Plan your Lansing Summer Things to Do Bucket List
Welcome to your Lansing Summer Fun Hub!
I pinched myself this week! Yep, “normal” life is starting to feel real and that means summer vibes, summer events, and summer things to do are in full effect.
Splash pads and water park fun, concerts, and movies in the park, festivals, and so much more are back in full swing for 2021 and it feels pretty darn fantastic!
Make a bucket list or plan spur of the moment with this list of summer things to do happening all summer long.
See Also: Indoor Play Options
Outdoors: Lansing Summer Things to Do
A mid-Michigan summer is so special. The city seems to come to life again after a long winter of hibernating and a spring spent wondering if winter is really over. Once even a glimpse of warm weather seems here to stay, most Michiganders are outdoors more than indoors until late September – and we love every second of it, am I right!?
The much-awaited trails to explore, gardens to visit, parks and playgrounds to play at, beaches, and splash pads call to us and we answer!
This year, there is almost zero restriction to what we can do:
Cool off at the Water this Summer
I’m so excited to say that almost all of the beaches, splash pads, and waterparks are open this year! From local favorites like Hawk Island Park to road-trip-worthy spots like Kensington Metro Park, there are over two dozen places near Greater Lansing to cool off this summer.
|Splash Pads, Waterparks, and Local swimming beaches:|
Some places have just a pool or a splash pad or a beach while others have some combination of all three. Be sure to check your destination ahead of time to ensure it meets your family’s needs for the day- and make sure it’s open for 2021.
Use the map to find the perfect ‘splash pad near me’!
From east to west, north to south, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and inland lakes in between you’ll find 50+ of the best beaches to visit in Michigan!
Get Into Nature this Summer
Nature abounds in and around Lansing and summer tie is a perfect time to explore it fully.
Bike, hike, walk, skateboard, run, rollerblade, and whatever else you do on the trails! Fun fact: most of our trails connect to each other so the exploration of these trails spans the river, woods, urban city, and multiple cities amidst the Greater Lansing area.
|Nature Centers: |
Visiting these means indoor exhibits, outdoor trails, and natural playgrounds.
|MSU Children’s Garden Center/Horticulture Center is a great way to spend a day. MSU Campus also has the River trail and Gardens and Greenhouses and the arboretum. |
|LCC Japanese Garden: |
Enjoy some quiet tranquility tucked away in Downtown Lansing.
|The Ledges: |
Explore these sandstone ancient wonders through three parks!
Get Active This Summer
There are so many options for how to get active outside during the summer. It’s one of the things I love about Lansing!
You don’t need to own a kayak or boat to get out on the water in Lansing.
There are many places to rent from and one of our absolute favs is River Town Adventures. They are posted up at both Downtown Lansing and Crego Park this year and have adventure options as well.
On this list, you’ll also find tubing, canoeing, and SUP Board options as well as places to launch your own boats.
|Putt Putt Golf:|
Get some bonding time in or get competitive at Funtyme Adventure Parks, Little Hawk PUtting Course, and Tanger Mall Howell Location (Free game with their free membership.)
|Play at Uncle John’s Cider Mill:|
Jump on the jumping pillow, and play in the kid zone.
|Disc Golf/Frisbee Golf:|
Lansing is home to a vibrant disk golf community. If you’ve never gone, it’s SO FUN for all ages, young kids and parents alike!
|BMX Bike: |
Get out to the track at Capitol Area BMX or just watch all of the action and fun from Nip N’ Sip.
Grand Woods Park as buit in RC Car Track and overlook deck. Bring your race cars or just run around the track like my kids love to do!
|Zip Line and Ropes Course: |
Families will want to try out the activity events high ropes courses at Howell Nature Center.
Run and Play at a Park or Playground
|Parks and Playgrounds:|
Lansing offers a huge variety of parks and playgrounds. Some have play equipment or beaches while others have hiking trails and sports courts.
No matter what your family needs are, you can be sure to say there are many good parks and playgrounds near me.
The map will help!
Getting up close and personal with animals is a perfect summer thing to do and Lansing has several cool options:
|Brenke Fish Ladder: |
Head to Old Town and watch for the fish, ducks, and turtles in the river. Watch the water rush through, climb the stairs, and wave to kayakers.
|Potter Park Zoo: |
See the Lions, experience the petting zoo, feed the birds and a whole bunch more!
Fun fact: Admission is FREE for Ingham county residents on non-holiday Mondays from 9:00 AM -Noon.
|Horses and Cows:|
MSU campus invites visitors to stop by the farms! Our fav is to feed their horses at the MSU Horse Barns.
Explore and Experience the Art
|Music & Movies in the Park:|
Listen to music or watch a movie under the stars and in the summer breeze!
|Lansing Area Mural Crawl:|
Lansing is crawling with art with more and more pieces added every day it seems! Charge up your phone, grab some snacks and use the map to find the art! With over 25+ amazing stops to explore, your Instagram and camera reel is just waiting for these pictures.
Food: Summer Food Fun Awaits!
Summer is a great time to savor delicious foods throughout Greater Lansing. Pick your own fruit, visit a Farmer’s Market, dine on a patio, or cool off with ice cream. Whatever your taste buds are craving, Lansing has you covered.
|U Pick Fruit:|
Getting out and picking your own fruit is a family summer favorite thing to do!
Whether it’s blueberries, peaches, raspberries or apples, there are multiple farms and orchards to meet your needs.
If you have little kids, be sure to find out if the fruit is low enough for them to reach. Some places only accept cash so make sure to research payment options for your destination.
If picking fruit isn’t your thing, you can also get that farm-to-table quality from shopping at a Farmer’s Market.
Greater Lansing has nearly a dozen of them!
This list includes Michigan State Capitol Law, South Lansing/Barnes, Dewitt, East Lansing, and Holt.
|Restaurants Where You Can Eat Outside with Kids:|
When the weather is finally warm enough to be outside, it’s time for patio dining!
Whether you need fast and easy or good vibes and great food, over 40 Lansing area restaurants have patio dining options.
|Grab a Scoop at a Local Ice Cream Shop|
A mid-Michigan summer and ice cream just go together. Whether it’s Superman, Mackinac Island Fudge or anything in between, visiting an ice cream shop is a treasured summer thing to do. From MSU Dairy Store to Mooville and Scoopy Doos, wherever your family travels this summer, your taste buds will thank you.
Lansing Summer Fairs, Festivals, and Events
|Festivals and Special Events:|
Know what’s happening every day or plan ahead with the calendar. A couple I’m excited about already are:
Juneteenth in Reo Town
Fireworks all over Greater Lansing
Art Path in Downtown Lansing
The Jazz Fest and Art Feast in Old Town
…and the list goes on! Don’t worry, as events start to pop up, they will soon be on the calendar.
Old School: A “1980’s” Lansing Summer Things to Do List
Let the slower pace of our quarantined spring continue into the summer. Take this time to enjoy some “old school” activities with your families.
Here’s a big bucket list of old school summer fun ideas for families – to keep you going all summer long.
23 Ideas for an Old School Summer
1) Make (and eat) homemade popsicles.
2) Fly a kite.
3) Play with bubbles in the backyard.
4) Start your bike ride at Benke Fish Ladder. Stop from some treats at Cravings, The Old Town General Store, and Ice cream at Arctic Corner or Scoops.
5) Make your own pinwheels.
6) Have a nighttime photo shoot with sparklers.
7) Cut watermelons in half and let the kids go at them with spoons–yum! Then have a seed spitting contest.
8) Make S’mores.
9) Have a sleepover at Grandma’s.
10) Catch fireflies in a jar.
11) Paint the house/driveway with water.
12) Wash the family vehicles and don’t worry if everyone ends up soaked (adults included).
13) Camp out in the backyard (or in your living room).
14) Climb the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
15) Put up a lemonade stand.
16) Make mud pies.
17) Play in the sprinkler, hose, or kiddy pool.
18) Play hide-and-seek outdoors.
19) Roller skate on the river trails.
20) Have a neighborhood hula hoop competition.
21) Throw an outdoor tie-dye party.
22) Play capture the flag at a big field in one of our parks.
23) Send snail mail and continue friendships through being a pen pal.
Summer Camps: Lansing Summer fun Just for Kids
Engage Their Minds at a Lansing Area Summer Camp
Spending time at summer camp is a treasured activity for a lot of families. Whether it’s gymnastics, STEAM, art or literacy, Lansing has dozens of options for kids to have a fun new summer thing to do.
Road Trip Ideas: Summer Things to Do
Want to get out of town for a bit? Here are some of our go-to options and recommendations:
|Take a Drive to the Beach:|
On Both the East and West Shores!
A family favorite is St. Joseph where you’ll enjoy the beach, a splash pad, and more! Our other go-to spots are Tunnel Park in Holland, Lakeside Beach in Port Huron including a splash pad, and South Haven Beach for one of the prettiest sunsets you’ll see. Where do you like to beach it during the Summer?
Have you even had a Michigan summer without camping at least once?! I think not! We’ve got so many to choose from. Here are some of our favorite spots: campgrounds you want to know about.
|Spend a Weekend in Detroit:|
Go on a bike ride through Dequindre Cut and land at the splash pad in front of the Renaissance Center to cool off. Cross the bridge to Belle Isle to swim at the beach and slide on a burlap bag down the huge slide. Plus find a whole bunch of fun spots with this Detroit Things to do List!
|Spend a Weekend in Grand Rapids:|
They have something going on all summer long and our sister site GRKIDS has everything you need to plan a great trip!
|Spend a Weekend in Kalamazoo:|
We love exploring in KZOO! They have really unique fun adventures like feeding the fish at the fish hatchery, visiting the Dinosaur park, exploring the free Kalamazoo Valley museum, their nature center and of course the Air Zoo + so much more!
Our sister site KZOOKIDS has everything you need to plan a great trip!
|Go to the Ann Arbor Summer Festival:|
This is a Michigan festival worth putting on the calendar! There are lots of fun and artistic opportunities for kids and amazing entertainment going on into the night during this week-long event.
Or just plan a day to explore downtown Ann Arbor – either way, it’s a guaranteed great time.
Have a Blast With Your Family This Summer, Lansing!
No matter what you do this summer – lovely days at home, bike rides through the city, trips up-north, days at the beach – whatever it is – we wish you the very best memories with your family!
P.S. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen!