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Top 10 hangout spots in and around campus


MSU Broad Art Museum
MSU Broad Art Museum
1. MSU Broad Art Museum

Cutting-edge yet relaxing and serene, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is a great place for wandering. It has a constantly shifting collection of art that spans all eras, styles and mediums. On any given day, you can zone out watching a video art piece or find yourself in the middle of a modern art installation the size of an entire room. Right now, it features pinhole photography, the work of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha and more. 

PInball Pete's
PInball Pete's

2. Pinball Pete’s

The sensory overload of Pinball Pete’s is enough to drive thoughts of term papers and upcoming exams straight out of your skull. It has everything you want out of an arcade: classic fighting games, Skee-Ball, immersive shooters and, of course, tons of pinball machines. East Lansing resident and MSU alum Jaydn Tur said, “Every time I come here, I start to wonder why I don’t come more often.” Pinball Pete’s recently returned to pre-pandemic hours. 

3. Meridian Mall

I have to admit, the Meridian Mall can be kind of eerie. These days, it can seem like a liminal space, a location “between one space and the next.” And that’s exactly what makes the Meridian Mall a perfect place to explore with your friends. Of course, you can still get your fair share of consumer bliss there or grab a bite to eat at the food court. But wandering through the more deserted parts of the mall, not another soul in sight, is just delightful. 

Patriarche Park
Patriarche Park

4. Patriarche Park

Want to know if you can best your friends on the court? Buy a cheap basketball and head on down to Patriarche Park. You can also rent out a picnic table or pavilion for a birthday party or spontaneous feast. Grills come included with the price. 

5. The pool at your friend’s apartment complex 

While the summer sun is still burning, pester one of your friends for access to the pool at their apartment complex. “I love swimming, but I don’t have a pool,” said MSU grad student Miranda Owen. “I just find someone who lives at an apartment complex and go there.” They’re often dirty and often only five feet deep, but when the temperature rises above 90 degrees, there’s nothing better. 

6. Dorm lounges

Sometimes, the best place to hangout is staring you straight in the face. Especially as a freshman, the lounges in residence halls are an invaluable resource. You get comfortable couches and chairs, free wifi and a place to charge your phone. Often, that’s all you need, especially if you’re dealing with a stacked schedule. From an armchair in Sny-Phi, MSU student Landen Sahouri told me, “I chill in any spot I can between classes.” 

7. Harris Nature Center

The Harris Nature Center offers an escape from the noises and lights of East Lansing. It’s a small oasis tucked away in Okemos, not too far from campus. You can walk the trails through 200 acres of forest or picnic on the banks of the Red Cedar. As the leaves begin to change color, Harris Nature Center will just get more beautiful. It also just announced that its Music in Nature series will return this September.

Ranney Park
Ranney Park

8. Ranney Park

Located conveniently right next to Frandor, Ranney Park contains the only skate park in Lansing. It’s a free, 20,000-foot facility designed by nationally recognized skate park builders, Team Pain. Local skater Maddy Smith said, “I usually skate in my back lot, but otherwise I enjoy going to Ranney.” The park also has tennis and handball courts, plus a full softball diamond. Once softball season rolls around, you can catch the Lansing Community college team playing their home games at Ranney. 

9. Beal Botanical Garden

Beal Botanical Garden, situated right next to the library, is an ideal spot to take your college sweetheart on a romantic stroll. It’s also simply a relaxing place to crack open that book you just checked out or to go and clear your mind. You’ll find more than 2,000 kinds of plants, arranged in such an aesthetically pleasing manner that I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the most beautiful location on campus. 

10. Flat Black and Circular

For physical media obsessives, Flat Black and Circular is a can’t-miss destination. It’s easy to spend an hour in there flipping through records, tapes and CDs with your friends. Gathering around a record player with buddies in your dorm room is a classic college activity. FBC has everything you need in order to embody that stereotype. “I bought a record player when I came to college,” said Noah Boid. “I’ve basically built my entire record collection from Flat Black and Circular.” The store’s laid-back vibes and constantly shifting soundtrack earned it the final spot on this list.

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