.

If you have a deep love of books and literature, check out the National Writers Series in Traverse City. Famous authors from across the country flock to Traverse City as part of the National Writers Series, giving you plenty of opportunities to see some of the brightest minds in books speak and answer questions.

More Educational Events

Educational Camps & Programs

The Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire combines the solace of the natural world with quality educational programming for all ages. They offer weekly kids programs, art programs, outdoor day camps, and much more. If nothing else, stop by and visit the nature center and learn all about the ecosystems and wildlife that call Grass River home. For a complete list of programs, visit the Grass River Natural Area’s website.

Looking for something fun and educational this summer for your child? Sign them up for the Michigan Maritime Museum‘s Kids STEM Summer Camp in South Haven. The STEM curriculum focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and is open to 3rd through 5th graders. The camp includes activities aboard the tall ship Friends Good Will, campus tours, and a cruise on the late 19th-century replica river launch Lindy Lou. Registration is now open, with a deadline of July 1st for the camp which is from July 23rd to 27th.

The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids has three-day and four-day summer camps for the young foodie in your life. Each camp has a distinct theme, ranging from Michigan’s fruits and vegetables to creating and utilizing a backyard farm. Sign up today for what Downtown Market cleverly calls their “Simmer Camps”!

Ottawa County Parks in West Olive offers educational nature programming to people of all ages, in every season of the year. Residents and county visitors are more than welcome to participate in these programs to learn more about the area’s natural features, local wildlife, and history, all while exploring the great outdoors.

Outdoor Education

Spend time learning about the history of the Mackinac State Historic Parks on Mackinac Island and in Mackinaw City. You can visit five living historical sites, which include Fort Mackinac, the Mackinac Art Museum, Colonial Michilimackinac, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park. Your whole family will love these incredible historic spots, and you can even purchase discounted admission passes on the Mackinac State Historic Parks’ website.

Visit the trails of Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings for an outdoor-education adventure. The institute is located on 742 acres with nine miles of hiking trails for you to explore. For more information on their trails, including a calendar of events, visit the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute’s website.

Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek offers fun and engaging programs designed to encourage guests of all ages to discover the wonders of nature here and around the world. A variety of hands-on experiences allow families and groups to get up close and personal with animals that call Binder Park Zoo home.

Grand Rapids’ TreeRunner Adventure Park is a fantastic way to experience nature up close! Their experiential approach to education is the perfect combination of family fun and learning.

More Outdoor Education

Educational Tours

What better way to spend a vacation than by learning how beer is made? Visit Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan’s oldest brewery, and see how they got started during a time when most people didn’t know what an IPA or an Imperial Stout looked like, let alone tasted like. Bell’s Brewery tours are always free at its original location in downtown Kalamazoo and nearby Comstock.

Whether you’re a wine lover, an expert, or novice, Bonobo Winery in Traverse City is the perfect place to educate yourself on northern Michigan wines and vines. Sign up for a VIP Wine Tasting and Tour Experience at Bonobo for $30 to learn all about the inner workings of Bonobo’s wine practices. This educational, yet enjoyable, experience will give you a whole new appreciation for wine.

Join Chateau Chantal in Traverse City for an educational tour. These tours include a stroll through the wine cellar and last 30 minutes. Add a glass of wine to be enjoyed on your tour for only $5!

Take a tour of Virtue Cider in Fennville to learn about making proper farmhouse cider. Your guided tour includes stories of how and why they make cider, all the way from the orchard, through the cider houses, and to how their heritage breed animals support the working farm.