Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Pet a rat.
- 2. Take a river boat ride.
- 3. Eat a zucchini blossom.
- 4. Catch a hot dog flying through the air.
- 5. Stand inside a bubble.
- 6. Take a ride into history.
- 7. Eat dill pickle popcorn.
- 8. Lie on the floor of a state capitol building.
- 9. Take a walk through a time machine.
- 10. See a shark.
- 11. Touch a Spartan.
- 12. Search for fairy tale creatures.
- 13. Adventure into Wolf Woods at Potter Park Zoo.
- Find Places to Stay Near Lansing, Michigan
If you’ve never spent the day in Michigan’s capital city of Lansing, you probably don’t know what you’re missing! Get ready to discover our list of fun and surprising things to do in Lansing MI – things like catching a flying hotdog, searching for fairy tale creatures or stepping inside a giant bubble.
Disclosure: This writer was hosted.
Many people equate Michigan tourism with warm weather travel near one of the beautiful Great Lakes or maybe a winter trip to experience the snow. Unfortunately for many, that is all that they will experience of the diverse state that I call home. What they don’t know is that Michigan is full of fun experiences any time of the year and Lansing, Michigan is home to quite a few of them!
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
If you’re looking for a family-friendly Midwest destination or somewhere to day trip to 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.
How many of these 14 fun things did you know you could experience in the Greater Lansing area?
TravelingMom Tip: Looking for more fun Midwest road trip ideas? Don’t miss our list of 30+ Midwest vacation spots to consider.
Fun and Surprising Things to Do in Lansing MI
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.
TravelingMom 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.
TravelingMom Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
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!
TravelingMom 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.
6. Take a ride into history.
One of our favorite history museums in Lansing is 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 weird popcorn creations plus a ton more. You can even sample some of them for free in their lobby before buying a bag of your favorites to take home with you and weird out your friends.
8. Lie on the floor of a 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 their 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.
TravelingMom 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 fairy tale 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.
TravelingMom 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!
Covid-19 Precautions: Masks are currently required indoors. Be sure to check the website for up-to-date information.