EAST LANSING – It’s the middle of summer and with weeks until the start of the next school year, families could be running out of things to do that don’t involve TVs or tablets.
Michigan State University might have what you’re looking for.
MSU and its East Lansing campus are home to many free or affordable activities all summer long: cold treats on hot days, browsing a huge comic book collection, meeting unique and exotic insects from around the world… The State of Michigan has something to keep almost everyone. amused.
More than just books at the MSU Library
Although it is widely used for study and research during the academic year, visitors can go on an adventure and follow their favorite superheroes featured in hundreds of thousands of comic books at any time of the year. .
The MSU Library is home to the largest collection of comic books in the world. With over 300,000 references, comic book enthusiasts or anyone looking for an entertaining read can get lost among the pages of thousands of American comics or the 1000+ books of newspaper comics.
The collection also includes more than 50,000 international comics from Europe, Latin America and Asia. It contains comics that were published as early as the 1840s.
Comics can be read in the Special Collections Reading Room.
If comics aren’t your thing, the MSU Library has a collection of children’s and adult literature that totals over 2,800 books. Budding chefs can browse cookbooks from around the world in the Kitchen Collection.
Visitors can also listen to more than 40,000 hours of spoken word recordings dating back to 1888 in the Vincent Voice Library, according to Holly Flynn, outreach and engagement coordinator for MSU Libraries. A highlight is the speech that visitors can listen to from all the presidents, from Benjamin Harrison to Joe Biden.
And there are game labs on the fourth floor with thousands of video games.
“We have a lot of fun and unexpected things to do at MSU Libraries,” she said.
Anyone with an MSU library card can borrow books, music, movies, or other items. Michigan residents age 18 or older are eligible for an MSU library card.
The flavors of summer
One of the most popular ways to enjoy a hot summer day at MSU is to enjoy a cold, sweet treat at the MSU Dairy Store.
The MSU Dairy Store specializes in delicious frozen treats, including a dozen different flavors of hand-held ice cream and rotating varieties of “extreme” sundaes and milkshakes.
This month’s specialty is a collaboration with MSU’s Admissions Department called Admissions Sweet Decision Cotton Candy Sundae, said Spartan Dairy Store Manager Aaron Weiner. It includes two scoops of pink cotton candy ice cream served in a waffle cone bowl with Pop Rocks lining the rim and it’s topped with an MSU Bakery cupcake, a piece of real cotton candy and with a crunch of cotton candy.
The most popular flavor on hand is Spartan Swirl, formerly known as Sesquicentennial Swirl. It’s cake batter ice cream with a swirl of green frosting and mixed cake pieces.
The store is busy during the summer, passing about 200 3-gallon tubs of ice cream each week.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, be sure to check out the MSU Dairy Store shake trailer parked outside Anthony Hall, which has a menu of extreme shakes, as well as regular shakes and scoops. Weiner compared the extreme shakes to Bloody Marys, but instead of being loaded with olives and celery, the shakes have sweet toppings, like brownies and strawberries.
Tom Mayor and his family visited East Lansing from Dayton, Ohio on Friday for a college trip and stopped at the MSU Dairy Store for the first time. He quickly formed a strong opinion about the store’s ice cream after tasting a scoop of chocolate and another of Tucker’s Scoop and Score, vanilla ice cream with a praline caramel swirl and praline pecans.
“The ice cream is fantastic. Some of the best qualities I’ve had since I was a kid,” he said. “Do you remember Baskin-Robbins? Better than that.”
The MSU Dairy Store is open from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at Anthony Hall, 474 S. Shaw Lane.
A walk in the gardens
When you’ve licked the last bits of your ice cream, you can stroll through 14 acres of lush and varied gardens.
Visitors can spend a day strolling to see hundreds of new annuals, perennial gardens, a landscaped arboretum, and the 4-H Children’s Garden.
Professor William James Beal established the WJ Beal Botanical Garden in 1873. It has become the oldest continuously operated university botanical garden in the United States and features more than 5,000 different types of plants. Descriptive tags identify each plant and share some of the plants’ characteristics. The plants are presented in four collections.
In the Judith Delapa Perennial Garden, visitors will find a splash of different colors with flowering and non-flowering plants and ornamental grasses. It spans 10 island beds and 6,500 square feet.
A family favorite is the 4-H Kindergarten. It has a pizza garden, maze and picnic areas. In the garden, children can learn about horticulture among dozens of themed spaces.
These and other MSU Gardens can be visited for free and located off Bogue Street.
Learn more about bugs
Visitors can see pollinators and other insects in MSU Gardens. But they can meet them up close and personal at the MSU Bug House.
The MSU Bug House hosts a free open house on the second Monday of each month. Visitors will find exhibits teeming with bugs, insects and arachnids from around the world and have the opportunity to interact with some of their live specimens.
The MSU Bug House is located in room 147 of the MSU Natural Science Building at 288 Farm Lane.
Open houses are scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday and August 8. Open days require prior registration. Learn more at www.canr.msu.edu/bughouse.
Visit MSU Museums
MSU is also home to several museums waiting to be explored.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Museum of Art at MSU features exhibits that rotate throughout the year, including several summer exhibits, including the “Eli and Edythe Broad: An Enduring Legacy” exhibit, which honors the founders of the museum with exhibitions of the works they donated to the museum in 2013, shortly after the museum opened.
“Kahlo Without Borders” is another exhibition that will be open until August 7. It features photographs of legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her family, medical documents from her stay in a Mexico City hospital, among several other features.
Large casts of dinosaur skeletons are among the additional features visitors to the MSU Museum of Art can find.
The MSU Museum’s Habitat Hall features life-size dioramas of major habitats found in North and Central America, including forests and grasslands. Each diorama features hoofed animals illustrating how they were able to adapt to unique environments.
Next to the dioramas are a collection of casts of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus skeletons, as well as smaller displays offering more information about the dinosaurs.
Both museums offer free entry, but registration is required in advance. Visit the Broad Art Museum and MSU Museum websites for registration details and information on upcoming events and programs.
The Broad Art Museum is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Visitors can visit the MSU Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
“We are excited to host a number of fun and educational events on campus this summer,” said Mark Bullion, media and public information manager for MSU University Communications. “These unique opportunities allow us to provide on-campus experiences to the entire Spartan community.”