While there are bars scattered throughout the city, the main place to go for nightlife in Lansing is right in the downtown area. This is where the most bars are concentrated together, and there is quite a variety as well.
The main area to go to is Michigan Avenue and Washington Square, and there are many bars within a couple of blocks on these two connecting streets.
Starting at the southern most part of Washington Square you will find the Michigan Brewing Company, a small bar where they only serve beer made by the MBC. They also give you free peanuts and occasionally have a live band as well. This is a little bit of an outlier to the main bar scene, but worth a mention since it is so close.
About a block or two north is where the night scene really picks up. On the corner of Washington and Washtenaw you will find two night clubs on opposite sides of the street. One is X-Cel and the other is the Firm. I actually haven't been in either, both charge cover to enter and are generally considered dance clubs. X-Cel seems to be the "roughest" club in the area, and there have occasionally been fights both inside and outside. The Firm seems to be a bit more easy going.
Just a few buildings down is Kelly's Irish Pub. This is a pretty decent bar, but it doesn't seem to be very popular. I've never seen the place even half way full, let alone packed. Not sure why since this is set up to be a traditional Irish bar and it's actually nice inside.
Next door is Brannigan Brothers, which is also an Irish bar but quite a bit different than Kelly's. Brannigan Brothers usually have a D.J. blasting music for people to dance on the (small) dance floor. They also have some dart boards but it's pretty hard to use them due to their location in the bar.
A couple doors down is yet another bar, Tavern on the Square. This is one of the nicer (and more expensive) bars in town, but it does have a really nice atmosphere. They also have a huge projector television to watch big games on.
Across the street from Tavern is one of the best bars in town, in my opinion at least. That bar is the Wild Beaver Saloon. Wild Beaver sometimes also charges cover to get in, but that is rare - usually they don't. Inside they usually have great drink specials and plenty of things to do. They also have a huge projector screen to watch big games on, they now have a pool table, and when it's nice out they set it up so you can play cornhole (bean bags). The waitresses are pretty nice to look at too, and, to top it off, it's an "official US Soccer" bar. They also have live bands sometimes, but not often.
By now you are on the corner of Washington and Allegan. If you take a right onto Allegan you will hit the Boardroom. I honestly have no idea what this bar is about since I've never been there nor have heard of anyone else going there, but supposedly there is a bar there...
Anyways, if you keep going straight north on Washington instead you will pass Jimmy John's, a great place to stop for food AFTER the bars. You will also pass a handful of restaurants that are only open during the day for lunch/early dinner. However, once you reach the corner of Washington and Michigan you will see two other bars. One is Edmund's Pastime, a nice sports bar with some really good specials and a lot to do. I believe they have darts, a pool table, and even some board games like Scrabble if you really want to break those out. Plenty of TVs too.
Across the street is Troppo's, which I've never been in. It looks to be one of the nicer/more expensive places but again, I don't know much about it.
Turn right onto Michigan, from Washington, and head about 2 blocks to reach the next batch of bars. The first one you'll come to is the Exchange, a martini bar that usually has a live band playing. They have the main bar area downstairs and then they have a really narrow spiral staircase to get upstairs to a lounge area, where there are lots of couches to hang out on. There is also a separate bar area upstairs as well. One great reason to come here is that you can get free passes to get into other bars that charge cover - all you have to do is ask the bartender after you've ordered a drink or two. I know that you can definitely get passes for the Harem and Omar's, there are probably a few others as well.
Speaking of Omar's that is right next door to the Exchange. It's the building with the huge neon pink all around it. This is a strip club. Cover doubles after midnight, but you can get in for free with a pass from the Exchange no matter what time it is. Drinks are pretty expensive, as you can imagine.
A little further down, across two small one-way streets, is the Tin Can. This is a pretty cool bar where they only serve cans of beer. They have a pretty big selection though, with over 50 different kinds. They also have some other unique things like flavored pudding shots and Faygo bombs. There is a huge "party deck" outside which is utilized when the weather is nice and warm for dancing to music played by a live D.J. Inside there are dart boards and chalkboards that take up an entire wall for you to sketch on (or admire what other people have drawn - some of it is actually pretty good) if you'd like.
Next door is the Loft. This isn't a bar, but they usually have a concert going on during most weekends and even occasionally on week days. These are generally "real" bands too. I've only been once, we saw a show featuring Taproot, among others. You can either buy tickets in advance or at the door, though they are cheaper if you get them in advance.
Right next to that is the Harem. This is another dance club, similar to X-Cel and the Firm, except a lot nicer. They even have somewhat of a dress code - you can't get in if you are wearing white tennis shoes. I think there are a few other rules, not too sure though as I haven't gone too much. They charge cover, although you can get a free pass if you go to the Exchange beforehand.
Next to that is the Dugout. This tiny bar just opened recently and is not a traditional bar, it's more like a vending stand. They aren't even open every night, but are mostly during the summer and especially when the Lansing Lugnuts have a home game.
Speaking of the Lugnuts, their "official" bar is at the end of this stretch - the Nut House. This is a pretty cool sports bar with a ton of TVs to watch games on and even a small room you can take over if you have a large party. The bar is kitty-corner to the Lugnut's Stadium. Most bars in this area do not have their own parking lot. The Nut House does, however I would NOT recommend using it. It is literally one of the worst parking lots I've ever seen. It's way too small and they try to cram way too many cars in there. I would definitely expect your car to get backed into or hit one way or another if you try to park there. Not worth it, in my opinion.
If you keep heading East, past the stadium, you'll get to Rum Runners. This is a pretty cool - it's a dueling piano bar. The first floor is a typical bar with drinks, music, and a dance floor. The upstairs is a room full of tables semi-circling two pianos and there are usually "shows" where a couple of people perform by playing popular songs on them, and taking requests and donations. It's pretty fun to watch.
A little ways down from Rum Runners is kind of the outskirts of the downtown bar scene. This includes Stober's and Moriarty's, which are both right next to each other. Moriarty's is a typical Irish pub and Stober's is a pretty cool place. They have live Jazz music on Tuesdays and they also have free shuffleboards to play on.
Parking is generally free at the time of night you would want to go to the bar, as the meters are only in effect during the day. There are also parking structures nearby to park in for a certain fee. I definitely would not recommend leaving your car overnight at a meter, but it would probably be fine in one of the parking structures.
So that's basically the downtown Lansing bar scene. There's quite a few places to go and a lot of different options, so you're sure to find something for everyone in your group. Almost all places are free to enter (no cover - except X-Cel, Firm, Harem, Omar's, and sometimes Wild Beaver), so it's a great place to hit up if you don't want to stay at the same bar all night, you can easily hit up multiple bars in just a few hours!
Frank's is a sports bar with TVs tuned to sporting events and the usual beer signs and posters. I enjoyed Frank's a bit more than Bennigan's. The atmosphere was much less formal and it was less crowded. The Rum and Coke was strong, and the staff friendly. They also have a wide variety of food available, not just the usual bar food. I did not try any but heard it is quite good.
Dress Code: I saw mostly jeans, T-shirts and other casual attire.
Bennigan's is a chain of bar and grills that is pretty consistently good. I did not eat here just got a Rum and Coke. The Rum and Coke was fine and the service was too.
Dress Code: I saw everything from jeans and T-shirts to a coat and tie.
I like to visit the bars/clubs in East Lansing, why? It is a college town (Michigan State). There are a lot of people, especially when school is in session, people watching, and just sipping' on some drinks. You might want to watch yourself if your driving in this town. There are a lot of law enforcement agents who love to pick up drivers! So, use caution in this town when clubbin!!!!
Dress Code: Dress with what you enjoy yourself in. There is really no dress code, except you might want to leave your Michigan colors (you dingy gold and blue) at home especially in the fall classics -Go GREEN and WHITE - If not, then you are on your own and don't say that I warned you!!!!!!!
THERE ARE MANY CLUBS AND BARS, ESPECIALLY SINCE WE HAVE MSU CAMPUS. IN EAST LANSING THERE ARE SEVERAL, RICKS, TROPPOS, DOWNTOWN, THE RIV, PT O'MALLEYS, AND MORE THAN I AM SURE I HAVE FORGOTTEN. THE BEST DANCE ONES ARE RICKS AND PT O'MALLEYS. A GREAT PLACE TO EAT AND HANG OUT AT NIGHT IS BW3, THEY JUST MOVED AND REMODELED AND ARE CONSTANTLY PACKED! ITS A LOT OF FUN! ON THE WEEKENDS, THERE ARE ALWAYS YOUNG PEOPLE WALKIN AROUND ON CAMPUS AND GOING FROM PLACE TO PLACE. DOWN THE STREET FROM CAMPUS IS THE DOLLAR, WHICH HAS DIFFERNT THINGS GOIN ON DIFFERENT NIGHTS, MOST OF THE TIMES THEY HAVE LOCAL LIVE BANDS AND A DJ INBETWEEN. THEY HAVE A LARGE ENOUGH DANCE FLOOR, ATLEAST FOR THE LANSING AREA, ITS BIG. THEY HAVE FUN EVENTS, LIKE FOAM PARTIES AND CONTESTS. LOTS OF COLLEGE AGE PEOPLE, BUT THERE ARE QUITE A BIT OF 30 SOMETHING PEOPLE THERE. FURTHER DOWN IS SPARTYS, ITS A BAR, NO DIFFERENT THAN THE DOLLAR, BUT NOT AS FUN. THEY BOTH HAVE POOL TABLES AND DARTS, A DJ, BAR,ETC...BUT FOR SOME REASON, SPARTYS DOESN'T SEEM TO APPEAL TO NEWCOMERS OR YOUNG COLLEGE KIDS. IT USE TO BE REAL POPULAR A FEW YRS AGO AND THE SAME PEOPLE SEEM TO GO THERE, THEY ARE JUST OLDER! THEN CLOSER TO THE DOWNTOWN AREA IS, 621 AND RUM RUNNERS. THEY BOTH PLAY SOME GREAT DANCE MUSIC. THERE ARE VARYING AGES THERE, ITS MORE OF A SOPHISTICATED PLACE, IF YOU WANT TO CALL IT THAT, NOT IN ANY WAY STUFFY OR CONSERVATIVE, JUST BETTER DRESSED CUSTOMERS. RUM RUNNERS, THEY ARE A LOT OF FUN, THEY ARE THE DUALING PIANO BAR. THEY HAVE 2 FLOORS, THE UPSTAIRS HAVE SOME GREAT PERFORMERS WHO SING AND ACT CRAZY TO THE SONGS THAT THE CROWD REQUESTS. IT DOES REQUIRE CROWN PARTICIPATION, WHETHER ITS AT YOUR SEAT OR UP ONSTAGE.
THESE AREN'T NECESSARILY UNIQUE, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS THEM. RUM RUNNERS IS VERY COOL, LOTS OF FUN!
Dress Code: THE ONLY ONES THAT HAVE A DRESS CODE ARE TROPPOS, 621, AND RUM RUNNERS! JUST DRESS TO IMPRESS. NO BAGGY JEANS, TENNIS, HATS, TANK TOPS ON GUYS, OR TORN, DIRTY CLOTHES.
This is a Jazz club with live music (at least every time that I have ever been there). They serve excellent drinks and is a great way to end an evening after seeing a performance at the Wharton Center.
Dress Code: I wouldn't say that this is a formal atmosphere, but it is definately classy. People usually come after evening business meetings, musicals, etc., so business suits and skirts are the usual wear.