Lansing, Michigan, is the state’s capital. The area has a rich history, as well as plenty of opportunities for indoor and outdoor recreation. However, if you’re a budget-conscious local or traveler, you may not have a ton to spend on an outing. Luckily, having fun here doesn’t have to cost you a dime. If you’re on the hunt for free things to do in Lansing, Michigan, here are some stellar options that are worth checking out.
Michigan State Capitol
In 1992, the Michigan State Capitol building became a historic landmark. Along with being an architectural beauty, it’s brimming with amazing art, lighting, furniture, and much more. Plus, the building has a vibrant, intriguing history while also serving as the center of the state’s government.
The Michigan State Capitol actually offers a variety of tour options. If you want some flexibility, you can go with a self-guided tour. Simply pick up a tour booklet – which is available in multiple languages – from the information services, and you can take your time learning about the various public areas.
If you would prefer a guided tour, those are also available. Along with the standard tour, you may also find limited-run tours that focus on a specific aspect of history or that provide specific services, like having sign language interpreters available.
Fenner Nature Center
If you’re looking for a nice outdoor space with plenty of room to stretch your legs, the Fenner Nature Center is a great option. There are 134-acres of land, all of which is open to the public. You can enjoy the four miles of trails, take a stroll through the maple groves, or learn about local wildlife in the visitor center.
In the Visitor Center, there are also some hands-on exhibits. This can be fun for people of all ages, making the learning process much more engaging.
If you enjoy your trip and have a little cash to spare, donations are welcome. The Fenner Nature Center recommends $2 per adult and $1 per child. However, that isn’t a requirement, and you can always enjoy the property without paying anything.
Another great option for exploring the area is the River Trail. This 16-mile stretch is paved and passes through Downtown as well as several parks and natural landscape. You can walk, bike, or skate along the path. If you’d like to picnic, bring a lunch and plan to stop once you reach a park.
Of course, you aren’t required to travel the full 16 miles. You can enter or leave the trail at almost any time, giving you the flexibility you need to plan an outing that meets your needs or aligns with any limitations.
Brenke Fish Ladder
If you want to see something a bit unique, consider taking a trip to the Brenke Fish Ladder. You can actually access it from the River Trail, making it a nice place to pause on your walk.
The Brenke Fish Ladder was designed to help fish swim past the dam safely. If you visit the area in early fall, you may be able to spot some salmon working their way up the stairs, continuing their journey up the Grand River.
Adado Riverfront Park
When Adado Riverfront Park was designed, it was to serve as a place for festivals. There are plenty of wide-open spaces, ensuring there is enough room for different kinds of events.
When there isn’t a festival taking place, you can simply enjoy the open areas. It’s an incredible space near the river that’s perfect for games, picnics, or a nice stroll in the sun.
During the year, there are many events at Adado Riverfront Park, including some free festivals. However, it’s important to note that while some festivals don’t charge for admissions, others do, so they won’t all be available at no cost.
If you’re looking for historic charm, head to Old Town. It’s brimming with buildings that have stood the test of time and the area has recently been revitalized into a thriving neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants, and more.
Like Adado Riverfront Park, Old Town also hosts a variety of events during the year, like arts and crafts festivals. Often, you can enjoy these festivals for free, so it’s worth seeing if anything may be happening in this part of the city while you’re in the area.
Downtown Sculpture Walk
If you’re an art lover and would appreciate seeing an eclectic collection, take the time to wander the Downtown Sculpture Walk. By following the path, you can see dozens of pieces representing a wide range of art styles.
Since the sculptures vary so greatly, you’ll never know what to expect as you approach each one. The photo ops are also exceptional, giving you a chance to capture intriguing images of the various pieces. Plus, since the trail gets you walking, it’s an excellent way to squeeze in some exercise.
Woldumar Nature Center
Run by the Capital Area District Libraries and dotting the Lansing area, StoryWalks lets families enjoy reading a story together while taking a stroll outside. Each page of a story is posted along a path, letting the tale unfold a bit at a time as you journey between pages.
Many of the StoryWalks also incorporate activities designed to help young children develop important skills. Along with reading, there may be opportunities to write, sing, or play, making the walk even more engaging.
Michigan History Museum
If you’re looking for free things to do in Lansing on a Sunday, you’re in luck. The Michigan History Museum is free to everyone on Sundays, allowing you to enjoy the museum without having to pay an admission fee.
The Michigan History Museum focuses on the state’s rich past. From the time the area was being settled to the late 20th century, you’ll learn about the state’s growth and evolution over time, as well as its role in historical events.
MSU Bug House
If you’d like to learn more about amazing insects, one of the best free things to do in Lansing, Michigan is to attend one of the MSU Bug House free open houses. They happen regularly throughout the year, usually during the evenings or on weekends, and you don’t need an appointment to attend.
Along with being able to view a wide variety of species, you may even get a chance to handle a few. This can be a great hands-on experience for people of all ages, making the world of bugs seem like a treat.
Are there any other free things to do in Lansing, Michigan, that people need to check out? Why not tell us about them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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