When it comes to planning an outing the whole family will enjoy, Lansing offers a unique variety of activities to entertain both kids and adults. Located within 90 minutes of 90 percent of the state’s population, Lansing is just a short drive away for most Michiganders, and the perfect spot for a day trip or weekend destination. Not sure where to start? Check out these must-try locations for a full schedule of activities that will engage everyone in your group.
Michigan State Capitol Building
This first destination may be an obvious choice, but a visit to Michigan’s State Capitol is practically “required reading” for everyone who visits Lansing. See the iconic dome ceiling and more than nine acres of beautiful, hand-painted surfaces as you learn about the building’s history and the legislative process. Free, guided tours are available Monday through Saturday, but don’t fret if you miss one of the regularly scheduled departure times—simply tag along with another group or grab a brochure and start exploring! Groups of ten or more will need to RSVP.
Michigan Historical Museum
Located in the Michigan Historical Center along with the state library and archives, the Michigan Historical Museum provides an extensive look into state history and its ties to national and world events. With high-quality displays and interactive exhibits, this is by far one of the best museums I’ve visited while living in Michigan. Pop in for a quick visit or stay for an afternoon—this comprehensive collection has enough to keep you engaged for hours. Hours and pricing here.
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
A fantastic collection of vintage automobiles awaits at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum! Discover the man behind Oldsmobile and the modern assembly line and learn more about the auto industry’s continuing impact on the capital city. Admissions info and hours can be found here.
Impression 5 Science Center
Children of all ages will love this fun, hands-on learning space! Since 1972, Impression 5 has encouraged families to play and learn together through interactive exhibits and scientific exploration. Highlights include the POP! bubble experience, Spectrum light and mirror exhibit, and First Impression infant and toddler room. Want to learn more about birthday events, membership, or education programs? Click here for planning and pricing details.
Lansing Lugnuts At Cooley Law School Stadium
Enjoy America’s pastime with an evening of cheering on Lansing’s minor league baseball team! Nightly promotions, inexpensive tickets, and a lovable “lug” of a mascot will bring a smile to kids and adults alike (click here to view the complete Lansing Lugnuts schedule).
Preuss Pets is pretty much every kid’s dream pet store. Located in Old Town, the family-owned business is housed in a colorful building that’s known for its man-made waterfall, lime green bus (it doubles as a fume hood for stinky critters), and lots of other fun sights that make pet time feel like play time. Browse Preuss’ large selection of small mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, and supplies, visit the indoor river to feed a 20 year-old catfish, and say hi to Nigel, the store’s resident pet rat. There’s also room to host birthday parties, so large groups can stay a while as they celebrate and tour the building (schedule your next event here).
Weston’s Kewpee Sandwich Shoppe
Looking for a casual place to grab lunch? Weston’s Kewpee is a local favorite for good, old-fashioned hamburgers and fries. Run by the Weston family since 1923, the restaurant features a friendly waitstaff and no-frills dining (including paper-wrapped sandwiches) for families on the go. Out and about before your mid-day meal? Weston’s is also open for breakfast, so you can stop by early to fuel up for the day.
Cravings Gourmet Popcorn & Soda Pop Market
Satisfy your afternoon snack attack with a trip to Old Town’s popcorn shop, Cravings. Sample a wide variety of gourmet popcorn flavors, including Old Town Mix (white cheddar and caramel), Dill Pickle, and my surprise favorite, Cherry Lemon Limeade. Sizes range from small bags and gift containers to large bags for weddings and special events. Know a popcorn lover who’s far away? Cravings ships products nationwide, so you can send a tasty snack to out-of-town family and friends.
MSU Dairy Store
For delicious ice cream that’s made onsite at Michigan State University’s Dairy Plant, treat the whole gang to dessert at the MSU Dairy Store. With options that range from Badger Berry Cheesecake to Capitol City Sundae, this East Lansing venue is worth the drive—just come prepared to wait in line, since it’s also popular with locals.
Explore Lansing’s River Trail
Lansing may be a mecca for urban activities, but did you know it’s also a great place to get outside and enjoy nature? Connecting numerous parks and city sites along the Grand River, Red Cedar River, and Sycamore Creek, the Lansing River Trail offers a scenic path for morning runs, afternoon bike rides, and spontaneous picnics in the park.
Kayak On The River
Cool off with an hour or two on the water! River Town Adventures offers kayak, paddle board, and canoe rentals for the adventurous type. See Lansing from a new angle as you paddle the Grand River, enjoying a quiet retreat from traffic and city noise.
4-H Outdoor Children’s Garden at MSU
Stop and smell the flowers at this adorable East Lansing fixture! The 4-H Outdoor Children’s Garden at MSU provides a colorful learning experience that looks like it’s straight out of a story book. Learn plant names, pose for photo opps, or simply relax in this quiet, little oasis. Admission is free and parking is free on weekends (metered Monday through Friday). Click here for directions or information on other MSU gardens.
What would you add to this list? Comment below and stay tuned for my upcoming post on places to visit in Greater Lansing with friends and significant others!