Lansing: Modern Classic Done Right

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan just over a year ago. Fascinated by travel and discovering new places, Jennifer spends her free time exploring Michigan towns and writing about her experiences on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes. Today, she fills us in on a recent day trip that she and her husband took to Lansing, Michigan.

Whether you’re looking for intricate architecture, historical venues, great shopping, or places to dine, Lansing has it all. As Michigan’s “capitol city,” this diverse area brims with timelessness while managing to grow and adapt with modern society. For first-time visitors like me, however, experiencing everything Lansing has to offer in just one day can seem like a stretch. Nevertheless, one day is what my husband and I had when we made the trip, so we took a fast-forward tour of the city, sampling the overall picture of what makes Lansing a hot spot for people traveling across central Michigan.

First on our destination list was Lansing’s downtown area. Easily accessed just off of I-496, downtown Lansing hosts a mecca of small shops and eateries, a perfect lunchtime hub for tourists and local businesspeople alike. After grabbing some sandwiches at the Spotted Dog Café , my husband and I walked a couple of blocks to the state capitol building, a must-see for all visitors. Inside, we encountered countless rooms and hallways that were trimmed from top to bottom in Michigan pine, yet meticulously hand-painted to mimic walnut.  As we wandered from floor to floor, I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like to spend time in such a beautiful building every day. All of my thoughtful pondering, however, did not stop my inner child from posing for silly pictures in the reflection on the golden elevator doors.

Next, it was on to the Michigan Historical Center, a site that houses the state library, archives, and historical museum. While my husband and I didn’t have time to skim the library’s extensive genealogical records, we made sure to take in as much of the museum’s enormous collection as possible. With everything there is to know about Michigan history, from its first settlers throughout much of the 20th century, this was one of the best museums I’ve visited while in Michigan. We spent an hour or two looking around, but if we had allotted for it, the museum could easily have sufficed for an entire afternoon’s worth of entertainment.

With the day flying by, my husband and I hopped in the car and drove a few minutes down the road to Old Town. There, we encountered several blocks of art galleries, gift shops, and a little bakery called Aggie Mae’s, where we bought a couple of delicious cookies made with so many ingredients, I can’t begin to remember everything that was in them.  The town was quiet on that Monday afternoon, but our post-cookie stroll was complemented by a refreshing lack of crowds and a serene view of the river.  Eventually, dinnertime rolled around, and we scouted out Meat, a so-called “carnivore cuisine” restaurant. Feasting on pulled pork and brisket, we chatted with a down-to-earth waitress and hung out in the southern-inspired spot for a while—a great way to escape the chilly night outside.

After dinner, we took a quick cruise around the Michigan State University campus, and then found our way across the city for a little shopping at the Eastwood Towne Center.  Comprised of restaurants and upscale stores, Eastwood showed yet another facet of Lansing we had not seen.  We spent the remainder of the evening unwinding among shelves of new and used media at Schuler Books, then called it a night and headed back towards Detroit. So many things to do, and so little time . . . but you can bet I’ll be back. See you soon, Lansing.

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan just over a year ago. Fascinated by travel and discovering new places, Jennifer spends her free time exploring Michigan towns and writing about her experiences on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes. You can follow her on Twitter @JHBowman.

  • Mary Olds Toshach

    Try and visit Old Town during one of the many festival, or any day but Monday – many of the great galleries and other offering are closed Mondays – but glad you enjoyed it!

  • JHBowman

    @Mary Olds Toshach Thanks for the advice! I did notice that a lot of the stores were closed on the Monday we went, but I’d love to re-visit on a Friday or Saturday. I can’t wait to see what the city is like once the weather warms up!

  • NickBlaskowski

    Great blog. Be sure to try the Golden Harvest when you’re in Old Town next.

  • JHBowman

    @NickBlaskowski Thank you! And I’ll have to remember that one. :)

  • katekoskinen

    Thanks for visiting Lansing! This is something I made for a community project and think you might enjoy!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjHrXqq0Szo

  • JHBowman

    @NickBlaskowski I’m Googling it now!

  • JHBowman

    @NickBlaskowski Accidentally deleted my previous reply, but I’ll try to remember that one!