17 Reasons to Visit Potter Park Zoo All Year Long – Plus Tips for Your Visit!

potter_park_zoo_meet_the_birds_2NEW-FEATURE

Don’t just Walk the Grounds – Experience Potter Park Zoo in all of its Splendor

Potter Park Zoo
1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

Potter Park Zoo is a hidden gem 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.

Covid-19 Potter Park Zoo Procedures:

Potter Park Zoo has implemented purchased-timed entry and masks are required. Visit their website to plan your next trip and purchase your family’s visit time.

**Things to do are subject to change due to rapid changes happening in our state. Be sure to confirm before you visit.

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 imagined in my youth.

Potter Park Zoo is right here, accessible for all Lansing families to enjoy.

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Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI

Potter Park Zoo is Worth Exploring Year-Round

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

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

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

SUMMER: Summer zoo visits mean 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.

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

FALL: 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 the peak weather for taking your leisurely time walking through the grounds.

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WINTER: Winter means FREE parking at Potter Park Zoo.

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.

Potter Park Zoo Wonderland of Lights Kids Lansing

SPRING: Spring means it’s time for “Night at the Museum.”

Night at the Museum is an event where 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.

17 Reasons to Visit Potter Park Zoo During Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall

No matter the day of the year, if you’re looking to get the kids out and have a good time – Potter Park Zoo is clutch. It’s a guaranteed good day out. Yes, it may require a bit of prep and planning but it’s so darn worth it.

Here are some things you’ll love:

potter park zoo, zoo, kids at zoo, zoo entrance

1) Storytime at Potter Park Zoo

Through peak months you’ll enjoy storytime with a visit from a live animal.

It’s an interactive experience and it happens weekly!

Find the story time schedule on their website.

Potter Park Zoo story time live animals downtown Lansing kids

2) Monday Mornings are FREE at Potter Park Zoo

If you’re an Ingham County resident from open to noon you get FREE admission to the Zoo every Monday.

Parking is $3 during peak months and FREE during winter (off-peak.)

3) Zookeeper Encounters

Be a zookeeper for a day.

If you or your little one have dreamed about working closely with animals these encounters are a perfect way to start.

4) Learning Experiences

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

potter park zoo, zoo, kids at zoo, lion, lion exhibit

5) Animal Experiences

Get up close and personal with big cats, penguins and more! Here’s how to get started: more information.

6) Stay Overnight with the Animals

***This portion of Potter Parks Offerings are

suspended until further notice due to Covid-19.

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 at Potter Park 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!

7) 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 here.

8) 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.

potter park zoo, zoo, kids at zoo, boo at the zoo, maze, hay maze

9) 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.)

10) Pony Rides

The pony rides are a big hit with my kids. And if I’m honest I love it just as much as they do because their smiling faces light up as they circle around the loop.

They love getting an up-close and personal experience with the ponies. It’s $3 to ride and worth every penny. Kids’

Riding ponies at potter park zoo lansing summer with kids

11) Stop by the Petting Zoo

The petting zoo is another highlight. You can pet the goats and say hi to the other farm animals like pigs, and llamas.

For a quarter you’ll get a handful of food to feed the goats.

Potter-Park-Petting-Zoo-Kids-brushing-goats

12) 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.

potter park zoo, zoo, camel, camel ride, kids at zoo

13) Launch Trampoline

I broke down one summer day and said the launch Trampoline. I can’t believe I missed out on those thrilled smiles and laughs heard across the grounds for so long! Plus you can view the entire grounds from this high height.

What is the Launch trampoline? It is just as it sounds, a trampoline and a bungee launch. Safety gear secures the kids in and they start by jumping on the trampoline. The launching bungees send the kids soaring into the sky and back down to jump and launch again from the trampoline.

They have specific bungees for different body weights and heights making it fun and safe for all ages.

Launch-Trampoline

14) It’s a Great Bonding Experience

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.

potter park zoo pony ride downtown Lansing

15) They are Always Getting 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!

16) 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.

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17) 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.

4 Potter Park Zoo Day Trip Tips

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:

1) 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.

2) Plan to Take a Bathroom Break at the Entrance

Head to the bathroom 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.

3) Bring a Small Diaper Bag or Umbrella Stroller

Grab your mini-diaper 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.

4) 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, zoo, camel, camel ride, kids at zoo
Camel Rides at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI

Tickets, Hours & Admission

What’s Open

Parts of the zoo may open or close due to current safety measures. Check Potter Park Zoo’s website before heading out to see what’s currently open.

Timed entry tickets (purchased online before your visit) are being used to space guest’s arrival times. Tickets are available 14 days in advance.

Parking

  • Parking is free from 11/1 through 3/31.
  • At all other times, non-resident parking is $5 and resident parking is $3

April – October Admission Prices

  • Resident Adult – $7.00
  • Non-Resident Adult – $14.00
  • Resident Senior (60+) – $5.00
  • Non-Resident Senior – $12.00
  • All Children (ages 3-12) – $5.00
  • All Children Under 3 – FREE
  • Residents are admitted on non-holiday Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon for FREE.

* Resident refers to anyone living in Ingham County

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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