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25 Downtown Lansing Things to Do including REO Town & Old Town + Best Restaurants

downtown Lansing things to do

Explore 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 Jackson Field, 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 that we’ll feature here:

  • Downtown Lansing
  • REO Town
  • Old Town

A trip to Downtown Lansing may not be on your 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.

downtown Lansing things to do
Downtown Lansing River Trail and Brenke Fish Ladder

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.

Lansing MI map

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

Downtown Lansing REO Town Old Town Lansing Map
Map of Old Town, Downtown Lansing and REO Town

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

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

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

Where do you want to start first?

Downtown Lansing

I’m a huge advocate of walking a city.

Walking its streets gives you a good feeling of a place. 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 for things to do in Downtown Lansing, or check out our family event calendar to see what’s happening today.

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 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 things to do
Map of the walking path between Michigan State Capitol 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 most anytime!

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

Michigan State Capitol Building
Michigan State Capitol Building

3 – Play and Learn at Impression 5 Science Center

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

Going to I5 is like a rite of passage for kids and rediscovery for adults and the staff’s goal is to create play areas for all ages. This means 0 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.

Impression 5 Museum Lansing MI
Light center at Impression 5 in Downtown, Lansing, MI

4 – Explore the Michigan History Museum

Michigan History Museum
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.

things to do in downtown Lansing, Michigan History Museum
Outdoor mezzanine area at the Historical Museum in 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 and see movies at the Capital Area District Library in Downtown Lansing.

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

things to do in downtown Lansing, zen garden CADL
Downtown Lansing CADL’s Zen Garden

6 – Kayak with River Town Adventures

River Town Adventures
Downtown Lansing
530 River St, Lansing, MI 48933

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.

River town adventures, things to do in downtown Lansing
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 (517) 483-4200 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 tranquility 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.

Brenke fish ladder, things to do in downtown Lansing
Brenke Fish Ladder Downtown Lansing, MI

9 – Cheer on the Lansing Lugnuts at Jackson Field

Jackson Field
505 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

Cheer on our local baseball team with the family! The grounds have a play area 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 Lansing MI

10 – Visit R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
240 Museum Dr, Lansing, MI 48933

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!

RE Olds transportation museum
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Downtown Lansing, MI

Downtown Lansing Restaurants & Coffee

MP Social
313 N Cedar St, Lansing, MI 48912

One of the best views of Downtown Lansing is on their patio + they’ve got the food to match!

MP Social Lansing MI
MP Social’s Lansing River Trail entrance

Lansing Shuffle
325 Riverfront Dr, Lansing, MI 48912

Don’t let the word club keep you from this venue. “Lansing Shuffle” is one of Lansing’s newest eateries and entertainment spaces. Featuring 7 unique eateries, karaoke, live music, DJ trivia, family game days, and of course, shuffleboard! Closed on Mondays.

Lansing Brewing Company
518 E Shiawassee St, Lansing, MI 48912

Sit on the patio and enjoy lawn games with the family.

Lansing Brewing Company, things to do in Downtown Lansing

Midtown Brewing Company 
402 S Washington Sq, Lansing, MI 48933

They are super kid-friendly and have a nice patio.

Zoup! 
214 S Washington Sq, Lansing, MI 48933

Quick and fun make this a great landing spot with kids.

Sweet Encounter Bakery & Cafe
300 S Washington Sq, Lansing, MI 48933 (inside the Knapp’s Centre building)

Gluten-free and peanut-free baked goods and café delights. Vegan options also available.

Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant
307 S Washington Sq, Lansing, MI 48933

You can never go wrong with chips and salsa. Everything is hand-made. Check their website for daily specials.

Mediteran Cafe 
200 N Washington Sq, Lansing, MI 48933

Mediterranean food right on the downtown strip. Plus they offer vegan options.

Cottage Inn Pizza
206 S Washington Sq, Lansing, MI 48933

I personally think they make the best gluten-free pizza around, plus everything else here is like a guilty pleasure.

Strange Matter
331 S Washington Sq, Lansing, MI 48933

Their staff is friendly with kids and engages with them in conversation. Their in-house pastries are delightful.

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

It’s a tight squeeze for strollers, but the staff is friendly. Not in the mood for coffee? Try one of their seasonal drinks or a smoothie. Kids love their “Magic Milk” and kids’ steamers.

REO Town

Situated along a curve in the Grand River and to the south of I-496, the REO Town neighborhood is one of Lansing’s most up-and-coming destinations for living, working, and leisure.


From 1905 to 1975, REO vehicles were produced starting with luxurious cars, transitioning to utility vehicles, and ultimately manufacturing semi-trucks for heavy-duty hauling. The name is derived from the initials of Ransom Eli Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile and later REO.

11 – Create at REACH Studio Art Center

REACH Studio Art Center
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 art gallery, and take advantage of the array of creative processes offered.

REACH Art Studio Lansing MI
REACH Art Studio in REO Town Lansing, MI

12 – Go Thrifting

St. Vincent De Paul Society & Thrift Store
1020 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

Thriftique
1137 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

Vintage Junkies
1133 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

Treasure hunting, memory making, and supporting local!

Vintage Junkies Lansing MI, things to do in Downtown Lansing
Vintage Junkies in REO Town Lansing, MI

13 – Pick up a New Book

Deadtime Stories
1132 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

This bookstore is a chilling haven for true crime enthusiasts, where spine-tingling narratives and gruesome mysteries fill every shelf. Pick up a book and see if you can solve a mystery!

Deadtime Stories - REO Town Lansing
Deadtime Stories in REO Town

14 – Look Around REO Town Marketplace

REO Town Marketplace
1027 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

The REO Town Marketplace offers a unique shopping experience, featuring a blend of independently-owned boutique-style stores.

15 – Explore a Low-Waste Lifestyle

Clean Refillery
1136 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

Stop into the Clean Refillery and find out how to help the environment by purchasing common cleaning supplies in refillable containers. The friendly staff is knowledgeable and ready to help you transition to a greener lifestyle.

16 – Shop for Body, Mind, and Soul

Soulful Earth Herbals
1131 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

Personal care items such as tonics, rubs, lip balms, soaps, and much more crafted without chemicals, using organic herbs and responsibly obtained ingredients.

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! This small diner features breakfast and lunch food with choices available for gluten-free and vegan diets.

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 dining out with kids a dream.

REO Town Lansing MI, things to do in Downtown Lansing
REO Town strip on Washington Ave

The Rusty Mug Bar & Grill REO Town
1210 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI 48910

Dine-in, take-out. Flatbreads, handhelds, salads, and more. Outdoor seating available.

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 Coffee REO Town Lansing MI
Blue Owl Coffee Co in REO Town Lansing, MI

Old Town Lansing

This eclectic neighborhood is home to many unique storefronts, art galleries, and a variety of dining options, creating a lively and welcoming atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

It is protected by the Old Town Commercial Association which is dedicated to revitalizing Lansing’s historic Old Town.

17 – Tour the Turner Dodge House

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

You can tour this beautiful old house or attend one of its events throughout the year. Honestly, anything happening here is just so cool.

You’ll love seeing every inch from the ballroom up on the top level to the outdoor architecture.

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

Turner Dodge House Lansing MI

18 – 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 hi to the talking parrots and birds, see tons of exotic fish and animals, and more. Preuss Pets is not your typical pet store: you could easily spend an entire afternoon here.

Preuss Pets Lansing MI, things to do in downtown Lansing
Outdoor pond at Preuss Pets in Old Town, Lansing, MI

19 – Shop ’til You Drop

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 over 25 vintage shops, boutiques, art supply shops, art galleries, restaurants, and more. Too many to name, but some of our favorites include Bradly’s HG, Cravings Gourmet Popcorn, and Old Town General Store.

20 – Stop by Mother & Earth: Toys + Baby

Since the beginning, Mother & Earth has been offering natural, eco-friendly, and useful products that cater to families’ needs.

Try out the latest toys and shop for kids’ apparel, mother essentials, and games, puzzles, and more.

BONUS: There is almost always something going on at Mother & Earth: Toys + Baby.

Old Town Dining

The Cosmos
1200 N Larch St, Lansing, MI 48906

Delicious pizza in a fun atmosphere. Kids love The Cosmos not only for their pizza, but also for their fun and uniquely decorated tables.

Cosmos Old Town Lansing MI
Tables at The Cosmos are unique

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 karaoke for good laughs and a grand ole’ time.

Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant
311 E César E. Chávez Ave, Lansing, MI 48906

Authentic Mexican food that cannot be beat! Seriously some of the best salsa in Lansing.

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.

Golden Harvest
1625 Turner St, Lansing, MI 48906

Golden Harvest has been an Old Town staple for as long as I can remember. Their portions are extremely generous. It’s a tight squeeze so plan to leave your stroller outside. Bring cash!

Maria’s Cuisine
516 E César E. Chávez Ave, Lansing, MI 48906

Authentic cuisine from southern Mexico.

Blue Owl Coffee Co 
1236 Turner St Ste B, Lansing, MI 48906

Grabbing food and coffee in one stop is perfection especially with little ones in tow!

Beyond The Borders: Area Trails, Zoo, and Art

21 – Walk or Bike 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 where you can let the kids burn off some energy while you relax at Rotary Park then and end up at Impression 5.

This route is about a 2-mile distance from the Fish Ladder to Impression 5.

22 – Experience ArtPath

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

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

Take a walk on the riverfront, 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, and it has continued each year to add lovely pieces for the community to enjoy on the Lansing River Trail.

ArtPath Old Town Lansing MI
Previous ArtPath installation

23 – Visit The Japanese Garden

Shigematsu Memorial Garden
500 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933

The Shigematsu Memorial Garden is a unique Japanese garden nestled into Downtown Lansing.

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.

NOTE: The Shigematsu Japanese Garden is currently being renovated and is closed as of 03/04/24.

Japanese Garden Lansing MI
Shigematsu Memorial Japanese Garden on LCC Campus Downtown Lansing, MI

24 – Take a Mural Crawl

Murals, Sculptures, and Public Art

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

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

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

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

Lansing mural crawl, things to do in downtown Lansing
Downtown Lansing Mural Piece by Dustin Hunt/Muralmatics

25 – See the Animals at Potter Park Zoo

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

We just had to add Potter Park Zoo to the list because although it’s not right in 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.

Potter Park Zoo Lansing
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’ve missed? Comment 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 Lansing, friends!

Downtown Lansing MI River trail, things to do in downtown Lansing MI
Lansing River Trail Downtown Lansing, MI

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Carla Brooks

Carla is Oregon born, Michigan raised, so it comes as no surprise she's an avid adventurer in all things nature and water fun. She's passionate about storytelling and the power it has to engage the community, give voice to the teller, and invoke a call to action. She is a proud Mexican-American woman who loves to travel (while eating and cooking delicious foods from around the globe), is grateful for her daily yoga practice, and garners much joy from spending time with friends and family. Life is ripe with story and she is always working to capture the magic wherever she goes, so don’t be surprised if you catch her jotting notes with a camera in hand.

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