Millennium Park is one of the best West Michigan has to offer and can be enjoyed all year round. This gem spreads out into parts of Grand Rapids, Grandville, Wyoming, and Walker, and is part of the Kent County Parks Department. Clocking in at over 1,400 acres, Millennium Park is one of the largest urban parks in the nation.
With a park so huge, there is so much to see and do here! What are the best spots to visit with kids?
Here you will find an insider’s guide to all the best parts of the park for families.
Park Highlights For Families
- 18 miles of trails
- 6 miles of Grand River waterfront
- Lots of paved paths – perfect for strollers or bikes
- A few natural paths
- Unique wildlife to observe
- 3 separate playground sections
- Modern bathrooms
- Summer beach & splash pad (for a fee)
- Boat rentals (for a fee)
- Winter cross-country skiing trails & plowed hiking or snowshoeing trails
Note: As Millennium Park is quite popular, it can get busy during the peak summer season and on the weekends. For a quieter visit, go early in the morning or during the week if possible.
Built on land that had been mined for sand, gravel and gypsum, Millennium Park is an excellent example of an ecological way to reclaim and restore land for natural wildlife habitats and community enjoyment.
A similar public park project is currently underway on riverfront land along the Grand River in Ottawa County known as Bend Area. Read more about that here: Bend Area Expansion.
Throughout the park, there are several active natural gas pumps. If you have future engineers who love watching machinery in action, they will get a kick out of spotting these pumps. However, the natural gas smell can be noticeable near the pumps.
Millennium Park Trail Map
Hansen Nature Trail
Length of trail: 0.6 miles (plus roughly 0.2 miles each way to parking for 1.0 mile total)
Terrain: Easy, natural gravel path
Where to park: In the Recreation Area Lot C, farthest west and closest to the Boathouse
Hansen Nature Trail is one of my favorite trails in Millennium Park, especially during the spring, fall, and winter seasons. In winter in particular, this trail is just magical covered in snow. One of the nice perks of Millennium Park is that a portion of the trails are plowed in the winter. The Hansen Nature Trail is accessed from the Purple Loop, which was part of the plowed section in winter 2020.
For summer hiking, it’s often a toss up between walking on a hot, sunny path or walking in a wooden area along with mosquitoes. The Hansen Nature Trail has a charming creek running through it, which of course means mosquitoes in the summer. Since it is a fun place to explore all year long, just make sure to bring the bug spray if you wander through here in the middle of the summer.
Also, the Hansen Nature Trail has lots of unique wildlife to observe. See if you can find a beavers’ lodge or evidence of beavers gnawing on trees along the paths.
Green Loop Trail – Lake Leota
Length of trail: 1.5 miles (plus roughly 0.2 miles each way to parking for 1.9 miles total)
Terrain: Easy, paved path
Where to park: In the Secchia Meadows parking lot and take the pedestrian overpass to the trail head
Encircling Lake Leota, the Green Loop is another family friendly path all year round. Many of the trails in Millennium Park are quite sunny, but the northwest side of this trail does have some shady stretches, which makes it a nice option on a hot summer day. Perfect for budding birdwatchers too!
Along the stretch that overlaps the Purple Loop, there is the most charming stone bridge. There are beautiful lilac bushes that bloom here in May for the perfect photo op.
Orange Loop Trail
Length of trail: 1.6 miles
Terrain: Easy, paved path
Where to park: Any Recreation Area parking lot
The Orange Loop is very convenient to access right across the Recreation Area parking lot, which makes it very kid friendly. That extra walking to and from the trail head can sometimes be the tipping point for tired kids!
This is a mostly sunny trail which is beautiful in fall. Along the Orange Loop are several wooden docks that are perfect for observing wildlife like ducks, geese and fish in the ponds. If you enjoy fishing, these docks are a great location for some morning fishing.
Seccia Meadows Connecting Trails/Blue Loop
Length of trail: Varies 1.0 – 2.0 miles
Terrain: Easy, paved path
Where to park: Seccia Meadows parking lot
The Seccia Meadows area is a great place to explore with kids and includes the beautiful structures of the Universal Boardwalk and the Grant Pavilion. The Universal Board makes for striking pictures all year long and the Grant Pavilion is a nice, shady spot to enjoy a snack, if it is not reserved for a group.
For hiking or biking, you can take the outer 1.9 mile blue loop or wander along through several short connecting trails. Taking the connecting trails over the Universal Boardwalk and around the eastern edge of the Blue Loop back to the parking lot is a nice and easy 1 mile trail.
Recreation Area Map
Beach & Splash Pad
Millennium Park offers a nice alternative to driving to the lakeshore with their six acre beach and splash pad. Although it doesn’t compare to the beauty of Lake Michigan, the water is calmer and warmer than the big lake. There are beach volleyball nets, bathrooms and concessions here as well.
For current fees for this section of the park, check here: Millennium Park Beach. Season passes are a great option if you think you’ll end up going several times.
Millennium Park is an awesome location for introducing young kids to boating as the lake is small and relatively calm. The DeVos Boathouse has several boat rental options by the hour: kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and paddle boards. For current rates, check here: Millennium Park Boat Rentals.
We introduced our 3 year old to riding in a canoe for the first time at Millennium Park and it worked great! With an adult on each end, he sat in the middle and watched the water rippling by. Renting a canoe for one hour was the perfect amount of time and the water was pretty calm.
Millennium Park has a large playground area divided into 3 sections based on age. Lots of swings and climbing structures for your little monkeys to enjoy! The newest addition to the playground meant for the oldest kids makes a great practice course for little ninjas in training.
With young kids especially, it is helpful to know the bathroom situation at any park!
During the regular season, there are modern bathrooms open at the Van Andel Beach House and near Parking Lot A in the Recreation Area side and next to the Pavilion in the Seccia Meadows side. In the off-season, typically after Labor Day until Memorial Day, there is a port-a-potty located in the Seccia Meadows parking lot.
Related: Love nature? Check out Earth Day Vs. Arbor Day.
Do you enjoy exploring Millennium Park? Share you favorite spot below!