Since 1825, the Old Town area has seen both prosperous times and, for the second half of the 20th century, stretches of destitution. Within the last 30 years, dedicated locals have started turning Old Town back around, dropping its building vacancy rates from 90% to fewer than 10%, and establishing a slew of festivals, art venues, and boutiques. The Old Town Commercial Association plays its role in this cultural and economic renaissance by holding the annual Old Town Oktoberfest, a Midwestern interpretation of the traditional German holiday.
Over the course of two days, live polka bands provide a soundtrack for German-style dancing and festivities. Vendors pour German and European Oktoberfest beers from Spaten, Warsteiner, and Frankenmuth, and autumnal beers from American breweries such as Sam Adams and Blue Moon. Local restaurants serve authentic German dishes such as spaetzle, potato soup, frankfurters, and bratwurst throughout the fest, allowing visitors to taste the country’s staples without having to stow away in a UN ambassador’s suitcase.
Pro Bowl's glossy lanes challenge players to outscore their opponents while enjoying refreshing beverages and slices of pizza. Whether facing off against one or three rivals, visitors strap on a pair of rental shoes before competing in two rounds of bowling. Foursomes end one-sided arguments with stoic pins by stuffing mouths with pizzas decked in cheese, pepperoni, pepperoni and sausage, or a supreme medley of meats and veggies. The complete outing is washed down with a pitcher of soda or beer.
Woldumar Nature Center greets visitors with a coterie of trees, flowers, and grasses that populate 178 acres of diverse environs representing the region's larger ecosystem. Visitors explore the center's trails spanning 5 miles of lush scenery, which treats them to a prairie of wildflowers waving their vivid heads in the breeze, the Grand River flowing throughout 1.25 miles, and a hardwood forest that casts cool shade in the shadows of beech and maple trees. Deer peacefully forage in the apple orchard, and a butterfly garden hosts a feast for the gentle winged insects. The herb garden showcases common household herbs such as rosemary alongside oft-forgotten useful plants such as calendula, which pinky swears it goes well in potato soup. The nature center's knowledgeable staff lead educational programs year-round that fill brains with experiences in geocaching, exploring the Grand River, and watching live owl presentations.
Ransom Eli Olds was certainly one of Lansing's most prolific citizens. The inventor, entrepreneur, and financier helped revolutionize the automobile industry, specifically through the two companies he founded in the area: Olds Motor Works in 1897 and REO Motor Car Company in 1904.
Genesis Fitness Center offers group classes for all kinds of fitness sensibilities, whether you're into high-intensity circuit training or the slow, methodical stretches of yoga and Pilates. The center is also home to Inertia CrossFit, where challenging daily workouts push students to jump higher, run faster, and shout action-movie quotes louder.
During their annual Big Zoo Party, Potter Park Zoo’s team rolls out the red carpet in support of conservation and educational programs with fine food and drink, local music, and dazzling entertainment amid the zoo’s exotic animal habitats. Don snazzy duds and hit the red carpet as photographers snap pictures and offer an excuse to start a flash-strobe dance party. One hundred sixty species of animals, including blushing red pandas, cooler-than-thou snow leopards, and mischievous tamarin monkeys, strut their stuff in elaborate habitats as guests enjoy glasses of fine wine or Michigan microbrews from Short's Brewing Company. Sample fine food from local restaurants, including Mitchell's Fish Market, Enso, and munchables by chef Jesse Hahn of Lansing’s own Trailer Park'd. Entertainers dazzle animals and humans alike on the brightly lit grounds. Check out the blazing dance antics of the Detroit Fire Guild as they inspire oohs and aahs from humans and jealous comparisons to dragon ancestors from crocodiles. LED and laser lighting and performance art enliven a live and silent auction, spotlighting guests bidding on donated notions and experiences.