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 DowntownLansing (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.
Looking for childcare that fits your busy life? Look no more. AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool has a program for you. Offering quality care for children from 6 weeks to 12 years old. Schedule a tour today!
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 Trailconnects 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.
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.
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 Centerwith 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.
5) Tuck into a Great Book
401 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933
Read, play, explore, go to special events, movies and more atCADL Downtown Library. Enjoy their Zen Garden in the warmer months.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
Lansing Brewing Company 518 E. Shiawassee Street, Lansing, MI 48912
Burgers and fries and outdoor games make this place a sure-fire good time.
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.
Zoup! 214 S. Washington Square,Lansing, MI 48933
Quick and fun make this a great landing spot with kids.
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.
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.
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.
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 Diner 516 E Grand River Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
A staple of goodness in Old Town.
Pablos 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.
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!