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Lansing, Michigan: This Capital City is Worth the Weekend Getaway

Lights illuminate Lansing, Michigan's capitol.

Nestled in “Mid-Michigan” between Detroit and Grand Rapids, you will find Lansing, the capital of Michigan.  The population of Lansing was 117,159 in 2019, and the city’s total area encompasses 36.68 square miles. The capital of Michigan primarily lies in Ingham County. However, parts of this capital city extend west into Eaton County and north into Clinton County.

Lansing, Michigan, is the fifth-largest city in the state of Michigan and is the only U.S. state capital that is not also a county seat (if you look at the 47 located in counties). The heart of government for the county is actually in Mason, but they also have offices in Lansing.

The city of Lansing is a booming hub for educational, governmental, commercial, and industrial businesses. It is home to many universities, the state Supreme Court, a federal court, and historical centers.

What is the Capital of Michigan?

Centered on the Lower Peninsula where the Grand River meets the Red Cedar River, the city of Lansing was first called the “Lansing Township” until the state constitution said that the state capital city must be relocated from Detroit to a more central and safer part of the state (as Detroit was too close to British-controlled Canada after the War of 1812).

Many cities fought hard to include their town in the running for the new Michigan state capital city, including Ann Arbor, Marshall, and Jackson. The Michigan House of Representatives eventually chose the dormant Lansing Township settlement in 1847, ten years after Michigan gained statehood in the middle of the 19th century. For a short time, the new state capital was called the “Town of Michigan” until the legislature changed the name to “Lansing” in April of 1848.

Things to Do in the Capital of Michigan

1. Potter Park Zoo

Spanning 20 acres inside of an 80-acre park, the Potter Park Zoo features over 500 animals for you to visit. The Potter Park Zoo has a mission to inspire people to conserve animals and the natural world. Check their event schedules when you are there, as the zoo holds incredible events throughout the year.

2. Michigan History Center

Serving at the central hub for the State of Michigan’s history and records, the Michigan History Center is a network of 12 museums and historic sites. Visit the Lansing outfit to discover an overview of the state’s history and learn about the significant moments of Michigan’s past.

3. Hawk Island Park

If you are looking for a natural wonderland in the city of Lansing, Hawk Island County Park boasts 100 acres for residents and visitors to enjoy. The park presents a swimming beach, picnic areas, shelters, 1.5-miles of walkways, a playground, and fishing docks. In wintertime months, you can even go snow tubing!

4. Michigan State Capitol Building

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Every year, over 115,000 people walk through the hallways and rotunda of the Michigan State Capitol, the state’s seat of government. During a tour, you can watch the state government in session, peruse the nine acres of decorative art, and dive into the rich history of the state of Michigan.

5. Old Town

The Old Town of Lansing is the founding center for culture and creativity in the city. Old Town is worth spending some time in the city through special events, incredible community, unique shops, and local eateries.

The historic buildings have been restored and the infrastructure reinvigorated for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.

6. Downtown Lansing

It’s no New York City, but Downtown Lansing is where you will find most of the city’s hot spots included on this list, including Lansing River Trail, the Potter Park Zoo, Old Town, the Michigan State University campus, the Impression 5 Science Center, and of course, the Michigan State Capitol.

7. R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

Known as one of the top-rated motor vehicle museums in the entire country, the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum showcases thousands of artifacts and 65 rotating cars from 1886 to 2003.

8. Woldumar Nature Center

Complete with five miles of trails spanning 180 acres of woodland, river-front property, pine forests, and prairie, Woldumar Nature Center serves as an on-site Environmental Education site for kids and adults.

9. Michigan State University

Nestled in East Lansing on a gorgeous campus, Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as a land-grant college and universities model. This public research university is rated in the top 100 in the USA and stands as one of the best research universities in the world.

Attractions in the Surrounding Area

– Kalamazoo, Michigan

– Roscommon State Forest Area in the Upper Peninsula

– Huron, Michigan

– Ann Arbor, Michigan

– Toledo, Ohio

– Canadian adventures in Toronto

– Great Lakes’ trips: Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Erie

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READ MORE: Colon, Michigan Is The Magic Capital of the World

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