Aug. 13 2014 12:00 AM

A brief guide to cheap and free entertainment options in the capital city


Paying for things is stupid. The man is always trying to keep you down by demanding that you hand over your hardearned currency. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but that doesn´t mean you can´t crash the buffet.

Hold on tight while we suck up every last drop of discount in Lansing.


• Going to the movies is a painfully expensive ordeal, but in Grand Ledge, the one-room Sun Theatre is your beacon of hope with $2 movies. Take a moment to rejoice. And just down the street from the Sun every Friday night through Aug. 29 there are free outdoor movies being shown in the park. Live on the east side? No problem. The (unrelated) Sun Theatre Wil liamston features $4 movies.

• Libraries are good for borrowing free books and getting shushed by old ladies, but you can also take advantage of the Capital Area District Library’s MeLCat system, which allows you to get books and other media sent to you from over 400 libraries around Michigan. And if you´re lacking in the computer department, the libraries are about the only place where you can use one for free whenever you want.

• What´s awesome about Lansing is that there are so many events that are free to get into. Mac’s Bar has free comedy on Mondays. Michigan State University has two museums and free bowling Wednesday nights. And we have so many free festivals all year long it’s overwhelming. Take advantage of it!


Horrocks Farm Market is a drinkers paradise, whether it’s just a jolt of caffeine or something for the over-21 crowd. You’ve got a free coffee bar and a wine tasting bar, and shoppers recently have been given the upgrade option to purchase a 12-ounce beer to drink while they shop. With great power comes great responsibility, people.

• Free samples are your friend. On Saturdays, Meijer is full of people trying to fill your hands with as many little plastic cups full of food as possible. Pro tip: if you walk by any Chinese restaurant in a mall food court about once every 15 minutes, they´ll force bourbon chicken on you every time.

• This one’s cheating a little, but here goes: If you and a friend are getting fountain drinks at a sit-down restaurant, get cozy and share one. If it’s a self-serve and they offer you a size option, don’t pay for a larger size when you can just refill the small one. And make sure you take one for the road because at some point in your life, you’ll be thirsty again.


• Stop paying for lots and meters if there are side streets within a few blocks where you can park for free. Walnut and Chestnut streets just west of Lansing Community College can save an industrious commute hundreds of dollars that I didn´t spend on ramp parking when I was in school.

• If you’re heading to the Lansing City Market and all eight parking spots are filled, park for free at the Lansing Center parking lot across the street. Just tell the attendant where you’re going. Of course, if yo go somewhere else downtown afterward, who’s to know?

• If you´re heading into East Lansing with a car (God help you), ditch the vehicle in the Frandor Shopping Center lot and pay the $1.25 to ride the bus into town. Or if it’s between 4 p.m. and midnight, hit up the free street parking in the residential area north of Albert Street and try to avoid the flying ping pong balls and plastic cups.


• Still got your old college ID? Just shave off that trendy lumberjack beard and use your alma mater to keep getting you discounts and half-priced stuff. And don’t feel guilty: We can probably all agree if you´re still paying student loan debt, that qualifies you for the student rate.

• There’s an entire page on the Lansing Craigslist site dedicated to people trying to give away their old stuff for free. A lot of it is just piles of crap and weird kid-made crafts, but there’s some gold in there too. Just bring a friend — we don’t need another news story.

• If you’re swimming through mid- Michigan trying to leech bandwidth like an Internet parasite, there are plenty of nice cafes where you can suck free WiFi in peace. Just buy one (refillable) coffee or a happy hour beer and the proprieters should leave you alone while you cling to your device in the corner.

• If you want to find the buried treasure, you’ve got to climb in a Dumpster every now and then. But it’s worth it — I once found an entire Dumpster full of rollerblades in Frandor. And if you walk outside the dorms after MSU’s end-of-semester clean-out, you will have everything you need to furnish a new home. Sure, you have to suck up your dignity, but sticking it to the man’s worth it. Right?