Lansing Food, Coffee & Fun – 17 Ways to Rock a Downtown Adventure with Kids

Downtown Lansing is Educational & Fun for Kids

I constantly get asked “are there things to do in Downtown Lansing with kids?” I love that I get to answer a big – YES!

I didn’t always have this answer though.  There were endless amounts of exciting things to do in Lansing  – BC (before children). Once we hit AD (after delivery) though, those adventurous days in Lansing felt like a distant memory.

Getting out with kids seemed too hard and not worth the effort.

Exploring Downtown Lansing With Kids is Easy With a Little Prep

One brave morning after our first adventure, I realized that the effort to leave the house with kids was worth the reward of visiting Downtown Lansing.

My sister and I had packed up the kids, snacks, strollers, water and set out for our first exploration day. It was liberating to see that I could still be me and share my adventuring with my boys in a way that would cultivate conversations, learning opportunities, and adventure.

Now, one of our favorite places to explore is Downtown Lansing (Central + Reo Town and Old Town.)

If you’re looking to get out of the normal routine, try heading to Downtown Lansing. There’s a full day of fun things to do and then some because our city is growing fast in what seems like overnight.

So, where do you want to start first?

17 Things to do With Kids in Downtown Lansing

I’m a huge advocate for walking a city. A way to get a good feel of a place is to walk its streets. Our friendly, homey reputation is pretty accurate so be prepared to get a few smiles and waves. Here are some of my favorite places and things to do in Downtown Lansing.

1) Hike the Lansing River Trail

I was pleasantly shocked to realize that our Lansing River Trail connects most of Greater Lansing. North to South, East to West, and all in-between.

If you start downtown you can head in all four directions.

A nice easy access place to start is the Brenke Fish Ladder and parking lot of Old Town. You’ll pass a playground, bridges, River Town Adventures where you can rent kayaks or bikes, the soon to be new beach/Rotary Park, and end up at Impression 5. This route is about a 2-mile distance from the Fish Ladder to I5.


2) Bike or Walk the path between the Michigan State Capitol & Hall of Justice Buildings

925 W Ottawa St, Lansing, MI 48915

The pathway between the Capitol and the Michigan Hall of Justice is a safe and fun way (no cars allowed) to let the kids play and practice with a great view.

You can access this path anywhere between these two buildings between Allegan and Ottawa streets.

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

3) Make New Discoveries at Impression 5

200 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933

Impression 5’s goal is to create play areas for all ages. This means zero to 60 and beyond!

Learn more about what to expect and get pro tips here.

Amazing Dinosaurs Impression 5 kids play downtown Lansing

4) Learn While Having Fun at Michigan History Center

702 W Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48915

You’ll be greeted by a huge tree in the center of the Michigan History Center with a beautiful water structure wrapped around.

Kids know right away this place is for them as they walk into the children’s area stocked with art supplies, a performing stage and interesting projects.

Head upstairs for an entire day worth of fun or just stay for an hour – either way, this is guaranteed fun for all. The best part is that it keeps you moving in one direction so little runners stay corralled.

Michigan Historic Center Outdoor Tree Play Museum Downtown Lansing

5) Tuck into a Great Book

401 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933

Read, play, explore, go to special events, movies and more at CADL Downtown Library. Enjoy their Zen Garden in the warmer months.

Downtown Lansing Library Kids Zen Garden

6) Kayak With River Town Adventures

305 City Market Drive, Lansing, MI 48912
See the city in a new way with a kayak trip along the river. River Town Adventures offer tandem boats for families, one hour on-site trips, and special site-drop adventures. It’s a blast!

River Town Adventures Grand River Downtown Lansing Kids Kayak Tandum under bridge

7) Spend a Night Out at Lansing Brewing Company

518 E Shiawassee St, Lansing, MI 48912

Sit on the patio and enjoy lawn games with the family at Lansing Brewing Company.

Lansing Brewing Company Patio with kids Downtown Lansing

8) Tour the Fire Station

120 E Shiawassee, LansingMI 48933

Call ahead to set up a trip through the downtown fire station. You don’t have to wait for a field trip before you take kids to meet this amazing brave team.

Reolds-museum kid cars Downtown Lansing

9) View Old Cars at R. E. Olds Transportation Museum

240 Museum Drive, Lansing, MI 48933

Is your kid (or you) into cars? R.E. Olds Transportation Museum is a great place to see beautiful vehicles and tour through history.

10) Discover Beauty on the Art Path

Along the Lansing River Trail

Take a walk on the riverfront with the purpose of focusing on the art.

Art Path kicked off with a bang then continued the second year with lots of fun and promises to be something that continues to be an attraction throughout the years.


11) Create Your Own Beauty at Reach Art Studio

1804 S. Washington Ave, Lansing, MI, 48910

Drop-in for a Wednesday walk-in class at Reach Art Studio during the school year or walk through their beautiful new art gallery. (Reo Town)

REACH Art Studio Reo Town Lansing Kids Art Wall

12) Watch the Fish at Brenke Fish Ladder

216 E Grand River Ave, Lansing, MI 48906

Kids love to see the water roll down the dam and climb the fish ladder stairs.

It’s a fun spot to stop before you hit the park a couple of feet/walking distance on the Lansing River Trail or on your way to the cute shops of Old Town.

Lansing River Trail Downtown Kids Walking Brenke Fish Ladder

13) Tour Michigan State Capitol or Michigan Hall of Justice

Michigan State Capitol
100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933

Michigan Hall of Justice
925 W. Ottawa Street, Lansing, MI 48915

Take a self or guided tour of these historic buildings! It’s surprisingly fun for both adults and kids.

14) Explore Turner-Dodge House

Turner-Dodge House
100 E. North Street,
LansingMI 48906

Tour this beautiful old building then walk the river trail through Old Town to find treats and sites.

15) Go Thrifting

Kids love finding treasures at these places:

  • Reo Town Marketplace is so fun to visit. Walk throughout the market where you’ll find places for kids to color and sometimes special events.
  • Cross the street to St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store (1020 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910) to find great prices on clothes and kids puzzles, toys, and finds.
  • April’s on Kalamazoo is always a treat to sort through or find that beautiful piece you’ve been looking for for years.
  • Right next door to April’s is Dicker and Deal – where you can do just that.
  • Vintage Marketplace in Old Town (1219 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906) is adorable, two stories, and packed full of surprises.
Thrift shop lansing reotown market vintage junkies

16) Feed the Fish at Preuss Pets

1127 N Cedar St, Lansing, MI 48906

Preuss Pets is a Downtown Lansing gem. It’s a must see, must go, enjoyable spot!

You’ll love to feed the fish in their multiple ponds, say high to the talking parrots and birds, see tons of exotic fish, and more.

Preuss Pets Downtown Old Town Lansing Kids feed fish

Warning: you may start seriously considering a parrot for a pet. They’re incredible creatures! 

17) Root for the Lansing Lugnuts and Lansing Ignite at Cooley Law School Stadium

505 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

Cheer on our local baseball and soccer teams with the family! There’s a play area on the grounds and lots food choices. They’ve taken extra care to make sure all ages have a great time during every game plus plan lots of special games geared toward kids.

** Honorable Mention: Potter Park Zoo

1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

We had to add Potter Park Zoo to the list because although it’s not right downtown Lansing it’s just a hop skip and a jump from our city center. Plus, you can reach their grounds on the rivertrail and has a nice playground just outside the entrance. FREE admission for Ingham County Residents on Mondays from open until noon.

Strange Matter Coffee Downtown Lansing Kid Friendly Coffee Shop
Strange Matter Coffee

Where to Find Coffee in Downtown Lansing – with Kids

What’s the secret to getting out with kids? Coffee or other great beverages of course! Props to you if you don’t need it or don’t like it. As for me, I love coffee. I love it even more when the coffee shops go out of their way make my kids feel welcome. Here are some stellar shops that do just that.

Strange Matter coffee Downtown Washington Ave Location Kid Friendly coffee shop

Biggby on Ottawa
120 W Ottawa St, Lansing, MI 48933
This is a tight squeeze for strollers but they are so friendly and the kids love to sit in the old architecture seats. My sisters and I usually swap going inside as we sit with the kids on their patio seating.

Biggby on Allegan
115 W Allegan St, Lansing, MI 48933
There’s a lot of space to walk in and sit for a bit if you’re kids are good with that. My youngest likes to keep it pushing so we are usually in and out. This is our go-to location during the Halloween events downtown. 

Blue Owl Kid Friendly Coffee Shop Lansing ReoTown

Blue Owl Coffee Co (Reo Town)
1149 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
Ready for a good time? They are so much fun, have weekly community engaging events, rotating art exhibits,  and the best part – great coffee!

Grand Traverse Pie Company
200 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
Their ordering process is the best! Here’s why – it’s a walk through ordering system. I can roll my double-wide stroller through, grab or order what we need, and roll right back out. With lots of seating inside and out it’s the perfect “mom-stop.” 

Reputation Beverage
800 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
These place is a lot of fun. Have you tried butter coffee? Let me know what you think? Plus, they serve yummy kombucha here!

Strange Matter
337 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
Their downtown location is small but don’t let that fool you – great things can come in small packages. Their staff is so friendly with kids and engage with them in conversation. Their in-house donuts are DELICIOUS, with vegan and gluten-free options! They also have a patio for those warm days when you need a little chill time after or before a long walk.

Where to Find Good Food in Downtown Lansing – with Kids

Back to Lansing Menu »

Eating out with kids can be tricky. For the most part we all know the easy fast spots right? What I love about getting out in Downtown Lansing is that I still get to eat at delicious, fun atmosphere and vibe kind of places with my kids in tow. They start to appreciate the cute places along with me and eventually start trying new food. It’s a win-win situation.

Here is my list of fun places that are kid-friendly and delicious for all. Check out our Lansing patio options, where to find ice cream, as well as where kids eat free in our area for more ideas and options.

Lansing City Center

mp social patio seating downtown Lansing stadium district with kids

Cottage Inn Pizza
303 S. Washington Sq, LansingMI 48933
I personally think they make the best gluten-free pizza around, plus everything else here is like a guilty pleasure.

Happy’s Pizza
6045 S. Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48911
Super friendly staff and yummy pizza make a great combo for #thatmomlife.

Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant
307 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
You can never go wrong with chips and salsa.

Lansing Brewing Company
518 E. Shiawassee Street, Lansing, MI 48912
Burgers and fries and outdoor games make this place a sure-fire good time.

Lansing Brewing Company Patio with kids Downtown Lansing

Los Tres Amigos
6405 South Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48911
Again, who doesn’t love chips and salsa?

Mediteran Cafe
200 N Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
Mediterranean food right on the downtown strip.

Midtown Brewing Company
402 S. Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
They are super kid-friendly and have a nice patio.

MP Social
313 N. Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48912
One of the best views of Downtown Lansing is on their patio plus they’ve got the food to match.

Waterfront Bar and Grill
325 City Market Drive, Lansing, MI 48912
This place is perfect after or before a kayak trip with River Town Adventures. Watch the sunset on the water and at times enjoy live music.

214 S. Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
Quick and fun make this a great landing spot with kids.

REO Town

Saddleback BBQ Patio with kids Reo Town Lansing

Bangos Food Truck
Parked throughout the downtown Lansing area
Check their Instagram for current locations each day.

Blue Owl Coffee Co
1149 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI, 48910
(Sandwiches etc.) Grabbing food and coffee in one stop is #lunchperfection.

Blue Owl Reo Town Lansing Patio with kids

Good Truckin’ Diner
1107 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
The name says it all! Yum, Yum, Yum!

Picnic Food Truck
Often parked here
It’s super yummy. Call to make sure if you’re wanting to make a plan.

Saddleback BBQ
1147 South Washington, Lansing, MI, 48910
“OMG.” That’s what I said when I took my first bite here. They have picnic tables set up for family-style eating making eating out with kids a dream.

Old Town

The Cosmos Old Town Downtown Lansing kid friendly pizza

The Cosmos
1200 North Larch St, Lansing, MI 48906
Delicious pizza in a fun atmosphere. Kids love Cosmos! And parents love it on Sunday when kids eat FREE.

Cravings Popcorn
1221 Turner St, Lansing, MI 48906
Looking for a snack? Pop in here for free samples and grab a bag of their fun flavors.

The Creole
1218 Turner St., Lansing, MI, 48906
Great vibe, great food. You’ll want to note that it takes a little longer to eat here but it’s worth the wait if you have the time.

Golden Harvest
1625 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Wait in line for what is argued the best breakfast in town.

Meat Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine
1224 Turner St, Lansing, MI 48906
Adults and kids love trying out all of the different sauces. Interactive eating = awesome mom/dad points.

Old Town General Store
408 E. César E. Chávez Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906
I love to stop in here for easy grab-and-go food options. It helps keep us moving on our adventure without skipping a beat. Bonus – their treats, chocolate, and wine selections are wonderful! Tip: it’s a tight squeeze in here so try to leave your stroller outside.

old town general store lansing

Old Town Diner
516 E Grand River Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
A staple of goodness in Old Town.

311 E Grand River Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
Authentic Mexican food can not be beat!

Punk Tacos
1216 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
This place is AWESOME. Best funky taco I’ve had in a while! Try all the fun stuff – you won’t be disappointed.

Punk Tacos Downtown Old Town Lansing Kid Friendly

Sir Pizza
201 E. Cesar E Chavez Ave., Lansing, MI 48906
An oldy but still a goody! Their pizza is classic in Lansing. Stay for the Kareoke for good laughs and a grand ole’ time.

What Do You Like to Do in Downtown Lansing and What Did We Miss?

Do you know of a special spot or place to eat that we don’t have listed? Let us know by commenting below to help spread the word to our LFF Community!

If you venture out on any of these fun ideas, tag us and let us know how it went.

Have fun hanging out in Downtown Lansing, friends!

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