Before moving to Mid-Michigan, the only time I had spent in Lansing, Michigan and the surrounding area was for an elementary school field trip. As I moved further away from the southwest corner of Michigan, this led to opportunities to explore places like Lansing a bit further.
I recently took a day trip to the Greater Lansing Area, and if you are interested in exploring this area more, I am happy to share my itinerary of visiting nine of my favorite places in the area.
Brunch at That New Place
We started our trip with a late breakfast in the small town of Williamston. This town offers a break from the hustle and bustle of the larger city, but it is just 15 miles east of Lansing, so it is easy to make a stop here on a day trip to the capital city. That New Place offers creative breakfast dishes and bakery items to enjoy in the small diner or take to go.
Shop in Downtown Williamston for Michigan-Themed Gifts
Just a short walk from breakfast through the historic downtown area of Williamston is The Studio Shop, a shop filled to the brim with Michigan-made and themed gifts for just about everyone on your list.
From coasters to sweatshirts, if you are a Michigan lover, this is the shop for you. You’ll find bookstores, boutiques, art galleries, antique stores, and more lining the streets of Williamston, so if you like supporting small businesses, make sure to add this to your day trip list.
Refuel in Downtown East Lansing
After we had our fill of shopping, we continued our way down Grand River Avenue to the city of East Lansing. It is a college town with great energy. There is so much to do and explore here.
I would recommend stopping at a new coffee shop the next time you are in the area and going on foot to check out the surrounding area. For this trip, that is just what we did.
We made our way to Foster Coffee Company, where you’ll find a coffee shop rooted in community right in the middle of the campus area. I ordered a caramel latte for an early afternoon pick-me-up as we continued on our adventure.
Visit the Michigan State University Museum
After I had secured a coffee, we ventured further onto campus. Michigan State University is absolutely wonderful to visit in any season, and I have loved having the opportunity to explore this publicly funded state university on our day trips to the Lansing area.
One of our favorite stops is the MSU Museum. The museum is on campus and free to visit, although registration is required. You can pre-register online before your visit or go to the welcome desk on the ground floor before you check out the museum.
The museum caters to a wide range of age groups, making this a very family-friendly stop on your day trip. Your little ones will be excited to visit the dinosaurs, and you’ll appreciate the opportunity to have a well-rounded and enriching experience for the whole family.
Explore the MSU Campus & Beaumont Tower
Right behind the MSU Museum, you will find the iconic Beaumont Tower. Walking and enjoying the paths of campus and the beautiful architecture are always must-dos for my family and me when we take a day trip to the Greater Lansing Area.
This piece of university history is truly awe-inspiring and worth trying to work a public tour into your visit as well.
Tour the Michigan State Capitol
As we continued our trip, we made our way down Grand River Ave further until we reached the downtown area of Lansing. Once we were downtown, we ventured to the Michigan State Capitol building and were able to find metered street parking easily.
Since those early elementary days, I have been able to take a few self-guided tours of the capitol and believe a trip to Lansing is not complete without a visit here. The self-guided tour that we took lasted just about an hour, and then we continued our trip to the Michigan History Center.
Visit the Michigan History Center
The Michigan History Center is located just a short walk from the Capitol and is a participant in the Museums for All program. It also offers free admission for everyone on Sundays, making it more accessible to those wanting to learn more about Michigan history.
We love visiting and journeying through the ice ages all the way to the 20th century. And a picture in front of the three-story-high topographical map of the state is always a must when we visit.
Hike the Ledges
After spending most of our day exploring and learning about Michigan’s history, we decided it was time for some more fresh air. One of our favorite hikes in Michigan is at what is called The Ledges in Grand Ledge, Michigan.
We enjoyed these 300 million-year-old rock formations at Oak Park, which is best suited for those with sure footing as the staircase to the formations is more rustic.
We also have visited Fitzgerald Park on our visits to the Lansing area. With a wonderful playground, this makes a great option for enjoying a hike and has something for small children to enjoy as well.
Shop & Dine at Horrocks Farm Market
After spending the afternoon hiking, we headed to Horrocks Farm Market. While this farm market is filled to the brim with fresh produce, local and Michigan-made products, salad and soup bars, bulk nuts and candy, and so much more, it’s not just shopping you’ll find here but an experience.
If you just want to stop for a quick meal, we enjoyed pad thai from Eato Chef while the kids got individual slices of brick-oven cheese pizza from the pizzeria. If you plan on enjoying a full-size pie from the pizzeria, I suggest calling ahead twenty to thirty minutes before you plan to eat so you can pick it up when you arrive and enjoy it in the beer garden.
The beer garden moves inside the greenhouses during the cooler months, and you’ll want to look ahead at the event schedule if you enjoy live music because performers can often be found playing here in the evenings or on weekends.
If you plan to eat and shop, I would try to give yourself a a couple of hours to enjoy all that Horrocks has to offer fully.
Plan Your Own Trip to the Greater Lansing Area
While this itinerary barely scratches the surface of all of the wonderful things to do and see in the Greater Lansing Area it will for sure make for a full day of exploring and hopefully inspires you to make your own trip to Michigan’s capital city soon.