Things To Do In Lansing, MI For First Time Visitors

Lansing is the vibrant state capital of the beautiful US state of Michigan. When one thinks of Michigan, the state capital city probably won’t register at the top of mind as you may be inclined to check out the stunning beauty along the Great Lakes shore, the bustling metropolis of Detroit, or the vibrant college town of Ann Arbor.

Even so, Lansing does offer plenty of things to do. So, if this is your first time visiting the state capital city, here are my suggestions for things to do in Lansing, MI first.

Michigan State Capitol

(Photo courtesy of Paul Martinez via Flickr)

The Michigan State Capitol is located on North Capitol Avenue in downtown Lansing. It was built in September of 1878 and had gone through a couple periods of renovation with the most recent one completed in 2014. The beautiful state capitol is noted for its cast iron dome. In fact, this is one of the first state capitols in the country to feature such a dome. The exterior facade of the state capitol is made of sandstone.

The state capitol contain four floors – the ground floor, the first floor, the second floor, and the third floor. The interior of the state capitol is most well known for its checkerboard black and white tiled floors in the main corridors. The white tiles are made of marble while the black tiles are made of limestone. Both of them are sourced from the US state of Vermont.

Another distinctive 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 walls and ceilings within the state capitol are beautified with designs that were painted on them by hand. The beauty of the state capitol is backed up by the beauty of the grounds with an expansive lawn as well as flower beds, trees, statues, and monuments.

The admission to the state capitol is free for everybody. It can be toured either independently or with a tour guide.

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 explores the history of Michigan with five levels worth of exhibits for you to check out. The museum covers the historical period from the state’s earliest peoples through the late 20th century. There are 26 permanent galleries in total on the highest four levels.

The ground level of the museum house a gallery of changing exhibits. Some of the exhibits you will encounter 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 at the museum that I would like to take note of is the big pine tree that is beautifully located in the middle of the building. So, if you are looking for a place of scenery while exploring the museum, this is the spot for you to be. The big pine tree is accessible on the museum’s second level.

The prices of entry into the museum are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $2 for children aged from 6 to 17. However, if you visit the museum on a Sunday, you can enter for free. Those who are under the age of 6 will get free admission regardless of the day of visit. There is also a gift shop available onsite should you be in search of souvenirs.

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

(Photo courtesy of Michael Barera via Wikimedia)

The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is located on Museum Drive on the right side of the Grand River in downtown Lansing. The museum is named for Ransom E. Olds who was the inventor of the Oldsmobile brand of cars. The cars were first manufactured in Lansing in 1897 and had been in production until 2004 when the brand ceased to exist.

The Oldsmobile was the oldest brand of cars to be in existence when it shut down in 2004. The car brand was notable for its impressively long streak of firsts during its 107 years of existence. The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is among the top-rated automotive museums in the United States. The museum is home to a diverse collection of Oldsmobile cars from across its 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-era traffic signal. A collection of bicycles, tractors, and other forms of transportation is also housed inside the museum. Additionally, there is a collection of items from the R.E. Olds household at the museum.

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

These are the things to do in Lansing, MI I would suggest if this is your first visit to the city. That way, you can get the best that the city has to offer. Also, if you are hungry for more to do in Michigan, may I suggest a short road trip east to Chelsea or Ann Arbor? Chelsea features a self-guided walking tour where you can see the charming small town’s many historic buildings.

You can read about it here and here. Ann Arbor features world class museums housed on the sweeping University of Michigan campus.

The Hotels

If you are in search 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 on the southeastern side of the interchange of M-43 and Interstate 69 on the west end of Lansing. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Ukai Hibachi Grill and Sushi, Cracker Barrel, and Finley’s Grill & Smokehouse. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

There is also a fitness center available at the hotel. All of the hotel’s 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 browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to Michigan’s capital city before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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