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.
Michigan State Capitol
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
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
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.
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.
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.