Saturday, December 2, 2023

The hidden gems of the Greater Lansing area

September 11, 2023
<p>A person walks past a mural in Old Town in Lansing on Sept. 8, 2022.&nbsp;</p>

A person walks past a mural in Old Town in Lansing on Sept. 8, 2022. 

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The start of a new academic year calls for mastering the art of navigating CATA buses. What better way to do so than by uncovering the hidden treasures of Greater Lansing?

While Grand River Avenue and the MSU campus offer diverse activities, Greater Lansing has numerous unique and eclectic areas waiting to be discovered.

Whether you have some free time or a canceled class, you can grab a friend and embark on an adventure to explore Lansing's unique shops.

Batter Up Bistro

When you’ve run out of Combo-X-Changes to use at Starbucks and Strange Matter, Batter Up Bistro is the place to go. Located in downtown Lansing, this bistro sets itself apart by pairing coffees with full menu items like their pan-seared salmon.

While this bistro is on the higher end of the pay scale for college students, Batter Up Bistro keeps its promise by using organic ingredients in every meal and serving freshly baked artisan bread daily.

When scrolling through Batter Up's social media, you will find is an array of synonymous reviews all agreeing upon the same thing: their spectacular experience at Batter Up Bistro.

From a maple walnut salad to braised beef short ribs, Batter Up Bistro has the answers to any stomach-growling desires you might have. 

Vintage Junkies

After getting your cup of coffee, Vintage Junkies is the next stop for home décor, fashion and more

Located on Washington Ave., this curated gem offers a variety of goods. From one-of-a-kind reupholstered furniture to vintage fur coats, you’re bound to fall in love with something

“It was hard to manage the store sometimes and it was a slow growth …but this is where I am now," owner and curator Amy McMeeken said. 

Vintage Junkies was created by McMeeken after experiencing endless, underpaying jobs that she felt weren’t right for her until she found the love for her own business

“I was breaking myself for these companies and not getting adequate pay," McMeeken said. "I figure if I’m broke working for these people, I might as well be broke working for myself.” 

Since then, Vintage Junkies has been excelling as a business

For each fixer-upper piece that McMeeken finds, she takes her own time to transform it into something absolutely unlike any other. On Vintage Junkies’ website, you can find a blog filled with her experiences transforming piece after piece. 

 Vintage Junkies is also affordable for one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, accommodating for any upperclassmen looking to decorate their new apartment

Next time you’ve finished an episode of Property Brothers, make sure to live out your HGTV dreams at Vintage Junkies for a new outfit and living room couch.

Absolute Gallery

Once you’ve found the perfect couch at Vintage Junkies, it’s time to look for a matching painting at Absolute Gallery

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Run by Kathy Holcomb, the Absolute Gallery is in the heart of the Old Town district in Lansing and sells a variety of handmade goods. From paintings to necklaces, the Absolute Gallery has it all.

“I’m not just selling art, I’m selling connections,” Holcomb said

Throughout the year Holcomb holds various events and exhibitions displaying different types of art from friends she has made along the way. With each artist she exhibits, she said she creates a close and personal bond with them to ensure she likes not only their art, but their heart as well.

In Absolute Gallery, Holcomb prioritizes the life that handmade goods live

“I think it's important to go back to our roots of handmade goods," Holcomb said. "This is who we are as a people …This is the stuff that eventually you’ll find in folk art museums when people tell the story of who we are today.” 

Absolute Gallery doesn’t just stop at the fine arts. This year, during an exhibition, Holcomb had live artists play music in the parking lot of the gallery while patrons perused the store and surrounding areas. Holcomb talked about how important it is for Absolute Gallery to recognize all artists in all different areas, even cofounding the Absolute Music Chamber Series—a chamber orchestra in Old Town. 

When you have a rainy day, make sure to stop by Absolute gallery and explore the best artists in Greater Lansing.

Katalyst Art Gallery and Gift Boutique

While you’re in Old Town, make sure to swing by Katalyst Art Gallery and Gift Boutique

If you're a fan of trinkets, paintings, clothes, and jewelry, this shop is your one-stop destination. From vintage purses to paintings, Katalyst sells a wide selection of different items to fit every unique personality that enters their store, filled with local and Michigan-made items to support independent businesses.

From items as cheap as a couple of dollars, students can shop here with little budget stress.

With great prices and selection, Katalyst Art Gallery and Gift Boutique is the place to spruce up your dorm or apartment.

Riverwalk Theatre

For any theater enthusiasts, Riverwalk Theatre  in Lansing is the perfect place for all of your theater needs. With a packed season line-up, the theater always has new shows coming.

Currently, their upcoming play is “Admissions” by Joshua Harmon. This story focuses on a mother who runs the admissions office of a New England Prep School that is looking to diversify the student body. After her son sets his sights on an Ivy league school, she and her husband are forced to confront their own power and privilege

After “Admissions,” Riverwalk Theatre slides into the season of fall with their performance of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” by Richard O’Brien

Fox Park Public Observatory

To end off your night out, make sure to stop at Fox Park Public Observatory.

For $2 on Fridays and Saturdays, the observatory is open to the public with local astronomers on stand-by for any star-gazing questions you may have

Further away from the heart of Lansing in Potterville, this observatory offers a  view of the night sky with limited light pollution to cloud it. 

The observatory provides a variety of equipment to ensure you receive the best visit possible including educational presentations, astrophotography and observation of plants. The astronomers help nurture conversations and discussion about unique sky events

If the group environment isn’t for you, you can gaze at the stars all across Fox Park. From hiking trails to beaches, the park is filled with activities for nature-loving enthusiasts.

When the urge to venture beyond your comfort zone strikes, Greater Lansing offers a plethora of places waiting to be explored – from serene night sky observatories to charming boutiques, there's something to suit every taste.


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