The Best City Parks in Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids, Michigan is one of the fastest growing cities in the state. That being said, there are still plenty of public parks to escape the daily buzz of the city to. These parks are all maintained by the city, and are free to walk around in. Often times, many of the parks in Grand Rapids will play host to the different festivals, gatherings, and events that the city offers. Check out this short list of some of the public parks in Grand Rapids; maybe you’ll find something new!
Rosa Parks Circle
Located dead smack in the center of downtown, on the corner of Monroe and Monroe Center, Rosa Parks Circle is a city icon. During the warmer, summer months, Rosa Parks Circle acts as a venue for the plethora of different events occurring downtown, such as the Festival of the Arts, and Pride Fest. During the winter, the Circle transforms into a skating rink for the locals to enjoy. The city offers skate rentals to visitors for a small fee. Rosa Parks Circle is probably the most well known park in the city. It was designed by Maya Lin, who is most well known for her work with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Located just north of downtown, Belknap Park offers another great place to escape to. Here, visitors can enjoy a quiet time overlooking the city when there are no events going on. Other times, huge festivals such as Breakaway Fest, which features famous artists like Wiz Khalifa are there. Belknap Park was established in the early 1900’s as a specialty and community park. In 1932, the park was named Belknap Park to honor the war veteran Capt. Charles Belknap. This park does have parking, a pickle ball court, and a sledding hill for the winter.
Ah-Nab-Awen Park has one of the more difficult names to pronounce, but offers some beautiful scenery. This small park on the Grand River is home to rolling grassy knolls and waterfront access. This park is the perfect place to take your family or loved for a picnic. When you are done you are only a few short steps from one of the adjacent museums! Ah-Nab-Awen Park honors the three Native American tribes in Michigan. Previously, the area served as a memorial burial ground for the tribes. Ah-Nab-Awen translated means “resting place”.
Another downtown park in Grand Rapids, is Heartside Park. Located on Ionia St, Heartside park is near the Downtown Market, and plays host to many events throughout the year. This park focuses on neighborhood social focuses, and has a splash pad for the kids to play in. If you are looking for a place to play basketball outside, this park has a full court. A large playground sits prominently in the park for the use of the public. In the winter, Heartside Park also has an ice rink open to the public for free, just bring your own skates.
Veteran’s Memorial Park
Veteran’s Memorial Park has been growing and changing since its founding in 1926. As when first established, the park honors the fallen men and women of World War 1. Later, in 1945, more pillars and memorials were added to the park in order to honor the lost soldiers of World War 2. The veterans of Vietnam received two commemorative pillars in the center of the park in 1975, as a way to honor those who died in the conflict. Today, this park hosts visitors on their daily walks to and from work or school, as well as those who live nearby. This park has an open and grassy area for those who want to picnic, or walk their pets.
As a neighborhood park, Clemente Park focuses on the recreational and social needs of the surrounding neighborhood. The park started out known as Rumsey Park when it was founded in 1911, but has since had its name changed to Clemente Park. The name of the park refers to the late baseball player from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Roberto Clemente. This park is large, and has many amenities such as a baseball diamond, parking, restrooms, and a picnic shelter.
As the largest urban park in West Michigan, Millennium Park is the perfect miniature getaway from the city. This park, located on the southwest side of Grand Rapids, acts as a crossroads for 4 cities as Walker, Grandville, Wyoming, and Grand Rapids all have access to it. This massive park has over 1,400 acres of land and 6 miles of coast along the Grand River. Millennium Park offers a wide variety of activities for the whole family. You can hike along the 18 miles of paths, fish in the Grand River, picnic, and even rent a boat for the day! The park is open from May 1 to October 31st. This fantastic park continues to grow and change after it was founded in the year 2000.
Grand Rapids, Michigan offers some of the most beautiful and well-kept parks in the state. Regardless of what you are looking for exactly, Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas are sure to have the perfect park for your day trip. You can find quiet, peaceful retreats in most any of the parks, or a lively festival with music and fun at the right times of the year. Hopefully this list will help you explore a new park, and maybe even find your favorite new place to hang out. check out the Friends of GR Parks for more information and other parks in the city!