The capital of Michigan and the third largest city by population in Michigan, behind Detroit and Grand Rapids, Lansing was founded in 1859 and became the state’s seat of power in 1847 when the state’s capitol was relocated there from Detroit to develop the state’s western territory. Thanks to its compact size, Lansing offers visitors the same great amenities of Detroit without the larger crowds or steep prices.
Centred around the campus of Michigan State University, the city is divided in two by the Grand River, which runs right through Lansing’s downtown area. With great restaurants and attractions such as the Eli And Edythe Broad Art Museum and the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and a unique harmony with its natural surroundings, Lansing is a treat to discover and a mighty fine Michigan city to visit. Here are some of the things to do in Lansing.
20 Things To Do In Lansing
1- Stroll Along ArtPath
Centrally located in the heart of Lansing’s downtown district, ArtPath showcases art made by local artists along a 3.5-mile-long (6 km) stretch of the Lansing River Trail.
In its fifth instalment, the City of Lansing and the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center jointly organised this annual event.
It welcomes over 80,000 visitors from Michigan and beyond to celebrate the best of Lansing’s local arts community.
The event pairs some of Lansing’s most scenic outdoor attractions with impressive artwork to create the best of both worlds that’ll entertain outdoorsy types or lovers of art.
The instalment usually runs from June through August every year and is completely free to enjoy, so be sure to plan your trip around this Michigan staple to get the most out of your stay in Lansing.
2- Visit Turner-Dodge House & Heritage Center
The Turner-Dodge House & Heritage Center is a museum dedicated to celebrating and preserving the legacy of the area’s early pioneers.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the centre is located inside the Georgian Revival-style Turner-Dodge House, or Dodge House as its also known, which dates back to 1855.
The house is one of old Lansing's most stunning architectural marvels, featuring a three-story main structure with a pair of two-story adjacent wings. However, it’s the building’s immaculately-maintained interior that steals the show.
Open to the public for private events or guided tours. The mansion is one of Lansing’s best places to visit if you’re interested in getting a glimpse into the life and times of Michigan’s wealthy during the mid-19th century.
Turner-Dodge House & Heritage Center is at 100 E North St, Lansing, MI 48906.
3- Explore Hawk Island Park
Hawk Island Park is one of Lansing’s most popular public parks and outdoor recreational venues, encompassing over 100 acres (40 ha) of prime outdoor real estate in South Lansing.
The park was founded in 1944 as little more than a gravel pit and has since blossomed into a multi-season venue with attractions and activities such as a beach, fishing piers, wintertime slopes, and even a 1.5-mile-long (2 km) pathway.
This public park is open year-round near Downtown Lansing and is one of Michigan’s best urban parks to visit.
Hawk Island Park is at 1601 E Cavanaugh Rd, Lansing, MI 48910.
4- See The Michigan State Capitol
Home to the legislative branch and the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, the Michigan State Capitol is perhaps Lansing’s most prominent and important building.
Built between 1873 and 1878, the capitol was designed by famed capitol architect Elijah E. Myers and features a soaring 267-foot-tall (81 m) domed façade.
The National Register of Historic Places-listed building is also a National Historic Landmark open for tours.
Regarded as one of the nation’s most opulent capitol buildings, the venue is a must-see attraction in Lansing.
Michigan State Capitol is at 100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933.
5- Hop Aboard The Michigan Princess
The Michigan Princess is a stunning 19th-century replica steamboat offering a wide range of special events and tours up and down the Grand River.
Doubling as a restaurant and entertainment space, the vessel has been delighting locals and travellers for over 40 years and is operated by the J & K Steamboat Company.
Cruising season typically starts in early March and runs until mid-December. However, the docked boat remains open year-round, even during the off-season.
Featuring three separate dining rooms, an atrium, an outer deck, and two dance floors, the vessel is one of Lansing’s most unique entertainment venues and a fantastic destination to enjoy an upscale dinner after sunset.
Michigan Princess is at 3004 W Main St, Lansing, MI 48910.
6- Visit Eli And Edythe Broad Art Museum
Designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid and opened in 2012, the Eli And Edythe Broad Art Museum is a stunning museum dedicated to contemporary arts situated on the campus of Michigan State University.
Named after local businessman Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, who donated the funds necessary to replace the ageing Kresge Art Museum, the facility investigates contemporary art pieces through a historical lens.
Featuring a wide variety of artwork from all across the world inside one visually striking venue, the museum is a must-visit destination for anyone stopping by Lansing.
Eli And Edythe Broad Art Museum is at 547 E Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824.
7- Explore Michigan Women’s Hall Of Fame
The Michigan Women’s Historical Center And Hall Of Fame, or MWHOF for short, was established in 1983 by Gladys Beckwith to honour and celebrate the many Michigan women who were trailblazers in one field or another throughout history.
Paying tribute to historical and modern female figures, the museum receives nominations for future inductees via the public and uses two committees to screen and accept candidates.
Situated inside the historic Cooley-Haze House built in 1903, visitors get to learn more about the lives and impacts made by the likes of Diana Ross, Serena Williams, Betty Ford, Rosa Parks, and many more notable figures past and present.
MWHOF is at 105 W Allegan St, Lansing, MI 48933.
8- Learn About Lansing’s Past At Michigan History Center
The Michigan History Center recounts the state of Michigan’s rich history through a wide range of permanent and rotating exhibits across five levels right in the heart of Downtown Lansing.
Forming part of the Michigan History Museum system that features 12 separate venues across the state, the centre is the crown jewel in the museum system and the largest of its kind in Michigan.
Visitors to the venue go on a journey through the region’s past with the help of interactive exhibits, audio-visual presentations and guided tours travelling past 25 galleries and a three-story tall topographical map of the entire state.
Michigan History Center is at 702 W Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48915.
9- Explore The Meridian Historical Village
Featuring a collection of restored historic buildings and structures, many of which were relocated here from other towns and cities across Michigan, the Meridian Historical Village aims to preserve the region’s architectural history for future generations to see.
The non-profit Friends of Historic Meridian organisation operates the village, which banded together to create this unique Lansing attraction in 1974.
The village is home to an astonishingly vast amount of historic structures and one-of-a-kind venues to see, such as Michigan’s only plank road tollhouse still in existence, a 19th-century Village Chapel hosting weddings, and a general store from the 1800s.
Meridian Historical Village is at 5151 Marsh Rd, Okemos, MI 48864.
10- Unwind In W.J. Beal Botanical Garden
Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2023, the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden is one of the USA’s oldest continually operating botanical gardens.
Situated on a 5-acre (2 ha) plot, the garden was opened in 1873 by Michigan State University professor William James Beal and has since grown into a world-renowned facility home to over 1,800 plant species.
The garden is situated on the main campus of the university and doubles as a scientific research area for the university’s students.
Open year-round to the public at no charge, and the garden is one of Lansing’s most scenic outdoor attractions and one of the city’s best free places to visit.
W.J. Beal Botanical Garden is at 330 W Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824.
11- Tour The MSU Museum
The MSU Museum, situated on the campus of Michigan State University, is the first Smithsonian Affiliated museum in Michigan.
Opened in 1857, the museum is one of the oldest in the region and is internationally recognised for its quilt collection among its many other permanent and rotating exhibits.
Apart from the museum’s 1,000-strong quilts on display from countries worldwide, the venue is also a scientific hub in the region, featuring high-tech displays and the only two full-mounted dinosaur skeletons in the region.
MSU Museum is at 409 W Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48823.
12- Learn Something New At The Impression 5 Science Center
Formerly known as the Impression 5 Science Museum, the Impression 5 Science Center is a state-of-the-art science centre in Downtown Lansing.
Opened in 1972 by Marilynne Eichinger in the basement of her Lansing home, the centre has since grown into an 80,000-square-foot (7,432 m2) facility that attracts over 160,000 annual visitors.
The facility features a host of exhibits geared towards encouraging teamwork, risk-taking and problem-solving among children with the help of fun and engaging interactive displays.
One of the first interactive science centres in the country when it first opened, the venue is one of Lansing’s must-visit destinations if you’re travelling with kids eager to learn all about science, engineering and more.
Impression 5 Science Center is at 200 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933.
13- See The Famous Beaumont Tower
The Beaumont Tower has stood watch over the campus of Michigan State University ever since it was first built in 1928 and is today the university’s most prominent landmark.
Named after John W. Beaumont, the tower stands at the northeast corner of what was once the esteemed College Hall as a memorial of sorts to the United States’ first-ever structure solely dedicated to the teaching of scientific agriculture.
Today, nothing remains of College Hall after it collapsed due to structural failure, making John Beaumont’s tower even more significant in the eyes of MSU students.
Designed in a collegiate gothic style, the 104-foot-tall (32 m) tower even houses a 49-bell carillon that chimes throughout the day from across the university campus.
Beaumont Tower is at 375 W Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824.
14- Hike or bike the Lansing River Trail
Featuring over 20 miles (32 km) of paved pathways linking together Lansing suburbs as far away as Old Town and Waverly Road, the Lansing River Trail makes exploring Lansing’s most popular areas and destinations by foot or bike a breeze.
The trail mainly runs along the Grand River and Red Cedar River, with the first section of the trail opened in 1975.
By 1981 it was already a designated National Recreation Trail, featuring scenic pedestrian bridges, endless amounts of greenery, and some of the best vantage points in all of Lansing.
15- Enjoy Public Art On The Lansing Sculpture Walk
Featuring over 600 individual art pieces scattered across a 48-acre (19 ha) area in Downtown Lansing’s campus district, the Lansing Sculpture Walk combines the great outdoors and the local arts scene of Lansing to create one magnificent attraction.
Most of the exhibit is based around the campus of the Lansing Community College and where the exhibit’s star attraction stands, the stainless steel statue is the 30-foot-tall (9 m) “Red Ribbon in the Sky”.
Completely free to visit and easily paired with a visit to ArtPath, the sculpture walk is a fantastic way to explore the local arts scene and Downtown Lansing all in one go.
16- Discover The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum was opened to the public in 1981 and features stunning exhibits of classic cars, automobiles and car artefacts dating back to as early as 1883.
The museum displays everything transportation-related, with exhibits ranging from an 1897 Oldsmobile to a collection of vintage bicycles.
With over 63 vehicles, the museum’s collection is one of the largest in the region and is a wonderful destination to tour if you’re a car enthusiast or history buff.
It’s on the banks of the Grand River and right next door to the Impression 5 Science Center, this downtown destination is easily accessible and fun to tour for all ages, making it a great attraction to explore in Lansing.
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is at 240 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933.
17- Catch A Baseball Game At Jackson Field
The official home of the Lansing Lugnuts, Lansing’s minor league baseball team, Jackson Field, is a state-of-the-art sporting venue that hosts all sorts of events throughout the year.
Opened in 1996 as Oldsmobile Park, the stadium has a capacity of over 11,000 and recently underwent a $22 million renovation to keep it up to date with other minor league stadiums around the country.
Situated in Downtown Lansing, the venue has a lively atmosphere whenever a major sporting event or concert occurs.
Complete with luxury box suites, concession stands and unobstructed views of the diamond, the stadium is a fantastic destination to enjoy a great baseball game or catch a live music concert.
Jackson Field is at 505 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912.
18- Discover Lansing’s Old Town
Old Town is Lansing’s original downtown district, featuring a collection of Victorian-era buildings, boutique stores and quaint eateries reminiscent of a time gone by.
Even though Old Town might not be the city’s business hub anymore, it has undergone an arts rejuvenation, leading it to become a favourite venue for art exhibits, festivals and local markets throughout the year.
The district was voted the best place to bring visitors to in Lansing and was awarded the winner of IKEA’S Main Street Makeover, placing the once-forgotten urban district back on the proverbial map.
Today, this area of Lansing is delightful to explore on foot and is the place to be if you want to discover the city’s best restaurants, shops or bars.
19- Discover The Mysteries of Space At Abrams Planetarium
Situated on the campus of Michigan State University, the Abrams Planetarium doubles as a public planetarium aimed at piquing the astronomy interests of locals and as an educational centre for the university’s physics and astronomy students.
Officially titled the Talbert and Leota Abrams Planetarium, the venue was opened in 1963 and was named in honour of the Abrams family, pioneers in the art of aerial photography during the early 20th century.
Capable of projecting dazzling displays of the night sky in all its beauty, the planetarium is an amazing destination when stopping by Lansing.
Abrams Planetarium is at 755 Science Rd, East Lansing, MI 48824.
20- Stroll through the Fenner Nature Center
Spanning over 134 acres (54 ha), the Fenner Nature Center is one of Lansing’s most picturesque outdoor locations.
The venue features attractions and landmarks such as scenic nature trails, soaring maple trees, glacial eskers, and a visitor centre showcasing hands-on exhibits and native reptile species.
The Fenner Conservancy owns and operates the venue, a non-profit organisation dedicated to reconnecting people with nature sustainably.
From its native songbird and turkey populations to its annual workshops and events, this outdoor Lansing paradise is a world away from the city’s bustling downtown area, making it a great place to stop by during your visit to Lansing.
Fenner Nature Center is at 2020 E Mt Hope Ave, Lansing, MI 48910.
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