Last week I had to go to Saint Paul, Minnesota, for a work conference and since it was recently named the most romantic getaway, I took my husband. It was a brief trip but sometimes I feel like those are the best ones. Visiting a new place is fun, but after a few nights, it's nice to return to the comforts of home.
And our home is in East Lansing, Michigan. It's also home of the 2014 Rose Bowl champions, the Michigan State Spartans. Our next door neighbor is the state's capital, Lansing. I have lived in this area since I came here to go to college 21(!) years ago. Does this qualify me to write the unofficial 36 hour travel guide to the city?? Probably not, but I did it anyway.
Since this weekend is Homecoming for the University, what better time than now to imagine a trip to our city?
Line up on Grand River Avenue to watch the MSU Homecoming parade. The parade actually begins at 6 p.m. but you'll want to arrive a bit early to find a spot. The weather this year is predicted to be GORGEOUS. In fact, this is the best stretch of weather we have had in four years, according to news sources, which is both wondrous and slightly depressing. Book me a flight to FL in February, please!
2. El Azteco
When the parade concludes, head up MAC Avenue to El Azteco, which is located one block to the north of Grand River, at 225 Ann Street. Known simply as El Az (pron. "ez"), the restaurant was opened about the time I was born. For it to have existed this long in a fickle college town really says something about how awesome it is. The rooftop terrace is the place to eat since the weather is going to be glorious on Friday. Order the blue corn enchiladas, which come in spicy or mild. One is a red sauce and one is white. I forget which is which, but spicy is not that hot, and goes great with a pitcher of margaritas.
3. Call a cab
Since you're on vacation, I hope you drink a few margaritas. Now call a cab and head back to your hotel (unless you've stayed downtown, see below for lodging choices). Spartan green cab, a Honda hybrid, is a good choice for the environment and fun to ride in.
4. Farmer's Market
Somehow find a way out to Okemos for the Meridian Farmers' Market. It has grown so much over the past decade that I've been going to it, and it's best to get there early so you can park. Vendor booths are set up inside the pavilion and out, winding all the way all over to the bridge to Meridian Historical Village. Buy a bouquet of flowers, some peaches, caramel corn, and hummus while you are there.
5. The mall
The farmer's market is directly across the street from Meridian Mall, which is not a landmark place in the least, but does now have H&M. Oh happy day! Please ask the cashier when they are going to start offering their home goods in the store.
6. Blow out
Munch on some of your farmer's market finds and head over to Heat Blow Dry & Beauty Boutique for some pampering. Located inside the Michigan Athletic Club (known as "the Mac" to locals), it is a great spot to get a blow-out and have your polish changed. They do so much more, but really what beats a blow-out and polish change??
Sometime after 12 p.m.
The game actually starts at noon this weekend; we're playing the Cowboys of Wyoming. But judging from what occurred at the game we went to this past weekend, the fashionable like to arrive late. The stadium, located on the banks of the Red Cedar River, across from West Circle and the Library, opened in 1923 and has a seating capacity of 75,000. A new pressbox and luxury suites were constructed in 2005, and a new HD video/scoreboard was installed before the start of the 2012 season.
When the game is over, stroll around campus for awhile. The Beal Botanical Gardens are located across the street from the stadium, near the library. Heading north from there, you can see Beaumont Tower and the MSU Museum. Head a bit east to the new Broad Art Museum. Several dorms are open to the public for dining and are really (truly!) good. Near the Broad, try Snyder-Phillips, or if you are staying at the Kellogg Center, try Brody. Eat@ State has more info including menus and prices.
Okay, so that's only 23 hours and I haven't told you anything about the nightlife...
This hotel and conference center is part of campus, and cannot be beat in my opinion. (That's me in the picture above.) The views are great and the location is not bad compared to everything you might want to visit during your stay.
I haven't stayed in this hotel, but I've been in the lobby lots of times as a resident. They give full-size candy bars to trick-or-treaters and let Santa visit kids there, which means they are OK with me!
Wild Goose Inn Bed & Breakfast
I have never stayed here and don't even think I know anyone who has, but it's cute and close to downtown.