Lansing isn't just the capital of Michigan, but it’s also the central hub for the entire state—literally; it’s located within 90 minutes of 90 percent of the state’s population, making it both eventful and accessible for groups located throughout the state.

The region, which has more than 5,000 hotel rooms, offers a variety of venues and more than 75 dining and nightlife spots within walking distance of Lansing Center, the downtown convention facility. Lansing also boasts a multitude of festivals and events that are great for companion tours and evening entertainment for meeting attendees.

"The Greater Lansing area is home to over 20 craft wineries, microbreweries, cider mills and distilleries," says Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing communications for the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB). "Most facilities offer tours and tastings for groups making them the perfect option for off-site special events during conventions and meetings.

Padot says Lansing is a popular meeting destination throughout all seasons of the year. The same amenities that make it an appealing location in the summer are the same things that draw crowds in during the winter.

“In Greater Lansing, group events are important to us and treated as such. Sometimes in a larger destination you can get lost among the crowd,” Padot says. “We were also the first CVB in the state of Michigan to implement a Certified Tourism Ambassador program in 2010. We have over 500 front line hospitality staff trained as Greater Lansing CTA’s ready to serve the visiting public.”

Also, Padot notes that many planners don’t realize that the majority of GLCVB’s services are free, making the planning process for a meeting, corporate event or lengthier team-building retreat simple and cost effective.

American Fifth Spirits
Though Lansing is brimming with large venues and event spaces, American Fifth Spirits offers a cozy alcove for small to midsized groups. Private bookings of the tasting room are available for groups as well as cocktail classes for team-building. The tasting room, which can accommodate 80 people, can be used for events in conjunction with the newly redecorated barrel room.

“Our ambiance, location, wonderful staff, and unique cocktail menu make us a prime meeting place in the downtown Lansing area. We work with each guest or client personally to ensure that we deliver the best possible experience and tailor each experience to them,” says General Manager Jessica Reed.

Reed says groups often take advantage of American Fifth Spirits’ private cocktail classes for unique team-building opportunities. During these classes, groups are able to become their own bartenders. “It’s a great idea for groups that are a little stressed, need to laugh and just have a great time with each other outside of their work environment,” Reed says.

Costs for private reservations vary depending on the needs of the guests, but full buyouts are also available, which typically take place on Sundays. These include a $100 per hour fee plus the cost of anything else purchased. Reed says the busiest time for bookings is December during the holiday season, so planners might want to consider other seasons to avoid higher pricing.

“We are introducing craft spirits and cocktails to the community. We pride ourselves on delivering the finest quality in everything we do,” Reed adds. “We love our community and strive to stay involved in every way we can.” 

Kellogg Center
With 35,000 square feet of meeting space, Kellogg Center can accommodate groups of any size from two to 1,000 guests. Between the conference rooms, reception spaces, East Patio and other meeting spaces, Kellogg Center can accommodate any group’s needs.

All food and beverage and A/V is provided on-site, and the food is prepared by the Kellogg Center’s award-winning culinary team. Menus can be arranged by the culinary staff or tailored to the needs of your group.

“Our goal is to make your experience enjoyable and seamless from beginning to end. From the sales process to event execution, we are right alongside you during the process to ensure a successful event,” says Ann Bertsch, communications manager.

Additionally, the Kellogg Center is an ideal location for team-building activities as it’s located right on the campus of Michigan State University and is minutes from attractions like Spartan Stadium, Breslin Center, Wharton Center and the Horticultural Gardens.

“Our experience is unique in the fact that our meeting planners, guests and conference attendees can interaction with our student team members to help train our future industry leaders,” Bertsch adds.

Breslin Student Events Center 
Also located at Michigan State University is Breslin Student Events Center, which boasts four meeting rooms that can be used independently or jointly to form 4,000 square feet of meeting space. The arena floor is a 22,000-square-foot flat surface ideal for banquets, concerts, commencements and trade fairs.

The Breslin Center’s concourse was recently renovated to reveal more than 43,000 square feet of reception space. The North Auxiliary Gym is also available for receptions, trade fairs and other events within its 8,300-square-foot space. The concourse now offers terrazzo flooring, advanced lighting and graphics, new rest- rooms and concession stands, making it a modern and convenient space for guests.

Home to the Spartans, the Breslin Center is directly across the street from the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, making it the perfect location in the vibrant and growing city of Lansing. The busiest seasons at the Breslin Center are the end of August through Nov. 1, which is Spartan basketball season, and April 1 through June 15. For the most available dates, meeting planners are encouraged to book during September, July and August.

Impression 5 Science Center
If you really want to leave a lasting impression on your attendees, you’ll want to consider Impression 5 Science Center for an event, team-building activity or corporate meeting. The center can be rented in individual program spaces for up to 48 or, during nonbusiness hours, the entire facility can be rented for up to 2,000 guests.

The 28,000-square-foot facility has limited A/V capabilities, so it’s recommended planners bring their own. The historic 1880s building is made of original timber pillars and floors, which will give your attendees a blast from the past.

For team-building, groups can participate in facilitator-led customized challenges that promote creativity, collaboration and competition among the group. The hands-on science center provides opportunities to connect with science in meaningful and tangible ways, so groups should come prepared to get their hands dirty.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
Located at Michigan State University,  the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum offers a dynamic collection of contemporary art. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the architecture will create the perfect setting for an elegant dinner or cocktail party. The museum rents out the Ross Education Wing & Courtyard, which can accommodate 35-120 guests; Collectors Lobby, 35-45 guests; or the entire museum with private access to the galleries, 120-250 guests.

The Ross Education Wing is the museum’s main event space and is best suited for strolling cocktail parties and seated dinners. With in-house capabilities for professional presentations, the space is also ideal for ceremonies, galas, lectures and film screenings.

“The MSU Broad Art Lab offers the opportunity to break away from the daily routine by hosting collaborative meetings, creative retreats, and team-building exercises. Groups have access to our designated art supplies, general A/V, and there is plenty of room to break off into small work groups. Groups can arrange for  facilitated  gallery  tours,  or hands-on art making  experiences that  tie into their company mission and staff training goals,” says Morgan Butts, director of communications. “The Art Lab is perfect for your next professional workshop, brainstorming retreat, business meeting or casual mixer. Most suitable for groups of 35-80 people.”

Because the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is part of Michigan State University, its exhibitions and programs support MSU’s global focus, and its galleries are staffed with interdisciplinary students.

UrbanBeat
For a classic, historic setting, UrbanBeat will not disappoint. The 2,500-square-foot event space is housed in a historic building complete with exposed brick walls and state-of-the-art amenities. In the heart of Old Town Lansing’s art district, it’s surrounded by restaurants, boutiques and ample parking.

“UrbanBeat is a blank canvas offering a wide variety of layout possibilities, has an assortment of different size tables, and the ability to hang banners, signs, posters and art on the walls,” says owner Terry Terry. “UrbanBeat can provide musicians, from solo piano and jazz trios to funk, blues and chamber music.”

Terry says UrbanBeat is designed with event planners in mind; it offers a wide range of customizable production, team-building and leadership workshops and seminars.

James B Henry Center
If anyone can ease a meeting planner’s mind, it’s the James B Henry Center. Equipped with Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, in-room climate and lighting control, soundproof walls, A/V and more, the James B Henry Center has thought of it all.

The center has four classroom-style spaces, 21 individual breakout rooms, five flexible setup executive meeting rooms and one executive-style ballroom, all of which can accommodate anywhere from one to 210 guests for business and educational programs.

“Planning an event at the Henry Center is designed to save the host time and money. Our Day Meeting package price, self-paced Continuous Refreshment Service and buffet meals, designated technology support and conference planning managers are unlike the services offered by a hotel convention center,” says Director of Sales Shana Killips. Other than its abundance of event spaces, the James B Henry Center has access to a full service fitness center, spa and 18 holes of golf, all on-site. Michigan State University is also nearby for sporting events and other activities, Killips says.

Michigan Wildlife Conservancy/Bengel Wildlife Center
If you’re trying to impress a group of animal lovers, what better place for a meeting or event than the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy/Bengel Wildlife Center? Located smack dab in the middle of the state, the conservancy is set on 296 acres of wildlife with 4.9 miles of all-purpose trails. There are also three fishing lakes great for kayaking or canoeing
with the team.

The conservancy has the largest covered patio in Michigan, a covered upper balcony, fire pit area, two conference rooms, a classroom that seats 100, the Anderson Great Room/Wildlife Lodge that seats 60, and a Wildlife Pub & Grill with Michigan craft beers and spirits. There’s also a bourbon cigar bar area for lounging outside and an abundance of parking.

Overall, the center can comfortably accommodate 350, but can host more throughout the entire property. A/V is included, and a preferred caterer list is available upon request. 

The mission of the conservancy is to help educate people to help wildlife throughout the state. With several rare mammal research programs throughout the state and involvement with four local schools for field trips throughout the year, the conservancy lives its mission every day.

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Michigan is renowned for its wildlife, scenic views and array of water-loving creatures. But the state also plays host to non-native animals, plants and fish in the zoos, aquariums and gardens that can be found across the state. There’s no better way to lend an exotic vibe or to create an atmosphere of calm during your event than by hosting it at one of these venues. The following is just a sampling of the many parks, zoos, aquariums and gardens throughout the state, and the features that can create memorable experiences for your guests.