Thursday, June 30, 2022

8 free activities on MSU's campus

June 15, 2016
East Lansing resident Steve Davis, left, and Okemos resident Emily Tseng volunteer as garden ambassadors on June 11, 2016 at the Beal Botanical Garden. Davis and Tseng said that they enjoy the scenery as well as the variety of visitors the garden gets.
East Lansing resident Steve Davis, left, and Okemos resident Emily Tseng volunteer as garden ambassadors on June 11, 2016 at the Beal Botanical Garden. Davis and Tseng said that they enjoy the scenery as well as the variety of visitors the garden gets. —
Photo by Emilia McConnell | The State News

For the youthful population, more money means more food and more fun. Money opens up a world of bars, restaurants, shows and other wells of entertainment. Yet, some good times don’t include money as an unconditional requirement.

With that, let’s embark on the Best of East Lansing tour, all for free.

The River Trail

Especially when the weather’s nice, the River Trail is the premier route in the area for runners and cyclists. Continuing from the bike trail north of the Red Cedar River, the River Trail provides car-free, unobstructed outdoor joy ride or run, with plenty of spots on the way to unhitch from the route and explore the life around. It only has a brief stint in East Lansing but effectively connects the capital city and its eastern expansion.

The Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum

Lex Luther’s house doubles up as a free art museum when Luther is otherwise occupied. The Broad Art Museum is not only an ornate, complex shell but it is filled with unique modern art. To repeat, it’s a modern art museum full of actual art, which is a rare find in itself, that includes interactive displays and detailed descriptions on all of the showings. Topping it off, special events showcased within its confines are usually free, and a student membership allowing exclusive benefits is also complimentary.

UAB Free Events

Every student has encountered those cleverly folded, hollow pamphlets littering the tables of every MSU dining hall. With their ergonomically pleasant functionality, picking one up is inevitable when the phone runs out of battery. The University Activities Board (UAB) actually has some cool stuff going on. Bowling in the Union basement is free on Wednesday nights when school is in session, as are movies at the Union. Movies at the Union have freshly burst popcorn, too, with a surfeit of butter. For broke college kids, a free movie is nice, but free food is analogous to ambrosia.


Football games are expensive. Basketball games are comparatively wallet-devouring. Hockey games still cost dough. But most other sports– priceless. While women’s volleyball might not attract the national acclaim of some of the high-end events, a good game in a unified, rowdy student section will get the juices flowing just as well. Additionally, the fans of minor sports are usually passionate and excited to welcome any new company, so you can meet some interesting and fun characters in the process. The only problem is it’s summer, so the waiting time is a little bit longer for these.


The East Lansing Art Festival was the starter’s pistol, but there’s plenty to come. The Summer Solstice Jazz Festival comes the way of East Lansing in just two weeks, trumpeting the area’s best musicians in the improvisational art. A long lacuna until August then ensues, but the Great Lakes Folk Festival satiates the demand for refined, upscale music. Both are well developed, organized and great ways to absorb the great weather and lack of responsibility before school starts.

Garden Walks

Not easily forgotten, MSU hosts some of the nation’s best gardens, a certified arboretum and unadulterated natural spaces. Meandering through campus, the trees that occupy the turf have markers describing their species, type and facts about the breed. For specific finds, an expansive botanical garden is sandwiched between the library and IM Circle, in pied bloom during the summer months. A trip further south will find a children’s garden north of the Bogue Street railroad crossing, adjacent from a host of trees and a Japanese Garden. Bird sanctuaries and protected forests also lie on the west, east and south ends of campus, so nature walks are never lacking.

Beaumont Tower Tours

Beaumont Tower is the most sacrosanct monument on campus, arguably more so than the Sparty statue. Access is understandably restricted to only Michigan State’s top percentile of students who also altruistically devote their free hours to the area’s less fortunate. Of course, that’s unless you have twenty minutes to spare between noon and 12:30, when the carillon’s mid-day tintinnabulation sounds. Scheduling a tour is easy, and it checks off a bucket list item for die-hard Spartans.

MSU Museum

Stroll steps south from the Beaumont Tower tour and there lies the three-story Michigan State University Museum, Michigan’s largest public natural and cultural history museum, according to its website. Special exhibits rotate in display and there are always several themes available for exploration. Just like its futuristic counterpart, the museum is tailored to a college community as well, meaning that boredom is eliminated from the equation.

And with that, the East Lansing free tour is concluded. Please leave some of your favorite past-time activities in the comment section below.


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