KDL Curiosity Lab On the Go: Fish Ladder Park

Well hello! It’s great to see you’re as excited about SUMMER as we are! There’s no better place to be than West Michigan in the summer time – with so much to do, so much fun nature to explore, and a hundred reasons to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer.  

We recently visited one of Grand Rapid’s secret treasures – Fish Ladder Park. Of course, the name sounds funny and it’s a little odd to imagine fish climbing up a ladder, but this little park in downtown might be just the place for you to get to know a bit of history, a bit of biology and a bit of adventure.  

Location: 560 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

What do to there:                                                                                              

The first thing we did when we explored the park was to run up to the enclosed cement path that leads to the river. We glanced at the giant fish below hoping that they could or would swim/hop/flop up the fish ladder to get upstream. While the big ones were much too large to do that, it’s great fun to explain to kids that people have learned how to help fish move from downstream to upstream. You might even see locals fishing while you are there.

After checking out the fish and looking for bird nests in the brush and trees nearby, check out the hill behind it for some great low-hanging climbing trees and some tall pine trees behind them. This was the perfect place to create an impromptu obstacle course!  Kids can hop like a frog, pretend to swim like a fish, penguin-walk and crab crawl all the way to the finish line of your choice! Rolling down the hill or enjoying a nature scavenger hunt when they find the roundest pebble, biggest leaf and thinnest twig might also be a great step in exploring this park.  

For some education-flavored fun, there’s an amazing alphabet mural on the far side of the park where kids can run and sing through the alphabet or if they’re older they can think of words that start with each alphabet sound. 

Last but not least, there’s a bike path that you can take to the bridge if you’re up for the walk or ride. It’s good to remember that supervision for littles is a must, but you probably already knew that when you looked at the river! ? 

Because this park is short and sweet, it can make a good place for a picnic, a quick trip for something fun to do or a way to tire the kids out before some ice cream.  Whatever you do at this little gem, be sure to enjoy it!