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Go Green — A Visit to East Lansing

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

Recently, I was one of the estimated 41 million viewers who tuned in to watch Michigan State University’s Spartans battle with that other team in the men’s Final Four. While the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, I was proud to show my green and cheer on the home state team. It made me think about a visit to East Lansing, a neat college town just a few miles north of Battle Creek.

Of course, so much activity in East Lansing centers around State, founded as one the nation’s pioneer land grant colleges in 1855 with five faculty members teaching 63 students. Today, the student body comprises approximately 50,000 young men and women from 83 counties in Michigan, all 50 states, and more than 130 other countries. With more than 5000 acres and dozens of buildings, it’s always a good idea to check the website before you go to see what’s happening on campus. It could be a play, a concert at the Wharton Center, a sporting event at the Breslin Center, or something completely different. I’ve spent a peaceful morning at the Broad Art Museum and an afternoon viewing the stars at Abrams Planetarium, for example.

The Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center offers a comfortable place to stay if you want to be right on campus. My room was on the small size, but the bed was comfy. I like to eat at the State Room, right in the conference center. Breakfast was particularly tasty, even though I didn’t have the signature Leelanau Cherry Omelet.

No stop on campus is complete without a visit to the MSU Dairy Store. Right now, they are offering the final Four Fudge Dribble, but I preferred the Black Cherry. You can also get specialty cheese made right there at their plant. The sharp cheddar was good, but I’m not quite so sure about the Chocolate Cheese Confection. True Spartan fans might consider ordering the cheese sampler online.

While you can spend your entire visit on MSU’s campus, the city of East Lansing also offers quite a bit to see and sample. Coming up on May 15-17 is the 52nd East Lansing Art Festival, a two-day outdoor art and culture event. The festival includes live music and performances and a children’s arts activities area. The food court offers a range of American and international food favorites. This is the first festival of the spring and summer season and nice place to welcome in the warm weather (I hope).

For me, a nostalgic place to grab a beer and burger is Harrison’s Roadhouse, where I had many meals before and after class. Happy Hour is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. What is great about a college town is the variety of global cuisine that seems to follow. In East Lansing, you can travel the world through ethnic food choices, ranging from Indian or Korean to Japanese and Ethiopian.

Another feature of college towns seems to be the number of bookstores per square mile. East Lansing has several, and if you know my husband, you understand that we had to check all of them for rare Civil War books. Now that is a good time! I prefer to stop at Mackerel Sky Gallery of Contemporary Craft to look for one of a kind gifts, handcrafted by artists in the U.S. and Canada. I treasure the small collection of hand blown glass Christmas ornaments that I’ve collected from the store over the years.

As for in-town lodging, while I haven’t stayed there myself, I did get a recommendation from a friend for a charming six-room bed and breakfast called The Wild Goose Inn. The white clapboard house has a communal deck with a fire pit, where you can get to know other visitors to the area.

All in all, East Lansing is a wonderful place to visit in the middle of the mitten. And who knows? If you visit during basketball season, you might just bump into Tom Izzo or Sparty.

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