East Lansing may be named after Michigan’s capital city, but it is definitely a city all its own. East Lansing has gained a positive reputation as the twin city of Lansing, but with a more upscale, college town flare. Home to MSU, this city can boast many great features, including a convenient location, thriving culture, and generally a lot of things to keep you occupied! Though many of the area’s activities revolve around the college campus, this city has a little bit of something for everyone. Its proximity to Lansing and the Cooley Law School – in addition to many great employers – also makes it a great option for grad students and young professionals.
When to Search
Because East Lansing is largely a college town, the apartment search process can get competitive. It’s important to start early if you want to have a lot of options and snatch up your ideal apartment. People generally begin searching around October, peaking in January, and ending around August.
Staying in the Know
Lansing and East Lansing have two very distinct personalities. Lansing is known for its blue-collar heritage and more “urban” feel, while East Lansing is more like a small town. But don’t think “small town” means “boring.” MSU infuses more than enough life into this area. Some would argue it’s an even better place to live than Lansing itself!
Life in East Lansing
Unless you live close to campus or in Downtown East Lansing, a car is generally required to get from place to place. However, CATA bus services do provide public transportation to both East Lansing and Lansing.
Where to play
Though the majority of the cultural activity and entertainment in the area centers around the University, that certainly doesn’t mean there is nothing to do off-campus. Several times a year, both Downtown Lansing and Downtown East Lansing will host large community events. For example, over the summer weekends, East Lansing comes alive with live music for the Summer Concert Series. Be sure to check the upcoming events in these areas every few weeks.
Michigan State University is certainly the main draw to East Lansing. The campus is renowned for being scenic in every season of the year. Of course, contained within the campus are many other great attractions, such as the Abrams Planetarium. East Lansing is also home to the State Capital. The building is a recognized historic site, and available for tourists to explore. Finally, Lake Lansing is the largest natural attraction in the area, which many different types of recreational opportunities available. Whether you prefer to get out on the water and boat, or just kick back and relax at the beach, you should enjoy Lake Lansing.
Although it’s also known for it's great food, it is safe to say that the most famous thing about Beggar’s Banquet is that it hosts a weekly half-price wine night every Wednesday. If you're more interested in an upscale dining experience, you should visit the State Room, by far one of the classiest restaurants in town. If you enjoy Asian food, there are several great options in East Lansing. Al Fusion combines Korean and Japanese influences, while Sansu Sushi is the picture of a modern, hip Sushi bar. If you just want to sit outside and enjoy a simple but delicious American meal, try the Harrison Roadhouse.
The Peanut Barrel is a great bar that has a wonderful outdoor seating area. The name isn't just a coincidence either, as you will always hear the crunch of peanut shells underfoot once you step inside. The beer lovers in East Lansing tend to head to Crunchy’s, because the beer list here far outstrips anything else in town. College students tend to pack The Riv on a nightly basis. The beer is affordable and the crowd is very young at the bar, so it’s best suited to those who enjoy a rowdier night out.
The Michigan Historic Center and Library is the greatest repository of artefacts and books related to the history of the state. For anyone new to Michigan, a visit to this museum is the best and most interesting way to get acquainted with it's past. The Michigan State University Museum also has some great exhibits, including a collection of dinosaur fossils. East Lansing is close enough to the musical mecca of Detroit that there is a great live music scene thriving in the smaller city. Visit the Green Door Lounge for great jazz or blues shows, or to Rick’s American Café if you want to see the latest up and coming rock band touring the country.
Like many communities in the northern parts of the country, East Lansing celebrates with a winter festival in order to find a way to enjoy, rather than just suffer through the cold season. Fun on the Rocks Winterfest takes place in February of each year. The Capital City Film Festival is a three day event that takes place in April. The event is an international one, and draws filmmakers from around the globe. In May, East Lansing is home to an Art Festival where downtown streets turn into paved galleries where pedestrians can admire the artist’s wares. If you're a fan of beer, then there is sure to be an event that pleases you during Lansing Beer Week, which lasts an entire 7 days each June.
The downtown part of East Lansing certainly is aimed at the students who make up most of the customers in the area. There are a lot of shops and bars that target the students, but it can be a fun area to wander around in during a shopping trip. The Meridian Mall offers a more traditional mall shopping experience, with the usual big box retailers surrounding the main mall. This is a good place to go if you just need to get your shopping done in a hurry and aren't interested in taking in the view. For a totally different experience, head south down highway 127 to Mason, and shop in downtown Mason. This town is home to beautiful historic architecture, and the downtown area is lined with everything from bookstores to quilting shops.
First of all, most people in East Lansing are huge supporters of the major Detroit sports teams. The city is only an hour and a half away, and pilgrimages into the Motor City are common during Tigers, Lions, Pistons and Redwings games. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't sporting events in East Lansing itself. The MSU teams are all strongly supported, and the teams are among the best in the country in almost every sport. The Big 10 school’s football team plays in a stadium that seats 75,000 people, and they usually have no trouble packing it to the rafters.
The River Trail follows the Red Cedar and Grand Rivers. There are more than 8 miles of paved trails and boardwalks that people use both recreationally, and as a means of transportation between the university campus and the north side of the city. If you're willing to get outside the city, the Rose Lake Wildlife area is full of trails that allow cyclists and hikers to explore the country while seeing wildlife in it's natural habitat. Lake Lansing is only a few miles away, and has 485 acres of water for boaters to explore. Sailing is a very popular activity here, and there are lessons for those without experience in the sport.