Jackson County, MI Area Guide

Jackson County is located in the central/southern portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. As of 2000, Jackson County had a population of approximately 158,000. Jackson County is the only county in the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county seat is Jackson.

Jackson County ‘s countryside consists of rolling farmlands dotted by many lakes, with a significant portion of the northeast corner of the county part of state forest land. Recreational opportunities abound. Jackson also offers a variety of cultural activities including the Cascades Waterfall Park. Many of the rural towns have retained a turn-of-the-century look, with well-preserved buildings and decorative landscaping.


The Jackson County area was first known to be inhabited by Pottawatomi, Shawnee, Kickapoo, Sac and Fox Indians. In the late 1820’s, settlers from New York began to arrive in the area. It is named after President Andrew Jackson, and is considered to be one of Michigan’s “Cabinet counties”, named for members of Jackson’s Cabinet.

Horace Blackman built the first log cabin in the area in 1829. The Michigan Central Railroad arrived in 1841, escalating growth and leading to the discovery and production of coal mining. Sandstone was also discovered in the area, and a diverse economy soon developed around Jackson, while the outlying areas developing agricultural production in the areas of corn, oats, onions and potatoes.

Parks and Recreation

The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department is dedicated to providing a clean and safe environment for the county’s residents and visitors. The department is committed to maintaining a beautiful escape for everyone to enjoy.

Cascade Falls Park

Cascade Falls Park is the best known attraction in the area. This 457 acre park a man-made, illuminated waterfall with musical accompaniment enjoyed by all since 1932. The Cascades Falls are 500 feet in length, a vertical height of 64 feet, and a total width of 60 feet. There are 6 fountains, 16 falls (11 are illuminated), 1,230 colored electric lights, and a 2,000 gallon per minute water pump that filters, chlorinates, and recycles water in a closed loop system. Some prefer to watch the dancing lights and listen to the beautiful music from comfortable seats, while the more energetic climb to the top of the 500 foot hill alongside the six giant fountains while dodging the spraying water.

Clear Lake County Park
Clear Lake County Park is a 5 acre park with portable toilets, picnic area, shelter, and playground and swimming area.

Clark Lake County Park
This 7 acre park includes grills, picnic area, playground area, swimming area, boat launch and portable toilets are also available.

Gillett’s Lake County Park
Gillett’s Lake County Park includes a swimming area, shelter and picnic area, a playground, softball diamond and portable toilets.

Grass Lake County Park
Grass Lake County Park is a 9 acre park which has picnic areas, grills, a shelter, playground area, modern restrooms, a boat launch and a swimming area.

Horton Mill Pond County Park
Horton Mill Pond County Park is a 5 acre park that features a picnic shelter, playground area and pit toilets.

Lime Lake County Park
Lime Lake County Park is a 2 acre park including a boat launch, a swimming area and portable toilets.

Little Wolf Lake County Park
Little Wolf Lake County Park features a playground, portable toilets, picnic area and a swimming area.

Vandercook Lake County Park
Vandercook Lake County Park includes a swimming area, 2 ball diamonds, a boat launch, playground area, modern restrooms and a picnic shelter.

For a complete list of parks in the area, please visit



Jackson County is home to numerous exciting attractions. Come play a round at Cascades Golf Course or visit the Cascades Manor House. A visit to Jackson County wouldn’t be complete without a night on the town visit to The Michigan Theatre or Jackson Symphony Orchestra. Come experience all that Jackson has to offer!

Cascades Golf Course

The Cascades course, located in the southern part of Jackson, is a course that a golfer must play if he or she wants to play one of the best public courses in Michigan. The Cascades course is challenging, long by most standards, and features water and beautiful scenery. The signature hole is #17, a par four measuring 383 yards from the white tees. A creek runs across the fairway 240 yards out and the approach is played to a severely sloped green guarded by trees and bunkers.

Cascades Manor House

The Cascades Manor House is located in southwest Jackson. It was originally built as the clubhouse for the 18-hole championship Cascades Golf Course and named the Cascades Club House. The park was a gift to Jackson County from William and Matilda Sparks Foundation, Inc. Under their direction, the famous illuminated Cascade Water Falls, the Cascades Golf Course and the Cascades Club House were created.

The Cascades Club House was designed by Jackson architect Clair Allen. Construction of the original clubhouse project began in the fall of 1929, and the clubhouse opened to the public in 1932. The intention was that the clubhouse would become the ” Community Gathering Place” where you could enjoy an excellent meal at reasonable prices.

In 1993 a major renovation of the clubhouse began under the direction of the Cascades Park Foundation with the intention that all proceeds from the facility be placed back into the parks system. During this time the dinning room was expanded, the kitchen replaced and major repairs were made. In January 1995 the clubhouse was reopened under the new name of Cascades Manor House and was once again available for public use.

Jackson Symphony Orchestra

For its 59th season the JSO has planned a series of five concerts to enlighten, engage and entertain its wonderful and loyal audience. Masterpieces of the past including Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, Schumann’s Spring Symphony, and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 will be mixed with soon-to-be favorites of the future: Carl Vine’s Piano Concerto and our own Bruce Brown’s Quixote. Members of the orchestra, whom you hear month after month, play with expression, passion and amazing technique.

The Michigan Theatre

The Michigan Theatre, the last and largest theatre built in downtown Jackson, opened April 30, 1930. It was built for the mainstream popular entertainment of the day — vaudeville and movies. For just pennies, the public was treated like royalty as it passed under a glittering marquee into a Hollywood fantasyland. The building’s exotic Spanish style, lavish interior plasterwork, ornate polychrome terra cotta facade, carved walnut furniture, plush wool carpeting, heavy damask draperies, stained glass light fixtures, and oil paintings entertained the patrons as much as the attractions on the stage and screens. It was the first air conditioned building in downtown Jackson and offered a place to escape the summer heat.


Jackson County is home to exciting events that take place year round. Come experience Life in the Serengeti or the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. The Jackson Family Fall Festival is something you surely won’t want to miss! Come create lasting memories with your family and friends here in Jackson County.

Life in the Serengeti

Nowhere else on earth do large animals exist in such incredible diversity and volume than the African Serengeti. Chris VanLonkhuyzen will share his ultimate safari experience in these grasslands as well as other stunning locations including Tarangire N.P. in Tanzania and the Ngogorongore Crater in Kenya. Come enjoy a personal perspective of these far-away majestic destinations! Advanced registration is required, so call 517-782-3453 to reserve a spot today!

Come Play!

On Saturday April 4, the Commonwealth Commerce Center will be hosting a family-friendly event featuring Lego creations, tables of Lego to play with, other kids’ activities, food, music, raffles and information booths about Autism and resources within the community. A dinner and silent auction will cap the evening off.

All proceeds go to 4 Paws for Ability, a service dog organization, on behalf of Whit Warren who is in need of an Autism assistance dog.

Carp Carnival

The 52 nd Annual Carp Carnival features family carnival rides, games, food, Lions Famous Chicken BBQ, Lions Bingo Tent, a fishing contest and live music.

Michigan Shakespeare Festival

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is in its 15 th season and presents quality professional theatre celebrating some of the famed Bard’s most notable works. This season’s Shakespeare performances include “The Tempest” and “As You Like It.” For music lovers, the festival will also feature “Side By Side By Sondheim.” A free family show, “Laffin’ School” is presented each Saturday morning.

Jackson Family Fall Festival

The Jackson Family Fall Festival is spectacular for all ages. There is something for every age. The festival features live music in the entertainment tent, bingo, Texas Hold’em tournaments, Euchre tournaments, carnival rides, kids entertainment, craft show, dinners daily featuring, fish, chicken and golumkis.