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Let’s Get Physical: The Best Parks in Grand Rapids and Lansing To Safely Be Outside and Exercise During The Coronavirus Pandemic
*Subject to change pending updates in regulations amid the Covid-19 outbreak
The reality of our world under the coronavirus pandemic is that we have to find new ways to occupy our time and go on with our daily lives. Even for those of us still working, life as we know it has been turned upside down. Even something as routine as going to the gym is no longer an option right now. So, what can we do to remain healthy and active?
For me, exercise isn’t just about being healthy; it’s also a way to relieve stress and feel better. The same goes for being outside. I love to go hiking and my workouts have usually been a combination of time at the gym and at the park. Well, considering I’m not heading to the gym anytime soon, my options during this pandemic are either at-home workouts or the park – and yes, we are allowed to go outside to get exercise under Governor Whitmer’s Stay At Home order here in Michigan.
Personally speaking, the at-home workouts just don’t do it for me though. I feel cooped up if I stay indoors too much, so that means I’m heading to the park. If you've been used to going to the gyms, you might not be sure where to go right now, and heading to the same park everyday can get boring after a while.
So, if you’re in need of some parks to go to right now, here are my top picks for the Lansing and Grand Rapids areas:
1. Hawk Meadow Park
Pros: Good for running, walks, longer trails, more nature
Cons: 5k trail can get really muddy in certain parts, parking available but limited spaces
This has become my go-to park in the Lansing area for the past month. It’s about a 5 minute drive from the Saginaw Highway exit on I-96. This is a pretty big park, which means plenty of trails and space to run. In addition to paved trails, they also have an extended 5k trail further into the woods. Mostly people tend to stick to the main trails, so if you’re looking for more distance and less people, I’d try out that route. If you do the 5k trail though, be sure to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy. There will be definitely be a few spots along the way where you’ll have to stop and try to get around the mud and puddles.
2. Granger Meadows Park
Pros: Good for running, walks, plenty of parking
Cons: shorter trail, more built up
This park was originally recommended to me by a co-worker. It’s located in the East Lansing area near the Eastwood Towne Center mall. It’s definitely more built up than Hawk Meadow, since this one has a baseball diamond, tennis courts, and a playground. However, it’s a good trail for running and I’ve been going here for quite a while so I’d definitely recommend it. There’s also a hill there. If you climb to the top it’s a nice view, especially at sunset.
1. Aman Park
Pros: longer trails, plenty of nature, good for walking and running, parking available
Cons: no signs to find your way around
According to my father, this was a park I went to frequently as a kid, though truth be told I only remember coming to this specific one only once or twice. Nevertheless, rediscovering it in the era of Coronavirus has definitely come in handy. This is a large park with plenty of space to explore.
2. Lake Harbor Park
Pros: access to Lake Michigan beach views, plenty of nature, longer trails, good for walking, parking available
Cons: not good for running, takes a little while to get there since it’s on the coast
I’m always up for a hike that includes some beautiful views of Lake Michigan. This is definitely one of many advantages Grand Rapids has over Lansing as far as hiking goes. The only bummer about this trail is that it’s not great for running. That being said, it’s not totally flat either, so you still get in a good workout.
3. Riverside Park
Pros: plenty of trails, great for running or walking, along the river, parking available
Cons: more people on nicer days
I just ran here the other day. It's right outside downtown Grand Rapids, which means it is going to be busier than other parks. While normally that may not be an issue, it can be a little more risky in the age of social distancing. Nevertheless, I love the space and it's perfect for running. If you decide to go here, try to head there during non-peak hours or to a different park if it's a nice day.
I hope you guys are staying as healthy and sane as can be expected amid all this. It’s a difficult time but we’re in this together and things will get better. While I do have a few more posts from California to share, I will put those on standby until this is done. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing other ways to help stay healthy, creative, and in good spirits. Be safe and be well.
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer, comedian, and television producer who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com