During the summer months, students still hanging around this college town are usually in one of three situations: broke, bored, or both. Summer employment can provide some relief to the financial burdens lingering from the previous semester, but not all jobs are paid (and few are paid well). Musical performances and the bar scene are well-publicized in terms of entertainment in the East Lansing area, but these venues easily become repetitive. However, other inexpensive places are available close by for everyone – the penny pinchers, the pedestrians without access to transportation, the knowledge seekers and those who just want to free their inner child.
MSU Museum
Location: On West Circle Drive, adjacent to Beaumont Tower.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday though Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p. m. on Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Cost: FREE
Many students fail to give the MSU Museum a second glance as they pass it on their way to class. However, one student has been going there for years and highly recommends it to others. Alicia Barajas, a special education junior, is a Lansing resident who attended Eastern High School. \”I\’ve been going to the museum every couple of years since I can remember, on field trips and such,\” she said. \”They always have really interesting exhibits coming and going.\”
Current exhibitions at the museum are Redwork: A Textile Tradition in America, Workers Culture in Two Nations: South Africa and the United States and Weaving History: A Basket Heritage Project. \”The museum exhibits connect global issues to Michigan and the MSU community, which is really important because sometimes we feel so detached from the outside world,\” Barajas said.
Kresge Art Museum
Location: At the intersection of Auditorium and Physics roads, between the MSU Alumni Chapel and the MSU Auditorium.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (except Thursday), 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Cost: FREE
The Kresge Art Museum can be found in the Kresge Art Center on campus, which is also home to the MSU art department. \”It\’s hidden away and not very well advertised, so most students wouldn\’t think to go there,\” said Alyn Kiel, an ANR communications sophomore. Kiel visited the museum for the first time in April. \”I thought it was awesome because, for its size, it offered a great deal of artwork from different time periods and regions of the world,\” she said.
The museum features various styles of artwork among its collections, ranging from ancient to contemporary, European to Islamic, and sculpture to photography. \”My favorite piece was a photograph by Lalla Essaydi – it was beautiful,\” Kiel said.
In addition to its permanent collection, the museum holds a number of temporary exhibitions, such as Working in America: Photographs from the Ewing Galloway Agency, Circus: The Art of the \”Strange and Curious\”, and Sorrow Unmasked: Images of Grief, Mourning and Remembrance. Both the Circus and Sorrow Unmasked exhibits will go on display May 5.
Abrams Planetarium
Location: On Shaw Lane, adjacent to the CATA Transportation Center.
Hours: Family Shows at 2:30 p.m. Sunday; Feature Shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $3 for adults, $2.50 for students and senior citizens, $2 for children.
Some students might only know about the Abrams Planetarium because they wanted to take a supposedly easy astronomy class, but it is also a good place to visit for fun. The planetarium has two ongoing shows that are open to the public: a Family Show and a Feature Show. \”The Sky above Mister Roger\’s Neighborhood\” is the current Family Show and \”The Search for Life in the Universe,\” narrated by Mr. Spock himself, is the current Feature Show. A current sky talk, which uses a Digistar projector to mimic the night\’s sky, follows both shows.
\”The shows are very well done. They were very interesting and informative,\” political science and journalism sophomore Adam Kirschbaum said. \”Also, the chairs were really nice – the way they lean back.\”
It can also a fun kind of place to bring a date. \”Going there has always been something special,\” Barajas said. \”Even back when my parents were dating, they would sometimes have dinner and go to the planetarium, instead of the regular dinner and a movie. It\’s a place that\’s unique to the campus and is something really great and different to do.\”
Michigan 4-H Children\’s Garden
Location: On the corner of Bogue Street and Wilson Road, near the Plant and Soil Sciences Building.
Hours: Open everyday, until the sun goes down.
Cost: FREE
Not just for kids, the Michigan 4-H Children\’s Garden is over half an acre in size. It is comprised of more than 60 individual theme gardens, from the Storybook Garden to the International Garden to the Wild Garden. The gardens are separated into eight themed areas: Sunburst, Amphitheater, Treehouse, Rainbow, Butterfly, Pond, Maze and Chimes.
\”It is so pretty out there, an amazing place for a picnic,\” Kiel said. \”It has to be the most beautiful place on campus. Once the weather is nice outside, the gardens are gorgeous.\”
Potter Park Zoo
Location: 1301 South Pennsylvania Avenue, south of I-496 near Mt. Hope Road.
Hours: Open every day, from 9 a.m. to dusk.
Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for Lansing residents, $2 for children 3-15, free for children under 3.
Lions and tigers and red pandas (sorry, no bears), oh my! The Potter Park Zoo houses more than 100 species of animals, from the frightening to the cute-and-cuddly kind. \”It\’s a great place in Lansing – not many students realize it\’s even there,\” Barajas said, who has worked at the zoo for the past five years. Barajas believes the zoo is the perfect place to take a date, parent or little siblings. \”It has something that will appeal to everyone,\” she said.
Attractions at Potter Park Zoo include camel rides for all ages, pony rides for children, a petting zoo, and peacocks that freely roam the grounds, in addition to the animal exhibits. Of course, the exhibits are the main attraction. \”We just got a brand new river otter exhibit. It\’s set up so that visitors can see the otters swimming underwater or playing on the grass at the same time,\” Barajas said. Also, just outside the zoo is a river trail along the Red Cedar River.
\”The pavilions located outside the park are a good place for picnics and barbecues,\” Barajas said. \”You can watch the ducks and there\’s a playground for kids.\”
FunTyme Adventure Park
Location: 3384 James Phillips Drive, off Jolly Road.
Hours: Open every day at 10 a.m.
Cost: $14 for a Big Adventure (one Adventure Golf game, two Can-Am Kart rides, and 10 Adventure Cove Tokens).
Miniature golf, go-karts, batting cages and arcade games are among the things to do at FunTyme Park, just south of campus in the neighboring town of Okemos. \”It was definitely a fun time,\” Kiel said. \”I went there with a big group of about 12 to 15 people and it was pretty fun.\”
Open seasonally, FunTyme is a great place to spend the day with friends when it\’s nice outside, Kiel said. \”I think it would also be a cute place to go on a date,\” she said. \”The mini golf course was of a better quality than I might have expected and the go karts were just awesome. Everything was pretty cheap too.\”
Zap Zone
Location: 902 Elmwood Road, near the Lansing Mall.
Hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Friday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Cost: $7 for one game, $12 for two games, $16 for three games.
Across town, all the way out by the Lansing Mall, there is a place where stressed out college students can take out their frustrations on their closest friends. Zap Zone Family Fun Centre is the self-proclaimed \”most advanced laser game entertainment in the world.\” Visitors are equipped with phasers and computerized vests, and then they are sent into a multi-level laser tag game with the objective of \”deactivating\” the opposing team and their base.
\”There are two floors in the main laser tag area, with many different paths and places to hide, so it makes for an interesting game,\” Kirshbaum said, who went with his fraternity brothers as a social event. At Zap Zone, up to as many as 30 players split into three teams can play a game of laser tag at one time.
\”It was so much fun,\” anthropology and linguistics freshman Erin O\’Connor said. \”I went with my hall mentor – we had a great time. It was only $12 for two games, which isn\’t that bad. And if you go on Tuesdays, it\’s only $4 a game.\”
Michigan Women\’s Historical Center
Location: 213 W. Main Street, six blocks south of the Capitol.
Hours: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Cost: $2.50 for adults, $1 for students (5-18 years old), $2 for senior citizens.
The Michigan Women\’s Historical Center, along with the Michigan Women\’s Hall of Fame, is housed in the Cooley-Haze House in downtown Lansing. \”If I remember correctly, Michigan is the only state in the country with its own women\’s history museum,\” said Cindy Rushlow, an English senior and intern at the center. \”Like any museum, it is an interesting way for students to learn about the past – and in the case of women\’s history, about a past that is almost never voiced.\”
The historical center\’s newest exhibit, which opened April 17, is Women Who Changed the World: The Second Wave of the Women\’s Movement. It \”looks at the many changes that occurred for women from 1962-1983, including expanded employment opportunities, greater social freedoms, more access to education and greater access to politics and leadership roles,\” Rushlow said. \”The Hall of Fame has hundreds of honorees, all from the state of Michigan and entirely different areas of achievement who are nominated by the public and then every year a panel of judges votes on new honorees.\”
Take off
Many of these attractions are available all year round, right on or close to campus, but in the busy life of a student, it is often too easy to just blow right by them. This college town is filled with a wide range of activities and things to see, from blasting a laser tag gun to learning university history. The summer months provide the chance for the bored and/or broke to explore these often overlooked venues.

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