Plan your Lansing Summer Things to Do Bucket List
Welcome to your Lansing Summer Fun Hub!
Summer vibes are coming alive again in Lansing. The weather is warming up, the sun is shining more, and we are ready to take advantage of all the fun Lansing has to offer.
Splash pads, lakes, water parks, concerts, movies in the park, and festivals promise for an amazing summer 2023.
Create a bucket list for your family or plan a spur-of-the-moment trip with our big list of fun summer things to do in the Lansing area!
See Also: Indoor Play Options
Outdoors: Lansing Summer Things to Do
Michigan summers are definitely something special. After a long, hard winter of hibernating and a spring spent wondering if winter will ever be over, all things come to life again. Once even a glimpse of warm weather seems to be 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, and beaches and splash pads to cool off at call to us – and we answer!
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 at 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 2023.
Use the map to find the perfect splash pad near you!
|Lake Michigan Beaches:|
Explore some of the 50 amazing Lake Michigan beaches our state has to offer! Nothing is more “pure Michigan” than spending a day with the fam building sand castles and splashing in the waves at one of these beautiful beaches.
Get Into Nature this Summer
Nature abounds in and around Lansing and summer time 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. The MSU campus also has the river trail, gardens, greenhouses, and the arboretum. |
|The LCC Japanese Garden offers quiet tranquility while being tucked away in downtown Lansing at the Shigematsu Memorial Garden.|
|The Ledges – Discover the beauty of the enchanting sandstone wonders across three unique parks in Grand Ledge. |
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 faves is River Town Adventures. They offer a variety of different adventures tailored to paddlers of all different levels.
On this list, you’ll also find tubing, canoeing, and SUP Board options as well as places to launch your own boats.
|Putt Putt & Adventure Golf:|
Get some bonding time in or get competitive with your Adventure Golf game at FunTyme Adventure Parks. Try your hand at putting at Eagle Eye’s Little Hawk Putting Course‘s natural course (one of only three in Michigan) or at the DeWitt Golf Center.
|Play at Uncle John’s Cider Mill:|
Jump on the jumping pillow and play in the kid zone.
Grab your paddle and whiffle ball and head to your nearest pickleball court. Public courts are available in Lansing, Dimondale, Haslett, and soon-to-be East Lansing.
|Disc Golf/Frisbee Golf:|
Lansing is home to a vibrant disc golf community. If you’ve never gone, it’s SO FUN for kids and parents alike!
|BMX Bike: |
Get out to the track at Capital City Family BMX or just watch all of the action and fun from Nip N’ Sip.
Fishing is a low-cost activity – all you need a pole and some bait.
Know Before You Go: Some places are ‘catch and release’ meaning after you catch the fish, you must return it to the water.
|Radio-Controlled Race Car Fun:|
Grand Woods Park has built an RC race car track and overlook deck. Bring your race cars or just run around the track like my kids love to do!
Great Lakes Quarter Scale Racers located at FunTyme in Grand Ledge is another option.
|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 likes, there is sure to be a fun park or playground near you at all times.
This 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 a.m. – 12 p.m.
|Horses and Cows:|
The 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.
Food: Summer Food Fun Awaits!
Summer is a great time to savor delicious foods throughout Greater Lansing. Pick your own fruit, visit a farmers 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 farmers market. Greater Lansing has nearly a dozen of them!
|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 summertime activity. From the MSU Dairy Store to Mooville and Scoopy Doo’s, 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 few I’m excited about already are:
The Summer Solstice Jazz Festival
And who can forget our nation’s birthday celebration, more commonly called the Fourth of July. Area celebrations are being added as they roll in so be sure to check back.
Old School: A “1980’s” Lansing Summer Things to Do List
Throw it back old school and step into a slower and more simple way of life. Try out a 1980s summer which will be sure to bring some nostalgia and relaxation!
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 Brenke Fish Ladder, stop for some treats at Cravings, The Old Town General Store, and get brain freeze on 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) Have a backyard water balloon fight.
15) Put up a lemonade stand.
16) Make mud pies.
17) Play in the sprinkler, hose, or kiddie pool.
18) Play hide-and-seek outdoors. Or a round of Red Rover!
19) Rollerskate along 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 at 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 sports, nature, STEAM, art, or literacy, Lansing has dozens of options for kids to have a fun summer experience.
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 – Get in your car and point your compass toward either due East or West. Heck, you could even head North in our state and still reach the water!|
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, Port Austin’s Turnip Rock, and South Haven Beach for one of the prettiest sunsets you’ll see.
|Go Camping or Glamping:|
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.
And for those who aren’t quite into the camping scene, Michigan has you covered with Glamping. Glamping offers a luxurious camping experience with modern amenities and comforts.
|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:|
There’s always something going on all summer long, and our sister site Grand Rapids Kids 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, exploring the nature center, and of course the Air Zoo!
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 – whether it’s quiet days at home, bike rides through the city, trips up north, or days at the beach, we wish you the very best memories with your family!
P.S. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen!