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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.

Comfort Inn Okemos lobby

Hotel lobby at the Comfort Inn in Okemos, Mich.

View from the lobby.

View from the lobby

Comfort Inn dining room

Comfort Inn dining room

Just in case you forgot where you are, just look down. Now, Sparty on.

Just in case you forgot where you are, just look down. Now, Sparty on.

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.

The room had two beds and plenty of space to move around.

The room had two beds and plenty of space to move around.

Comfort Inn Okemos

Location: 2187 University Park Dr.,  Okemos, MI 48864

Ice cream at MSU Dairy Store

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.

Big Ten ice cream flavors at the MSU Dairy Store.

Big Ten ice cream flavors at the MSU Dairy Store.

A student worker scoops my single cone.

A student worker scoops my single cone.

Which flavor did I choose? Well, I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, and the Spartans’ hockey team is pretty awesome. So …

Frozen Four Slapshot, a flavor honoring the Spartans' hockey team

Frozen Four Slapshot, a flavor honoring the Spartans’ hockey team

The Frozen Four Slapshot is a creme de menthe ice cream with a chocolate swirl and chocolate-mint candies.

The Frozen Four Slapshot is a creme de menthe ice cream with a chocolate swirl and chocolate-mint candies.

I love ice cream. I know ice cream. And, this was good ice cream.

I love ice cream. I know ice cream. And, this was good ice cream.

My mom stuck to her Big Ten roots with her ice cream selection.

The Buckeye Blitz, a flavor honoring Ohio State, is peanut butter ice cream with a fudge swirl and chocolate-peanut butter candies.

The Buckeye Blitz, a flavor honoring Ohio State, is peanut butter ice cream with a fudge swirl and chocolate-peanut butter candies.

The Buckeye Blitz is likely the only thing that has to do with Ohio State that my mom, a Michigan Wolverine, likes.

The Buckeye Blitz is likely the only thing that has to do with Ohio State that my mom, a Michigan Wolverine, likes.

MSU Dairy Store

Location: 140 S. Anthony Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: 517-355-8466

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.

W. J. Beal Botanical Garden at Michigan State University

W. J. Beal Botanical Garden at Michigan State University

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.

Goldenrod that kicked my summer allergies into high gear.

Goldenrod that kicked my summer allergies into high gear.

Botanical Garden

Leek plant

Leek plant

purple flowers

Impatiens

Impatiens

W. J. Beal Botanical Garden

Location: 412 Olds Hall, East Lansing,  MI 48824

Dinner at DeLuca’s, home of Lansing’s ‘finest pizza’

Deep dish vegetarian pizza filled with green olives, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes and onions.

Deep dish vegetarian pizza filled with green olives, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes and onions.

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 Pizza in Lansing, Mich.

DeLuca’s Restaurant and Pizza in Lansing, Mich.

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

Phone: 517-487-6087

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.

A Tim Hortons everything bagel is everything.

A Tim Hortons everything bagel is everything.

Wish you were here,

Erin

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great pictures!

    July 26, 2013
  2. Love the pics. Nice wrap up of a quick stopover in MSU territory.

    July 26, 2013

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