When you first arrive at Grand Valley State University’s campus, you might feel at a loss for activities. What could you possibly afford to do on your measly college student budget? Never fear! Though not immediately obvious, there are lots of great options for GVSU students around the greater Grand Valley area.
1. Plan a relaxing beach day.
GVSU’s campus is only twenty minutes from Lake Michigan’s lakeshore, and in the early autumn and late spring months it can be a quite pleasant day trip with you and your new friends. Most of the beaches are free to the public, or very cheap. Just bring a towel, swimsuit, and a buddy to spend the day swimming and tanning, free of charge!
2. Learn to swing dance in Grand Rapids!
Grand Rapids is only 20 minutes west of Allendale campus, and there’s a variety of things to do in the city. One of the biggest Grand Rapids staples is the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society. For years, they’ve held weekly swing dancing on Tuesday nights in various places around town. It’s free and open to all levels of dancer. It’s a great way to see Grand Rapids, learn something new, and meet new people!
3. Visit furry friends at the Grand Ravines Dog Park.
If you’ve had to leave a pet at home, the withdrawal is real, but don’t worry because nearby GVSU there’s a great little dog park! Go with a few friends to meet dogs at the Grand Ravines Dog Park. It’s a good, free way to spend a few hours. And if you’re lucky enough to have a dog of your own, it’s a treat for both of you!
4. Take a breather at Blandford Nature Center.
Blandford Nature Center is fifteen minutes west of Allendale, and a haven of nature on the outskirts of Grand Rapids. Not only does it have dozens of trails for you to enjoy, but they rescue wildlife and take care of those that can’t be returned to the wild, so it’s like a little zoo without the fees! The Nature Center also occasionally has programs to attend as well.
5. Get involved in Student Life!
With over 400 student organizations at Grand Valley State University, there has to be at least one that appeals to you! There’s everything from Quidditch to major-specific groups. Occasionally there will be dues, but most clubs are free. It’s a great way for you to make new friends and get out of your dorm room.
6. Go hammocking.
Hammocking is very popular at GVSU. All you need is a hammock, two trees, some music, and whatever else you want to entertain yourself. It’s a good way to enjoy the great outdoors while getting some homework done, catching up with friends, or taking a nap!
7. Have a picnic in the Arboretum!
Put your meal plan to good use: pick something up from one of the cafeterias on campus and then take it outside to relax and soak up some sun. GVSU’s arboretum is small, but has lots of space for students to sprawl out and do their own things. Take a book or some friends for maximum enjoyment.
8. Go to a football game!
Lucky for us, every GVSU student gets a free ticket to the football games. Pick yours up and go to one of the weekly football games during the fall. Though not a Division 1 team, our team is quite good and halftime is often enjoyable. Not to mention the tailgating and socializing that happens before and after games as well.
9. Learn something new at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Normally, it costs students $8 to get into the GRAM. However, they have a great promotion called Meijer Free Days, where for limited times weekly the museum is free to the public. These days are Tuesdays 10am-5pm and Thursday nights 5pm-9pm. Take a group of friends and enjoy the rotating exhibitions on display. There are also sometimes free or cheap art classes there too.
10. Take a weekend excursion to Grand Haven!
Grand Haven is the beach town closest to GVSU, and in early fall and late spring, it can be fun to spend a Saturday exploring the little town. There are lots of ice cream shops, stores, and restaurants, as well as a nice boardwalk when it’s still beach season.
No matter how small the world of Grand Valley may seem, there’s always something to do for little-to-no cost. All it takes is some ingenuity! What are your favorite free things to do at Grand Valley State University?
Alexandra Smith is majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys running, hanging out with family friends, and roaming the world with her camera in hand.