Trip review: 17 hours in Spartan territory
In 17 hours, I barely made a dent — not even a ding — into the things to do, places to visit, foods to eat and drinks to sip in East Lansing, Mich., home of the Michigan State Spartans. But, I tried.
My mom and I were headed west across America’s mitten from the Detroit area to Grand Rapids. We decided to break up the trip with an overnight stay in the Lansing area.
Comfort Inn offers the three Cs: Cleanliness, comfort, convenience
Our first stop was to check in at our hotel, the Comfort Inn in Okemos, Mich. It was a convenient location — right off of I-96 and a short drive to Michigan State University.
When my mom and I booked a hotel in the East Lansing area, we forgot that rooms would be filling up due to summer activities, including freshman orientation, at the university. As we were checking into our room, a walk-in customer asked if there were vacancies. There were not. So, my warning is hotels near East Lansing may have full occupancy in mid-July.
Although outside the confines of East Lansing, the hotel is still very much a reminder that you are in Spartan territory. The lobby and dining room walls are adorned with photos of campus, and a Spartan helmet greets hotel guests on the brick pavement outside.
The room had two comfy double beds with both soft and firm pillows. The spacious room was also outfitted with an arm chair, a table with two chairs, a flat-screen TV and four large mirrors — a whole family could get ready at the same time in this room.
Location: 2187 University Park Dr., Okemos, MI 48864
A cool idea in the 90-degree heat: Ice cream! A couple friends who grew up in the Lansing area recommended I visit the MSU Dairy Store on campus. At the store, you can cool off with a scoop of a Big Ten-themed ice cream made right on campus at the Dairy Plant. The plant is a state-of-the-art facility where students studying dairy and food processing make cheeses and ice cream — all of which are available for purchase at the Anthony Hall store. There also is a Dairy Store at the MSU Union.
Which flavor did I choose? Well, I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, and the Spartans’ hockey team is pretty awesome. So …
My mom stuck to her Big Ten roots with her ice cream selection.
MSU Dairy Store
Location: 140 S. Anthony Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824
Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday – Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Parking: Metered parking lot at Anthony Hall
Flowers, weeds and bees at Beal Botanical Garden
After chilling out at the campus ice cream shop, we then fried in the bright sun as we walked around the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden on campus. We parked near Spartan Stadium and walked across a bridge over the Red Cedar River to the garden.
Established in 1873, the public garden is the oldest continually operated botanical garden in the United States. There are 2,000 plant species, including vegetable plants, common allergy-causing weeds, and beautiful blooms such as impatiens and daylilies.
W. J. Beal Botanical Garden
Location: 412 Olds Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824
Dinner at DeLuca’s, home of Lansing’s ‘finest pizza’
For dinner, Mom and I followed another suggestion from a Lansing local. When I asked my friend Ryan for a restaurant recommendation, he answered without missing a beat — DeLuca’s Restaurant and Pizzeria. Now, I understand why. DeLuca’s is the kind of family-owned and family-style Italian restaurant typical of Michigan’s manufacturing cities, where immigrants flocked to work for the auto industry.
For 17 years, DeLuca’s pizza has been selected by Lansing State Journal readers as the state capital’s best. Our deep dish had a delicious crust, flavorful sauce and a fine-quality mozzarella cheese. It was absolutely loaded with vegetables, too.
DeLuca’s Restaurant and Pizzeria
Menu: Italian cuisine with pizza (house specialty), pastas, salads
Price: Pizzas range from $7.65 for a 9-inch Hawaiian to $23.30 for 18-inch BLT pizza
Location: 2006 W Willow St, Lansing, MI 48917
An old favorite
The Comfort Inn is located near a Tim Hortons/Cold Stone Creamery. I don’t usually blog about chains, but we don’t have the Canadian cafe in Washington, D.C. I was pretty excited to get an everything bagel toasted with cream cheese.
Wish you were here,