19 Old Town, REO Town, & Downtown Lansing Adventures + Food & Coffee

Cooley Gardens Downtown Lansing feature

Spend the Best Day in Downtown Lansing, REO Town, & Old Town Lansing

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.

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.

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.

Downtown Lansing River Trail and Fish Ladder

Where do you want to start first?

ADVENTURES: Where to Start in Downtown Lansing

I’m a huge advocate for walking a city. The way to get a good feel of a place is to walk its streets. Our friendly, homey reputation is pretty accurate so be prepared to get a few smiles and waves.

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

1)Take the Lansing River Trail

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

Our river trail connects most of Greater Lansing. North to South, East to West, and all 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.

Lansing River Trail Downtown Lansing, MI

2) Bike or Walk the path between the Michigan State Capitol & Hall of Justice Buildings

Capital/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.

You can 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

3) Play and Learn at Impression 5

Impression 5 Children’s Museum
200 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933

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

Light center at Impression 5 in Downtown, Lansing, MI

4) Visit the Michigan Historic Center (reopening August 2021)

Michigan History Museum
702 W. Kalamazoo St. Lansing, MI 48915

You’ll be greeted by a huge tree in the center of the building with a beautiful water structure wrapped around.

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.

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

The best part 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) Explore the CADL Downtown Library

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) 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

9) Experience ArtPath

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

Take a walk on the riverfront with the purpose of focusing on the art.

Art Path kicked off with a bang has continued each year to add lovely pieces for the community to enjoy on the Lansing River Trail.

Lansing Art Gallery’s ArtPath promises to be something that continues to be an attraction throughout the years.

One of ARTPath’s pieces throughout the years at Brenke Fish Ladder

10) Create at REACH Art Studio

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

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.

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

11) 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

12) Michigan State Capitol or Michigan Hall of Justice

Capitol Building
100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
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 Building
Steps to the Michigan State Capitol

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) Go Thrifting

Treasure hunting, memory making, and supporting local!

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

15. 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.

Have fun!

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

16. 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.

Lansing Lugnuts in Downtown, Lansing MI

17) 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

18) See all the Art (Murals and Scuptures)

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

19) ** Honorable Mention: 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

COFFEE: Where to Find Coffee in Downtown Lansing – with Kids

What’s the secret to getting out with kids? Coffee or other great beverages of course!

Props to you if you don’t need it or don’t like it. As for me, I love coffee. I love it, even more, when the coffee shops go out of their way to make my kids feel welcome. Here are some stellar shops that do just that.

Strange Matter  *Downtown Location TEMPORARILY CLOSED* 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 are DELICIOUS, with vegan and gluten-free options!

They also have a patio for those warm days when you need a little chill time after or before a long walk. 

Strange Matter
*TEMPORARILY CLOSED* 337 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933
*OPEN* Try their Michigan Ave location, for now, it’s just minutes away at 2010 E Michigan Ave #103, Lansing, MI 48912
Strange Matter coffee Downtown Washington Ave Location Kid Friendly coffee shop
Strange Matter Downtown Lansing, MI

Biggby on Ottawa 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 Ottawa
120 W Ottawa St, Lansing, MI 48933

Biggby on Allegan 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. 

Biggby on Allegan
115 W Allegan St, Lansing, MI 48933

Blue Owl Coffee Co in REO Town. Ready for a good time? They are so much fun, have weekly community engaging events, rotating art exhibits,  and the best part – great coffee! 

Blue Owl Coffee Co
1149 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
Blue Owl Kid Friendly Coffee Shop Lansing ReoTown

Grand Traverse Pie Company 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.”

Grand Traverse Pie Company
200 S Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933

FOOD: Where to Find Food in Downtown Lansing that’s Yummy & Family-Friendly

For the most part, we all know the easy fast spots but true restaurant eating with the whole family can be tricky.

What I love about getting out in Downtown Lansing is that I still get to eat at delicious and fun atmosphere kind of places with my kids in tow. They start to appreciate the cute places along with me and eventually start trying new food. It’s a win-win situation.

To get you started, here is a list of fun places that are kid-friendly and delicious for all.

Lansing patio options »
Where to find ice cream »
Where kids eat free »

Lansing City Center

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

Reo Town

Good Truckin’ Diner The name says it all! Yum, Yum, Yum!
1107 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
Saddleback BBQ “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.
1147 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910
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 (Sandwiches etc.) Grabbing food and coffee in one stop is #lunchperfection.
1236 Turner Rd ste b, Lansing, MI 48906
Blue Owl Reo Town Lansing Patio with kids
Blue Owl in REO Town Lansing, MI

Old Town

The Cosmos Delicious pizza in a fun atmosphere. Kids love Cosmos! And parents love it on Sunday when kids eat FREE.
1200 N Larch St, Lansing, MI 48906
The Cosmos Old Town Downtown Lansing kid friendly pizza
The Cosmos tables
Meat Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine Adults and kids love trying out all of the different sauces. Interactive eating = awesome mom/dad points.
1224 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Sir Pizza An oldy but still a goody! Their pizza is classic in Lansing. Stay for the Kareoke for good laughs and a grand ole’ time.
201 E César E. Chávez Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
Pablos Authentic Mexican food can not be beat!
311 E Grand River Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Punk Tacos Downtown Old Town Lansing Kid Friendly
Punk Taco in Old Town Lansing, MI
The Creole 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.
1218 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Cravings Pop Corn Looking for a snack? Pop in here for free samples and grab a bag of their fun flavors.
1221 Turner Rd, Lansing, MI 48906
Old Town General Store 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.
408 E César E. Chávez Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
old town general store lansing
Old Town General Store Back Patio
Old Town Diner a staple of goodness in Old Town.
516 E Grand River Rd, Lansing, MI 48906

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 Old Town, REO Town, & Downtown Lansing Adventures + Food & Coffee”

    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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