Things To Do In Lansing, MI – Top Four Downtown Attractions

The beating heart of Lansing is its downtown. This is where a great deal of the Michigan capital city’s attractions are concentrated. In order to help you out with things to do in Lansing, MI, I have put together the top four attractions that you should visit when you are downtown. The walkability of downtown Lansing means that you should be able to easily get from one attraction to the next entirely on foot.

(Photo courtesy of Davidshane0 via Wikimedia)

Michigan State Capitol

(Photo courtesy of Paul Martinez via Flickr)

The most recognizable attraction in downtown Lansing is the beautiful Michigan State Capitol. This is the attraction you will want to visit first as it serves as the symbol of Lansing’s role as the capital of Michigan. The state capitol is located on North Capitol Avenue. It was built in September of 1878 and went through a couple renovations with the most recent one finished in 2014.

The state capitol is renowned for its cast iron dome. In fact, this is among the first state capitols in the United States to have such a dome. The state capitol’s exterior facade is made of sandstone. There are four floors within the state capitol including the ground floor, the first floor, the second floor, and the third floor.

The state capitol’s interior is most well known for its checkerboard white and black tiled floors in the main corridors. The white tiles are made of marble while the black tiles are made of limestone – both of them from the US state of Vermont. Another unique feature of the state capitol is the floor in the rotunda. The rotunda floor is made of 976 pieces of glass and is designed to resemble a bowl.

The state capitol’s walls and ceilings themselves were beautifully designed with handcrafted paintings. The grounds of the state capitol also offers its own beauty with an expansive lawn as well as flower beds, trees, statues, and monuments. The admission to the state capitol is free for everyone. You have the option of touring it on your own or with a tour guide.

Impression 5 Science Center

The Impression 5 Science Center is located on Museum Drive just a short walk across the Grand River east from the state capitol. The museum is already great for getting in touch with science. But, it is even better when you are visiting as a family. There are two floors worth of hands-on exhibits as well as more than 150 play areas.

At the museum, you will explore science themes such as fluid dynamics, kinetic energy, nature, and light. The hands-on exhibits you can explore at the museum include SMASH: A Nuclear Adventure, FLOW: A Water Experience, Spectrum, Chew On This, Throwing Things, Nano, Build Zone, Pop: A Bubble Experience, MI Nature, and Planet Walk Plaza.

The admission fees for the museum are $8.50 for adults and children aged 2 and above and $7 for seniors and military members. The museum is free of charge for these younger than 2. You can reserve your tickets by heading here.

Michigan History Museum

(Photo courtesy of Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau via Flickr)

The Michigan History Museum is located on West Kalamazoo Street just a short walk west of the state capitol. It showcases the history of Michigan with five floors worth of exhibits for you to explore. The museum spans the history period from the state’s earliest peoples to the late 20th century. The ground level of the museum houses a gallery of changing exhibits while the top four floors house 26 permanent galleries in total.

Some of the most noteworthy environments you will experience at the museum include a three-story relief map of Michigan, walk-through Upper Peninsula copper mine, one-room schoolhouse, 1920’s street scene, 1957 Detroit Auto Show, and a lakes and lands diorama containing a rustic cabin and lighthouse.

Another thing that you will want to be on the lookout for at the museum is the beautiful big pine tree. It is located in the center of the building. You can reach the big pine tree on the second floor of the museum. So, be sure to stop by there while you are at the museum.

The price of entry into the museum are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $2 for children aged from 6 to 17. If you are willing to make time for visiting on a Sunday, you can enter the museum for free. Those who are under the age of 6 will enter the museum for free regardless of the day of visit. There is also a gift shop onsite.

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

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The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is located directly south of the Impression 5 Science Center. It is named after Ransom E. Olds who invented the Oldsmobile brand of cars and helped Lansing to play a major role in the birth of the automobile. The Oldsmobile brand of cars were first manufactured in Lansing in 1897 and had been in production until 2004 when they were retired.

This was the oldest brand of cars to be in existence when it stopped production in 2004. The Oldsmobile brand was notable for its impressively long streak of firsts during its 107 years of existence. This museum is among the top-rated automotive museums in the nation. It is home to a diverse collection of Oldsmobile cars from across the brand’s history.

The museum is also home to nearly a century worth of automobilia. These include a collection of Michigan license plates, early traffic signs, and a working 1950’s traffic signal. You can also find a collection of bicycles, tractors, and other forms of transportation at the museum. A collection of items from the R.E. Olds household is also at the museum.

The prices of admission to the museum are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors, students, military members, and veterans. If you are planning to visit as a family of two parents and up to three children under the age of 18, you can enter the museum for $15.

These are the top four attractions you should visit for things to do in Lansing, MI. You also may want to read up on my recent post to see which Lansing attractions showcase the storied local and state history. If you are planning on visiting Michigan State University, my previous post covers the beautiful university campus and its attractions.

The Hotel

If you are in need of a hotel to stay overnight at in Lansing, I have got you covered here. Here is a hotel I would suggest for you.

Comfort Inn

This hotel is located at the interchange of M-43 and Interstate 69 about ten minutes drive west of downtown Lansing. It offers complimentary breakfast for you to enjoy. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Ukai Hibachi Grill and Sushi, Cracker Barrel, and Finley’s Grill & Smokehouse. The hotel is home to an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

There is also a fitness center available at the hotel. All of the hotel rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $86 to $125. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you visited downtown Lansing before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Lansing, MI – Michigan State University Attractions

Lansing is located in the south central section of the Lower Peninsula of the US state of Michigan. That puts the state capital city halfway between the bustling cities of Detroit and Grand Rapids. It is at the junction of three major highways – Interstate 69, Interstate 96, and US Route 127. All of that help to make Lansing a convenient location to visit within Michigan.

Readers of my recent posts will see that Ann Arbor is renowned for being the home to the University of Michigan and its world class museums. So, while Ann Arbor has the University of Michigan, Lansing has Michigan State University which houses a number of compelling attractions you won’t want to miss out on for things to do in Lansing, MI.

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MSU Museum

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The MSU Museum is located on West Circle Drive on university campus. This is one of the earliest established museums in the United States, having opened in 1857. This museum is concerned with natural and cultural history. Here are some of the exhibits you can expect to see at the museum.

The first one is Habitat Hall. Dinosaur skeleton casts and life-sized biome dioramas are the main stars in this exhibit. The dinosaurs represented within this exhibit include the Jurassic type dinosaurs, Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. The life-sized dioramas represent the diverse biomes of North and Central America including forests, grasslands, deserts, tropics, and the tundra.

They show how hoofed mammals and other animals adopt to the different biomes. Heritage Hall is the second exhibit. It focuses on the economic history of Michigan from the 1780’s to the 1940’s. The exhibit is represented by three buildings that were found in Michigan during that time period – a fur trader’s cabin, a 19th century printing shop, and a turn of the century general store.

The Hall of World Cultures exhibit is exactly what it sounds like. It explores the different cultures found in the world. It covers the topics of social, economic, political, religious, and technology innovations. Admission into the museum is technically free although donations of $5 for adults are suggested. There is also an onsite gift shop at the museum.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum

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The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is located on East Circle Drive on university campus. This museum features works of contemporary art. The museum’s most notable art collections include Greek and Roman antiquities, pre-Columbian sculptures and vessels, and North American and European sculptures, prints, photographs, and paintings.

There are also notable works of art showcased at the museum that represents different cultures from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. There are currently eight exhibits to explore at the museum. They include Interstates of Mind, Who is a Citizen, Curricular Connections: Festivity and Democracy In Action, Acts of Care, 2020 Master of Fine Arts, Visual Citizenship, and John Lucas and Claudia Rankine: Situations.

The museum admission is free for everybody. Also, a cafe and a gift shop are housed inside the museum.

Abrams Planetarium

(Photo courtesy of MSU via Flickr)

The Abrams Planetarium is located on Science Road on university campus. This is the place for you if you are into stars, telescopes, and outer space. The highlight of this planetarium is the Sky Theater. This is a domed theater where you can go and see cool shows featuring stars and planets. The shows are done using the state of the art Digistar 5 Projector which shoots the shows up onto the dome for deep immersion.

Aside from the star shows, there is a lobby area known as Exhibition Hall. This area serves as an exhibit area while you are waiting to enter the Sky Theater for the star shows. It feature displays of pictures, telescopes, and Earth and Moon globes. There is also the Blacklight Gallery. This area of the museum is home to beautiful imagery of planets, stars, and other space objects using fluorescent painting and ultraviolet lighting.

The ticket prices for the shows are $4.50 for adults, $4 for students and seniors, and $3.50 for children aged 12 and under. There is also a gift shop inside the planetarium.

Beal Botanical Garden

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Nature lovers will want to visit the Beal Botanical Garden. It is located on West Circle Drive on university campus. The botanical garden was established in 1873. That makes this the oldest continually running university botanical garden in the United States. The botanical garden is home to nearly two thousand plant taxa neatly placed in a beautiful setting.

The botanical garden is divided into around 27 distinct areas. So, I will mention a few of them here. The first is Box Woodland. It is home to a mixed woodland consisting of silver maple, white ash, basswood, sugar maple, sycamore, and oak. The Elsesser East Woodland is home to a mixed age stand made up largely of sugar maple with some basswood, butternut, beech, red oak, and prickly-ash also in the mix.

The area also contains a small pond. The Bear Lake Natural Area contains a forest/bog resembling that found in northern Michigan. Located within this area are six zones of vegetations. They are the Chamaedaphne-Decodon mat, mature bog forest remnants, high shrub zone, Betula-Larix zone, marginal fosse, and north fence clearing. There is free admission for everybody to explore the beauty of this botanical garden.

These are the things to do in Lansing, MI throughout the beautiful Michigan State University campus. The campus is located in East Lansing which neighbors Lansing to the east across US Route 127.

Seeing that Lansing is the capital of Michigan, you will want to make sure to check out the beautiful Michigan State Capitol. The Michigan capital city also boast a number of attractions that explores the rich history of the city and state.

The Hotel

Should you be in need of a hotel to stay overnight at in Lansing, I have got you covered here. Here is a hotel I would suggest for you.

Hampton Inn East Lansing

This hotel is located around five minutes drive north of Michigan State University on Coolidge Road. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Mitchell’s Fish Market, P.F. Chang’s, and Bravo! Italian Kitchen. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and fitness available at the hotel.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $112 to $173. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you visited any of the attractions at Michigan State University before? Feel free to leave a comment below.