Destination Lansing: River Trail

Oh, it has been ages since shared a Destination Lansing post with you!

This is the time of year when I love to start getting back outside, taking walks and taking pictures. Running through Lansing, largely in a generally north-south orientation, though with tributaries jutting off here and there, is a modest river of asphalt called the River Trail.

Lansing River Trail, MI

It follows not one but two rivers, the Grand through downtown Lansing and the Red Cedar past Potter Park Zoo and Michigan State University, carrying travelers by bike, roller blades, or feet through woods, under concrete bridges, and by parks, museums, and markets. One trip on the River Trail and you can see almost all that Lansing and East Lansing have to offer represented in some way. In fact, here’s a list off the top of my head of where you can get and what you can see if you start on the southern end of the trail on Jolly Road (right by the 7-Eleven there) and head north:

Hawk Island County Park (fun and relaxing yearround)


Scott Woods Park (GORGEOUS in the fall, but great anytime)


Mount Hope Cemetery


Fenner Nature Center


Red Cedar River Natural Areas


Potter Park Zoo


Impression 5 Children’s Museum


Lansing Center


Lansing City Market


Downtown Lansing and the Capitol Building


Adado Riverfront Park (which, depending on the day, may include various concerts or events)


Brenke Fish Ladder

Old Town (and all the cool shops and restaurants therein–like Elderly Instruments and Pablo’s Panaderia, where you should order the torta sandwich with pork on their life-changing homemade bread or the huevos y chorizo with warm, homemade flour tortillas)

The Turner-Dodge House and Heritage Center

If you take the spur that heads east along the Red Cedar River, you can get to MSU and East Lansing, including these destination spots: The Breslin CenterThe Kellogg CenterBroad Art MuseumMSU Gardens, and Sanford Natural Area. All the way up to Hagadorn Road, where you can stop for dinner at Sultan’s Restaurant for some shawarma and falafel.

And I didn’t even list all the awesome restaurants in both downtown Lansing (like the Tavern on the Square or Mediteran or Troppo) and downtown East Lansing (like Dublin Square or Woody’s Oasis).


The trail is open yearround. Even in winter it is plowed to allow regular foot traffic and biking for those of us who don’t have cross country skis. So, if you took the notion, you could bundle up and bike down to Hawk Island County Park and go snow tubing in the wintertime.

But of course, my favorite time is fall.


Summer in Michigan Means One Thing to Me: Up North

Over the past week my husband, Zach, and I have been engaged in the blessed process of planning summer travel around the state: picking dates, securing care for our pets, coordinating travel with family, reserving a room here…

Bay View Inn

We’re thrilled to be heading back up to Mackinac Island after a few years’ absence and excited to introduce our son to its magical qualities for the first time. Zach and I will spend two nights there alone, writing while overlooking the Straits of Mackinaw and riding bikes around the island. Then my in-laws will come up with our son and we all get to pal around, ride bikes, bring the boy to Fort Mackinac, ride in horse-drawn carriages, and eat ice cream. I can already feel the wind off the water.

Mackinac Island Ride

But before we get to Mackinac Island, we’ll be spending another week at a very special place to our family, Camp Lake Louise

Lake Louise

And in late summer will be the Second Annual Sisters’ Hiking Trip. Last year we hiked Pictured Rocks…

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

You can read about our amazing trip here, here, here, and here. Not totally sure just where we’re going this year. But I’m scheming.

This is the time of year my heart aches for woods and water and sky, when thinking about driving north–far north–elicits a physical reaction of butterflies in my stomach and even tears welling in my eyes. The silence of the night sky filled with stars. The sound of wind through trees. The cold splash of clear water. The clip-clip-clip of horses’ hooves. The heat of the sun upon bare skin. The scratchy sound of sand upon worn pine floors. Just the thought of these stirs deep longing in my soul.

I’m hopelessly in love with Michigan.