Skip to main content

See also:

Fenner Nature Center: an outdoor and indoor natural history museum

Fenner Nature Center building from parking lot
Fenner Nature Center building from parking lot
Photo by the author

On the southeast side of Lansing, there is an incredible experience that awaits museumgoers. Part center for the natural history of the mid-Michigan area and part hiking adventure for outdoors types, Fenner Nature Center attempts to capture the best of both worlds. In addition to the regular functions, there are a number of special occasions throughout the year that add variety for the curious, whatever their special tastes or preferences. Perhaps the most incredible feature of all is that this center seems to preserve the illusion of an authentic escape into the countryside while actually being located within the city limits of Lansing!

The nature center building

The center features many educational formats including viewing areas, nature exhibits and programs. there are informative displays centering on Michigan's own native flora and fauna, as well as local geology. A library is also available, as are classrooms which are available to rent. A gift shop with books and children's items rounds out the indoor facility. It is frequently the setting for school tour groups and parties.

The outdoor attractions

The outdoor habitats include a variety of natural settings spread over 130 acres. These include several miles of hiking and paved trails, woodlands, wetlands, a chestnut grove and pine plantation and ponds with local turtle, frog and reptile species. Wild turkeys and mammals as well as hundreds of bird species are also yearly visitors to the center. The trails are a great way to get exercise and information about our natural habitat. Although the Fenner Nature Center is open all year, it should be stressed that it is at its best in deep summer or on a nice Indian summer day in October. It also hosts special events such as the Maple Syrup Festival in March 2014. The overall experience is somewhat similar to the Meridian Historical Village in Okemos (see the article at, with the illusion preserved that this is a real getaway, even though it is just minutes from downtown Lansing.