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Lansing MI is full of educational activities and fun or cultural landmarks. It is a great destination for visitors of all ages. You can go to museums, go hiking in natural parks or explore exotic animals at the zoo. No matter what you’re looking for, you won’t get bored in this city. After a busy day of sightseeing activities, you can rest and enjoy a tasty meal at one of Lansing’s restaurants.
The Best 10 Things to Do in Lansing MI – Fun Activities & Landmarks to Visit
1. Michigan State Capitol
This popular Michigan landmark was designed by Elijah E. Myers who was a renowned architect. It was built back in 1879 and it is one of the most important capitol buildings in the United States. It features a cast iron dome. In 1992, the Michigan State Capitol underwent a significant renovation process and, soon after, it was designated as one of America’s national historic landmarks. In 2015, the building went through a total exterior makeover. Around 115,000 people visit this location every year. Tourists and visitors are able to see the building at their own pace. If they want to hear informative details, they can choose to participate in one of the landmark’s guided tours.
2. R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
At this museum, visitors will see a lot of unique exhibits linked to the Oldsmobile. This is a classical and recognizable vehicle that was manufactured in the United States. It had the name of Oldsmobile Steam Carriage. Here, you will find hundreds of items that date back to 1886, all of them being authentic. The name of the museum comes from an accomplished designer and inventor who created an engine that’s now used in lawnmowers. At the transportation museum, you can learn everything about the design of this engine. It would be a shame to leave the place without buying a small souvenir from the museum’s store which is filled with memorabilia such as apparel, posters, books, and DVDs.
3. Michigan History Center
This building is rich in unique and interesting exhibits. They show some parts of the state’s past. Inside the museum, you will find a special gallery that focuses on the early explorers who came from Europe and founded Michigan. There’s even an exhibit that features the Civil War full of all kinds of mementos. Visitors can also see displays of the anti-slavery movement as well as exhibits of the state’s involvement in the Underground Railroad. Once you’re in the 1950s section, you will discover details about how Michigan became famous due to its automobile manufacturing centers. Right by the atrium, tourists can look at a huge topographical map that features the entire state of Michigan. The overall experience is enriched by costumed performers who teach visitors about the area’s interesting past.
4. Lansing River Trail
This popular trail crosses 19 different county and city parks, two rivers, a zoo, three museums, a farmer’s market, and a creek. It is 13 miles long and it is great for joggers, rollerbladers, walkers, and bikers alike. The surface of the trail varies based on the area. Some portions are paved while others are covered in wooden boardwalks. There are also some bridges along the way. The trail is comprised of three main sections. The first two ones provide a lot of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and museums. Meanwhile, the last portion which is also the trail’s newest section passes through woodlands and wetlands. Near the end, the trail meets the Lansing Pathway and the Sycamore Trail.
5. Fenner Nature Center
The center’s main role is to inform and educate the city’s residents on how important environmental conservation is. It has done so for over 50 years. The park covers 134 acres and contains four miles of trail. There, you will see all kinds of songbirds, wild turkeys, reptiles, and deer. Fun and educational activities and events are organized here, on a regular basis. You can take your pet with you as long as you keep it on a leash. Fenner Nature Center (the outside park) remains open from sunrise to sunset, every day.
6. Turner-Dodge Heritage Center
This huge house is actually a mansion that was built in 1855 for Marion and James Turner. The architecture features the Classic-Revival style and the architect that designed it was Darius B. Moon. He was mostly known as an artist and craftsman. Turner-Dodge center is a historic place also known as Dodge Mansion. It comes with a domain of nine acres on which the landlord has built a museum.
7. Women’s Historical Center
The Women’s Historical Center is managed by the MWSA which stands for Michigan Women’s Studies Association. The organization was created in 1973 and its birthplace is Michigan State University. Later on, in 1980, the association founded a place where influential and powerful women can be honored. This is the first center of its kind and it was opened to the public in 1987. There, you will enjoy seeing a wide variety of catchy exhibits. You will discover bits of the lives of almost 300 Michigan women who had major contributions to numerous fields such as medicine, politics, education, business, and other areas.
8. The Michigan Princess
This is a company that runs three classic steamboats. They are places suited for formal events like meetings, weddings, parties, and other special occasions. Once in a while, the company organizes luncheons and fun concerts to which anyone can attend if they cover a small entrance fee. All these events take place on the Grand River. There are three watercrafts that one can rent: the Detroit Princess, the Riverboat, and the Grand Princess. These boats are great for proms, class reunions, weddings, and more. The boats are big enough for over 400 guests. The company caters all the events.
9. Meridian Historical Village
This is a gorgeous park right outside of Lansing. The village features a series of well-preserved beautiful houses as well as shops. If you go there, you will also view the local school building which is also a historic construction. To spice things up, local teachers are allowed to rent the place for maximum one week. Finally, here you will find a charming old-fashioned chapel where small weddings take place. The building can host a maximum of 100 guests. Other special events such as performances and memorials are also held here. You can visit all the homes in the village every day, between 10 AM and 2 PM.
10. The State Room Restaurant
This restaurant is situated on the Michigan State University’s campus. It’s both a fancy restaurant and a classy lounge. Here, you can find an extensive list of wines. In fact, this place was awarded the title of Excellence, in 2016, due to its spectacular collection of exquisite wines. One interesting fact is related to the menu which is changed seasonally. According to the restaurant’s representatives, you will only find high-quality ingredients. After all, the State Room is one of the most popular options for fine dining in Lansing. You can make a table reservation online.
What Can You Do in Lansing for Free?
1. Horticulture Gardens at the Michigan State University
This place features 7 acres of children’s gardens, arboretum, and picnic areas. The full-bloomed tulips are a must-see and they represent one of the main attractions of this site. Besides tulips, you can also see plenty of other beautiful flower species, including annual and perennial ones. The garden that was created especially for kids has a Peter Rabbit structure, fake pots of gold, mazes, and even an alphabet section. If you want to take professional photos, this is the perfect place to be.
2. Beal Botanical Garden
This botanical garden is nothing else than an outdoor laboratory where people can study and appreciate different kinds of plants. The place was established by William James Beal who was a professor at Michigan State University, back in 1873. It is the oldest university botanical garden in America. The entire institution emphasizes the importance of nature preservation, research, ecology, botany, and plant conservation.
3. The Supreme Court Learning Center
Here, you will find a hands-on gallery that helps both adults and kids alike to understand how the government’s judicial branch works. The Learning Center offers plenty of volunteering opportunities and organizes a lot of educational and informational events. If you want, you can schedule a guided tour.
4. The Bug House
You will learn a wide range of interesting facts at the Bug House. It is part of the Agriculture and Natural Resources College which is a member of the Michigan State University. There, you will be able to observe and, why not, interact with arachnids and live insects. This is the place where science meets fun. You can either subscribe for a tour through an appointment or visit the Bug House during open houses.
5. Preuss Pets
Preuss Pets is a great place for a child. It’s not just your average pet store but an entirely new experience. For only $1 which is basically for free, you can visit the parrots or feed the koi fish. This place is a no brainer because you will have so much fun there. The entire family gets to see exotic pets while also learning new things.
The Best Things to Do in Lansing for Kids
1. Abrams Planetarium
The Planetarium represents a very educational attraction that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Once per month, in a Thursday, the institution receives visits from homeschool groups. If you want to attend one of the Planetarium’s shows, you will have to pay $2 per person. There are interesting public shows held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you want to support it, you can even become a member.
2. Fitzgerald Park
Fitzgerald is a great park where your little ones can have a lot of fun. It is a hidden gem where the entire family can hike and go sightseeing and exploring nature. You will find a nature center surrounded by three miles of trails. There are a lot of picnic sites and playgrounds. It is an excellent place for family photo shoots, not to mention that you can play either basketball or volleyball in the designated courts. If you don’t know when to visit the park, I would suggest trying it in fall because the colors are simply marvelous. There’s a small admission fee of $5 per car. Keep in mind these two things: one – use the restroom because the park is huge and a hike on one of its trails takes a while; two – go to the fish ladder (believe me, you don’t want to miss it).
3. Potter Park Zoo
If you want to receive free standard admission, you should consider becoming a member of the Potter Park Zoo. Through the membership card, you will save money and have fun while also supporting the zoo and its maintenance. Besides free admission, members also receive concessions and discounts that you can use at the zoo’s gift shop. At Potter Park Zoo, your kids will enjoy seeing a lot of birds, reptiles, and animals like lions, tigers, kangaroos, rhinos, monkeys, owls, ravens, eagles, rattlesnakes, toads, and more. The zoo hosts plenty of events, both public and private ones. Moreover, you can enroll your child in one of the education programs held by the institution.
4. Rivertown Adventures
This is one of the most popular activities during the summer. Most tourists love to rent a bike or a kayak or even go on the Rivertown’s trail. You can paddle your way toward an amazing hour of family fun through kayaking. On the other hand, if you’re more a fan of biking and not so much into kayaking, I recommend you to rent a bike and finish the Lansing’s River Trail. The trail leads you to Impressions 5 but you will find more about this place below.
5. Impressions 5
Impressions 5 is a fun playing ground with interactive exhibits onsite. All these spaces allow visitors to learn new things, experiment new sensations, and simply be themselves. The place can be toured by the entire family, from parents and children to grandparents and other family members. You should go to Impressions 5, especially on a rainy day. There, you will be able to play with your kids for hours at a time, without getting bored. Be prepared and wear comfortable clothes because you will spend the day chasing your little ones. As soon as your family walks through those doors, the fun begins! There are a gigantic eyeball and a huge open mouth which are ready for your children to climb into and inspect. The employees are friendly and helpful. It is a fun yet educational hub for kids.
The Best Things to Do in Lansing MI Guide – Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are so many nice things to do in Lansing. From museums and theaters to shopping centers and restaurants, there’s nothing the place cannot offer. You can go with your loved one for a romantic getaway or travel together with your kids and other family members. If you are organized and plan the vacation properly, you will see so many beautiful places and learn so much about the area’s history.