As someone with a thirst for adventure and a passion for blasting showtunes on an empty freeway, one of my favorite things to do is drive with no particular destination in mind. Throughout the past year and a half, I’ve driven all around the Greater Lansing area. In my adventures, I’ve come across many small towns. Many of them reminded me of bigger cities like Traverse City and Harbor Springs. However, it’s not always a manageable task to travel to these bigger cities. In these times, the city guide below will come in handy.
I entered Charlotte from off the highway and immediately saw a mile of car dealerships, gas stations, and fast food restaurants. As I drove further into town, there were many pubs, churches, and buildings with colorful architecture that gave me a very English vibe. Charlotte has a variety of places to peruse. Businesses ranging from a craft supply stores, locally-owned clothing shops, a movie theater, and an art gallery of sorts are among some of the best.
How far away from Lansing: 22 miles
What I recommend: Fay’s Evelyn Bay Coffee
Why: Warm environment, large variety of beverages, plenty of places to sit and relax, open on Sunday until 3 p.m.
Leslie is possibly the smallest downtown area of all four of these towns. This town is the perfect adventure for an easy day trip. The attraction that I found the most enjoyable was the Leslie Area Museum, which was the smallest and possibly the most unique local museum I have ever visited. The businesses that stood out to me most (AND that were open on a Saturday) were The Baker’s Shoppe, a petite antique and aesthetic/souvenir shop, and the Leslie Depot Diner. Leslie is a wonderful town if you appreciate local history and kind people.
How far away from Lansing: 24 miles
What I recommend: Leslie Area Museum
Why: Fascinating Leslie-related artifacts from the past few centuries, friendly and knowledgeable staff. Plus, it’s free!
Mason is a town many people might find similar to East Lansing. The downtown area of Mason is perfect for a stroll at any time of the day, but especially in mid-afternoon. During this time, I walked down the sidewalks, upon which stood beautifully crafted buildings. These buildings held a variety of businesses such as the Maple Street Mall antique shop and The Daily Scoop Ice Cream Shoppe. Mason has a distinguishable and cohesive personality. It is quirky and quite pleasant, with a new adventure around every street corner in their tiny downtown area.
How far away from Lansing: 15 miles
What I recommend: Bestsellers Bookstore & Coffee Co.
Why: Good prices for an independent bookstore, can drink a coffee and read books at the same time, places to sit and chill out
First step of going to Williamston – don’t confuse it for Webberville (easier to do than you think, especially if you’re coming from the Lansing area). Williamston is one of the bigger towns on this list, with about two or three blocks of downtown shopping areas. Similar to Charlotte and Mason, Williamston has multiple antique/thrift shops, clothing stores, and a charming single-screen movie theater (entitled Sun Theatre). Furthermore, there are a slew of other businesses and shops beneath creatively crafted buildings. Williamston also has its own museum dedicated to preserving the history of their town. There are many places outside of the main downtown area to eat and shop.
How far away from Lansing: 19 miles
What I recommend: Sign of the Pineapple Antique Shop
Why: Large and diverse collection, packed with items but not too overwhelming, superb name
My only advice about visiting them? Don’t visit on a Sunday if you want the full experience, unless you want to go to church.
Have you been to any of these towns? What was your experience like there? Let us know in the comments.