A Socially Distanced Family Day in East Lansing


Springtime in East Lansing, especially around Michigan State University’s campus, is a magical time for the whole family. The vast majority of students have gone home for the summer, and the campus is vibrant with spring blossoms. MSU and East Lansing become giant playgrounds for families during these warmer months. There are outdoor activities for every age, and with COVID still looming over us, those outside options are even more precious than usual. Follow along as we outline a perfect family day exploring everything campus and the city have to offer!

MSU Children’s Garden

The MSU 4-H Children’s Garden is the perfect place to start your day. The gardens are open to the public every day. They offer a wide variety of experiences including themed gardens (the pizza garden is a favorite!), a bridge for watching ducks and frogs, a hedge maze, train playset and several other surprises just waiting to be discovered!

Animal Encounters in East Lansing

After exploring the MSU 4-H Children’s Garden, your family can visit the heart of campus, the Red Cedar River, to feed the ducks. There are several places along the river you might find them, but a favorite place for them to congregate is behind the Administration Building. It’s also a great place for a picnic lunch!

If you’ve fed the ducks too many times to count, hop in your car and drive over to the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center located off of Collins Road (just off US127). While the barns are closed to visitors due to COVID, your family can still walk around the grounds and admire the beautiful horses that call MSU home. Visitors are welcome between 8am-5pm daily.

Patriarche Park

East Lansing has lots of parks and playgrounds to explore, and a family favorite is always Patriarche Park. Featuring one of the best playgrounds in the city, it has separate play structures for younger and bigger kids (a toddler parent’s dream). There are also basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis/pickleball courts, and a volleyball court. Picnic tables give you a chance to eat and take a rest, making this a perfect park to spend the afternoon at! Been to Patriarche and looking for more parks in the East Lansing area? Head to our Favorite Parks!

Hannah Community Center

Just north of campus you can have a great playdate on the grounds of the Hannah Community Center. The yard is extensive, with plenty of room to play soccer or fly a kite. There is also a playground for kids to use and convenient free parking right on site.

East Lansing Public Library

Right down the street from the Hannah Community Center is the East Lansing Public Library. They are offering curbside pickup right now and in person hours as well so your family can check out books and movies to finish off a perfect day in East Lansing. Hours for both options are 10-2pm and 5-8pm Monday through Thursday (closed in between for sanitizing), 10-2pm on Fridays, and 1-5pm on Saturdays.

If you’re looking for something special, request a surprise stack from the library. Suitable for school aged children, each stack features several titles pulled together by library staff. Kids love the mystery, and it can lead to them discovering a new favorite author or a new passion. Special stacks are available for curbside pickup or during an in-person visit.

Looking for more fun in the towns surrounding the Lansing area? Head to our Guide to Dimondale!


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