12 Parks in Grand Rapids, Michigan

12 Parks in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Known as “Tree City USA,” Grand Rapids lives up to its green moniker with abundant parks offering recreational activities. The city’s parks range from lively urban gathering grounds to expansive nature preserves and woodlands perfect for outdoor exploration.

Park NameNotable Features
Rosa Parks CircleEvents, ice skating
Millennium ParkTrails, beach, boating
John Ball Park & ZooZoo, playgrounds, picnic areas
Ah-Nab-Awen ParkRiver views, historical markers
Riverside ParkTrails, fishing, disc golf
Huff ParkBoardwalk, nature preserve
Wilcox ParkPlayground, sports fields
Richmond ParkSwimming pool, winter sports
Mulick ParkTennis courts, picnic area
Belknap ParkLookout point, sports facilities
Provin Trails ParkWooded trails, natural area
Blandford Nature CenterWildlife, educational programs

Many parks provide access to the Grand River threading through Grand Rapids with trails, boating and riverside scenery. Seasonal events and classes allow visitors to experience the parks’ biodiversity and assets. Here are 12 of the top parks to enjoy in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grand Rapids’ identity has long been tied to its namesake Grand River which supported logging and furniture industries since its founding. Today the city takes pride in conservation and access to the waterway is a priority in Grand Rapids’ park planning.

Parks of all sizes follow along the river downtown, offering places for community gatherings among indigenous trees and plants. Large wooded parks and nature preserves expand beyond downtown, providing opportunities to experience wetlands, ponds and forests.

Many parks feature trails for walking, running and biking, along with playgrounds, fishing areas and sports facilities. Seasonal activities range from winter sports to summer concerts and festivals. Grand Rapids’ abundance of green space allows both locals and visitors to enjoy the outdoors and natural world right in Michigan’s second largest city.

1. Rosa Parks Circle

Name and Location: Rosa Parks Circle is located at 135 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 downtown.

History and Significance: Dedicated in 2001 to honor civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, this central public space and amphitheater hosts community events and has become an iconic landmark.

What to Expect: The large concrete circle features a central fountain/pavilion and stepped seating integrated with the surrounding streetscape where various concerts, rallies and public gatherings are held.

Visitor Information: Rosa Parks Circle is openly accessible to the public. Event schedules and vendor details for seasonal markets are posted by the city’s parks department.

A Grand Rapids hub for community events, Rosa Parks Circle park provides a lively downtown venue for concerts, festivals and ice skating. The terraced amphitheater accommodates hundreds for events like free summer concert series and movie nights.

In winter, the circle’s central ice rink opens for skating beside twinkling lights and a towering sculpture by Maya Lin. Surrounding the park, diners spill out from restaurants in warmer months. With its central location and heavy programming, Rosa Parks Circle serves as Grand Rapids’ quintessential gathering place.

2. Riverside Park

Name and Location: Riverside Park is located at 2001 Monroe Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505 along the Grand River.

History and Significance: Originally a 19th century landfill and campground, Riverside Park was established in the early 1900s and continues serving as a popular riverfront recreation spot for over a century.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy walking/bike trails, river views, gardens, a pavilion, amphitheater, playgrounds, public art, and boat launches across its nearly 60 scenic acres against the downtown skyline.

Visitor Information: Riverside Park is freely open to the public daily from 6am to midnight as a city park. Some event facilities can be reserved through the parks department.

Stretching 1.5 miles along the downtown Grand River waterfront, the sprawling Riverside Park connects visitors to the city’s origins. Walking paths let you stroll or bike by native vegetation and unique riverside topography like the iconic Blue Pedestrian Bridge.

Fishing spots, boat launches and access to the boardwalk Riverwalk entice you to experience life by the water. Concerts and festivals utilize the park’s sprawling amphitheater and open grounds. Home to indigenous flora like wild hyacinth, Riverside Park immerses you in Grand River ecology.

3. Millennium Park

Name and Location: Millennium Park is located at 1420 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, MI 49544.

History and Significance: Opened in 2002 after extensive community planning, Millennium Park transformed a former landfill into a premier 58-acre recreational facility meeting regional outdoor activity needs.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy a skate park, bike skills track, athletic fields, trails, picnic grounds, fishing, a winter sports area, gardens and natural woodlands spaces across uniquely engineered terrain.

Visitor Information: Millennium Park is open daily 8am-9pm as a city public space managed by Walker Parks & Rec supporting community health/wellness. Some features require scheduled seasonal access.

Offering over 1,400 acres of wooded trails, wetlands and waterways, the expansive Millennium Park provides an outdoor escape beyond the city’s edge. Over 14 miles of trails allow hiking and biking across diverse ecosystems.

The park contains miles of Grand River shoreline, ponds, meadows, marshes and pine forests populated with local wildlife. Interpretive signage identifies native plants and habitats. Campgrounds, fishing areas and boat launches encourage overnight stays and water recreation. With conserved natural areas coexisting near developments, Millennium Park reflects Grand Rapids’ sustainability efforts.

4. Richmond Park

Name and Location: Richmond Park is located at 1101 Richmond St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

History and Significance: Established early 1900s, Richmond Park is a historic neighborhood park gifted to Grand Rapids from a private owner for public recreation access and activities over generations.

What to Expect: The park spans 39 acres containing athletic fields/courts, playgrounds, picnic sites, walking paths, gardens, an arboretum, disc golf, recreation center and public swimming pool.

Visitor Information: Richmond Park is freely open to the public daily 5am-midnight. Some facilities keep seasonal hours posted by the city’s Parks & Rec Department managing amenities.

Boasting nearly 50 acres of woodlands, wetlands and recreation facilities, Richmond Park delivers green space on Grand Rapids’ northwest side. Spongy woodchip trails and elevated boardwalks let you venture into the park’s wetland to spy turtles, fish and birds up close from observation decks.

Athletic fields, basketball and tennis courts encourage active recreation and pickup games. Families appreciate the modern playground, picnic pavilion and seasonal flowers around the Veterans Memorial Garden. Providing both environmental appreciation and community recreation, Richmond Park offers outdoor variety.

5. Lookout Park

Name and Location: Lookout Park is located at 878 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 overlooking downtown.

History and Significance: Acquired 1930s, Lookout Park provides important green space for public recreation, relaxation and beautiful elevated views capturing Grand Rapids’ scenery that visitors have enjoyed for generations.

What to Expect: This 8 acre hilltop park contains walking paths, picnic facilities, playgrounds and unique photo spots showcasing the Grand River valley below extending to the scenic downtown skyline.

Visitor Information: Lookout Park is an openly public city park free to access daily sunrise to sunset. Free parking areas are found streetside and off Marion Ave NW at the base of the hill.

Perched atop a plateau in Grand Rapids’ West Hills neighborhood, Lookout Park treats visitors to sweeping city panoramas perfect for picnics. Stone terraces step down to Downtown while the horizon stretches across the Grand River valley framed by mature oaks. Gentle slopes make sledding popular after snowfalls.

Two reservable open-air shelters see plenty of graduation and wedding parties. Whether spotting downtown landmarks or watching summer firework displays, Lookout Park’s lofty vistas showcase Grand Rapids’ beauty.

6. John Ball Park & Zoo

Name and Location: John Ball Park & Zoo is located at 1300 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 spanning hundreds of acres.

History and Significance: Created 1905, John Ball Park pioneered public recreation facilities with log cabins, sports amenities and an exotic zoo that grew over decades, providing generations of visitors cherished memoirs amid natural beauty.

What to Expect: Visitors explore varied ecosystems with wildlife trails, gardens, woodlands, picnic grounds, playgrounds, lake activities and shows at Michigan’s oldest zoo spanning an immense, scenic park system.

Visitor Information: John Ball Park & Zoo offer free general admission to outdoor areas daily, while the zoo keeps posted hours/fees. Some amenities require reservations through Kent County Parks.

Families flock to the wooded John Ball Park spanning both sides of the Grand River to visit its top attraction, the John Ball Zoo. Shady trails encircle animal exhibits like the African Plains habitat and monkey island. The TreeTops Adventure Course ropes course challenges kids’ coordination and balance 40 feet in the air.

John Ball Park contains its own recreational facilities like picnic grounds, paddleboat rentals and a fishing pond separate from the zoo. With wildlife encounters plus typical park diversions, John Ball Park offers well-rounded family fun.

7. Mulick Park Nature Preserve

Name and Location: Mulick Park Nature Preserve is located at 1614 Sylvan Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

History and Significance: Dedicated in 1980 and expanded over the years, this 110 acre forested preserve protects rare Carolinian ecology, providing visitors a retreat among unique southern Michigan habitat and wildlife.

What to Expect: A one-mile trail loops visitors through towering oak and hickory groves populated by diverse plants and animals while interpretive signs describe forest ecology and management.

Visitor Information: Freely open April-November dawn-to-dusk for hiking. Groomed cross-country ski trails available December-March during park hours. Parking off Glen Arden Ave SE.

Protecting over 100 acres of rare habitat, the Fred Meijer Mulick Park Nature Preserve safeguards floodplain forests and marshes northeast of downtown. Five miles of trails loop across wooded hills, creek beds and pond edges, with footbridges allowing passage across wet areas.

Many trails connect to dirt roads through adjoining farmland, providing extended trek options. While trails allow leashed dogs, Mulick Park emphasizes conservation first. With diverse terrain and secluded wildlife watching, the nature preserve provides a serene natural escape.

8. Grand Rapids Skatepark

Name and Location: Grand Rapids Skatepark is located at 2012 program Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49507.

History and Significance: Built in 2010, the Grand Rapids Skatepark filled the need for a public venue catering to skaters/bmx bikers after a 15 year community-led planning effort with professional designers.

What to Expect: This concrete skate plaza featurestransitioned bowls, rails, steps, banks and gaps with varied terrain for all abilities to develop skills in a 20,000 sq ft wheel-friendly setting.

Visitor Information: Always open for public use within designated dates/hours posted. Safety rules enforced. Contests and events periodically held. Located adjacent to Richmond Park.

Known among skaters regionwide, the Grand Rapids Skatepark at Belknap Park challenges boarders with its concrete bowls, pipes and street plaza elements. Beginners can stick to shorter walls of the Neffland practice area while veterans catch air on the 10-foot vert ramp.

Street skating obstacles emulate urban architecture like stairs, rails and ledges. The city worked with professional designers and skaters to create ride-worthy concrete contours. With challenges for all abilities and plenty of flat ground, Grand Rapids Skatepark provides a top training ground.

9. Provin Trails Park

Name and Location: Provin Trails Park is located at 2650 Plymouth Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505.

History and Significance: Acquired in 1921, Provin Trails Park protects crucial green space for public use containing unique terrain and features that have long provided the local community recreation opportunities among beautiful scenery.

What to Expect: Nearly 120 acres include woodland paths, creek access, hills for sledding, open fields, basketball and tennis courts alongside picnic areas for visitors to enjoy convenient outdoor activity.

Visitor Information: Provin Trails Park is freely open to the public daily 5am-midnight as an important neighborhood space operated by Grand Rapids Parks & Rec Dept.

Offering 8 miles of wooded trail adventure within the city, Provin Trails Park provides Grand Rapids an escape into nature less than 3 miles from downtown. The hilly terrain carries you through pine and birch forest frequented by resident wildlife.

Looping singletrack sees plenty of foot and mountain bike traffic thanks to switchback climbs and swooping descents. Linking with trails in nearby Huff Park provides additional miles of woodland riding. With diverse ecosystems and flowing trail contours, Provin Trails Park brings wild enchantment within city limits.

10. Riverside Park North

Name and Location: Riverside Park North is located at 682 N.E North Park Dr, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

History and Significance: Initially residential estate grounds established early 1900s, Riverside Park North was redeveloped in the 1980s preserving 20 acres of extremely scenic Grand River frontage and woodlands for public access.

What to Expect: Visitors take in gorgeous panoramic riverbend vistas and peaceful natural beauty along winding trails and picnic areas linked to neighboring park systems. Kayak launches available.

Visitor Information: Riverside Park North provides free daily public admission from 6am to midnight as part of Grand Rapids city parks. Facilities are available for rental through application.

Stretching across 345 green acres along the Grand River, Riverside Park North tempts with disc golf, hiking trails, fishing spots and kayaking access north of downtown. The park’s 18 hole disc golf course mixes open fairways and technical wooded holes, while spurs of the North Country Trail allow woodland walks. Paved paths suitable for bicycling connect to the park’s boat launch granting passage onto the Grand River.

Sheltered lagoons create opportunities for young anglers. With options for active parkgoers and seekers of waterway tranquility, Riverside Park North offers varied recreation alongside riparian scenery.

11. Aberdeen Park

Name and Location: Aberdeen Park is located at 2260 Eagle Creek Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505.

History and Significance: Developed 1989-90 on a scenic rolling site, Aberdeen Park provides important community recreation facilities conveniently accessible to northeast Grand Rapids and Kentwood residents.

What to Expect: 20 acres offer athletic fields/courts, walking paths, playgrounds, picnic shelters and restrooms for visitors to enjoy fitness or leisure activities with scenic nature backdrop.

Visitor Information: Aberdeen Park is freely open to the public daily 5am-midnight operated by Grand Rapids Parks & Rec. Fields/shelters can be reserved through proper permit application.

Newly created from a former golf course near Grand Rapids’ southern border, the environmentally renewed Aberdeen Park provides community-centric recreation. A restored brook tributary meanders through the park fostering new riparian habitats.

Trails and boardwalks allow low impact exploration of meadows, wetland and young forest. Recreational amenities include playgrounds, picnic areas, basketball courts, soccer fields and a pump track loop for wheeled sports. As native species establish deeper roots over time, Aberdeen Park promises increasing ecological rewards.

12. Kent Trails Park

Name and Location: Kent Trails Park is located at 1500 Scribner Ave NW, Walker, MI 49504 spanning 80 acres.

History and Significance: Acquired 1980s for protection, Kent Trails Park provides access to crucial woodland habitat, wetlands and water resources while supporting community wellbeing through miles of recreation trails.

What to Expect: Over 8 miles of hiking/bike paths loop visitors through towering oak and pine forests, scenic meadows and Burch’s Creek alongside picnic areas to enjoy tranquil natural escapes.

Visitor Information: Kent Trails Park is freely open to non-motorized visitors year-round dawn-to-dusk as Walker city parkland supporting conservation and outdoor recreation.

Offering over 22 miles of wooded trail adventures, the Kent Trails Park system spans 1,400 acres across southern Grand Rapids and Kent County. Flowing singletrack appeals to mountain bikers while nearly 8 miles accommodate non-motorized winter activities like cross country skiing, fat biking and snowshoeing.

Equestrians can saddle up on select trails. The park’s terrain varies from hardwood hills to open meadows and wetland woods populated by wildlife like deer and migrating birds. With year-round trails through diverse ecosystems, Kent Trails Park provides an easily accessible backyard escape.


From the wooded reservoirs of its drinking water to community skateparks, Grand Rapids’ green spaces bring natural enrichment within city limits. Parks provide family fun alongside essential wildlife habitat and conservation.

The Grand River’s presence has long defined Grand Rapids, emphasized through riverside parks and water recreation access. With growth guided by sustainability, Grand Rapids’ parks promise lasting quality of life and responsible environmental stewardship for generations to come.

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