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Must See Parks (Ottawa County)

posted May 11, 2015 by Moms in Tow (Kara)

Ottawa County Parks has shared with us some family friendly park recommendations. Enjoy, and make sure to let us know what your favorites are!

Hemlock Crossing/Nature Education Center
Hemlock Crossing is our favorite Ottawa County Park for kids. It is home to the Nature Education Center, which is the hub of all of our educational programming. Our Naturalist Guides work hard to program consistent, affordable family programming each week throughout the year. Every Sunday at 2 PM, you can count on a fun activity kids of all ages. Check out the online calendar for programming.
You can also hike the trails on your own. Don’t forget to cross the bridge over Pigeon River keeping your eyes out for wildlife – beavers are very active in the area. If you visit during the winter months, make sure to rent a pair of snowshoes. They were purchased new in 2014 and sizes for the whole family are available (including pre-schoolers!).There are family-friendly bathrooms in the Nature Education Center as well as a picnic area.

Address & Directions: 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive (West of US-31, entrance is just south of Croswell)

Hager Park
Hager Park is particularly lovely in the spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom. The park itself is a great family destination in warmer months with picnic areas and a mixture of paved paths and easy-to-walk nature trails.
A highlight of the park is the Age of Discovery playground which overlooks a terrain map of the United States. It’s the largest playground in our parks system.

Address & Directions: 8134 28th, Jenison, MI 49428 (Located on the corner of 28th Avenue and Bauer Road. The park entrance is on 28th Avenue.)

Spring Grove
Spring Grove is one of our most beautiful park sites, with wildflowers and a natural spring. It has a small playground, family-friendly restrooms, picnic tables and grills as well as a place to play ball, horseshoes, and have a fire. The facilities are all barrier free with a number of trails that head to the natural spring. Pro tip: It’s a popular wedding and photo venue, so it can get busy on the weekends in warmer months.

Address & Directions: 1800 Greenly Street, Grandville, MI 49418 (From I-196, take exit 62 south to Greenly Street. Travel east on Greenly Street for two miles to the entrance.)

Grand River Park
Grand River Park is fun for the active family, especially for those with older children. There aren’t as many stroller-friendly paths as other locations, but there are three miles of hiking, biking, and skiing trails that lead to river and wetland overlooks. Kids and adults can fish in the lake from a wooden boardwalk (adults need a fishing license). Grand River Park also features a boat/kayak/canoe launch, a fully enclosed picnic building, picnic tables and grills, a playground, and a family-friendly restroom.

Directions: 9473 28th Ave., Jenison, MI 49428 (From Fillmore Street, travel north on 28th Avenue to the park entrance). No entry or launch fees.

Tunnel Park
Tunnel Park offers a lot of variety for families. To get to the Lake Michigan swimming beach, you walk through a tunnel dug through a dune! If you’re not looking for a swim, you can play volleyball or horseshoes. You and the kids can also burn some energy at the playground or the challenging dune climb. If you visit in the evening, be sure to take the dune stairs up to the overlook for a spectacular sunset view (or challenge yourself to a competitive dune climb!) Tunnel Park also has picnic tables and grills as well as a family-friendly restroom with a rinse-off shower.

Address & Directions: 66 Lakeshore Drive, Holland, MI 49424 (From US-31, travel west on Lakewood Drive to Lakeshore Drive.  Travel south on Lakeshore to the entrance.)
Please note: A county pass is needed to park at this location during summer months (a Michigan recreational passport is not valid at this location). No lifeguards on duty.

North Beach Park
North Beach is another swimming beach on Lake Michigan. In fact, with the high water levels this year, it’s one of the best options for sunbathing. The site also includes a great playground, picnic shelter, picnic tables and grills, and a family-friendly restroom.
In the summer months a barrier free boardwalk is laid on the sand to the lake for accessibility (great for strollers!). This is one of the only parks along the lakeshore with easy access from your car to the beach – no stairs!
There are stairs you can climb at the end of the day to watch a sunset from the dune overlook.

Address & Directions: 18775 North Shore Drive, Ferrysburg, MI 49409 (From US-31, take the Ferrysburg exit west on to 3rd Street to North Shore Drive. Turn west on North Shore and travel two miles to the entrance).
Please note: A county pass is needed to park at this location during summer months (a Michigan recreational passport is not valid at this location). No lifeguards on duty.

Upper Macatawa Natural Area
Upper Mac is a bit more rugged, but it’s a fantastic place for a nature hike or bike. The main paths are wider to better accommodate bikes (and strollers). For a short, easy walk or ride, take the half mile paved trail to our new nature overlook. For more of a challenge, try the single-track mountain bike trails.
Also interesting to explore are the various habitats and vast diversity of wildlife. Particularly exciting are the wetlands. They attract a number of spectacular water birds to watch.
Note: The bathrooms are rustic.

Address & Directions: East entrance: 1300 84th Avenue (approx.), Zeeland, MI 49464. West 2171 76th Avenue (approx.), Zeeland, MI 49464. (From US-31, travel east on 16th (Adams) to 84th. Travel north on 84th a half mile to the west entrance. From I-196 to exit 55 and travel east on Byron Road to 76th Avenue. Take 76th south to the east entrance.)  **Improvements are currently being made to the East entrance including addition of a picnic shelter, lighting, official trailhead, paved parking lot and eventually a family-friendly restroom.

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