The charming capital city of Michigan is a captivating mecca for culture in the Midwest, and there are plenty of things to do in Lansing for all. There are many museums, galleries, fantastic restaurants, and natural wonders to explore throughout the lively town.
It’s located right in “the middle of the mitten” and is often affectionately referred to as L-Town. The sprawling metropolis has a cosmopolitan atmosphere, and the Grand River flows right through its center, adding a lovely scenic setting to its bustling city streets. Get to know this awesome city with these fun things to do in Lansing, Michigan.
Where is Lansing?
Many people believe that Detroit is the capital of Michigan as it is the largest city. However, it is good old Lansing that can claim the capital of Michigan. The population of Lansing is just over 112, 000 making it the sixth-largest city in Michigan, and if we measure by the metro area, it is the third-largest city after Detroit and Grand Rapids.
The Downtown area has a pretty historic district and plenty of government buildings. East Lansing, a suburb, is home to the Michigan State Spartans.
Many people use the term “Mid Michigan” when talking about Lansing as it is quite literally in the middle of the state. Lansing is 45 minutes from Jackson, 1.5 hours to Detroit, and 1.45 hours to Grand Haven, a popular beach destination in Michigan.
The Best Things to Do in Lansing, Michigan
Michigan History Center
Take a transformative journey through all the past eras of Lansing with unique displays detailing the city’s historic events. Several galleries at the Michigan History Center are dedicated to various interesting topics, including everything from early European settlers to the Civil War to automobile manufacturing.
Artifacts, photographs, replicas, and costumed interpreters serve to educate about the rich heritage of this great city, like the Motown movement and copper mining. At the end, you’ll find an atrium with a three-story tall topographical map of the entire state.
- Address: 702 W Kalamazoo St, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Friday& Saturday : 10:00 am -4:00 pm, Sunday : 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Woldumar Nature Center
An environmental education and conservation facility, Woldumar Nature Center is an expansive preserve of native wilderness. It’s 178 acres and has five miles of trails to traverse.
Hikes here are breathtaking in any season, whether it’s snowshoeing the winter away or a scenic summertime stroll through the lush landscape. It’s also home to the wonderfully restored Moon Log Cabin, known as one of Eaton county’s oldest homes.
- Address: 5739 Old Lansing Rd, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: 7:00 am -7:00 pm
Impression 5 Science Center
Impression 5 is an interactive educational center in Lansing that’s great for learning all about science in the funniest ways possible at any age.
Every exhibit is designed to engage all five senses and involve a bunch of hands-on activities. In the chemistry lab, professionals present special workshops and experiments that you can also sign up to participate in.
This space encourages the curiosity of all visitors, with delightful displays like standing inside a giant bubble!
- Address: 200 Museum Dr, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Thurs – Sunday: 09:30 am – 4:00 pm. Closed Monday-Wednesday.
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is dedicated to the iconic American car brand, Oldsmobile. It’s ideal for automobile aficionados and car connoisseurs, with exhibits exploring the history and design of classic and more contemporary vehicles.
There are over 60 different models on display, including the original steam carriage, REO Speedwagon, and the final make, the Aleros, plus an abundance of authentic memorabilia. It’s a celebration of the once thriving transportation industry in Lansing and an interesting look back on the exciting economic development of the city from 1883 to 2005.
- Address: 240 Museum Dr, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 am- 5:00 pm
- Cost of Admission:
- General Admission: $10,
- Seniors (65+),
- Children & Veterans: $7
- Children (under 12) and Members: Free
Located on the Michigan University campus, the Abrams Planetarium is an amazing space to learn about astronomy and one of the best things to do in Lansing. The giant domed ceiling regularly offers special shows for the public to immerse themselves in space and explore the elaborate starry skies above.
Discover planets, stars, galaxies, constellations, and other celestial elements in the cosmos through vivid and impressive imagery. It also happens to be home to the most unusual and probably least known little museum in the whole city.
It’s a collection of over 1,000 moist towelettes from all over the world accumulated over the course of the past twenty years.
- Address: 755 Science Rd, East Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Monday-Friday: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Saturday: 7:30 pm-8:05 pm, Sunday: 2:00pm – 4:05 pm
Take a River Boat Tour
Spend a day getting out on the gorgeous Grand River of Lansing by taking a boat tour on the Michigan Princess – it’s one of the best things to do in Michigan! Classic steamboats cruises offer different entertainment packages, from live music to special luncheon events.
It’s also easy to rent a kayak, paddleboard, or canoe and then choose your own route out on the sparkling waters. It’s a whole other perspective to see the city from, and there’s breathtaking beauty all along the natural wonder-filled way.
Lansing River Trail
Wandering the River Trail is one of the best things in Lansing. It winds its way along the city, following the delightful waterway, and offers some of the most scenic settings.
It’s 13 miles total and spacious enough for plenty of walkers, joggers, and bikers to enjoy the great outdoors. It’s divided into three major sections and has a variety of terrains, from paved paths to wooden boardwalks that go through woodlands and wetlands.
It passes by all kinds of cool cultural sites from galleries, a farmers market, shops, museums, eateries, and even the Potter Park Zoo to stop or just meander along and soak up some sunshine in the fresh air.
Fenner Nature Center
Fenner Nature Center serves to educate visitors on the importance of environmental conservation. It’s a vast 134 acres and has over four miles of nature trails. The visitors center offers hands-on exhibits and even live native species, including deer, lizards, and birds. Fun events are held here regularly, like guided twilight snowshoe walks or amphibian mapping, and pets are allowed on hikes as long as they’re on a leash.
- Address: 2020 E Mt Hope Ave, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday- Friday: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm , Saturday – Sunday : 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Lansing Sculpture Walk
Located on the campus of Lansing Community College, this sculpture walk consists of over 600 unique installations by different local artists spread throughout the verdant 48 acres.
The Red Ribbon in the Sky is one of the most iconic pieces on the walk at 30 feet high, and the newest addition, Upward Bound, is an even taller modern abstract work that’s a must-see while in the city.
- Address: 300 S Washington Square Suite 100, Lansing (GPS)
Meridian Historical Village
Meridian Historical Village is a picturesque park that lies just outside of Lansing and is well worth the trip outside of city limits. It contains a collection of well-preserved shops and houses constructed in the 19th century.
It includes a church and a schoolhouse that are also available for events. It’s a great way to appreciate the local history and enjoy a serene stroll to see some amazing examples of classic Lansing architecture.
- Address: 5151 Marsh Rd, Okemos (GPS)
- Hours: Wednesday : 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Saturday : 10:00 am -2:00 pm
MSU is home to the beautiful Beaumont Tower, a famous city fixture. It was built in the early 1900s, and inside is an ancient instrument developed in the 15th century called a carillon. It’s a pitched percussion apparatus played with a keyboard and contains many cast bells.
This one, in particular, has 49, all added at different times over many decades. They host public concerts and a series where you can hear all sorts of songs being played out over the campus. It’s such a unique and iconic Lansing landmark to see.
- Address: Michigan State University (GPS)
- Hours: 24hrs
Hawk Island Park
Hawk Island Park is a haven for outdoor adventure in Lansing. There’s a scenic trail that’s a mile and a half long to wander, a playground, a picnic area, sports fields, lawn games, and a concession stand if you work up an appetite and need a snack.
If you want to enjoy a more water-based pastime here, there’s a lovely little beach for swimming, a splash pad, and a fishing dock, plus paddle boats and row boats available to rent. In the winter season, it’s also a very popular spot for sledding and tubing.
- Address: 1601 E Cavanaugh Rd, Lansing (GPS)
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
This super contemporary art museum is in the heart of the charming MSU campus. Even the facade is fun as it looks like a giant shark from the outside. Inside they always have rotating exhibits in many mediums, from painting to multimedia to photography to sculpture, so there’s something new and exciting to see here at any time.
The permanent collection has over 10,000 works from international, national, and local artists. The focus is often on timely issues of regional relevance and global significance, amplifying the voices and perspectives of the underrepresented and oppressed communities.
- Address: 547 E Circle Dr, East Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Thursday – Sunday :10: 00 am – 6:00 pm
- Cost of Admission: Free
Enjoy the many Festivals
Lansing is commonly referred to as the festival capital of Michigan. Over 60 events take place throughout the city over the course of a year. If you’re in town, check and see what fun celebrations may be on deck.
Of all the fairs, there are a few fan favorites like the Scrapfest, a repurpose-focused art festival, Mighty Uke Day, the largest ukulele festival in the Midwest, and the Bourbon Barrel Aged Festival, featuring some of the most carefully crafted beers around!
Michigan State Capitol Building
The Michigan State Capitol was constructed in 1879 and is set in the heart of downtown Lansing. The elaborate Victorian era facade took six years to build. It was one of the first of its kind to feature a cast iron dome in the country.
You can walk through the building on your own or take a guided tour to learn more about the historical structure. The construction includes more than nine acres of hand-painted surfaces.
It’s even encouraged to lay back on the glass floor in the center of the space to get the best view in the house of the famously stunning ceiling. If you are in Lansing around the holiday seasons, one of the best things to do in Michigan for Christmas is head downtown to the capital to see the lighting of the massive Christmas tree!
- Address: 100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Friday :9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Catch a Lansing Lugnuts Game
Lansing is home to a very popular minor league baseball team, and it’s a good time to go to a game, whether you’re a fan or not. It’s not just your average sporting event, as there will surely be enough quirky antics to keep your attention at the Lansing Lugnuts stadium.
Head to the Cooley Law School Stadium and prepare for a show. Half the fun is feasting, so luckily, there are six full-service concession stands. You may get a classic snack in the stands regardless when midway through, hotdogs are shot from an air gun into the audience.
Remember to keep your eyes out for the world’s largest lug nut, which sits on a smokestack just across the street from the stadium.
- Address: 505 E Michigan Ave, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Stroll Old Town
If you are busy enjoying a romantic Michigan weekend getaway, one of the best things to do is stroll through the old town. The Lansing Old Town is a charming neighborhood with a rich history that seamlessly balances a more modern character. Contemporary murals painted on the sides of ancient facades line the adorable streets.
There’s an ample amount of cute cafes and vintage boutiques to browse or to buy. There’s something for everyone here between all of the quaint specialty shops and authentic local eateries. It’s where the river trail ends, so it’s easily accessible.
Turner-Dodge House and Heritage Center
The Turner-Dodge House was built in 1855. This impressive mansion was made in the Classic Revival style of architecture. It’s set on a stunning nine-acre estate, and there’s a small museum inside that explores the lives of some of Lansing’s most significant pioneering residents.
Many events are held here throughout the year, such as the famous Frakenfest, and guided tours are available to learn more about the beautiful historic home.
- Address: 100 E North St, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm
W.J. Beal Botanical Garden
Located in East Lansing on the MSU campus, the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden is a gorgeous hidden gem of the city. It’s a vast and verdant five acres that functions as an outdoor laboratory for studying and appreciating plants.
Home to over 2,000 taxa, the garden was first established in 1873. It’s the oldest operating botanical space of its kind, working in teaching, collection, research, conservation, and public service. It’s open for the public to explore and enjoy all year round.
In addition to establishing this living library, Dr. Beal is also known for starting an elaborate seed experiment that involved him burying 20 glass bottles full of different species, where one is to be dug up every 20 years.
- Address: W Circle Dr, East Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: 24 hrs
Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame
The Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame is a space entirely dedicated to honoring powerful and influential women and is conveniently located downtown. It was opened in 1987 and was the country’s first center of its kind.
An incredible number of in-depth exhibits delving into the lives of nearly 300 women who have significantly contributed to various arenas, from politics to science to human rights. It’s a celebration of female trailblazers and is called the Herstory Gallery.
- Address: 105 W Allegan St, Lansing (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday- Thursday: 12:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Best Things to Do In Lansing Map
Where to Stay in Lansing?
The Best Restaurants in Lansing
- Meat BBQ: Located in Old Town this is the place to head for bbq in the city.
- The People’s Kitchen: For comfort food on Michigan Ave this restaurant can’t be missed.
- EnVie: A Delicious French Bistro that offers a fun dining experience.
- Crunchies: An absolute institution in East Lansing offering cheap beer and burgers.
The Best Breweries in Lansing
- Midtown Brewing Company: low-key local Lansing brewery
- Lansing Brewing Company: The most well known brewery near the Lugnuts Stadium
- BAD Brewing Company: Small town brewery in the town of Mason.
READ MORE MICHIGAN TRAVEL TIPS
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