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.

Six Fascinating Artifacts to See at the Michigan Historical Museum

A day spent exploring a Michigan museum can cure your cabin fever in a hurry! Guest blogger Mary Dettloff from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources give us some inside information on what you’ll find at the Michigan Historical Museum this winter and beyond. 

Michigan Historical Museum

Michigan Historical Museum

The end of the U.S. Civil War, the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the economic boom in post-war Michigan – these facets of American history are all examined in a new special exhibit at the Michigan Historical Museum called “Conceived in Liberty.”

The exhibit takes its themes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It opens with the Battle of Gettysburg and follows Michigan soldiers through the end of the war. There are stories of cavalrymen in battle, engineers and mechanics building bridges, Native Americans serving in Company K of the First Michigan Sharpshooters and Michigan’s 102nd U.S. Colored Troops.

The exhibit then turns to the war’s end and the following two decades. It includes artifacts associated with Lincoln’s assassination, stories of Michigan’s economic expansion and diversity, and illustrations of equality and inequality following the war. The final segment, which includes the Civil War flag exhibit area, focuses on how we have remembered the war.

Some of the special artifacts included in the exhibit are:

1. An 1863 newspaper from Vicksburg, Mississippi, printed on the back of wallpaper because there was no newsprint available due to the Union siege.

2. A rosette from the casket of Abraham Lincoln. Dell Root Howard, who graduated from Coldwater High School in 1876, donated the rosette to the Coldwater Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which in turn donated to the Michigan Historical Museum in 1941. It is unknown how Howard came to possess the rosette. She was 8 years old the year Lincoln was assassinated. An illustration of Lincoln lying in state shows a very similar rosette as part of the casket presentation.ConceivedInLiberty-20141003-5273_rosette_small

3. An invitation received by U.S. Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan to attend President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral services at the White House on April 19, 1865. The card is on loan from the Library of Congress.

4.  A lady’s jacket said to be worn by a Michigan resident who was at Ford Theater the night President Lincoln was shot there.


5. A headband created by Michigan Indians from Company K of the First Michigan Sharpshooters for their commander, Colonel Charles V. DeLand.

6.  A tobacco pouch carried by abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Sojourner Truth, who lived in Battle Creek after the war. She traveled to Kansas in 1879 in support of the “Exodusters,” blacks who fled the south after federal troops were withdrawn at the end of Reconstruction.

Sojourner Truth Tobacco Pouch

Family programming related to exhibit is being offered through the summer of 2015. For more information on the popular “Second Saturdays” program, go to www.michigan.gov/museum.

The Michigan Historical Museum is located at 702 W. Kalamazoo St. near downtown Lansing. Weekdays during the school year, the museum is busy hosting students from across the state on educational field trips. Weekends and summer months are less crowded. The museum is an easy drive from the Grand Rapids and metro Detroit regions.

The museum and visitor parking are on the north side of Kalamazoo Street, two blocks east of M. L. King Jr. Boulevard. Weekend parking is free. General admission fees for the Michigan Historical Museum, which include the special exhibit, are $6 for adults 18-64, children through age 5 are free, youth ages 6-17 are $2, and seniors 65 and up are $4. Annual passes are available, and there is no admission charge on Sundays.

Have you ever made a visit to the Michigan Historical Museum? 

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

Be A Tourist in Your Own Town with Fun Events in Lansing and Port Huron

If you’re near Lansing or Port Huron in the upcoming weeks, be sure to plan some time to take a “staycation!” These two Michigan cities will host “Be A Tourist in Your Own Town” events that will showcase all the great things to see and do in their respective areas when you want to get away without going far.  We asked Lori Lanspeary from Greater Lansing CVB and Judi Stewart from Blue Water Area CVB to give us the inside scoop on what to expect.


Child_CapitolThis year, Lansing will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its ‘Be A Tourist in Your Own Town’ event! What started out as a great way to promote the tourism assets of Lansing during National Tourism Week with a mere 12 attractions open in the downtown area twenty years ago, has now grown to a region-wide celebration of over 70 cool things to see and do in the Lansing region.

The event is set for Saturday, May 31st from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Lansing residents and visitors are encouraged to purchase a ‘passport’ for one dollar and gain entry to all the participating attractions for free that day.

PotterPark04Of course the most popular and well-attended attractions include most of the originals such as Potter Park Zoo, Impression 5 Science Center, Michigan Historical Museum and the State Capitol – but this year, some great new spots have been added to the itinerary such as a tour of Red Cedar Spirits, home to the MSU artisan distillery program. Or how about taking a free sailboat ride courtesy of the Lansing Sailing Club on Lake Lansing? Or a free pedal boat rental at Holt’s Burchfield Park? Wine tastings? Yep, Lansing’s got you covered at Burgdorf’s Winery. Or head to the campus of Michigan State University to handle some real live bugs, fly through the solar system at Abrams Planetarium or stand in the shadow of a dinosaur at the MSU Museum.

Buses are continuously circling four routes that will get you to the majority of the attractions. Pay 50 cents and ride the BATYOT designated busses all day.

Of course it wouldn’t be a passport without collecting stamps. Collect 10 or more stamps from participating attractions on the back of your passport and you can enter to win fun prizes. In celebration of the 20th year of Be A Tourist, 20 golden tickets have been randomly included in 20 of the passports sold prior to the event that are redeemable for a $20 Visa gift card.

This event is not just for residents of the area. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the plethora of things to see and do and get inspired to make plans to return!

For everything you need to know about the 20th Be A Tourist In Your Own Town check out the website.

Port Huron

IMG_7199Port Huron’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” event is happening June 7, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a chance for visitors and area residents to discover and rediscover the attractions and history that make Port Huron the Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes.

The event will feature many signature attractions of Port Huron. Drive or board the free trolleys and buses that will run continuously between points of interest, get on and off as you wish. Explore the River Walk, tour Michigan’s oldest working lighthouse, see how a Sea Cadet training ship operates, and learn the history of ice harvesting. Visit the original depot Thomas Edison worked in as a young inventor and dig for fossil at the science museum. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Port Huron has a variety of downtown restaurants and a new collection of outdoor art sculptures located throughout the city. Most attractions are free or discounted for the day!

Tour Stops Include:

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.01.59 AMBlue Water Trolley and Bus Transfer – Chamber of Commerce-north / McMorran Place-south.  Downtown a place to explore shop and dine many new and unique restaurants
YMCA of the Blue Water Area – Austin Martiny Water Safety Class
Blue Water River Walk – Grand Opening Celebration 10 am -2pm, Official Ceremony 11 am
Vantage Point / Great Lakes Maritime Center - Flower Market and Entertainment, Great Lakes Nautical Society – ship models, Antique Outboard Motor Club – display, River Day- Kids free fishing clinic
Studio 1219 - Art Exhibits, pottery demonstration, make a tile
Carnegie Center – Historical and Maritime Museum
Huron Lady II  – The Huron Lady II will have 6 special one-hour cruises at 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Gray Fox Sea Cadet Training Ship – Docked on the Black River next to Zebra Bar on Quay St.  See how a training ship operates.
Knowlton Ice MuseumLearn about the natural ice industry, at one time one of the ten largest U.S. industries, short film, Twin Pines Farm Dairy display, kids crafts
McMorran Tower – Climb 188 steps for a bird’s eye view of the City
SC4 Natural Science Museum – “The Making of a Fossil: A Michigan Legacy” exhibit, fossil dig and other kid’s science activities
Huron Lightship Museum – Only remaining Lightship on the Great Lakes served as a floating lighthouse.  For 36 years it guided mariners into the narrow channel of lower Lake Huron.
Pine Groove – Electronic music festival located in Pine Grove Park, 3 music stages, exhibits, food & beverage, vendors, kids’ activities
Thomas Edison Depot Museum Edison conducted his first electrical and scientific experiments in Port Huron. View a film of young Tom Edison’s boyhood.
Fort Gratiot Light Station Grounds – Lighthouse climb and tour, Tourist Trot – 5K run for adults and youth, plus a shorter 2K Fun Walk (www.phmuseum.org)

Learn more about Port Huron’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” here.

Have you ever taken a “staycation” in your hometown? What did you do?