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Summer is almost upon us. The weather is warming up and the grass is getting greener.

That means more things to do in the greater Lansing area. Enjoy the beautiful local natural spots Michigan has to offer, or check out some of these hidden gems that you might not know about.

There is a lot to do in the area, but here are ten to start you out this summer.

1. Kayaking the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers

Stop driving around and take some time to explore the Greater Lansing area in a new way, via water or bicycle paths. The Grand River and Red Cedar River are great places to check out since the weather is warming up and lucky for us, the rivers move along the city of Lansing and surrounding areas. Don’t have a bike or a kayak? Don’t worry, there are a lot of places in the area that have bike and kayak rentals, like River Town Adventures, which has kayak, canoe, paddle board and bike rentals available. It’s open this summer seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., with extended hours becoming available in June.

Kayak/Bike rentals River Town Adventures 325 City Market Dr., Lansing www.rivertownadventures.com/

2. Learning at Impression 5’s FLOW exhibit

Impression 5’s newest exhibit, FLOW, explores the physical dynamics of water, provides an excellent learning experience for children and, by its very nature, offers some much needed relief from the heat. Numerous interactive installations are dotted around a fountain which is equipped with a flywheel that powers a two-story geyser. After splashing around with FLOW, you’ll be able to check out the rest of the museum. Impression 5 Tues-Sat, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun, noon to 5 p.m. 200 Museum Dr., Lansing (517) 485-8116 www.impression5.org $8.50 for adults, children under 2, $7 for seniors and military (including family members)

3. Taking a stroll along the River Trail

With over 20 miles of paved trail that passes through numerous parks, the Lansing River Trail is a must this summer. The trail itself stretches from Waverly Road to Old Town and from Potter Park there is a way to head towards Michigan State University. This trail closely follows parts of the Grand and Red Cedar rivers where you can explore Lansing and surrounding cities in a new way. Stop at the parks or even at a local business along the way — just make sure to check out the website for any flooding along the path. Lansing River Trail 325 City Market Dr., Lansing www.lansingrivertrail.org/

4. Screaming for ice cream and other sweets

Feel like ice cream and other sweets? Check out Park Lake Creamery, a local ice cream and chocolate factory. This business is dedicated to creating and serving premium ice cream, gourmet coffee and artisan chocolates. Starting this summer Park Lake Creamery will be hosting a cookout every month and because the business is right on the lake there will be peddle boat, kayak, canoe and paddle board rentals available for the summer months. In a few weeks there will also be a pontoon boat and people can pay to get a ride around the lake. There is seating available inside and outside, where there is a small lake and nearby park. It is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., with extended hours coming for the summer months. Park Lake Creamery 6320 Park Lake Road, Bath Township www.mastersofconfection.com/pages/parklake-creamery

5. Soaking in summer at Lake Lansing

On the shore of the largest body of water within 30 miles of Lansing, Lake Lansing Park South is the place to go this summer if you want to cool off. Visit the little sandy beach and green fields for a day of picnicking, swimming, fishing, volleyball, horseshoes and boating. Don’t have a boat? Don’t worry, there are pedal boats available to rent at the park for $6 per 1/2 hour. There is a vehicle entrance fee to enter the park, $3 for Ingham county residents and $5 for non-residents. The vehicles can’t enter the park until 8 a.m., but pedestrian access opens a half hour before sunrise. The park closes 30 minutes after sunset, unless otherwise posted by the park. Lake Lansing Park South 1621 Pike Street, Haslett www.pk.ingham.org/Parks/ LakeLansingParkSouth.aspx

6. Noticing small details and art at LCC

Take a walk through the beautiful campus of Lansing Community College and check out its new clock tower, built last summer. The clock tower replaced an old air ventilation shaft at the downtown campus’ southern entrance near the intersection of Shiawassee Street and Washington Avenue.

There are also many small details throughout the campus, all there because of LCC President Brent Knight. When walking around the campus, look down and notice small leaf prints on the sidewalk or find statues and art at every turn. Take a seat and relax at the Guitar Plaza where music often plays softly. Lansing Community College 411 N. Grand Ave., Lansing www.lcc.edu

7. Hiking and swimming at Hawk Island

The newest of all Ingham County Parks, Hawk Island has grown into one of the best outdoor destinations in south Lansing. Though Hawk Island has activities year-round, summertime truly brings it to life. Hawk Island is packaged with activities to either bask in the sun’s heat, or to catch a merciful break from it. The 100-acre park boasts nature trails (for both walkers and bicyclists), rowboats, pedal boats, volleyball, the Soldan Dog Park, a boardwalk with a fishing dock and, of course, the beach and splash pad. Hawk Island Park 1601 E. Cavanaugh Road, Lansing Mon-Sun, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. $3 for residents, $5 for non (517) 676-2233 www.pk.ingham.org/Parks/ HawkIsland.aspx

8. Getting lost in nature

Harris Nature Center is a part of Meridian Riverfront Park where there are trails to explore and wildlife to find. Take a walk down Beech Tree Loop and White Spruce Loop to look at the wildflowers that are in bloom right now. Parts of the trails are along the Red Cedar River so watch out for mud or flooding. The trails are open from dawn until dusk, while the Nature Center building hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. There are many programs going on this summer at the center, like Howl at the Moon, which is a $3 per person night walk that happens every month on the Friday closest to the full moon. Harris Nature Center/Meridian Riverfront Park 3998 Van Atta Rd., Okemos www.meridian.mi.us/visitors/ hidden-gems/visit-harris-nature-center

9. Drinking with zoo animals

Potter Park Zoo is offering visitors the rare opportunity to finally drink alcohol at a zoo without being told “We’re going to have to ask to you leave,” or “Sir, you are disturbing the children.” Zoo Brew is a recurring event that features live entertainment such as ‘80s pop cover band Starfarm. To complement the beer, a cookout dinner will be served. And how could anyone forget all the beautiful animals? Zoo Brew has three dates: June 28, July 26 and Aug. 30. Potter Park Zoo 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 21kknd $5 in advance, $7 at the gate (517) 483-4222 www.potterparkzoo.org

10. Visiting the Ledges

The nature trails at Fitzgerald Park, or simply the Ledges, weave around ancient sedimentary rock outcroppings that are a sight to behold. It’s a park 300 million years in the making. But there’s more than just hiking. This site offers: picnicking, two softball diamonds, a volleyball court, basketball court, two horseshoe pits, playground, disc golf course, nature center, two-miles of cross-country ski trails, sledding hill and canoeing/kayaking down the Grand River. The Ledges at Fitzgerald Park 133 Fitzgerald Park Dr., Grand Ledge www.eatoncounty.org/ departments/parks-department (517) 627-7351 Daily pass $3 for resident, $5 for non-residents


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