Lansing locals share tourism suggestions for non-residents

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An outdoor dining area at The Creole in Old Town. Photo Credit: Cassie Bondie

The City of Lansing is home to more than 50 tourist attractions including small businesses, recreational activities and political education. How do visitors determine where to start? Lansing residents have several ideas of their own.

Madison Stapels, a student strategist at Piper & Gold Public Relations, has lived in the area for several years. Stapels is a Michigan State University student and enjoys kayaking by the Lansing City Market in her free time.

“It’s really fun, it’s pretty inexpensive, and it’s a cool way to just kayak down the river and kinda see the sights of Lansing from the comfort of a kayak,” she said.

Overall, Stapels approves of the Lansing environment.

“I’ve had a time time in the area,” she said.

Reka Holley, an executive management assistant at the Michigan Agency for Energy, agrees.

“I’ve worked in Lansing for three years and I’ve lived here for two,” she said. “I love Lansing. It’s great!”

Holley believes that visitors should appreciate the political aspects of Lansing first and foremost.

“I’m a political science junkie,” she said. “I think we have one of the best state capitals anywhere.”

While Stapels suggested a recreational pastime and Holley suggested an educational venture, both women shared an interest in activity. Sarah Nicholls, an associate professor in several MSU departments, believes tourists are drawn to active experiences.

“More and more people are looking to do and learn things,” Nicholls said. “Not just observe them.”

Nicholls’ ongoing research centers around tourism planning, development, and impacts – as well as issues associated with urban parks. Though currently out of the country, Nicholls was able to share her insights through email.

“Lansing has some nice egs of culinary tourism attractions,” she said. “Especially all the new craft brew places and distilleries, several of which offer tastings and tours, so people can visit the place where the product is made, take a tour and see the production process, meet the owner or head brewer/distiller, taste a few samples, and then head out into the main bar area and have a full dining experience.”

Nicholls also claims non-motorized trails are a hot trend.

“Ingham County is working hard on [trails] via the county trails and parks millage,” she said.

When it comes to popularity and high traffic, Nicholls believes the difference is satisfaction.

“Satisfaction could be something different,” she said. “So, a lot of people might visit a certain attraction because it is cheap or free, or because it is easy to access, and because it provides some threshold level of positive experience. But that may or may not be the attraction at which they experience the greatest possible satisfaction.”

What, then, makes an attraction appealing to visitors and residents in the City of Lansing?

“I think that appeal is a combination of multiple factors,” Nicholls said. “So, certainly price of admission and accessibility – time and cost to reach – are important. Cleanliness and safety are important. Facilities are important – adequate parking, family-friendly features, food and beverage outlets. Customer service is critical. So, appeal might vary over time, too, depending on what it driving the person’s choice.”