Grab your friends, family, and loved ones to have a fun filled day in West Michigan without breaking the bank! Check out our guide for activities from the best areas in West Michigan for budget friendly fun!
Be sure to check out the events calendar for even more ideas to help plan your next West Michigan adventure.
South West Michigan Activities
Take an evening to enjoy the quiet, peaceful sounds and sights of winter under a full moon at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings during their Winter Walk on Candlelight Trails on Saturday, February 4th. Choose between half-mile and one-and-a-half-mile candlelit trail loops that weave through prairies, forests, and wetlands. Then sit by the fire for hot drinks and sweet treats.
Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph is a free nonprofit art museum and learning center that enriches the lives of people living in or visiting Southwest Michigan. They deliver enlightening art experiences through diverse education opportunities, meaningful events, and high quality exhibits and collections.
Did you know the Kalamazoo Valley Museum was voted the top small museum in Michigan by readers of Michigan Living Magazine and they offer free admission? The museum offers “Adventure You Can Touch”, celebrating history, science and technology in a highly interactive, hands-on way. It also features a Digistar planetarium, a 2,300 year-old mummy, an interactive Kalamazoo Direct to You history gallery, the Innovation gallery and so much more!
The Air Zoo in Kalamazoo offers admission tickets that include general admission to their incredible aircraft and artifacts, fun indoor rides, flight simulators and interactive exhibits. Learn more here.
For $5 or less, guests can indulge in the fine arts at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. The KIA also offers a variety of programs free to the public. View the calendar at KIArts.org for the upcoming events.
If you’re planning a visit to beautiful West Michigan, an afternoon or evening at Allegan Event is an affordable family experience you’ll never forget. Conveniently located 30-minutes from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Holland, Allegan Event is Michigan’s largest indoor ropes course and offers endless adventurous activities for guests of all ages to explore. Be sure to check out their weekly deals and specials such as the Thursday Twilight Special, Friday $5 Game Card with $20 food purchase deal, and Saturday Family 4 Pack bundle.
Hike, sip, and wander the Mt Tabor Trails, sponsored by Honor Credit Union! With a little over 3.5 miles of beautiful trails meandering through the woods and vineyards, Mt Tabor Trails connects guests from Round Barn Estate in Baroda to Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant in Buchanan. The best part of these trails – taking your favorite beverage to-go is encouraged!
The Harbor Country area is home to a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities available year-round that are appealing to residents and visitors alike. Explore a new park, hike a new trail, check out a preserve, or even bring your dog to the dog park for free!
A day in South Haven can be inexpensive and fun! When the weather gets warm, attend an annual summer festival and enjoy all of the activities they have to offer. Pack a cooler and spend a day at one of South Haven’s sandy beaches, and while you’re at it, hunt for sea glass along the shoreline! Then, head over to Kids Corner playground for a playful romp at this large play area or climb the Van Buren dune at the Van Buren State Park. Looking for some exercise? Walk or bike the Kal-Haven or the Van Buren trails or drive to a nearby u-pick farm and enjoy picking blueberries, raspberries, and apples for a sweet and healthy treat.
Central West Michigan Activities
Ludington’s many hiking trails turn into perfect playgrounds for winter sports when the snow flies. One of the most popular places for a winter sojourn is at 5,300-acre Ludington State Park. Multiple trails are groomed for cross country skiing, and snowshoers can explore all the other trails. In addition, the Ludington School Forest offers five miles of trails to explore in the heart of the city. For information on free snowshoe hikes click here. For trail information and maps, visit their website.
Stay warm and cozy inside the Holland Civic Center while you shop (or window shop) from over 25 regular farmers and vendors from the Holland Farmers Market. The Indoor Winter Market is held the first and third Saturdays now through April 15th from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Now through March 5th, Grand Rapids invites you to experience the winter season in all new ways at their World of Winter Festival. Play games, take walking tours, and listen to live performers with the whole family at this very fun and instagrammable event. And the best part… it’s all free!
Compliments of The Meijer Foundation, the Muskegon Museum of Art offers free admission for everyone every Thursday. Bring your friends and family or take a solo trip to the museum between 11 am and 8 pm to enjoy a whole day of fun on them!
Not one for museums? Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park offers free ice skating and cross-country ski lessons along with guided snowshoe hikes on “Winter Wellness Wednesdays”. Take advantage of the hump day break while the snow is still coming down!
Experience winter destinations in Newaygo County with the 2023 Exploring Challenge. With over 130 activities such as snowshoeing at Loda Lake or building a snow sculpture at a county park, the options are endless! Where will your challenge begin?
With the arrival of February comes Cranhill’s Winterfest – a day full of winter fun in the Big Rapids area! Winterfest is a free community event happening on Sunday, February 19th from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm. After you enjoy your free meal, enjoy activities like tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, broomball, ice climbing, pony rides, a bonfire, marshmallow roast, game room, petting farm, and more.
Also with February comes one of the bigger Michigan DNR events happening throughout the state; Free Fishing Weekend! On February 18th and 19th, all are welcome to fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply. In addition, the DNR will waive the regular recreation passport entry fee that grants vehicles access to Michigan’s 103 state park and recreation areas.
Enjoy Free Fishing weekend in Mecosta County this year at one of their 100+ lakes and streams. Need help finding a regulated piece of land that allows public fishing? No problem, just check out the Michigan Lake Finder for Mecosta County here. To find other events happening in Mecosta County, including the Festival of the Arts, be sure to check out the Mecosta County Visitors Bureau’s Calendar of Community Events.
Visit the Mt. Pleasant area, conveniently located in the center of the state, and discover budget friendly ways to have fun. Head to Deerfield Nature Park where you can sled, cross-country ski or hike the trails along the Chippewa River, for just a $6 daily pass! Or escape the cold and head indoors to explore museums and galleries in the area. Looking for activities perfect for younger children? Visit Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum for just $8 per person and experience interactive and educational exhibits.
Want to enjoy the perks of camping without all the hassle or cost of storing, hauling & maintaining a camper of your own? Give RV rental a try! Silverback RV Rental in Mears makes camping easy & affordable, offering brand new 2023 RVs to rent. Delivery available to both Silver Lake & West MI area campgrounds. Book your rental here!
Northern West Michigan & Upper Peninsula Activities
Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay offers 3 miles of complimentary recreation trails for your snowshoe adventures. Bring your own, or rent a pair every Saturday while the snow flies. Hot soup, mulled wine, and more complete your afternoon!
Looking for a fun escape that won’t break the bank? Checkout Drummond Island Resorts specials and packages. Stay in their rustic lodge rooms or cabin rentals and enjoy plenty of outdoor fun for the whole family at Michigan’s favorite four season resort. .
Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville is home to affordable activities for the whole family. Save up to 25% on lodging now through April when you book one of their Hot Lodging Dates! Guests staying at Crystal Mountain have many perks including free access to the Michigan Legacy Art Park and Peak Fitness Center. Kids 17 and under sleep free anytime and kids 6 and under eat breakfast, sleep, and ski for free. Book your stay now!
It’s time to get your foodie cravings satisfied during Harbor Springs Area Spring Restaurant Week starting Friday, February 24th and running through Sunday, March 5th. Enjoy special menus at participating restaurants for some culinary delights!
With a wide variety of activities and places to stay, you can visit Mackinac Island on a budget! Getting to Mackinac Island will require a ferry ticket or traveling by air taxi, however, once you’re on the Island you can explore the 70+ miles of trails in the Mackinac State Park, enjoy natural formations and scenic views, and stroll through the downtown shops and stores. With over 39 lodging properties, you can spend the night at a one of a kind resort, historic inn, quaint hotel, or cozy bed and breakfast. Lodging specials can be found on the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau website.
If you are looking for a cost-effective way to enjoy a truly unique destination in Michigan, Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company has collected insider tips on ways to experience Mackinac Island on a budget. You’ll read about tips on saving money on lodging, ferries, and attractions from places like the Grand Hotel, Original Butterfly House, and the Forts. Plus, when you purchase your tickets online, you can save up to $3. Purchase your tickets online.
Having fun in the Keweenaw doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. There are plenty of free things to do that can be enjoyed at no cost. From adventures in the great outdoors to learning the history of the Copper Country through the Keweenaw National Historical Park, Keweenaw has something fun for everyone. Plan your trip here.
Check out the Petoskey Area for their lodging specials and discounted rates! Don’t forget to check out all the fun things the great outdoors has to offer that are free of charge, including hiking, biking, and self-guided walking tours. You can also wander the Crooked Tree Arts Center galleries, take a drive through Historic Bay View Association to view its Victorian Architecture, or go stargazing at Headlands International Dark Sky Park, and so much more.
Come sail the Great Lakes with the Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay! They offer a variety of public sailing opportunities throughout the summer months. Their sails often pair the beauty and wonder of Grand Traverse Bay with an educational experience that will hopefully ignite your passion for the water.
Get some fresh air in Marquette on The Iron Ore Heritage Trail. It is a 47-mile multi-use trail that runs through Marquette County and includes 15 miles of paved trail for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling during the snowy winter. The trail is open to the public at no cost. You can also go hiking at Presque Isle Park and explore miles of trails through woods and along sea cliffs, offering stunning views of the Superior. This trailhead is best explored with snowshoes or cross country skis through the month of March, guaranteeing winter fun in the snow and an active adventure for all.
Have the adventure of a lifetime in your own backyard in Walloon Lake Village! Whether you’re visiting Michigan for the first time or rediscovering what makes it so special, escape for an unforgettable getaway to the hidden oasis of Walloon Lake. At Hotel Walloon, residents of the Great Lakes States receive 20% off their base rate from May 14th to June 11th, 2023. Learn more here.
During your trip to Walloon Lake, enjoy a daily Happy Hour with Walloon Lake views at Barrel Back Restaurant from 4-6 pm. They offer a wide variety of craft cocktails and a menu that is sure to satisfy your tastebuds! Or, indulge in fine dining cuisines with sommelier selected wine pairings at Walloon Lake Inn. Select three courses from the full menu for $60.
Even if you can’t make it to the City Opera House in downtown Traverse City, the National Writers Series is offering a virtual option for all of their events this season! A livestream ticket is good for the whole household and they start at just $14. Check out their lineup of Upcoming Events to find an author (or authors!) you’d like to hear from.