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.

Take 5 in Downtown Lansing

What if we told you that you could stroll through a copper mine, lie on a glass floor and look up to the stars, make some slime, find out that REO Speedwagon is not just a band and be encouraged to go nuts all in a single day in Michigan’s capital city? And that you could find all that within an easily walkable five block radius? Look no further than downtown Lansing where exploring these diverse attractions makes for an enjoyable weekend getaway.

Michigan’s State Capitol Building, Photo Courtesy of Lenon James Photography

5 Must-Do’s in Downtown Lansing

1. State Capitol Building
Step back into the Victorian era with a visit to Michigan’s award-winning Capitol Building. Designed by Elijah E. Myers, one of the foremost architects of public buildings during the Gilded Age (1865-1914), construction of the Capitol Building took six years and contains over nine acres of hand-painted surfaces. It was dedicated to the citizens of Michigan in 1879.

2. Impression 5 Science Center
Come play, create and challenge your understanding of science at Impression 5 Science Center–a hands-on experience that encourages visitors and families to be curious and learn together.

3. Michigan Historical Museum
The flagship of the Michigan Historical Museum System, the Michigan Historical Museum offers you Michigan’s rich past, from the time of the state’s earliest peoples to the late 20th century. Don’t miss the Museum Store for great Michigan related gift items!

4. Lansing Lugnuts/Cooley Law School Stadium
Enjoy good times with good friends as Lansing’s minor league baseball team—the Lansing Lugnuts—celebrates its 20th season in Michigan’s capital city. It’s family fun at an affordable price, so don’t miss out on the action and your chance to “GO NUTS.”

5. R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
This fascinating museum features artifacts and documents tracing the history of area transportation from 1883 to the present. Antique vehicles and automotive memorabilia as well as aircraft, bicycles and carriages are displayed.

Michigan Historical Museum

5 Things Good to Know

1. Sundays are free admission at the Michigan Historical Museum.

2. The Capitol is open and free Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays.

3. REO was a car and truck manufacturer and was the initials of Ransom Eli Olds. He founded Oldsmobile, then went on to start another car company using his initials. And it’s pronounced Reo like Rio. Not like the 80’s band REO Speedwagon whose name they totally stole from the car company.

4. Impression 5 Science Museum has reciprocity with other children’s and science museum. So you may get in free or at 50% off.

5. The Lansing Lugnuts got their name because of Lansing’s big automotive history. Look for the big lugnut atop a smoke stack while enjoying a great casual lunch or dinner at The Nuthouse. See? We told you about going nuts!

5 Reasons to Make the Trip
1. Fun

2. Affordable

3. Easy to Get to

4. Walkable

5. Family friendly. And don’t tell the kids, but they’ll be learning something and you will be too.

What is your favorite thing to do in the Lansing area? Share with us by commenting below!

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.