Potter Park Zoo Planner: 13 Reasons to Visit this Lansing Zoo, Plus 5 Trip Tips

potter park zoo lansing

Experience Potter Park Zoo in all of its Splendor

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

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.

Potter Park Zoo is a hidden gem in the heart of Lansing and it’s a blast to visit all year long – spring, summer, fall, and yes, even winter!

The many fun events and learning opportunities Potter Park Zoo offer are a gift to all that visit.

As a kid, I remember thinking Potter Park Zoo was a hidden oasis, reserved for precious moments with my family.

Now, as an adult, I’m thankful for the way they not only create year-round opportunities for kids but plan community events for the public.

I’m so glad that Potter Park Zoo is right here, accessible for all Lansing families, and families from farther away, to enjoy.

Potter Park Zoo is located 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 at Potter Park Zoo

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.

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Feeding Birds at Potter Park Zoo in the Summertime

Fall at Potter Park Zoo

One of Lansing’s favorite events of the season is the Fall Zooo-tacular.

Trick-or-treat through the grounds, wear your costume, ride the wagon, and go through the straw maze.

The fall season is one of our family’s favorites because the weather is perfect for a leisurely stroll through the zoo.

The Fall Zoo-tacular is held at Potter Park Zoo over several days in October

Winter at Potter Park Zoo

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.

The whole zoo is covered in lights, reflecting the wonder of the season. It helps get us excited for the holidays.

Potter Park Zoo Wonderland of Lights Kids Lansing
The Annual Wonderland of Lights at Potter Park Zoo runs late November well into December

Spring at Potter Park Zoo

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 summer camp season is approaching.

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

13 Reasons to Visit Potter Park Zoo

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.

Please note that some of Potter Park Zoo’s regular offerings are suspended due to covid. Check their website for the status of the programs you’re interested in.

Here are some things you’ll love:


Storytime at Potter Park Zoo

During peak summer months, you’ll enjoy storytimes that include 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
Summer storytimes at Potter Park Zoo are interactive

Monday Mornings are FREE at Potter Park Zoo

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

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


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.


Learning Experiences

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

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Animal Experiences

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

Here’s how to get started: more information.


Stay Overnight with the Animals

A friend of mine likes to fish by the river close to the zoo and explained how the animal sounds he heard were a priceless experience!

So, when I learned that you could spend the night at Potter Park zoo, I could only imagine what kind of sound you’d hear and how it would be such a unique experience.

I’ve added “spend the night at the zoo” this to my bucket list for sure!


Off-Campus Family Program

Sometimes, the zoo comes to locals in Lansing with events like “Falconeers” and “Zoo in your Neighborhood.”

These live animal encounters around Greater Lansing happen throughout the year at places like the local libraries. Find the next one here.


Special Events at Potter Park Zoo

It’s extra special when you can visit the zoo for an event.

We mentioned it earlier, but it’s work saying again: 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.

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Straw Maze at Potter Park Zoo’s Fall Zoo-tacular

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 (summer 2021) and worth every penny.

Riding ponies at potter park zoo lansing summer with kids
Pony rides at Potter Park Zoo

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.


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

Miro Bungy

What is the Miro Bungy? It is basically a giant trampoline combined with a bungee cord.

After you put on safety gear and get hooked in, you start jumping on the trampoline.

The bouncing bungees send the participants soaring into the sky and back down and back down again, over and over.

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

I broke down one summer day and finally did the Miro Bungy. I can’t believe I waited so long – I was all smiles and laughter. Plus you can view the entire grounds from this high height!


The Zoo is Constantly 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!


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 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 5 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) Take a Bathroom Break at the Entrance When You Arrive
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 as hands-free as possible.

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, Miro Bungy, 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.

5) Consider Getting a Potter Park Zoo Membership
I love having memberships to key places like Potter Park Zoo because it frees up time and lets us go for shorter visits more ofter.

Potter Park Zoo members get perks at over 100 other zoos and aquariums around the country, including FREE admission to John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids and half-off admission to the Detroit Zoo.

If you visit several zoos in a year with your family, the membership pays for itself!

We used our Potter Park Zoo Membership to Get in Free at John Ball Zoo

Admisssion Tickets, Hours & Parking

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. Masks are required indoors.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate.

After Labor Day through Oct. 31
Weekdays: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Weekends: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

November 1 through March 31
10 a.m to 4 p.m.

April 1 through Labor Day
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

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

November – March Admission Prices
All Adults – $4.00
All Children (ages 3-12) – $3.00
All Children Under 3 – FREE

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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Camel Rides are offered at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI

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