Parks & Recreation near Calvin


Sam Ballast

The “Big Red” lighthouse at Holland State Park is a great photo opportunity. (Photo courtesy Peggy Paulson)


Millennium Park

Why drive all the way to Lake Michigan when Millennium Park is only 20 minutes from campus? The park boasts a six-acre swimming beach which is open through Sept. 13 (despite COVID-19) and boat rentals are available.

Proven Trails

If your inner Thoreau is crying out for a green space where you can pretend that civilization doesn’t exist, look no further than Proven Trails. This park offers numerous trails winding through the 46 acres of woodland, yet is only 14 minutes from Calvin. 

Holland State Park

This is where Calvin students go to take Instagram-worthy pictures of the iconic “Big Red” lighthouse. For those looking to actually do something at the park, there are beaches on Lakes Michigan and Macatawa, as well as paddle rentals and a campground. 

Huron-Manistee National Forests

Hiking along the Manistee River Trail is a rite of passage as an outdoors-loving student at Calvin, and can be enjoyed by novices and experienced backpackers alike. This year Calvin is even offering free camping equipment for students!  Additionally, the Huron-Manistee contains more than 600 miles of various types of trails. Regardless of where you decide to hike, just remember to bear-proof your food unless you want a furry visitor in the night!

Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens

Last but not least, Calvin’s very own slice of paradise. The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve is perfect for spending time reconnecting with nature away from the pressures of dorm and digital life. The preserve includes trails through forests, wetlands, and native gardens.




If you like exploring, this could be the activity for you! Geocaching is a hobby that involves people hiding small caches for other people to find using GPS technology. According to, there are currently 1,721 geocaches around Grand Rapids. 


Before the snow flies, get in as much time in a hammock as you can. Some students practically live in them. Modes of hammocking include the “party”- several Calvin students in a clump of trees, the “solitude”- reading or napping time, and the “cozy couple”-enough said. 

Thrift shopping

A favorite of female students who want the joys of picking out new clothes without the mall price tags. But, the real draw of thrifting is shopping with a group. Bargain clothes are just a bonus. 

Apple picking

Around October, the RA’s all enter hive-mind mode, and get the same idea to take their floors apple picking. This usually results in a trip to Robinette’s, where students pick enough apples for someone to try and bake a pie, a hayride, and cider and doughnuts all around. 

Beach games

A trip to see the Lake Michigan sunset is always a good idea. Besides gazing at the sunset, students like playing Spike Ball and Kan Jam, both of which you can get from your deskie. And of course, swimming in the shark-free waters of the Great Lakes.