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Hawk Island Park: 11 Things to Do in Lansing’s Favorite Park

Bring Kids of All Ages to Hawk Island Park

As a mom who has been play-dating at parks in the Lansing area for over a decade, I can pinkie promise that if you head over to Hawk Island Park with kids of any age—and at any time of year—they will have a blast! And so will you.

Finding a park that caters to everyone can be challenging, but this one seriously has it ALL  – from baby swings and a splash pad for toddlers to swimming, boat rentals, fishing, sand volleyball, and biking for the older kids.

After summer, Hawk Island Park actually gets us excited for winter to hit! The downhill tubing and warming shack are a ton of fun. The tubing is great for anyone – from the age of two to active grandparents.

Hawk Island Park isn’t just great for all ages, it’s also great for ALL seasons.

Hawk Island Beach and splash pad Kids water playground
Hawk Island Park, 1601 E Cavanaugh Rd, Lansing, MI 48910

11 Reasons Why Hawk Island Park is Simply The Best

1 – Location, Location, Location

One of my favorite parts of Hawk Island Park is the location.

Hawk Island Park is in south Lansing, on 1601 E Cavanaugh Rd, between Pennsylvania Ave and Aurelius Rd. The park’s hours are between sunrise and sunset. Winter hours depend on conditions—you can check by calling 517-676-2233.

It’s an easy drive from any side of Lansing (or suburb).

This makes it a great regular meeting spot for making memories with everyone you love, no matter what side of town you’re from!

Hawk Island Park Lansing MI Playground
Hawk Island Park playground overlooking the beach

2 – The Splash Pad at Hawk Island Park is a Big Draw

In the hotter summer months, the splash pad is a blast with everything from small, gentle fountains for the little ones to exciting pour-over buckets for the older kids.

The Hawk Island Park splash pad is located directly next to one of the parking lots, the snack bar, and bathrooms, making this portion of the park an easy walk-up and cool-off destination convenient for an afternoon snack or ice cream treat!

Hawk Island Splash Pad kids playing in water

There are lounge chairs available around the splash pad area. Most days, they seem packed, but most Lansing families are kind enough to point out an open spot.

If all are full, just wait a few minutes. There always seems to be a nice rotation, so it’s likely a spot will open up quickly.

3 – The Beach

Water safety is so important.

The beach is a quick walk across the lawn and offers another fun place to swim and cool off.  During off hours and when there are no available lifeguards to staff, the beach/swimming area is swim at your own risk.

Hawk Island prohibits the following in all swimming areas: footballs, Frisbees, inflatable toys, tubes, life jackets*, noodles, or any other inflatable/flotation device. *Coast Guard-approved life jackets are allowed and encouraged.

Water Supervision Rules

  • Children aged 3 and under must be supervised by an adult in the water.
  • Children aged 4-7 must have an adult either in the water or in the sand area if they remain between the sidewalk and the first buoy line. Alternatively, they must be accompanied by an adult beyond the first buoy line (deep end).
  • Children aged 8-11 must be under adult supervision from the beach area.
Hawk Island Beach Kids water playground

The vast grounds make it easy to find a spot perfect for your family. A portion of the beach area is a well-maintained grassy area.

A trick we like to use is to head to the beach first and then to the splash pad last to wash away all of the sand before jumping back in the car.

Hawk_Island_Park_Beach

4 – Winter Tubing is Amazing at Hawk Island Park

Families visit from around the state to experience the tubing hill at Hawk Island Park! Once you go for the first time, you’ll want to make it a yearly tradition.

Here’s why:

  • The mechanical hill lift makes it super easy for anyone to get to the top (again, and again, and again) so you can save all energy for the thrill of the ride.
  • There are single and double tubes. Riding together makes it really nice and helpful if you have little kids.
Hawk Island Tubing Hill from the bottom
View from the bottom of Hawk Island Park’s tubing hill
  • You can warm up in the lodge, where concessions are available, or at the fire pit located at the bottom of the tubing hill.
Hawk Island fire pit at tubing hill
  • BONUS: The tubing hill can be rented out exclusively for a group. Great for a family reunion, birthday party, or field trip group.
Hawk_Island_Park_Tubing_Hill_Top

Find this year’s rates and details by calling the park office at 517-676-2233.

5 – You Can Reserve Pavilions For Gatherings

Pavilions and grills are located around the park and can be reserved for events up to a year in advance by calling the park office at 517-676-2233.

6 – Your Annual Pass Covers Admission + Free Parking

There is an entrance fee of $3 for Ingham County residents or $5 for non-residents.

Instead, you can pay a $35 annual fee if you live in Ingham County ($45 non-resident) – this gets you not only into Hawk Island Park for a year but also into the Lake Lansing parks, Burchfield Park, and parking at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing – if you visit these throughout the summer, it’s well worth it to get the pass.

Hawk-Island-Bike-Loop
The boardwalk at Hawk Island

You can take your chances by showing up and staking your place, but the reserved areas are very cool and worth the reservation.

Along with the pavilions and grills, it has a special covered area with picnic tables located by the splash pad and beach.

Hawk Island Park kids

7 – Hawk Island Park has a Dog Park and Other Dog-Friendly Features

For parents of fur babies:

Dogs are allowed at Hawk Island Park with the exception of the area between the playground and the concession stand, which comprises the beach and splash pad area. All dogs must be on a 6-foot or less leash. 

The Soldan Dog Park, adjacent to Hawk Island Park, is a City of Lansing facility managed in cooperation with the Ingham County Parks Department. Access requires an electronic pass card. Spanning over 15 acres, it offers diverse natural surroundings, trails, a pond, an open field, pet/human drinking fountains, and a dog washing station.

Hawk Island Park Trail in the Fall
Hawk Island Park paved trail to Soldan Dog Park

8 – Hawk Island Park Trails are Elite

Some want to play, but others want to bike? If you have no kids for the day, take the loop!

The Hawk Island Park trail paved walking/biking path circles right by the playground and is a beautiful 1.5. mile loop taking you around the entire grounds, some of which twist through the woods.

The path is easy with a stroller or great for little bike riders (or your newest two-wheel learner!) to practice and ride safely.

Hawk-Island-Trails

BONUS: The park’s hiking trails connect to the Lansing River City Trail, so the park is a great start and endpoint for a longer run or bike.

You can head south on the Lansing River Trail to several other parks or north connecting you to the MSU Campus or to Downtown Lansing.

Hawk Island Water Park Lansing Kids

There are also off-shoot trails throughout the woods along the water that you’ll love as well.

Also, when I happen to have a few hours to myself, the paved path is a beautiful place to run or meet up for a walk with a friend.

9 – The Hawk Island Park Playground is a Kid Magnet

The community-built playground is one of the best in the area.

The wooden play structure has two sections for different ages—perfect for those of us wrangling babies, toddlers, and elementary-aged children simultaneously.

Hawk-Island-Park-Lansing

I will warn you though, kids do not like to leave this playground! The best part of that is just when they seem to be getting overheated, it’s perfect timing to run over to the water attractions.

Pack lots of water, they’re going to need it.

Hawk-Island-Toddler-Playground

10 – Hunt For Geocaches Throughout The Park

There are a few geocaches located along the trails. Kids love to search and find treasures here.

If it’s your first time geocaching try an app on your phone or Geocaching 101.

Hawk Island Outdoor Play Lansing Michigan Water Kids

11 – Paddle Boat and Kayak Rentals Available

Floating on the “swan” (swan paddle boats) is a highlight during the warmer months. You can rent these paddle boats as well as kayaks at Hawk Island Park. The rental building is located by the south parking lot and trailhead.

You are also welcome to bring your own boat.

Boating is so much fun at Hawk Island because you get to see the actual island up close in the center of the lake, catch wildlife at a close distance, and see the park in a new way.

Hawk-Island-Swan-Boat

Visitor FAQs

How much is Hawk Island Park admission?

There is an entrance fee of $3 for Ingham County residents or $5 for non-residents. Annual passes are also available for $35 for Ingham County residents ($45 non-resident).

Where are the restrooms at Hawk Island Park?

Bathrooms are located on each side of the park – one next to the splash pad and the other across the park toward the tubing hill.

Is Hawk Island Park stroller-friendly?

Yes! We recommend bringing a stroller or cart to navigate the grounds.

Where can I find a Hawk Island Park map?

Ingham County Parks’ website includes a Hawk Island map as a PDF.

Find More Parks in Near Lansing

Want more? Explore other phenomenal parks using the Best Lansing Parks Guide.

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Melissa Kranzo

Melissa is a wife and mother of three who loves to explore - and then write to tell about it! Melissa has lived in several areas of the US, and every move back to Michigan only increases her love and appreciation for the people, culture, and beauty of the mitten. When she’s not outside exploring or writing, you can find her trying to fit in a run before preschool pickup, teaching classes at her church, or filling up her phone’s camera roll with way too many pictures to ever print.

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