Lansing loves local! Lansing and the surrounding towns boast great coffee shops and breweries, farms, farmers markets selling produce from all around the region, and excellent restaurants that make use of the bounty of mid-Michigan to serve fantastic local meals. Here’s our guide to a fun foodie day around Lansing!
Start your day off in the Lansing area with a stop at Blue Owl Coffee. This community-focused coffee shop has two storefronts in Lansing’s Old Town and Reo Town neighborhoods,as well as a location in East Lansing. Along with delicious house-roasted coffee, they offer Light of Day Organics teas, and delicious snacks and sandwiches. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Owl launched their Community Coffee Spotlight Program to give back to the Lansing Community. The program works with other local businesses to provide free coffee to people who make Lansing communities healthy and safe, like teachers and frontline healthcare workers.
After your morning pick-me-up at Blue Owl, swing by the Old Town General Store, a fantastic place full of locally made and Michigan-focused products. They offer a wide variety of local foods, including meats and fish, pasties, eggs, dry goods, spices and more. The General Store is also a great place to shop for gifts made by Michigan artisans and crafters. There’s always something new at the General Store, too– you never know what awesome Michigan product you might find!
In the afternoon, check out some of the farmers markets and local markets in the area. The newly launched Capital City Market, on Michigan Avenue in downtown Lansing is a project by Meijer to bring fresh, local food into Lansing. Alongside daily staples and housewares, Capital City Market carries local produce from nearby farms,and partners with nearby restaurants and producers to sell prepared meals, donuts and baked goods, kombucha, and other local products. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area on a Wednesday, stop by the Allen Neighborhood Center Farmers Market, a ways east on Michigan Avenue from Capital City Market. The Allen Neighborhood Center Farmers Market first began in 2004 with just a few farmers. Now, seventeen years later, it has grown tremendously and is a beloved community spot on Wednesday afternoons. The market prides itself on accessibility for all, and accepts a wide variety of payment options, to make sure that anyone who wants to is able to get fresh, local produce into their home.
For dinner, make the short journey to Lansing’s neighboring town, Okemos, to visit Red Haven. This farm-to-table restaurant focuses deeply on local food, sourcing ingredients from dozens of farms in the area. Because of this, Red Haven’s menu is intensely seasonal, changing regularly based on what is available. This means that no two meals at Red Haven are alike. Recent offerings include a summer root vegetable bisque, charred corn ribs, and squash blossom quesadillas, among many other selections. Red Haven also operates the Purple Carrot Food Truck, which first launched in 2013 as Michigan’s first “farm to food truck” service!
To close out your day, stop by Ellison Brewery and Spirits, in East Lansing. Started in 2015 as one of the first breweries in the Lansing area, Ellison has quickly become a popular brewery throughout the state — they now sell their beer in over 700 stores around Michigan. Since they opened, they’ve also started distilling and now also make what they call the four “essential” spirits: whiskey, vodka, gin and rum. You can taste any of these at the taproom, or stick with some of their tried and true favorite beers like the Tiramisu Stout or Crescent Fresh IPA. It’s tough to go wrong with what you drink here!
Although sometimes overlooked in favor of the state’s larger coastal towns, Lansing has so much to offer. It’s exciting to watch what might pop up next in our capital city! What are your favorite local spots in the Lansing area?
Elizabeth Pearce is TLD’s operations assistant. She grew up in East Lansing and loves returning to the area to see what’s new.
Main photo credit: Allen Neighborhood Center Farmers Market