New book offers tips on fun stuff to do in Lansing

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“There’s nothing to do in Lansing” is a common refrain, but local author Amy Piper disagrees and has written a book to prove her point. “100 Things to Do in Lansing Before You Die” is a fun and bright compendium of diversions in Greater Lansing that you may have overlooked or not even known about.

The book is divided into five categories, enabling the reader — and ultimately the traveler — to quickly navigate the areas that interest them. Categories found in “100 Things” include food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, history and culture and shopping and fashion.

A quick look at the history and culture section shows local attractions like the Broad Art Museum, REO Transportation Museum, the Michigan History Center, the Capitol Building, Turner-Dodge House and another 15 sites that will help visitors and residents alike raise their Lansing culture quotient.

Under sports and recreation, Piper lists nearly 20 locations to get moving — including the always popular Impression 5 Science Center, Potter Park Zoo, Sleepy Hollow State Park, MSU Children Garden, the Woldumar and Fenner nature reserves and Lake Lansing.

Clearly, the book leans toward family-centric activities and events — especially areas that will keep the kiddies engaged, like a trip to Uncle John’s Cider Mill, which I can tell you from personal experience has an amusement park atmosphere skewed toward families with younger children.

Making recommendations of where to go for food and drink is always the most difficult thing to tell visitors because of the subjectivity of our individual palates, but Piper has put together an admirable list of choices. Piper’s list has recommendations ranging from a romantic night at the English Inn — the former Eaton Rapids estate of an automotive executive, to takeout from Eastside Fish Fry and Grill.

Of course, any guidebook to Lansing would come up short if it didn’t include a few mentions of the barbeque joints and brewpubs, which in the last few years have popped up like pot shops across the city. Pot shops, however, are not covered in the book.

Piper is a seasoned travel writer who has visited 41 countries and 45 states, but she said that writing the book during the pandemic pushed her choices close to home.

“I chose more outdoor locations and places I was familiar with, coupled with recommendations from people in the community,” Piper said.

She said she is already collecting recommendations for a second edition, which will contain locations and events she may have missed or couldn’t include in the first edition.

As is any author, Piper is somewhat reticent to name her personal favorites, but I was able to squeeze out a few like the Broad Art Museum, Lugnuts games and the Lansing River Trail — along with the Peanut Shop, which seems to be on everyone’s list.

The author also said she wanted to make sure most choices were “relatively inexpensive.”

One choice that fits the bill is the Michigan State University 4-H Children’s Garden, where parents can take children for a few hours of fun and educational play. Another is the Lansing Community College Sculpture Walk, which takes you on a self-guided tour of the scores of sculptures across the downtown campus. You can punctuate that trip by visiting the nearby hidden Shigematsu Memorial Garden and Koi Pond.

Visits to cities almost always include side stops for shopping and Piper’s “bucket-kicking” book includes some delights that out-of-towners or long-timers may overlook, like Fabiano’s Candies and the chocolate at Oh Mi Organics. Who knows, visitors might want to take a pet home from Preuss Pets in Old Town.

The new book will be especially helpful for those who have guests coming to visit for the first time in years, and it might take some stress out of the equation of “what should we do today?” 

One thing that the seasoned travel writer said that Lansing still needs is a “food trail” to accompany Lansing’s art trail, which can be accessed on a smart phone at 517ArtSearch.com

Amy Piper Author Appearance
Thursday, Sept. 30
2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saddleback BBQ
1147 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

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