A little bit of history and things what to do.
I think all small towns have a unique area that has to do with history. Lansing has one of those areas and it is nesstled right on the northside. The locals call this area Old Town. This is where the first two pinoneers situated their log cabins at (right at the Tate's Freeze Ice Cream Shop - near the fish ladder).
And also of some improtant note: Civil rights activist Malcolm X (née Malcolm Little) moved to Lansing in 1928 with his mother (Louise), father (Earl), and three siblings. In 1929, their home burned to the ground, and Earl, an outspoken preacher, moved the family to East Lansing. In 1931, Earl died after being run over by a streetcar, and eight years later Louise was committed to the Michigan State Mental Hospital in Kalamazoo. For the next four years, young Malcolm bounced from foster home to foster home. Today, a historical marker at Vincent Court (off Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard) recognizes where the Little family's first home once stood (Kind of makes me wonder why they didn't name MLK - Malcom X way?).
I have to put a plug in for Lansing's biggest economic factor: the automobile industry. "The Car Capital of North America," Lansing produced more cars (400,000 per year) than any other city in the country. Notable products include the GM Pontiac Grand Am, Chevy Malibu, and Oldsmobile Alero. The grandfather of Lansing's car industry, Ransom Eli Olds, built his very first Oldsmobile in 1897. From these humble beginnings, he launched what would become one of the most successful auto-manufacturing companies in the world. Guests to Lansing can learn about the man and his early inventions at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum downtown. Hats off to the automobile sector for making who I am, what I am today, in more than just one way!!!
One of the country's largest and most prestigious research universities, Michigan State University was founded in 1855. Boasting one of the best big ten schools that offer degrees in everything from osteopathic medicine and human ecology to law and agriculture and natural resources, MSU is home to more than 40,000 students. Championship-caliber sports teams, a world-class art museum, and stunning experimental gardens make the campus a place that's in season every season. GO STATE ... don't forget to buy your tickets for each Saturday game (Sept - Nov)...
Being fairly new to the area (3 years) I have yet to experience the more "Touristy" venues in Lansing. There are a few Michigan themed museums, of course, being the state's capital. However, I haven't made it to any of them yet.
There are quite a few parks frequented mostly by locals looking to get out of the house for a little bit. The most popular is probably Hawk Island County Park. They have a nice quiet lake with boat rentals and a paved walking path. There is also a new splash park for the kids and a couple very unique play structures. All good fun for the kids. If you're into fishing, it leaves a little to be desired in the way of "Big 'uns" but there are plenty of little panfish to keep you entertained. The beach is pretty small and typically over crowded. I'm not into beach swimming much and I don't like the idea of my son playing in what is basically a big toilet. Too many kids peeing in the water for me!
Potter Park Zoo is very nice but rather small. The county recently took over control of the zoo and have reduced prices to try and boost visitor numbers. It's a nice place to take the kids for a day though. Parking and admission are pretty cheap so it's a nice affordable way to enjoy an afternoon.
Public transportation is just about that of any other city in Michigan. A few bus lines with very little information on how to use them. So it's best if you bring your own car. It's pretty easy to find your way around town.
There is also Fenner Nature Center where you can go walk the trails and spot some deer and many other types of wildlife. Lansing is unique in this way because it's got the feel and look of a big city, but there are small pockets of woods that are home to all types of wildlife. It's not uncommon during the late summer to see deer standing in the middle of a residential street late at night.
For the most part, it's really a safe place. It can be a bit intimidating at times when you are approached by a drug addict at the gas station begging for some "bus fare". They are pretty easy to blow off though. The neighborhoods are really mixed up. On one street you'll see nice homes and expensive SUV's and on the next you'll see a bunch of run down crack houses. Really hard to pick a place to live here because everything is in pockets like this.
All in all, it's a decent city. I wouldn't make it a destination city because there's not that much for the tourist. But as a place to pass through and spend and afternoon or catch an MSU football game, it's pretty nice.
"Statehouse of Lansing, MI"
One-way streets and construction made it all but impossible to circle the statehouse. After finding an available meter near the capitol I parked the bike and found a bite to eat nearby. The grounds of the statehouse were very nicely landscaped. They had a few very odd monuments on the grounds too. The tour of the statehouse is a must see adventure if you have the chance to visit Lansing!