The following post is sponsored by Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Weekends can seem short when you are planning a family getaway. Thankfully, Grand Rapids has a lot of cool cities nearby that let families essentially enjoy a staycation while being just far enough away to promise new adventures and unique memories.
One of our favorite nearby destinations is Lansing. In less than an hour’s drive, Grand Rapidians can explore an urban center brimming with activities – the Lansing area boasts 150 “things to do” – and many of them are family friendly.
“Greater Lansing makes the perfect weekend getaway. With diverse dining, unique shopping, an artisan beer, wine and spirits trail, world-class museums, festivals and other urban adventures you’ll love Lansing like a local,” said Tracy Padot, VP of marketing communications for the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau.
So take your family on a downtown adventure with these five activities. Thanks to their close proximity to one another you can easily hit all five in one weekend, too.
Impression 5 Science Center
Impression 5 Science Center is a curious child’s dream spot – and it’s not just for kids. The center was created specifically to engage parents and children in hands-on fun. It offers seven permanent hands-on exhibits exploring everything from Michigan nature to nanoscale science to the electromagnetic spectrum.
Flow: A Water Experience is one of the center’s newest exhibits and it offers two-floors of exploration focused on fluid dynamics. You and your kids can build and test your own sailboat, explore the science of a vortex, power a giant flywheel that shoots a two-story geyser, play with water jets, and more.
And, beginning on July 14, Impression 5 Science Center welcomes traveling exhibit Amazing Dinosaurs. The exhibit includes lifelike recreations that immerse visitors in interactive activities and incredible face-to-face encounters. Explore how these amazing creatures lived and learn about their unique habitats, behaviors, and physical features. Touch real fossils, take a walk in dinosaur feet and more.
River Town Adventures
Outdoor recreation abounds in Lansing, and a focal point is the Grand River. Visitors are encouraged to rent a paddleboard, kayak or canoe from River Town Adventures and spend the day paddling the Grand. You can choose from one of several drop-off points on either the Grand River or Red Cedar River from which to start your adventure. Adventures range from just under two miles to 13 miles.
Popular adventure packages include The Power of the Grand, a 1.8-mile trek that takes approximately an hour and a half to complete, or Zoo to the Market, a three-mile adventure that takes approximately three hours to complete. Longer adventure packages like The Banks of the Red Cedar or The Owashtanong offer 10 and 13 miles of river enjoyment, respectively, and will keep your family busy most of the day.
You and your family can also rent bikes at River Town Adventures and spend the day cycling along the 15-mile Lansing River Trail.
The Lansing Lugnuts are housed right in downtown Lansing at the Cooley Law School Stadium, which makes taking in a game a quick walk from any downtown hotel. Weekends are the perfect time to head out to the ballpark too, because of the free fireworks display following the games.
The ballpark offers a slew of theme nights, from Dog Days of Summer, when you can bring your dog to the ballpark, to Eat-a-palooza night, offering you the chance to sample a range of ballpark treats.
Speaking of food, some fan favorites include Super Nachos, Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Philly Cheesesteak. So come hungry!
Michigan History Museum
The stories of Michigan are housed in the sprawling Michigan History Museum. Here, you’ll find more than 25 galleries of permanent exhibits, special exhibits and a three-story-high topographical map of the state.
Experience special exhibit “The River that Changed the World” this summer. The exhibit celebrates the sixteen fishermen who banded together, after a day on the Au Sable River, to create one of the first fish habitat conservation organizations, Trout Unlimited.
Best of all, the second Saturday of every month this year is family day. On June 9, visitors will learn how to make compasses and sundials, on June 14 visitors will make miniature boats in honor of The Au Sable River Canoe Marathon that takes place every July, and on Aug. 11, visitors will create their own bug hotel as they learn about these important creatures.
Michigan State Capitol
A family trip to Lansing isn’t complete without a visit to the Michigan State Capitol. The capitol building welcomes over 115,000 people through its doors each year.
The awe-inspiring building opened on Jan. 1, 1879. It was designed by architect Elijah E. Myers, and was one of the first state capitols to be topped by a lofty cast iron dome.
Open for tours six days a week, including Saturdays, you can join a guided tour or explore the building on your own.
Guided tours feature the public areas of the capitol including the rotunda and the Gallery of the Governors. Tours also include visits to the House and Senate Galleries, the Governor’s Office, and the historic Supreme Court Chamber, based on availability.
Guided tours are available beginning every half hour and run for up to 60 minutes.
*Photos courtesy of Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau.