Meagan Francis

Meagan Francis

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The conservatory at Michigan's Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
The conservatory at Michigan's Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

If you’re visiting Michigan, a trip to  Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is definitely a must. Located a short drive from downtown Grand Rapids on the west side of the state (about 30 miles from Lake Michigan), the park is known as one of the world’s most significant art and nature experiences and has been ranked among the top 100 most-visited art sites worldwide.

From its fascinating indoor gardens including a 15,000 square foot conservatory, a Victorian garden and the nation’s most complete collection of carnivorous plants to a magical “please touch” children’s garden that combines nature and play – not to mention extensive wetlands, woods, farmland and more – Meijer Gardens offers an impressive horticultural experience. No wonder it’s Michigan’s second-largest tourist attraction, bringing in some 600,000 visitors yearly.

But what really makes Meijer Gardens special? Its 132 acres not only include the variety of foliage and flowers you’d expect from a large botanical garden, but nestled amid the landscape guests encounter more than 160 sculptures from renowned artists including Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas and George Segal. Perhaps its most notable sculpture is Nina Akamu’s  The American Horse a 24-foot bronze tribute to Leonardo da Vinci’s destroyed masterpiece (its only copy resides in Milan.)

A 1900-seat amphitheater provides a unique venue for major musical acts (this season includes Bonnie Raitt and Darius Rucker), and annual events such as early spring’s Butterflies are Blooming – during which thousands of tropical butterflies fill the Lena Meijer Conservatory – and a railway garden and tree display during the holiday season mean that there is plenty to do, see, and hear year-round.

The result is a rich experience for anyone from art buffs and horticulture enthusiasts to families who simply want to experience nature together in a beautiful setting. Plan a morning, an afternoon or a whole day – you’ll find plenty to amaze you.

Cost: Adults 14-64 $12; Seniors 65+ $9; Students with ID $9; Children 5-13 $6, Children 3-4 $4, and Children 2 and younger free.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Contact: 888-957-1580

Location: 1000 East Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

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