[park1] Freedom! Finals week will be a mere nightmarish memory, and the hope of summer, to which we have so desperately clung, will manifest itself in free time: time to work on a scrapbook, time to start that exercise regimen you’ve been planning, time to… sit on your couch enjoying your central air and religiously waiting for each storyline on Passions to unfold?
Don’t fall victim to the daytime doldrums this summer. The greater Lansing area offers many amazing parks and recreation areas mostly obscured by a lack of desire to visit them. Here is a brief selection of the many gems in our area.
Harris Nature Center Located on Van Atta road in Okemos, Harris Nature Center offers over three miles of trails and programs designed to keep people close to nature.
Carlie Thibault, assistant naturalist for the center, said people enjoy the wildflowers and animals at Harris. “We have a lot of trails, and pets are welcome,” she said.
Fenner Nature Center, just south of campus, and Woldumar Nature Center, in southwest Lansing, offer similar summer nature programs.
Oak Park Just about a mile away from the downtown area of Grand Ledge (20 minutes west of East Lansing), Oak Park plays host to some of the best natural rock climbing in the Midwest. Giant sandstone rock faces line the Grand River as it meanders through Grand Ledge, creating ideal conditions for climbing enthusiasts from across the country.
If risking your life for a thrill isn’t worth turning off the tube, then plan a romantic picnic for the same spot. Oak Park is carpeted with velvety green grass and ancient towering oak trees, providing shade and comfort of the natural variety from the sweltering heat of the summer.
Francis Park, on Lansing’s south side, and MSU’s own campus both offer great picnic conditions like those at Oak Park, sans the rock climbing.
[park2]Just 15 minutes away from campus in Delta Township, Grand Woods Park is good for little kids and big kids alike. A great playground greets you as you drive in, but the real fun is in what the locals call “disc golf.” The game is played just like regular golf, only the ball is replaced by a Frisbee-like apparatus and the hole is substituted with a basket. What’s better, there are no stuffy dress codes like collared shirts or special shoes, and get this – it’s free!
“I love to disc golf because it gives me a chance to be outside and to hang with my friends,” music junior Eileen Downey said. “Plus, it doesn’t cost anything.”
Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge also has a free disc golf course.
Noting the conspicuous absence of a water front in the area may discourage a visit to the beach, especially with the predicted gas prices this summer. But only a half-hour away, a local secret, Jordan Lake, is calling beach bums to its shore.
Jordan Lake is nestled in a small town called Lake Odessa, just west of Lansing. It offers a warm, sandy beach and cool, refreshing lake waters. Locals bask in the sunshine by day and then hit up the beachfront Dairy Queen by night. It is all very Dukes of Hazzard, and very fun.
Lincoln Brick Park in Grand Ledge also has a nice swimming hole and Lake Lansing Park (on the north side) is very close but has less desirable water conditions.
For more information on parks in the area, go to www.CityOfLansingMI.com or just ask a local. But whatever you do, do not spend your summer glued to your couch with the shades drawn. The great outdoors is begging you to step outside.

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