Passing through Michigan’s capital city and looking to fill a day? No sweat, as from sunup to sundown there’s plenty to see and do in Greater Lansing, with food, shopping, nature, art and history all on the menu.
Fuel up for the day with breakfast at the quirky Golden Harvest diner, a truly unique spot where there’s always a queue outside for a table (but plenty to look at while you wait). Once you make it into the tiny and bustling room full of even more knick-knacks, its fresh breakfast food including omelettes and many variations on french toast is among the most popular in the city.
From there it’s just a few blocks south to Lansing’s historic and cultural Old Town neighborhood, where you’ll find so many galleries and boutiques you can easily lose a few hours just browsing. On one side of the Grand River you’ll find the gallery and studio of a prolific glass artist Craig Mitchell Smith and the charming October Moon Art Gallery & Boutique. On the other side, there’s the Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, the Katalyst Gallery and the Polka Dots Boutique.
When you’re done browsing, follow the Lansing River Trail south to downtown, being sure to check out the Brenke Fish Ladder. Once you’re downtown, you have a number of options for how to fill your next few hours. For car enthusiasts there’s the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, for families the Impression 5 Science Center, or for those interested in the city’s history, the Michigan History Center and the Michigan State Capitol to see.
In the afternoon we’re heading over to East Lansing to visit some of Michigan State University’s best sites. Top of the pile is the MSU Broad art museum, housed in a striking building designed by world-renowned architect, the late Zaha Hadid. The building is a must-see even if art is not your thing, and if it isn’t there’s the Michigan State University Museum, which features dinosaur skeletons and fossils. Keep yourself going with a coffee and pastry from Chapelure, a popular hangout for MSU students.
In the evening, it’s time for dinner so we’re going back to Lansing where there are a number of options. In Old Town there’s the hip spot Meat BBQ, which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2017 and serves up slow-smoked meats in creative ways. Alternatively, there’s the Soup Spoon Café, a cozy eatery with a more varied menu than its name suggests.
For a drink after dinner, there’s plenty to choose from again. If you’re in Old Town there’s Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern, specializing in craft beer and cocktails, or The Grid Arcade & Bar if you’re a gamer. Alternatively, if you want to try some local brews, you can’t go wrong at the Lansing Brewing Company or the Midtown Brewing Co.