Top 25+ Things to do in Lansing, Michigan – Plus Where to Eat & Where to Stay

Downtown Lansing Capitol Building Path to Michigan Hall of Justice with kids bike

A Lansing Trip is An Easy Outing for Families

Did you know Lansing has something for you!?

It can be hard to find out about the gems a city has to offer if you don’t live there. So, here’s an inside look from a local on what kind of great family fun awaits you and your kids in Michigan’s Capitol City.

I’ve stacked up my Top Family Fun ideas for a day out in Lansing.

Mix and Match or check them all off in one day or grab a hotel room for an overnight trip.

From touring one of the locations used in shooting the movie “Batman vs. Superman” to paddling through the city center it’s sure to be fun for both kids and Parents.

Check the OPEN/CLOSED status of desired destinations before heading out, as businesses adjust almost daily to the dynamics of the COVID-19 situation.

Lansing Broad Elephant

SEE ALSO: 101 Free Things to do With Kids in Michigan

Best Things to Do in Lansing with Kids

1) Head Over to Pruess Pets

Pruess Pets
1127 N Cedar St, Lansing, MI 48906

(FREE to visit)

This amazing place is more than a pet store: it’s an experience. Among the elaborate amounts of things to explore our favorites are visiting the parrots and for just $1 feeding the huge koi fish in their multiple ponds.

When deciding what to do on an adventure trip, Pruess Pets is a no brainer choice for my husband and I because it’s SO MUCH FUN for both our kids and us!

We all end up learning something new while seeing an exotic pet we’ve never seen before.

Pruess

If you’re lucky you might get to hang with Fred and Ginger (the 75 and 65-year-old middle age tortoises) as they race through the store! (Did you know tortoises can live to about 150 years old!?)

TIP: Just a few blocks down the street is Scoops, an MSU Dairy Store, and Cravings Popcorn.

2) Step Into Michigan History

Cars! Motown! Coal Mines! Expect to see these and so much more on the three floors of exhibits.

Michigan History Museum
702 W Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48915
Free admission on Sundays

The fun kids’ area is located on the first floor where crafts and cool experiments await, along with a stage and reading nook. As you walk in you’ll see the massive pine tree growing right in the middle of the building!

From favorite permanent exhibits to rotating ones, it’s sure to keep kids engaged. Also, the massive pine tree growing in the center is a sight to make any aged person gape in wonder.

TIP: We enjoy a nice walk on the trail to the Capitol building after we’re finished exploring too!

Lansing Historical Museum

3) Delight Your Tastebuds at Horrocks Farmers Market

(FREE to visit and FREE Coffee to go!)

Horrocks Farmers Market
7420 W Saginaw Hwy, Lansing, MI 48917

I know what you’re thinking “we already have that in Grand Rapids.” Trust me, Lansing’s location is its own beast and a MUST VISIT! I highly recommend this spot whether you’re wanting to grab some crisp produce/groceries on your way back home or just want to experience all that is Lansing Horrocks.

Grab a free coffee, sample their in-house made popcorn, peruse the produce, walk their bulk isle, grab some sushi, and stop by the wine bar. 

Or grab a kombucha in the dairy/cold section and visit the butcher. Stop by the pub and warm your hands by the wood burning fireplace or sit out on the patio and chat with your little minis.

Fill up an olive oil jar with your favorite flavor, grab a bunch of flowers in their flower shop, grab a treat for your pet, and walk the greenhouses as you stock for the gardening season.

Don’t forget to listen for the piano player tucked away near the front entrance. Horrocks really does have it all!

The amazing atmosphere and food from all over the world don’t even begin to describe the fun to be had. Some of our favorite corners to visit are:

  1. The fountain located deep in the beautiful greenhouses and hanging pinatas.
  2. In-store popped Popcorn Station where you can sample their delicious kernels!
  3. Infused olive oil station with a countless amount of flavors like basil or thyme.
  4. Grab some Wine or Beer from their amazing staff at either their Wine Bar or Pub with a walk up patio where you can enjoy the view after you’ve grabbed a yummy snack.
  5. And last, but absolutely not least, their coffee roasting station! There you can can grab a big cup to go with all the fixin’s for FREE! A Parent’s Dream! My personal favorite in this area is the Nitro cold brew from ColdSpell.
Lansing Horrocks 1

4) Explore the Ledges at Fitzgerald Park

($5 per car)

Fitzgerald Park
100 Fitzgerald Park Dr, Grand Ledge, MI 48837

Fitzgerald Park truly is a hidden gem!

There’s a reason why the town is called Grand Ledge. These natural formations along the Grand River make for excellent exploring. Fitzgerald Park is also has a fish ladder, nature center, playgrounds, and disc golf.

Venture out here and you’ll find yourself in another world! You don’t need to drive 4 hours up north to find sweet rock formations, or as we like to call them, “The Ledges.” It’s just under an hour from Grand Rapids and is something your kids will remember for a lifetime!

Ledges Fitzgerald Park

5) Feed the Horses at the MSU Horse Barns

Feed the Horses just down the street from the MSU Children’s Gardens!

Tucked away on the border of Lansing and Michigan State University Campus are the MSU Barns. There are lots of horses ready to meet your little cuties and they love being fed right from your hands! Each time we go there is so much excitement driving in and we leave feeling filled up with joy because we’ve looked into the eyes of these kind and sensitive beauties.

(FREE, bring your own bag/s of carrots or apples)

How many times can you say you’ve had an exciting yet peaceful day?! Visiting these absolutely gorgeous animals is just that.

MSU Horse Barns
3327 Collins Rd, Lansing, MI 48910
Lansing Horses

6) Visit the Moose, Lions & Penguins at Potter Park Zoo

(FREE with JBZ Card, $11 non-resident adult, $4 ages 3-12, under 3 FREE, $3 for Parking)

Potter Park Zoo
1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

Do you have a membership to the John Ball Zoo? If so, you’re in for a day of FREE family fun where you’ll see Lions face to face, penguins playing in their outdoor pool area, and their new Moose exhibit!

On Mondays from 10am – Noon enjoy a story time with a live creature. That’s not all! Take a ride on a pony or jump high in the sky to try and see all of the animals from above!

Lansing Potter Park zoo

7) Check out the MSU Children’s Gardens & Butterfly House

(FREE + Old school, change-only parking meters)

MSU Children’s Gardens/Butterfly House
1066 Bogue St, East Lansing, MI 48823

One thing you can count on when you have a garden is that it will never be exactly the same each year. The same can be said about the MSU Children’s Gardens and I absolutely love that!

Each time we go something different catches our eye and we can rest assured we won’t get sick of it because next year will be something new again. This year brings fun huts for the kids to “hide” in and the tree maze is always a hit. Don’t miss the butterfly house from March to April!

Want to visit in the winter? Go for it! The indoor greenhouses are open all year round and their succulent area is a favorite for our family. You can also enjoy a story hour once a month throughout the year.

kid fun in Lansing

8) Pedal or Paddle with Rivertown Adventures

Rivertown Adventures
305 City Market Dr, Lansing, MI 48912

Kayaking with Rivertown Adventures has become one of our favorite things to do in summer!

Take to the Grand River in kayaks or canoes rented from Rivertown Adventures (if you want to stay off the water they also offer bicycles rentals). Spend just an hour or a whole big adventure on Lansing’s downtown riverfront.

The staff is amazing and will get you laughing and ready to paddle your way to an exciting hour of kayaking family fun.

things to do in Lansing

9) Let Your Imagination Loose at Impressions 5 Hands-On Museum

Newly renovated and ready for all ages! Our family has a membership to Impressions 5. We visit a lot in winter when it’s cold outside because we are guaranteed a good day after visiting here.

Impressions 5
200 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933

My kids are 2-½ years apart and it can be difficult to visit when it’s just me as they are wanting to run in completely opposite directions. Who can blame them?! The many wonders that are i5 include their brand new water exhibit, separate enclosed toddler area, science stations galore, and much much more!

This hands-on learning museum has a nursing areas for mommas, snack/lunch areas, and rotating exhibits throughout the year. Hours of fun are awaiting you at I5.

TIP: The best tip I can give is to go with friends. It helps keep the kids all together and you won’t have to wear your workout clothes because of chasing your toddler around all day.

Lansing Impressions 5

10) Don’t Skip the Art Museum

(FREE, donations accepted)

Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum
547 E Circle Dr, East Lansing, MI 48824

The Eli & Edyth Broad Art Museum has a section in the bottom level just for kids where there’s almost always a craft or something to participate in! It is my number one pick because it’s so unique to Michigan and it’s a place you and your kids won’t soon forget.

Family day at the Broad is every first Saturday of the month. Here kids and parents can explore current exhibits and creating new art projects. The Broad is a captivating place that people of all ages enjoy and it’s FREE!

**NOTE TO PARENTS**: Stick to the children/kid exhibit areas or make sure the adult exhibits are appropriate for your children. For a guarenteed fully family friendly environment – make a trip on Family Day (first Saturday of the every month).

TIPS: If you’re needing a beverage, Starbucks is located in the lobby. Beverages are allowed in the Family Day areas. However, all food and beverages need to be finished before entering the exhibits.

Lansing Broad Art Museum

11) Take a Tour

Whether your a political junkie wanting to explore the capitol building or the Hall of Justice, a music lover wanting to climb the Beaumont Tower Carillon, Lansing offers many unique tours, many of which can be self-guided.

12) Venture Out into the Countryside

Want to be your kid’s hero?

Stop by Uncle John’s Cider Mill for a slice of yummy from their pie barn and then let the kiddos loose on their giant inflatable jumping pillow (it’s free!) and surrounding play area.

OR…

Get Ice Cream and a Petting Zoo all-in-one when you visit Moo-ville in Nashville, MI.

You’ll get tasty ice cream and you can also visit farm animals in the free petting zoo!

Uncle John’s Cider Mill
Moo-ville

13) Explore the Great Outdoors at a Lansing Area Nature Center

The Lansing area has not one, not two, but FOUR amazing nature centers that are family friendly.

Whether it’s a festival at Fenner, kayaking at Woldumar, visiting the turtles at Harris, or unplugging when you play on the NatureScape at Howell, you can have a blast reveling in mid-Michigan beauty.

Fenner
Woldumar
Harris
Howell
Lansing woldumar
Woldumar Nature Preserve in Lansing, MI

14) Find Something Eclectic at REO Town Marketplace

The REO Town Marketplace

Named for Ransom Eli Olds, the REO Town is the neighborhood just south of Downtown Lansing. 

The REO Town Marketplace houses different vendors (Vintage Junkies being a favorite). This indoor curated flea market makes for a fun afternoon of shopping. They also host family-friendly events throughout the year like sewing and pour painting classes.

15) Nosh on Fresh Food Year-Round at Allen Neighborhood Farmer’s Market

Allen Neighborhood Farmer’s Market

The Allen Neighborhood Farmer’s Market is a great way to see Lansing’s communities at work. Stop by for local artisans and delicious fresh produce, plus when the months turn cold, the market simply moves indoors, so you can still visit even when most other markets have closed for the season.

16) Carve Out Time for a Fabulous Park

Hawk Island

In the the warmer weather kids love to cool off in the splash pad or take a dip in the lake.

When the snow is covering the ground they have a fantastic tubing hill.

Along with paved trails for exploring and many other fun perks, it’s easy to make a day (or two) of it. One the best parts of this park is their Storywalk, where you get to read and interact with a story along the path.

In the fall the park hosts the Capitol City Dragon Boats Race which is a spectacle to behold!

Frances Park

One of Lansing’s best kept secrets is right in the middle of the city. Frances Park is nestled along the banks of the Grand River and features a formal rose garden. The paved walking trails are stroller friendly and photo ops are abundant.

Crego Park

Visit Crego Park, one of the latest extensions of the Lansing River Trail, and see if you can spy any bald eagles in their natural habitat.

Granger Meadows Park

 

Climb Granger Hill in the Granger Meadows Park. This 70 foot hill makes for a fun hike in the summer and in the winter has THREE different slopes to sled down.

Lansing boy 1
Granger Hill in Lansing, MI
Burchfield Park

Enjoy a winter wonderland at Burchfield Park.

Rent tubes for $2 a piece and ride down the hill as many times as you wish at Burchfield Park! Stoked warming stations are at each hill and the snack bar is inside a round cool little building. If there isn’t snow on the ground this park is still a treat to visit with its many amenities.

17) Socialize at the MSU Union

MSU Union

The semi-annual Arts & Crafts Show at MSU is held at the Union, where you will also find the famous Dairy Store, along with a bowling alley in the basement!

18) Find Forgotten Treasure at the MSU Surplus Store

Surplus Store

The Surplus Store on the Michigan State campus is where student’s forgotten belongings go to die… actually, it’s better: it’s where they go to be recycled. You’ll find bikes, cool chairs, clothes, and all sorts of items.

New items are available like discounted diapers and more! They also have “bins” days where you can pay by the pound.

19) Root, Root for the Home Team at Cooley Law School Stadium

Have a die-hard baseball fan? Hit the road too so you can cheer them on at the Cooley Law School Stadium when the go up against the Lansing Lugnuts.

For the soccer fans, you can watch the GRFC take on the Lansing Ignite.

20) Catch a Flick on the Capitol Lawn

Movies in the Park happen all over the Greater Lansing area during the summer. The Capitol Lawn typically hosts their movies in August, but other communities in the area also host these wonderful events, a great way to cap off a day in Lansing.

21) Putt Like a Pro at Little Hawk Real Grass Mini Golf

As one of only three of real grass putt-putt courses in Michigan, the Little Hawk Putting Course will be a hit with golfers of all ages and skill.

22) Dive into History at Moores Park Pool

 Moores Park pool

When you visit the Moores Park pool, you can take a swim in one of the oldest swimming pools of its kind in the country.

Spoiler alert, it is a Bintz pool meaning it’s huge and shaped like an egg!

23) Explore Like a Local with “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town”

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town is one of the coolest events Lansing has to offer families. Stop by any of their noted locations to grab your $1.00 (yes– only $1.00!) passport.

You’ll then be able to visit and tour all of the places on the list, such as ride in a vintage car around the city, head to the bug house on campus, see the chalk walk in Old Town and so much more! This annual event is typically held in early June.

Lansing be a tourist in your own town
Vintage Car Rides at “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” in Lansing, MI

24) Captial City Film Fest is a Smash

This annual event held in April, is always a highlight. They offer children’s events, performances, and film options. Our family looks forward to this every year.

25) Art Blossoms Each Spring at the East Lansing Art Festival

The East Lansing Art Festival in May brings the whole city out from our winter hibernation. Immerse the whole family in art, music, and the kids favorite: The Children’s Area . Here you will find dance workshops, arts and crafts, a magic show, and more!

26) Chalk the Walk

Each June the Broad Art Museum hosts the Drawing Festival and families will encounter dancers, human posed mannequins dressed in costumes, large canvases, geared to inspire your own piece.

Lansing Drawing Marathon Eli Edyth Broad Art Museum Kids chalk art

Our kids used chalk on the sidewalk and added color to the large community canvases.

Want More?

Still not convinced that Lansing makes for a great nearby adventure? This list of 47 Things to in Lansing (from our awesome sister site LansingFamilyFun) should do the trick.

The best part is, they are all FREE! How wild is that?

Best Places to Eat in Lansing

Best Places to Stay in Lansing

So, are you ready for your Lansing adventure?

Let us know where you end up!

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