Fun and Surprising Things You Can Do in Lansing, Michigan

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Michigan State Capitol Building
The view looking up at the Michigan State Capitol Building. Photo credit: Mary Moore.

If you’ve never spent the day in Michigan’s capital city of Lansing, you probably don’t know what you’re missing! There are so many fun and surprising things to do in Lansing MI. There’s catching a flying hotdog, searching for fairy tale creatures and stepping inside a giant bubble.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly Midwest destination or somewhere to take a day trip with the kids, Lansing has quite a bit of family fun to offer. You can learn about Michigan history, enjoy outdoor activities, eat new foods or simply spend the day exploring the downtown Lansing community.

Check out these 14 fun things to do in Lansing MI.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Looking for more fun Midwest road trip ideas? Don’t miss our list of 30+ Midwest vacation spots to consider. 

1. Pet a Rat

Holy smokes, did you just read that right? Yes! And I don’t mean the types of rats that run around a city – I didn’t see any of those here. What I am talking about is the friendly counter rat at the local favorite pet shop, Preuss Pets. Along with having its own little mascot, this pet store, located in Old Town Lansing, offers behind-the-scenes tours and a shopping area with a river (and fish) running through it!

2. Take a River Boat Ride.

Another fun way to see nature and animals is on a Lansing riverboat tour! River Town Adventures offers visitors an opportunity to experience Lansing in a whole new way – from the water. At River Town Adventures you can choose to either kayak, paddleboard or canoe down the Grand River. Plus, no matter which route you choose, the view will remain the same – simply breathtaking.

Would you rather explore the river by land? You can also rent a bike from River Town Adventures and ride along the nearby Lansing River trail.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Lansing has several more parks and nature centers and hiking trails to discover. Find information about Hawk Island County Park and Crego Park at the Greater Lansing Michigan Convention and Visitor Bureau website.

3. Eat a Zucchini Blossom

This was a new one for me. I actually didn’t know that I could eat a squash blossom or even that it was edible. However, after having dinner at the Red Haven restaurant in East Lansing, I was sold on the idea and craving more. This small farm-to-table restaurant is all about using local cuisine and creating amazing dishes! While some of the choices on the menu may seem “different”, it is worth stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. And don’t forget the dessert! Everything here is made in-house fresh.

4. Catch a hot dog flying through the air

How good is your hand-eye coordination? Hopefully good if you decide to take in a game at the Cooley Law School Stadium to see the Lansing Lugnuts play a game of baseball! Halfway through the entertaining and spirited game of ball, two team members from the stadium take to the field and shoot hot dogs from an air gun into the audience. If you’re lucky enough to catch one, then you’ve got dinner. Otherwise, you can head over to the food court and choose from several fun stadium options. Tickets to the game start as low as $8!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Watch for special game days where kids can run the bases after the game or your four-legged friends can attend a game with you!

5. Stand inside a bubble

When we visit Impression 5 Science Center, the first interactive exhibit my kids always run to is the bubble room! In this room, and throughout the two-story museum, kids can get hands-on with exhibits and learn more about science through play.

Even if you’ve visited the Impression 5 Science Center before, with the addition of the traveling exhibit area of the building, it’s like a whole new experience each and every time.

things to do in Lansing MI include checking out vintage cars at R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
Learn about the history of transportation and Oldsmobile at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing. Photo credit: Mary Moore

One of our favorite things to do in Lansing MI is visiting the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum where you can tour around 80 vehicles manufactured between 1886 and 2004, including the surprising local history of the Oldsmobile. While this museum is full of interesting things to discover, it’s definitely a “go at your own pace” type of attraction. Some kids (and adults) may want to spend hours combing over the vehicle details, while others may rush through it for lack of any hands-on or interactive spaces.

7. Eat Dill Pickle Popcorn

Dill pickle popcorn? What about salt and pepper or BBQ? Would you ever dream of it or even taste it? Well, if so, a fun little popcorn shop in Old Town Lansing called CRAVINGS Gourmet Popcorn has you covered. They offer all of these unique popcorn creations plus a ton more. You can even sample some of them for free in the lobby before buying a bag of your favorites to take home with you.

Ceiling view of the Michigan State Capitol Building, one of the fun things to do in Lansing MI
The view looking up at the Michigan State Capitol Building. Photo credit: Mary Moore

8. Lie on the Floor of the State Capitol Building

Normally, this type of behavior would be frowned upon. However, at the Michigan State Capitol Building, lounging is actually encouraged. This is because if you lie down on your back on the glass floor in the center of the building, you can look up into the peak and experience the best view in this house. Plus, guided tours of the Capitol Building are FREE! Simply check the website for hours.

9. Take a Walk Through a Time Machine

Ok, not an actual time machine, but pretty darn close! The Michigan Historical Museum houses artifacts from decades past that correlate to the area’s history. In one room you can walk into a coal mine and hear the clank of the pickaxes. In the next, you can enjoy the sweet sounds and sights of Motown. Prices for a day of fun are minimal and children under the age of 5 are FREE. Plus, if you plan your visit for a Sunday, admission is FREE for everyone.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Looking to explore more of Michigan history? Read more about visiting Belle Isle in Detroit. There are also plenty of free and fun things to do in the area! 

10. See a Shark

Wait, I told you earlier that the Michigan lakes were shark-free, right? That is still true, but on the campus of MSU, you’ll find the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum that appears from the outside to look like a giant shark. Inside the building, guests are free to browse the beautiful art gallery including everything from paintings to sculptures. Admission is FREE.

11. Touch a Spartan

It is definitely not nice to go around touching the people who go to school in East Lansing. However, legend has it that touching the giant Spartan statue at the entrance to Michigan State University can bring good luck.

12. Search for Fairytale Creatures

Inside the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, you’ll find several perfectly manicured gardens and each one is themed to a different fairy tale. These lovely gardens are full of surprises and are open to the public to enjoy. There is no admission charge to visit the garden, although you may need to pay for meter parking.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Another fun place to search for hidden fairies is downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. This road trip destination is about an hour’s drive away but also full of opportunities for family fun. Read more about visiting Ann Arbor here. 

13. Adventure into Wolf Woods at Potter Park Zoo

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to camp in the woods on Michigans Upper Peninsula? While you may not want to find one of the local gray wolves out your window in real life, at the Potter Park Zoo you can find it mesmerizing to watch them from inside the picturesque log cabin viewing area. Just be sure to leave enough time to see the rest of the zoo too!

14. Find Places to Stay Near Lansing MI

There are several options for hotel stays near Lansing, including vacation rentals. Use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.
Booking.com

Mary Moore is the retro ­loving mother of two young children who enjoys the freedom of driving the open road in search of adventure. She and her family are working their way through the backroads and cities of America in their seafoam green 1950s Bel Air. You can read more about their lifestyle and adventures on the blog Raising Dick and Jane.
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One response


  1. The popcorn place in Oldtown is called Cravings 🙂
    Here’s their link: http://www.cravingspopcorn.com/

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