Ten Things to Do at MSU (Without Having to Go to Class!)

Guest blogger Lori Lanspeary from the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau shares 10 fun things to do at Michigan State University without having to crack a book! 

Photo by Thomas Gennara Photography

Photo by Thomas Gennara Photography

Welcome to Spartan Country! Located in East Lansing, on the banks of the Red Cedar River, visitors can find a wealth of beauty and natural spaces on the sprawling campus of Michigan State University. While most people around the country know MSU by its mascot Sparty and its Big Ten sports teams, did you know that Michigan State University is currently recognized as a world leader in research? The school was founded in 1855 as the pioneer land-grant college in America and dedicated to the study of agriculture which explains the beautiful expansive campus. Today MSU has over 200 academic programs offered by 17 degree granting colleges.

BUT beyond the academics, visitors can find so many things to see and do on campus without having to sign up for a single class! Here’s the list of 10 things to do at MSU.

MSUMuseum-Dinosaur1. MSU Museum: Michigan’s first Smithsonian-affiliate, this museum is filled to the brim with research artifacts and natural wonders from around the world. And both the kids and adults love the dinosaurs!

2. W. J. Beal Botanical Gardens: The oldest continuously-operated garden of its type in the U.S. with over 2,700 species organized in economic, systematic landscape and ecological groupings. And the MSU Horticulture Gardens – A family of three adjoining gardens including research gardens, landscape arboretum and the delightful 4-H Children’s Garden.

3. Abrams Planetarium: Sit back and enjoy the wonders of the universe in the sky theatre.

MSU blog Pure Michigan4. Beaumont Tower: This is the iconic bell tower where carillonneurs play noontime recitals and legends tell of first kisses at midnight and engagements in the shadow of the tower.

5. MSU Farms: Colts racing, beef calves frolicking and mooing dairy cows waiting to be milked are a few of the sights to see when visiting the farms.

6. Wharton Center for Performing Arts: Catch the latest major touring Broadway blockbusters plus a great lineup of performing arts at Wharton.

7. MSU Dairy Store: It’s always hard to choose betwen the 32 flavors of some of the freshest ice cream you’ll ever taste. Or pick up some award-winning cheese varieties. Smiles guaranteed!

SONY DSC8. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum: This Zaha Hadid-designed art museum presents groundbreaking, international contemporary art across all media and is housed in a pleated stainless steel and glass multi-angled building that in itself is an architectural wonder.

9. Demmer Shooting Sports Education & Training Center: This training site for Michigan State University archery, rifle and pistol club teams is open to the public and promotes the safe use of firearms and archery equipment.

10. Big Ten Sporting Events:  Spartan football, basketball and hockey are among the favorite reasons for a visit to MSU. The resounding chants of Go Green! Go White! echo across campus. Make time for one last stop. Your visit won’t be complete without a photo taken in front of the bronze Spartan Statue near the stadium.

Have you visited East Lansing? What else would you add to the list? 

image001Need help planning your trip? Contact the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau or while visiting Michigan State University, stop by our East Lansing Visitor Center at 549 East Grand River Avenue located directly across from the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum.  Find maps, brochures and Visitor Guides or speak directly to one of our friendly information specialists happy to assist you during your visit.

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.

Put It on Paper at the Michigan Historical Museum

Literature lovers don’t want to miss Put It on Paper – a special exhibit running now at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing! Mary Dettloff of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources fills us in on what visitors can expect.

Hand-written manuscripts by Laura Ingalls Wilder. A piece of short fiction by a young Ernest Hemingway. The original architectural drawings for the WorldTradeCentertwin towers. What do all these items have in common? They are part a special exhibit at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing called Put It on Paper.

The exhibit highlights the various stages of the creative process used by writers, artists, architects, musicians and designers with a Michigan connection, such as the hand-written manuscripts of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The famed author, a native of Wisconsin, began her Michiganconnection in 1937, when she spoke at the Detroit Book Fair hosted by the J.L. Hudson Department Store. In 1949, the Detroit Public Library named its branch on Seven Mile Road after her, and in a show of gratitude Wilder donated two manuscripts – The Long Winter and These Happy Golden Years – to the library. 

An early Ernest Hemingway handwritten manuscript for his story Sportsman’s Hash, which he wrote while visiting Michigan as a young man.

Hemingway spent time in Michigan as a young man, and while here, he penned a short piece of fiction called Sportsman’s Hash. The original document, written on his father’s stationery, is part of the exhibit and shows Hemingway’s work before he went on to become one of the iconic writers of the 20th century.

Minoru Yamasaki came toMichiganin 1945 as a young architect and in just a few short years would help usher in theMichiganmodern design movement. He designed several important buildings at the height of his career, but perhaps none as well-known as the former World Trade Center twin towers in Lower Manhattan, which would later be destroyed in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Yamasaki’s original drawings for the twin towers, along with other materials, are housed at the Archives of Michigan, and select items from the collection are on display as part of this exhibit.

The original architectural drawings of the World Trade Center Twin Towers by Michigan-based architect Minoru Yamasaki. Yamasaki was based in the Detroit area and is one of the celebrated architects of Michigan modern design movement. He also designed several buildings in Michigan, including One Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Other items in the exhibit include conceptual car design drawings and models, art from contemporary Michigan artist and illustrator Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen (best known as a children’s book illustrator, including The Legend of Sleeping Bear), and music compositions by Michigan performers. An interactive area allows visitors to create their own masterpieces, including an area for kids who want to dabble in landscape architecture.

Put It on Paper is on exhibit until August 25, 2013. For more information about the exhibit, hours of operation and admission fees for the museum, go to www.michigan.gov/museum. While at the museum, check out its permanent exhibits about the history of our great state – The First People to 1900 and Michigan in the Twentieth Century. The museum also has a gift shop stocked with interesting Michigan-related items, including several books about different aspects of the history of the state. Group tours are welcome at the museum, and please note that spring school field trip season is the busiest time of the year.

Mary Dettloff is senior advisor for communications for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and a native of Northern Michigan.