Don’t Wait for a Field Trip to Explore the Michigan State Capitol Building

When was the last time you toured The Michigan State Capitol Building? I asked myself this question and realized that my most recent visit was during a time I barely remember. Since I’ve added this fun tour to many of our guides it seemed about time to venture back to the Capitol Building in Downtown Lansing.

Braving a blustery winter day, my son and I took a self-guided tour of this national treasure. We almost forgot it was so cold outside as we got lost in the atmosphere and beauty. It brightened our day leaving us excited to go back and bring the rest of our family with us.

You can take a self-guided tour of the Michigan State Capitol – any time!

There is a reverence of sorts when you walk into the building. Don’t let that intimidate you as it has me many times before. You can take a self-guided tour of the Michigan State Capitol building – ANYTIME! Well, within their hours of operation, that is.

Cast Metal Chandelier

Touring the history, art, and detail as an adult was a whole new experience. It was very special to be able to share this with my son and my mom says she loved visiting with us when we were kids. I imagine this generational tradition will continue to flow through many Michigan families and visitors for decades to come.

HOW to Take a Self-Guided Tour of the Michigan State Capitol Building

When you walk in, proceed until you see a big sign pointing to “TOURS”. A desk is located on the left side of the room and is where field trips check-in. It’s also where you can find packets and brochures for your self-guided tour.

You’ll be greeted by a friendly tour-guide. The tour director was extremely helpful, gave me multiple items to look through, and made us feel welcomed and excited for our adventure. Their brochure welcomes you as “friend” and that is exactly how we felt – Thanks, Matthew!

When you check in, the tour-guide will explain a bit about what you’ll see but most of your findings will be all on your own as you guide yourself by one of the five ways to tour the Capitol Building.

5 Ways to Take a Self-Guided Michigan State Capitol Building Tour – With Kids

All self-guided tours are FREE of charge.

1. Tour the Grandiose Structure and Beauty

Don’t have a lot of time but want to take an awesome adventure with your family? Try out touring the Capitol Building by just browsing through. You’ll be able to take in a lot in a short amount of time. Making this type of tour through the Capitol is worthwhile and can be really fun.

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My son loved seeing the decadence and learning all about the Capitol Building. How do I know? He kept saying over and over – “Wow, look at that!” I answered things like “Right!? That’s all hand-painted!” and “Yes, these are called the grand staircases.” The absolutely gorgeous dome high above his little gaze was what got the most attention.

2. Tour the Detailed Architecture and Monuments

13 monuments grace the grounds before you even walk into the building including “The Hiker” monument – sculpted by the first famous American woman sculptor!  We’ve been to many events on the Michigan State Capitol grounds but slowing down to learn about each individual piece is really special.

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Sauntering the halls and seeing the wall to ceiling hand-painted detail to the architecture is breathtaking! Can you imagine being one of those painters!? Thrilling! Each balcony has a unique view, and you’ll find extensive amounts of architecture to learn about throughout. If you’d like to take this tour – Ask for the “Guide to Architecture and Monuments” when you arrive.

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Michigan State Capitol Grand Staircase

3. Tour the Fine Art

Placed purposefully throughout the building are fine art pieces of each governor, eight muse paintings, and hand-painted murals throughout.

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Included in this art list is the stary dome in the point and center of the Capitol Building. You’ll find this as you stand on the round glass floor at the main level by gazing upward. If you’d like to take this tour, ask for the “Art Guide.”

4. Tour Michigan and American History

Lansing wasn’t always the capital city – it was first in Detroit. In March of 1847, Lansing was chosen as the second capitol location- and there have been three buildings! The Capitol building standing now in Lansing’s current Downtown is the third capitol in Michigan.

Now, more than 100 years later, boy have we proved the “horrified observers” wrong that Lansing is not a “howling wilderness” or “village-less.”

We not only have villages, but a vibrant community filled with amazing people and our city has tons of things to do with our families! It’s so awesome to learn about the history of our state while touring a building filled with just that – HISTORY!  You’ll find all of this information and much, much more when you visit and take the Historic Tour of the Capitol Building. If you want to take this tour, ask for the “Self-Guided Tour” booklet.

5. Tour and Explore it All

Spend the day at the Michigan State Capitol building by doing all of the above tours back to back. If you’re visiting from out of town and want to make a memorable experience, this is a great way to make the drive more than worth while. But, you’ll need a few tips before you come our way. Check out the below tips to make your day trip to Lansing with confidence:

5 Tips for your next visit to the Michigan State Capitol

1. Parking: We now have credit card meters along Washington square. Finding parking there will ensure you don’t go over your meter and gives a nice walk through Lansing’s Downtown strip. Also, parking structures are located on Capital Avenue between Shiawassee and Ionia, and Washington Ave and Kalamazoo. Both of these structures are a nice walking distance to the capitol.

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Parking Structure on Capitol Ave

2. Have the Talk: Visiting the Capitol Building is a lot of fun but letting the kids know it’s NOT ok to touch the walls or important pieces is really important before you go.

3. Bring a Snack or Lunch: If you’re taking the 5th version of tours you’ll need to pack accordingly. There are many restaurants around the area but if you’re engulfed in your tour(s), you’ll want some reinforcements.

4. No worries: This building has many people walking in an out at all times, you can feel the reverence when you arrive, but don’t worry – your kids are welcome! My 3-1/2-year-old did great! The friendliness as you walk through the building is awesome and you’ll feel welcome.

5. Just so you know: Continuing to preserve our enormous historic treasure’s infrastructure and architectural design, means the building is still under construction in some areas while they continue the upgrade project. This does not prevent you from visiting, but being respectful of the boundaries and places that the staff has set is key.

Great Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Michigan State Capitol Building

As my son and I walked up to the Michigan State Capitol Building he said “Mommy! Is this where the king of the castle lives?!” I replied, “Well, sweetie, if this was a castle – technically it would be considered where the queen of the castle resides. Afterall, we now have our second female governor in office in Michigan’s history!” Special trips like this can bring up fun and engaging conversations with our kids. I love that we have this type of opportunity right in our own backyard – Downtown Lansing!

The Michigan State Capitol is one of those wonderful places mutually enjoyed by all ages.  Kids are welcome in our Capitol building and they love to see all of the beauty, history, art, and information just like we do.

Try it out and let me know how your trip goes! We love to hear your feedback, thoughts, plus more community found tips to add.