Providing the city with plenty of peaceful open space, access to nature and wildlife, and places to exercise, relax or spend time with friends and family, parks and gardens are an important part of Lansing life. Situated around the beautiful scenery of the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers, these are our choices for the city’s best green spaces.
The Lansing River Trail is not only a wonderful green space in itself, but it also connects many of the city’s best parks, gardens, and natural areas. Running for nearly 20 miles (31.1 kilometers) along the Grand River and Red Cedar River, following it you can see sites like the Brenke Fish Ladder and Potter Park Zoo, or just enjoy the fresh air and peace of the flowing rivers.
Adado Riverfront Park
On the west bank of the Grand River in downtown Lansing, Adado Riverfront Park is the city’s main festival park. It hosts events throughout the summer, including the Common Ground Music Festival, Lansing’s premier outdoor music event, but it is also a beautiful and tranquil place for a stroll or a picnic. There are trails and boardwalks to walk on, and a couple of docks for fishing.
Hawk Island Park
Hawk Island Park sits near the southern end of the River Trail, built on the site of a former gravel pit. A large pond is the main attraction, with rowboat and pedal boat rentals, a swimming beach, and fishing docks, but there are also picnic areas and shelters and more than a mile of paved trails. The park is also popular for snowy days in the winter. Be aware that there is a per-vehicle entrance fee in place year-round.
Fenner Nature Center
The Fenner Nature Center is a 134-acre nature preserve with a network of trails to explore and plenty of wildlife to see. Run by the Fenner Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with the mission of connecting people to nature in the heart of Lansing, it also has educational programming for families and festivals to enjoy. Entry is free, but the suggested donation is $2.
The grounds that surround the stunning Michigan State Capitol building may be small, but they are still a wonderful green space. Alongside its lawns, there are beautiful flower beds, many varieties of trees, and statues and monuments relating to Michigan history to enjoy, while the Capitol building itself provides a spectacular centerpiece.
If you follow the River Trail east along the Red Cedar River past the Potter Park Zoo, you’ll find Crego Park, one of Lansing’s newest parks. The pretty, 200-acre park’s main attraction is its small lake, which is a great spot for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. The River Trail also has several offshoots around the park for cycling or walking.
Cooley Gardens & Scott Sunken Gardens
One of the city’s most beautiful places, the Cooley Gardens and Scott Sunken Gardens are currently closed for renovations. However, these picturesque gardens have long been a favorite spot for outdoor weddings and offer an attractive and tranquil place for a quiet walk year-round. The city eagerly awaits the new and improved gardens.