19 Downtown Lansing Things to Do including Old Town Lansing & REO Town. Plus Where to Eat!

Cooley Gardens Downtown Lansing feature

Unique Lansing Districts: Downtown Lansing, REO Town, & Old Town Lansing

Welcome to Lansing, MI!

Yes, Lansing is the state capital of Michigan, but there’s a whole lot more to this city of just over 100,000 people.

Our beloved Lugnuts Stadium, Capitol City Market family events, kayaking down the Grand River with River Town Adventures, Impression 5, and touring the Capitol…these Downtown Lansing highlights are fantastic but it doesn’t stop there.

In fact, locals love to visit the three distinct parts of Lansing MI that we’ll feature here:

  • Downtown Lansing
  • REO Town Lansing
  • Old Town Lansing

A trip to Downtown Lansing may not be on your summer bucket list but it should be! Even if you’ve lived here forever, there’s something unique about taking a day to really enjoy and experience an area in its fullness.

Read on to find out what makes each special and why your visit can’t come soon enough.

Where to Find Downtown Lansing, REO Town, & Old Town Lansing

First things first, let’s get oriented.

Lansing is in Mid-Michigan, right in the south-center part of the mitten.

Zooming in, we see the central Lansing landmarks, Old Town Lansing, Downtown Lansing, and REO Town Lansing, are in a north-south line mirroring the Grand River and are not that far apart from each other.

boundaries of  lansing districts
Map of REO Town Lansing, Downtown Lansing, and Old Town Lansing

For this reason, it’s possible to spend a day in Lansing MI, and still visit all three spots. Of course, there’s a lot more to do in Lansing, but if you need a one-day Lansing Itinerary, this one is a gem.

If you’ve never been here before or you’re looking to re-discover Lansing and get out of the normal routine – be prepared for a refreshing day o’ fun.

Use this guide to spend the best day in Downtown Lansing, REO Town Lansing, & Old Town Lansing.

Where do you want to start first?

Brenke-Fish-Ladder-Downtown-Lansing-Old-Town
Downtown Lansing River Trail and Brenke Fish Ladder

Downtown Lansing

I’m a huge advocate of walking a city.

You get a good feeling of a place by walking its streets. Lansing’s friendly, homey reputation is pretty accurate so be prepared to get a few smiles and waves while you stroll.

Here are some places and ideas of things to do in Downtown Lansing, or check out our family event calendar to see what’s happening in Downtown Lansing today.

Downtown-Lansing-River-Trail-Kids-walking
Lansing River Trail Downtown Lansing, MI

Lansing River Trail Map – Click for Downloadable Version

#1

Take the Path Between the Michigan State Capitol & Hall of Justice Buildings

Capital to Hall of Justice Building Pathway
Between 100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933 and 925 W Ottawa St, Lansing, MI 48915

The pathway between the Capitol and the Michigan Hall of Justice is a safe and fun way (no cars allowed) to let the kids play and practice biking or skating with a great view.

It’s just over a half-mile long and will take you from 10-20 minutes to walk.

Access this path anywhere between these two buildings between Allegan and Ottawa streets.

Downtown Lansing Capitol Building Path to Michigan Hall of Justice with kids bike
Downtown Lansing, Pathway between the Capitol and The Hall of Justice Building
Map of the walking path between Michigan State Capital and the Hall of Justice
#2

Do the Self-Guided Tours at Michigan State Capitol & Hall of Justice Buildings

Michigan State Capitol Building
100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933

Michigan Hall of Justice
925 W Ottawa St, Lansing, MI 48915

Take a self or guided tour of both of these beautiful buildings! It’s surprisingly fun for both adults and kids.

Many don’t realize that you are welcome to visit the Capitol any time!

Pick one or all of these five ways to tour the Capitol.

Michigan-State-Capitol-Fine-Art-view-from-balcony
Michigan State Capitol Building
Michigan-State-Capitol-Building-Steps
Steps to the Michigan State Capitol
#3

Play and Learn at Impression 5 Science Center & Children’s Museum

Impression 5 Science Center
200 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933

Going to I5 is like a right of passage for kids and rediscovery for adults and the staff’s goal is to create play areas for all ages. This means zero to 60 and beyond!

They prove that science is fun and they continue pushing the envelope as they are constantly creating new exhibits.

Read the parent’s guide before you go for great tips.

Things-to-do-in-Lansing-Impression-5
Light center at Impression 5 in Downtown, Lansing, MI
#4

Explore, Play, Create, and Learn at the Michigan History Museum

Michigan History Museum (reopen as of August 6, 2021)
702 W. Kalamazoo St. Lansing, MI 48915

Every portion of this museum is designed to learn in a hands-on way. You’ll be able to sit in an old schoolroom, pretend you’re pulling lumber, look waaaay up as if you’re in a coal mine, and so much more.

Kids know right away this place is for them as they walk into the children’s area stocked with art supplies, a performing stage, and fun hands-on projects.

Both parents and kids love to be greeted by a huge tree in the center of the building with a beautiful water structure wrapped around.

Head upstairs for an entire day’s worth of fun or just stay for an hour – either way, this is guaranteed fun for all.

The best part for parents with little kids is that it keeps you moving in one direction so little runners stay corralled.

Michigan Historic Center Outdoor Tree Play Museum Downtown Lansing
Outdoor mezzanine area at the Historical Museum in Downtown, Lansing, MI
#5

Experience the Downtown Lansing CADL

CADL Downtown Lansing
401 S Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933

Read, play, explore, go to special events, movies, and more.

During the warmer months, you can enjoy their Zen Garden located just off of the children’s play and book area.

Downtown Lansing Library Kids Zen Garden
Downtown Lansing CADL’s Zen Garden
#6

Kayak with River Town Adventures

River Town Adventures
Downtown Lansing location
305 City Market Drive Lansing, MI 48912
Crego Park location
1600 Fidelity Road, Lansing, MI 48910

See the city in a new way with a kayak trip along the river.

They offer tandem or single kayaks for families, one-hour on-site trips, and special site-drop adventures.

It’s such a special experience we have here in Lansing and a must-do bucket list adventure at least once a year…but I’ll warn you, you’ll want to go back.

They now have a location at Crego park as well!

River Town Adventures Grand River Downtown Lansing Kids Kayak Tandum under bridge
Tandem kayaking with River Town Adventures, Downtown Lansing, MI
#7

Tour the Downtown Lansing Fire Station

Lansing Fire Department
120 E Shiawassee St, Lansing, MI 48933

You don’t have to wait for a field trip before you take kids to meet this amazing brave team. Call ahead to set up a trip through the downtown fire station.

#8

Relax at Brenke Fish Ladder

Brenke Fish Ladder
216 E Grand River Rd, Lansing, MI 48906

We love visiting the Brenke Fish ladder for the tranquillity of the water rolling down the dam. Climb the fish ladder stairs and view the water from new angles.

It’s a fun spot to stop before you hit the park a couple of feet/walking distance on the Lansing River Trail or on your way to the cute shops of Old Town.

Lansing River Trail Downtown Kids Walking Brenke Fish Ladder
Brenke Fish Ladder Downtown Lansing, MI
#9

Cheer on the Lansing Lugnuts at Jackson Field Stadium

Lugnuts Stadium
505 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

Cheer on our local baseball team with the family! There’s a play area on the grounds and lots of food choices.

They’ve taken extra care to make sure all ages have a great time during every game plus plan lots of special games geared toward kids. Here’s a helpful guide to planning for your next trip.

lugnuts-center-field-wide
Lansing Lugnuts in Downtown, Lansing MI
#10

ReOlds Transportation Museum

ReOlds Transportation Museum
240 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933

Is your kid (or you) into cars? This is a great place to see beautiful vehicles and tour through history.

The building may be small but we were surprised at how much there was to see and how much fun it was to visit!

Reolds-museum kid cars Downtown Lansing
REOlds Transportation Museum in Downtown Lansing, MI

The Best Restaurants & Coffee in Downtown Lansing

MP Social
313 N Cedar St, Lansing, MI 48912
One of the best views of Downtown Lansing is on their patio plus they’ve got the food to match.
mp social patio seating downtown Lansing stadium district with kids
MP Social Lansing River Trail entrance
Lansing Brewing Company
518 E Shiawassee St, Lansing, MI 48912
Sit on the patio and enjoy lawn games with the family.
Lansing Brewing Company Patio with kids Downtown Lansing
Lansing Brewing Company
Midtown Brewing Company 
402 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
They are super kid-friendly and have a nice patio.
Zoup! 
214 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
Quick and fun make this a great landing spot with kids.
Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant
307 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
You can never go wrong with chips and salsa.
Mediteran Cafe 
101-199 E Ottawa St, Lansing, MI 48933
Mediterranean food right on the downtown strip.
Cottage Inn Pizza
303 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
I personally think they make the best gluten-free pizza around, plus everything else here is like a guilty pleasure.
Happy’s Pizza 
6045 S Cedar St, Lansing, MI 48911
Super friendly staff and yummy pizza make a great combo for #thatmomlife.
Strange Matter
*TEMPORARILY CLOSED* 337 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
*OPEN* 2010 E Michigan Ave #103, Lansing, MI 48912
Try their Michigan Ave location, for now, it’s just minutes away at

Their downtown location is small but don’t let that fool you – great things can come in small packages. Their staff is so friendly with kids and engage with them in conversation. Their in-house donuts & treats are DELICIOUS.

They also have a patio for those warm days when you need a little chill time after or before a long walk. 
Biggby on Ottawa
120 W Ottawa St, Lansing, MI 48933
is a tight squeeze for strollers but they are so friendly and the kids love to sit in the old architecture seats. My sisters and I usually swap going inside as we sit with the kids on their patio seating.
Biggby on Allegan
115 W Allegan St, Lansing, MI 48933
There’s a lot of space to walk in and sit for a bit if you’re kids are good with that. My youngest likes to keep it pushing so we are usually in and out. This is our go-to location during the Halloween events downtown.
Grand Traverse Pie Company
200 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
Their ordering process is the best! Here’s why – it’s a walk-through ordering system. I can roll my double-wide stroller through, grab or order what we need, and roll right back out. With lots of seating inside and out it’s the perfect “mom-stop.”

REO Town Lansing Adventures

#11

Create at REACH Art Studio

REACH Art Studio
1804 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

Is Drop in for a Wednesday walk-in class or sign up for a class, walk through their beautiful new art gallery, and take advantage of the array of creative processes offered at this gem in REO Town. your kid (or you) into cars?

This is a great place to see beautiful vehicles and tour through history.

REACH Art Studio Reo Town Lansing Kids Art Wall
REACH Art Studio Entry REO Town Lansing, MI
#12

Go Thrifting

Treasure hunting, memory making, and supporting local!

Thrift shop lansing reotown market vintage junkies
Vintage Junkies in REO Town Lansing, MI

The Best Restaurants & Coffee in Reo Town

Good Truckin’ Diner 
1107 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
The name says it all! Yum, Yum, Yum!
Saddleback BBQ
1147 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
“OMG.” That’s what I said when I took my first bite here. They have picnic tables set up for family-style eating making eating out with kids a dream.
Saddleback BBQ Patio with kids Reo Town Lansing
REO Town strip on Washington Ave
Picnic Food Truck is parked here many days and it’s super yummy.
Call to find out where they will be and when if you’re wanting to make a plan.
Bangos Food Truck is parked throughout the downtown Lansing area.
Check their Instagram for current locations each day.
Blue Owl Coffee Co
1149 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
This place is so much fun. They have weekly community engaging events, rotating art exhibits,  and great coffee!
Blue Owl Reo Town Lansing Patio with kids
Blue Owl in REO Town Lansing, MI

Old Town Lansing Things to Do

Old Town Lansing is a vibrant neighborhood, rich with history. It’s protected by an association (Old Town Commercial Association) dedicated to revitalizing Lansing’s historic Old Town.

#13

Tour the Turner-Dodge House

Turner-Dodge House
100 E North St, Lansing, MI 48906

Tour this beautiful old house or attend one of their events throughout the year. We love their festival of trees in December and January! Honestly, anything happening here is just so cool.

From the ballroom up on the top level to the outdoor architecture, you’ll love seeing every inch.

Afterward, walk the river trail through Old Town to find fun treats and sites.

Turner Dodge House
Turner-Dodge House in Old Town Lansing, MI
#14

Feed the Fish at Preuss Pets

Preuss Pets
1127 N Cedar St, Lansing, MI 48906

This gem in our city is a must-see, must-go, enjoyable spot!

You’ll love to feed the fish in their multiple ponds, say high to the talking parrots and birds, see tons of exotic fish and animals, and more.

Preuss Pets Downtown Old Town Lansing Kids feed fish
Outdoor pond at Preuss Pets in Old Town, Lansing, MI
#15

Shop

Go for the shopping and stay for the vibe. Old Town is known for its shops but the events, river trail, and good vibe bring people back as well.

You’ll find vintage shops, boutiques, art supply shops, art galleries, restaurants, and more.

Old Town Downtown Lansing Arts Council
View of the Turner strip in Old Town

Best Restaurants & Coffee in Old Town Lansing

The Cosmos
1200 N Larch St, Lansing, MI 48906
Delicious pizza in a fun atmosphere. Kids love Cosmos! And parents love it on Sunday when kids eat FREE.
The Cosmos Old Town Downtown Lansing kid friendly pizza
The Cosmos tables
Meat Southern BBQ 
1224 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Carnivore Cuisine Adults and kids love trying out all of the different sauces. Interactive eating = awesome mom/dad points.
Sir Pizza
201 E César E. Chávez Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
An oldy but still a goody! Their pizza is classic in Lansing. Stay for the Kareoke for good laughs and a grand ole’ time.
Pablos 
311 E Grand River Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Authentic Mexican food cannot be beat!
Punk Tacos Downtown Old Town Lansing Kid Friendly
Punk Taco in Old Town Lansing, MI
The Creole 
1218 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Great vibe, great food. You’ll want to note that it takes a little longer to eat here but it’s worth the wait if you have the time.
Cravings Pop Corn
1221 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Looking for a snack? Pop in here for free samples and grab a bag of their fun flavors.
Old Town General Store 
408 E César E. Chávez Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
I love to stop in here for easy grab-and-go food options. It helps keep us moving on our adventure without skipping a beat. Bonus – their treats, chocolate, and wine selections are wonderful! Tip: it’s a tight squeeze in here so try to leave your stroller outside.
old town general store lansing
Old Town General Store Back Patio
Old Town Diner 
516 E Grand River Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
A staple of goodness in Old Town.
Blue Owl Coffee Co 
1236 Turner Rd ste b, Lansing, MI 48906
Grabbing food and coffee in one stop is #perfection.

Beyond the Borders: Zoo, Art & Area Trails

#16

Take the Lansing River Trail

Lansing River Trail
Start at 1105 Factory St, Lansing, MI 48906

The Lansing River Trail connects most of Greater Lansing and will take you from Old Town Lansing to Downtown Lansing to REO Town Lansing and beyond, if you’d like.

The 16 miles of paved trail goes North to South, East to West, and many places in-between.

If you start downtown you can head in all four directions. A nice easy access place to start is the Brenke Fish Ladder and Old Town parking lot.

You’ll pass a playground, bridges, River Town Adventures where you can rent kayaks or bikes, the beach with chairs and tables where you can relax at Rotary Park, and end up at Impression 5.

This route is about a 2-mile distance from the Fish Ladder to I5.

#17

Experience ArtPath – Lansing Art Gallery’s Annual Event

ArtPath
Starts at the Turner-Dodge House
100 E North St, Lansing, MI 48906

ArtPath kicks off in early summer. Some of the pieces will only be up for the warmer months and others will continue year-round such as murals and sculptures.

Take a walk on the riverfront with the purpose of focusing on the art that spans from Turner-Dodge House to just before the Potter Park Zoo.

ArtPath’s first year started with a bang has continued each year to add lovely pieces for the community to enjoy on the Lansing River Trail.

Art-Path-Downtown-Lansing-River-Trail-with-Kids-Art
One of ARTPath’s pieces throughout the years at Brenke Fish Ladder
#18

Visit the Gardens

Cooley Gardens
125 W Malcolm X St, Lansing, MI 48933

Shigematsu Memorial Garden
Find just north of LCC’s Dart Auditorium
500 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933 off of Capitol Ave in Downtown Lansing.


Two gorgeous and unique gardens are nestled into Downtown Lansing: Cooley Gardens and Shigematsu Memorial Japanese Garden.

We love the urban feel of downtown but there’s something awesome about being in the midst of nature in the heart of our Downtown. You’ll love the Japanese garden for its koi pond and relaxing vibe, and the Cooley garden for its European feel.

LCC Japanese Gardens Spring Break feature
Shigematsu Memorial Japanese Garden on LCC Campus Downtown Lansing, MI
#19

See all the Art

Murals, Sculptures, and Public Art

The Downtown Lansing, REO Town, and Old Town streets are filled with art! From the sculpture tour on LCC Campus to the mural art peppered through the city, you could spend a whole day just finding all of the art!

No matter what you do in Downtown Lansing, you’re going to see art so don’t worry. if you don’t exactly do the mural crawl, you’ll get to experience it no matter what.

But keeping your eye out for the pieces is really fun and a great way to learn more about each artist and project.

Art defiantly enhances our beautiful downtown and we love every inch of it!

muralmatics feature women looking at mural downtown lansing
Downtown Lansing Mural Piece by Dustin Hunt/Muralmatics
LCC Sculpture Tour downtown lansing
LCC Sculpture Walk in Downtown Lansing, MI
#20

Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park Zoo
1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

We had to add Potter Park Zoo to the list because although it’s not right downtown Lansing it’s just a hop skip and a jump from our city center.

Plus, you can reach their grounds on the river trail and has a nice playground just outside the entrance.

FREE admission for Ingham County Residents on Mondays from open until noon.

potter park zoo, zoo, camel, camel ride, kids at zoo
Potter Park Zoo Camel ride exhibit in Lansing, MI

What Do You Like to Do in Downtown Lansing and What Did We Miss?

Do you know of a special spot or place to eat that we don’t have listed? Let us know by commenting below to help spread the word to our LFF Community!

If you venture out on any of these fun ideas tag us and let us know how it went.

Have fun hanging out in Downtown Lansing, friends!

2 thoughts on “19 Downtown Lansing Things to Do including Old Town Lansing & REO Town. Plus Where to Eat!”

    1. Awesome, Suzanne! Hope you have a great time here and let us know what you end up liking if you get a chance! =) ~Carla

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