The City of Lansing isn't just a place where government business is done. In fact, it's also a place filled with family-friendly activities. Indoor and outdoor venues offer everything from a historical look at Michigan to sensory-friendly options for families.
"Greater Lansing is centrally located and affordable with big city amenities and small town hospitality. It's a great, affordable family destination," says Lori Lanspeary, manager of social media and leisure marketing for Lansing. "Lansing is a great weekend getaway that doesn't break the bank. We have lots of fun things to see and do in Lansing."
Within the downtown Lansing area, there are five attractions in a five-block radius and a five-minute walk.
"Start with the State Capitol. It's a historic place, but it's also a working Capitol. Within the building there are nine acres of hand-painted surfaces to explore. It's also where Michigan history is being made," Lanspeary says. The building's glass block floor that looks up into the dome is a popular Ñ and stunning Ñ attraction.
A few blocks from the Capitol is the Michigan History Museum, which has a replica copper mine, lumber baron's house and a relief map of Michigan.
"The museum is a place where guests can surround themselves with Michigan history. It starts in prehistoric times and goes through fur trappers, the Civil War and ends up in the 1960s, and even has the actual piano that Stevie Wonder played at the School for the Blind," Lanspeary says.
Lansing visitors can also visit the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, which features Oldsmobile cars, before heading to the Impression 5 Science Center where they can play and learn as a family.
"The Impression 5 Science Center is a hands-on museum with everything from a bubble room to music and lights and a two-story water playroom," Lanspeary says.
Cooley Law School Stadium is also a popular Lansing attraction, she adds. The minor league Lansing Lugnuts offer a family-friendly and affordable sporting option. This year, the stadium will be celebrating its 25th year with lots of special themed games.
"Almost every weekend there will be something going on at the stadium. Opening Day is April 16 and there are plenty of great events going on throughout the summer. It's always fun to "Go Nuts!" in downtown Lansing," Lanspeary says.
Lansing also has the Grand River, Michigan's longest river, running right through the downtown area. Lanspeary says the 15-plus mile Lansing River Trail runs along the Grand River and the Red Cedar River, providing families a place to walk, ride bikes and explore the outdoors.
Families can even rent kayaks and paddle boards to explore the area from the river. For families who want to golf together, the Little Hawk Putting Course is an off-shoot of the larger Hawk Hallow Golf Course.
There are other area attractions, too, such as the Potter Park Zoo. This is Michigan's oldest zoo and is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020. Today the zoo is home to nearly 600 animals, many of them critically endangered. Spring of 2020 anticipation builds as baby "Jaali" a Black Rhino calf born at the zoo on Christmas Eve will finally be on exhibit. Another favorite exhibit is the North American otters who have two new pups as well. "It's going to be a terrific year to visit Potter Park Zoo," states Lanspeary.
On campus at Michigan State University, find the 4-H Children's Garden, the Smithsonian-affiliated MSU Museum, Abrams Planetarium and the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, which will welcome the Broadway sensation "Dear Evan Hanson" in June.
The area welcomes all families, even those who many have special needs, Lanspeary says.
"Over 850 front-line hotel, restaurant and attraction employees have been trained on being sensory-friendly and on Autism awareness. We want people with children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to be able to come to Lansing and visit the attractions with their families," Lanspeary adds.
Some of the area attractions offer special times for those with special needs. Others offer special accommodations to make the environment welcoming for everyone. Many venues even have virtual tours online so children who might feel overwhelmed can get a look at the places they are going to visit.
Lansing offers many special events throughout the year. Those looking to visit the area can visit Lansing.org or check out the area's Visitor Guide, which has 86 pages of information about specific attractions and events. Families can request a guide be mailed to them, or they can download it to their phone or other mobile device.
For more information on this city, visit Lansing's website.