Potter Park Zoo has 21 Reasons You’ll Want to Visit Year-Round


Potter Park Zoo is a Year Round Exploration Destination

Potter Park Zoo is a rare gem of wildlife in the heart of Lansing and it’s a blast to visit year-round – winter, spring, summer, and fall!

The magnitude of fun, events, and learning opportunities that Potter Park Zoo offers the Lansing community throughout the year has brought me from appreciation to adoration.

As a kid, I remember thinking it was a hidden oasis for precious moments with my family. Now, as an adult, I’m thankful for the way they not only create year-round opportunities for my kids, but plan community engagement and events for all ages and phases.

Plus, it’s not some faraway place as I imaged in my youth. Potter Park Zoo is right here, accessible for all Lansing Families to enjoy.

Potter Park Zoo Kids Playing

21 Reasons to Visit Potter Park Zoo

Did you know there’s more to Potter Park Zoo than hoping animals look your way and engage with your family?

You can have a slumber party, become a zookeeper for a day, feed animals, and even spend the night!

Read on to find out why Potter Park Zoo is worth visiting year-round, along with tips for your next visit.

Spend All 4 Seasons at Potter Park Zoo

potter park zoo, zoo, kids at zoo, meet the birds, kids holding birds

Summer means a full day of fun: Walking the grounds in the warm sun, taking pony and camel rides, picnics, playing on the playground, and summer camps are all a “go” during the summer season at Potter Park Zoo.

Fall means Boo at the Zoo: One of Lansing’s favorite events of the season is Boo at the Zoo. Trick or treat through the grounds, wear your costume, ride the wagon, and go through the maze. This season is one of our family’s favorites because the weather is a peak for taking your leisurely time walking through the grounds.

Winter means FREE parking: We love FREE, plus during the wintertime, the animals are very active. The beloved event Wonderland of Lights is another bonus for this time of year when the whole grounds are covered in lights and the wonder of the season gets Lansing excited for the holidays.

Spring means “Night at the Museum” is on its way: when families get to explore all kinds of museums and destinations in the evening with interactive family activities. Spring also means storytimes resume, and camp season is approaching.

Potter Park Zoo is Worth Exploring during Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall

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Through peak months you’ll enjoy storytime with a visit from a live animal. It’s an interactive experience and it happens weekly!

Monday Mornings are FREE at Potter Park Zoo

If you’re an Ingham County resident from open – noon you get FREE admission to the Zoo every Monday. Parking is $3 during peak months and free during winter (off-peak).

Zookeeper Encounters

Be a zookeeper for a day. If you’ve dreamed about working closely with animals these encounters are a perfect way to start.

Learning Experiences

Summer and Winter Break Camps, Education Programs and extended learning are available throughout the year.

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Animal Experiences

Get up close and personal with big cats, penguins and more!

Stay Overnight with the Animals

A friend of mine likes to fish by the river close to the zoo and explained how the sounds are a priceless experience! When I heard that you could spend the night in the zoo I could imagine how the sounds and more would be such a unique experience. I’ve now added this to my Lansing bucket list for sure! Have you done this? If so, let us know how it went by commenting below!

Off-Campus Family Programs

“Falconeers” and “Zoo in your Neighborhood” (Live animal encounters around Greater Lansing like libraries etc.) happen throughout the year. Find the next one on the LFF calendar.

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Events are Special on Potter Park Zoo Grounds

Dress up for Boo at the Zoo, Bundle up during Wonderland of Lights, and relax through the year during Zoo Brews plus many additional fun outings! You can also hold your event or birthday party on their grounds. See how, here.

You and Your Kids can volunteer

Spend time with the animals in a way you’ve never experienced before. Volunteering is so helpful to Potter Park Zoo but it always blesses us more when we give – bringing extra joy to our lives. If you love animals and nature – you should look into this. (No experience necessary.)

Riding ponies at potter park zoo lansing summer with kids

Pony Rides

The pony rides are a big hit with my kids. They love getting an up-close and personal experience with the ponies on our visits. It’s $3 to ride and worth every penny. Kids faces light up as they circle round the loop.


Petting Zoo

The petting zoo is another highlight of our visits. You can pet the goats, say hi to the other farm animals like pigs, and llamas, and for a quarter you’ll get a handful of food to feed the goats.

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Camel Rides

Riding the camels is a uniquely exciting and learning experience and now accepts credit cards. This is exciting for me because I rarely carry cash.


Launch Trampoline

View the entire grounds from this high height. My kids were laughing so hard and loved it. They have specific bungees for different weights, making it fun and safe for all ages.

Why Potter Park Zoo is Enjoyable for the Whole Family

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Bonding Experiences

Going to the zoo is a great way to bond with all ages. Its interactive, active, and Potter Park has lots of places along their path where families can sit down, talk, and play together.

New Exhibits

Have you visited the moose, red panda, and the rhino exhibits? The zoo adds new animals through its conservancy program. Potter Park loves sharing this with families and also gives the opportunity for you to adopt some of them!

Potter Park Zoo Membership

I love having memberships to key places in our city like Potter Park Zoo because it frees us of time. Membership with Potter Park Zoo gives you FREE admission plus more on each membership level. You’ll also receive FREE admission to John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, half-off admission to the Detroit Zoo and discounted or FREE admission to over 100 zoos and aquariums across the country. 2.5 visits for residents (1.5 for non-residents) is equivalent to a year membership – it pays for itself!

With the membership, it takes the pressure off and we can visit for a few minutes or all day.

The Playground

The Potter Park Zoo playground is outside of their grounds and can be accessed anytime for free! Park in their parking lot or walk/ride up on your bikes. It’s located on the riverwalk trail and has a variety of play areas for different ages and play levels.

Potter Park Zoo Bird Exhibit Kids

4 Tips When you Visit Potter Park for a Day

True confessions – these are here because I’ve made the mistake of NOT doing them. Let’s just say these times weren’t our favorite visits to the zoo but with little tweaks and a bit of planning, Potter Park Zoo trips are now high on our list of year-round fun.

Here are 4 things that will help make your next trip to Potter Park Zoo less stressful, more fun, and a nice treat for your whole family:

  • Pack Snacks and Water. No matter the time of day or how many times we go to the Zoo – snacks are always a plus. Lots of walking means hungry tummies. The days I have snacks ready tend to be the most enjoyable trips.
  • Take a potty break as soon as you walk through the gate. Many times we’ve been far out by the moose exhibit and I’ll hear the dreaded phrase “I HAVE TO GO POTTY!”. Rushing back to the nearest bathroom can be avoided most times if we try to go first thing.
  • Bring a MINI-diaper (needs) bag: or mini-stroller with compartments. There’s nothing wrong with the big bags and big strollers (I love them!), but when you’re dealing with crowds and multiple kiddos it’s so much easier to be hands-free with little to tote around the grounds.
  • Bring Cash. If you want to feed the birds with a seed stick, sticks are $1 each or 6 for $5 and are cash only. As for the pony ride, launch trampoline, and camel rides – they recently changed from being cash only to now also accepting cards! This makes it a lot easier to be able to say – Yes! We can ride the camel today! I love planning little surprises like this on our adventures.
Potter Park Zoo Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

Why Do You Love Potter Park Zoo?

We’d love to hear from you! What does your family like best about a visit to Potter Park Zoo?

Our favorite animals are the otters and the gray wolves. Otters seem not to have a care in the world, and the wolves always seem so deep in thought. It’s fun to make these types of observations with my kids.

Although we love hanging out with the animals at Potter Park, I don’t think my family could be like the one in the movie “We Bought a Zoo.” That’s why I’m so grateful to Potter Park Zoo for the care they take with animals and for giving us access to the gift of wildlife in the heart of our city.

Have fun on your next visit to Potter Park Zoo!

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