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The Cornerstone Of East Lansing’s Nightlife: Bar Culture

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

There is no doubt that Michigan State University is a widely recognized university, with many of the programs being universally recognized, as their alumni graduate and find great success. However, the first thing that comes to mind when MSU is mentioned is “party school.” In my time here, I agree that East Lansing knows how to have a good time. Walking down East Grand River, you will always find somewhere to have fun. From drink deals catered to poor college students to an electric atmosphere, MSU’s nightlife reigns supreme.


A majority of East Lansing’s clientele do not have hefty bank accounts and a cover of $5-$10 (depending on the night). As a result, bars pack the place during the week with a plethora of drink deals. Lou and Harry’s popularized Thirsty Thursday around here because of their Mug Nights, where you get a 50-ounce mug bigger than your head for $8 filled with the well cocktail of your choice, and refills are only $5 (plus you keep the mug and can bring it back every Thursday). For those of you into country, Harpers has their infamous Honky Tonk Tuesday, where you can wear your favorite cowboy attire and down $4 long islands or $3 vodka drinks followed by $7 pitchers. Dublin Square has half off everything, food and drinks on Wednesdays. These deals keep East Grand River lively all the time and make it hard for students to wake up for class the next day.


On Friday and Saturdays, there is a line wrapped around almost every bar downtown, but there are a few where the line barely moves, and people pay the extra money to cut on Line Leap. Dublin Square has been a favorite by MSU students for years, as they have events and specials for holidays such as Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day. Their huge dance floor, quick service from two bars operating, and two different sets of music by DJs in separate parts of the building that always play crowd favorites is why they were voted the best bar in East Lansing by Bar Stool MSU. Another bar that is favored highly by students is Harpers. With their signature drinks such as Cat’s Pajamas and Gypsy Vodkas along with a vibrant dance floor and lounge area, it is the perfect place to have a good time on the dance floor and to take a break to sip a drink with a friend. Sometimes, these covers can increase drastically on a holiday or busy night, so usually, students opt for Landshark or Rick’s American Cafe, where the cover is almost always $5, and the line moves quickly. Landshark is a smaller place with pong tables offering a dance floor, too. They are famous for their Shark Bowls, which are 24 or 48-ounce bowls filled with one of three cocktails of your choice as well as their Mermaid Water, which Tastes like Sonic’s Ocean Water with Rum. Rick’s offers two huge bars as well as a large dance floor and sitting area. Both of these basement bars are a fun backup.


Sometimes, you just want to sit down and have a beer with friends and watch whatever game is on. Although most of East Lansing’s bars are for dancing and standing, there are some bars and restaurants frequented by students that have a lively atmosphere but still allow you to relax. The Riv has a small dance floor with plenty of seating and TVs, making it perfect for game day. Harrison Roadhouse has a wide variety of craft beers and food, which not only students but locals too frequent to watch a game or hang out. Crunchy’s usually has a line out the door on gamedays for their buckets of beer and food. Peanut Barrell also has a great food and drink menu and cozy atmosphere, making it a popular place to sit down and enjoy their time.


The perfect way to end a fun night out (and this article) is hitting all the necessary spots on East Grand River to soak up the booze. If you want to end the night a little early, Raising Cane’s is open until 2 a.m. on the weekends. The only location in Michigan usually has a line down the block, as people are desperate to get greasy chicken fingers, fries, Texas toast, and drinkable sauce in their system. A little further down East Grand River is Conrad’s, which is open until 2:30 a.m. on weekends, serving a wide variety of wraps and fried foods for years to MSU students desperate for carbs and grease late at night. However, the longest line is always at Cottage Inn. It closes at 3 a.m. and is pretty speedy for a pizza place. With decent portions and prices and close proximity to all the bars downtown, it is no wonder this is a hit late at night every day of the week.

Kate is a writer for Her Campus at Michigan State University. She is a neuroscience major on the pre-med track. She enjoys baking, reading, and volunteering in her free time. You can usually find her at her favorite study spots on campus with a coffee in her hand.