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Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, known as FMG to locals, is more than just a botanical garden or sculpture park. This worth-the-drive destination contains over 150 acres of fun for every family member.
With breathtaking landscaping, thoughtful sculpture art, and hands-on children’s activities indoors and out, it’s easy to spend an entire day at this West Michigan magnet for family entertainment.
The park is currently undergoing extensive construction. This guide will be updated periodically to reflect those changes.
Changing with every season, Frederik Meijer Gardens is a delight any time of year. Plan to visit several times so you can take in the beauty of the Christmas trees, the wonder of the butterflies in spring, the delightful summertime concerts, and the giant pumpkins and chrysanthemum displays of fall.
Grab your walking shoes and read on for the best tips for visiting Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI.
Meijer Gardens Christmas
ANNUAL Christmas & Holiday Traditions Exhibit
Every year, just before Thanksgiving, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Parks kicks off the holiday season with their University of Michigan Health-West Christmas & Holiday Traditions Exhibit.
Making a trek to see the trees and visit Santa is a favorite tradition for many West Michigan families.
The Santa visits, holiday trees from around the world, Dickens carolers… these are just a few things that make the holidays magical at Frederik Meijer Gardens.
Christmas & Holiday Traditions at Frederik Meijer Gardens runs from Thanksgiving week through New Year’s weekend, November 23, 2021 – January 2, 2022.
In addition to the regular Tuesday late hours, they will be open until 9 pm on December 20-23 and 27-30.
Meijer Gardens will be closed for the day on November 25, December 25 & January 1.
All activities listed below are included with admission.
1) Enjoy Holiday Trees From Around the World
You will be amazed by the giant trees and displays throughout the building.
Each of the 46 international trees and displays in the exhibit is decorated according to the holiday traditions of the country.
2) Listen to Festive Old-Fashioned Caroling
On Tuesday evenings from Thanksgiving week through Christmas week, carolers roam the BISSELL and Gunberg corridors.
The Original Dickens Carolers sing holiday favorites and bring good cheer for all to hear!
3) Visit Santa
The real Santa is waiting to meet kids in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.
Kids can take some time to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Parents can take their own pictures.
Santa is at the gardens on Tuesday nights beginning Thanksgiving week.
4) Follow the Railway Garden Exhibition
While you’re in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory to see Santa, don’t forget to look up at the train.
Follow the miniature trains as they snake their way through the delightful handmade recreations of West Michigan’s iconic places in a room dressed with thousands of holiday lights.
5) See the Reindeer
On Saturday afternoons, reindeer visit Frederik Meijer Gardens.
Head out to Michigan’s Farm Garden for a close-up reindeer experience. You will definitely be able to take pictures of the reindeer – and you might be able to pet them, too.
Reindeer provided by Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm.
6) Linger in the Tropical Conservatory
We love feeling like we’re in the tropics in the middle of December!
Just step inside the festive Tropical Conservatory at Meijer Gardens at Christmastime and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation.
7) Visit the Outdoor Campus, Especially at Night
The outdoor Gardens & Sculpture Park is decorated with close to 300,000 lights and is a delight to see after nightfall.
Be sure to bring warm clothes if you plan to venture outdoors.
Also, the walking paths and Children’s Garden are open for those who would like to visit and play outdoors during daylight hours.
8) Find Treasures at the Gift Shop
The Meijer Garden Gift Shop deserves a place on your holiday shopping places list.
They do a wonderful job of offering seasonal merchandise from local vendors, as well as stocking interesting gifts you won’t find many other places. They have items for all ages, too.
Need gift ideas for kids & adults in West Michigan?
Try our holiday gift guide on for size!
WIN Tickets to Frederik Meijer Gardens
One lucky reader can win one of 2 family four-packs of tickets (each 4-pack is good for 2 adults and 2 kids through the end of 2021) to Meijer Gardens, just in time to see their dazzling holiday displays.
This giveaway will close on December 6, 2021, at 11 pm and the winners will be notified via email. The winner will have 24 hours to respond by email accepting the prize. No purchase necessary to enter the contest. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to grkids.com and not to Facebook. Entrants will release Facebook from all liability. Entrants must be at least 21 years of age and reside in Michigan. Only one entry per household or IP address. Grand Rapids Kids’ liability is limited to the value of the prize.
Meijer Gardens Map
Let’s start with an overview of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
The destination is equal part inside and outside. Depending on the weather during your visit and the displays happening, you might want to visit the attractions both indoors and out.
Outdoor attractions include:
- Sculpture Park
- Japanese Garden
- Children’s Garden
- Farm Garden
Indoor attractions include:
- Tropical Conservatory
- Arid Garden
- Carnivorous Plant House
- Sculpture Galleries
- Curiousity Corner
- Gift Shop
Lena Meijer Children’s Garden
Every visit to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park should include a stroll through the Children’s Garden, with or without kids. It’s just that inviting.
If you’re visiting with kids, plan to spend a good chunk of time in this part of Meijer Gardens. The Children’s Garden is open year-round.
This incredible space is a must for kids. You’ll find the children’s garden shortly after walking out the doors next to the conservatory that opens up to the spacious grounds.
(And I love that this expansive play area is completely fenced in, with only one way in or out. This ensures that even the wiliest children are kept within the confines of the space, which is a great relief to this mom.)
Highlights in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden include:
- Great Lakes Garden (water play)
- Treehouse Village
- Storytelling Garden
- Kid-Sense Garden
- Rock Quarry
- Log Cabin
- Butterfly Maze
- Seasonal Activities
We’ve spent many hours enjoying the Children’s Garden. Here are our favorite things to do here, plus a few tips.
START: Enter the Children’s Garden through the Mouse Hole
Let the kids enter through the Mouse Hole gate at the entrance (to the right of the giant bear sculpture).
Once inside, it’ll feel natural to want to go clockwise, but try experiencing the gardens in the opposite direction. This way you save the Great Lakes Garden for last and avoid getting wet until the end.
Stop 1: Head to the Butterfly Maze
Tucked away in a corner of the garden sometimes missed is the hedge maze.
Kids wind their way through, seeing if they can find their way out, all while being entertained with drums and other features hidden in the maze.
Find your way to the bell and ring it to let everyone know you beat the maze.
Stop 2: Take the Labyrinth Trail
Follow the Labyrinth – don’t get dizzy! – and then take the sneaky backway trail to the Treehouse Village.
Stop 3: Treehouse Village
The gigantic wooden treehouse is a destination in itself.
With two levels, kids of all ages will have a blast hiding, exploring, and using their imaginations.
There is a nature quiz set up on the boardwalk and quite a few animals if you look closely.
Explore the upper and lower levels of the Treehouse and play among the trees.
Look all around you at the thoughtful details like animal footprints in the cement and manmade spider webs and spiders hiding up above. This is a great place for noticing!
Stop 4: Log Cabin
A short walk takes you to the log cabin, ready with old-fashioned fun.
There are many old-time games inside worth investigating.
Stop 5: Rock Quarry
Further down the path is the Rock Quarry. Here kids can dig for fossils with shovels and hand-operated diggers.
Warning: kids will want to play here a while!
Stop 6: Wooded Wetlands
As you travel towards the Great Lakes Garden, stop at the Wooded Wetlands and visit the (puppet) beavers in the Beaver Cave.
Stop 7: Kid-Sense Garden
Near the Great Lakes Garden (the large pool in the shape of the Great Lakes) is the Kid-Sense Garden.
Travel through the senses by finding leaves that feel like lamb’s ear, flowers that look like eyeballs and plants that smell like popcorn.
Stop 8: Great Lakes Garden
Build a bridge or launch a boat on the mini replica of the Great Lakes in the Great Lakes Garden.
My kids always get soaked playing at this mega water table, so I bring a change of clothes or even their bathing suit. Shoes are required.
Good to note: restrooms are nearby, making a clothes change easy.
Stop 9: Children of the World Fountain
Between the Great Lakes Garden and the Children’s Garden Entrace is the Children of the World Fountain.
This little spray area is perfect for little kids that want to splash.
Don’t Forget to Play Here in the Winter!
The Children’s Garden is open year round. Often, activities are planned outdoors in the children’s garden – check their website for a schedule.
You can even visit on a Tuesday evening (they stay open late on Tuesdays) to play outside in the treehouse. It’s all lit up, making it that much more magical. Bundle up and let’s play!
Michigan’s Farm Garden
The Frederik Meijer Gardens Farm Garden is an 1880’s replica farmhouse where you can ring the bell, pump water, and rock on the porch in a rocking chair. There’s a barn to explore and play I Spy for old farm tools and lots of super cute sculptures of farm animals.
In the summertime, the farm garden often hosts activities and old-fashioned games for kids on special days.
Plan on spending at least 20-30 minutes at the Farm Garden. While you’re there, be sure to:
1) Try Your Hand at This Old Pump
This water pump is just begging you to give it a try.
Kids and adults pump the handle and watch as the water splashes into the big collection basin.
2) Ding Dong, Time for Dinner
Kids can tug the rope of this working bell – and they love doing it.
Don’t be shy!
3) Say Hello to the Animal Sculptures Down on the Farm
Michigan’s Farm Garden, showing what life was like on a farm in Michigan in the 1930’s, is home to animals as well.
Take a few minutes to find all of the animal sculptures dotting the area, as they would have been long ago.
The Japanese Garden
Older kids (kids who can resist running) might like the newer Japanese Gardens to the north of the Children’s Garden.
This garden is more contemplative and does not offer the hands-on experiences found in the Children’s Garden or the Farm Garden. I’ve dubbed the Japanese Garden the “noticing and thinking garden” with my kids.
A quiet place for reflection and wandering, there is an immense amount of natural beauty and thoughtful sculptures placed throughout.
A kid favorite is the climb to the top of the hill, where you get sweeping views of the whole garden.
Numerous bridges and pathways lead you past waterfalls, over ponds, and up and down hills.
The Sculpture Park: Top Things to Do
We love walking the sculpture park, making sure to stop at The Waterfalls & Koi Pond.
1) Experience the American Horse Up Close
The American Horse, inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci stands majestically on the grounds of Meijer Gardens.
Kids and adults alike will enjoy posing with this enormous 24-foot sculpture and rolling down the grassy hills nearby.
2) Visit the Koi Fish at the Waterfall
Kids love just watching these giant fish swim around and it’s the perfect spot for selfies.
3) Buy Your Tram Ticket & Enjoy the Ride
Trams run seasonally and are not always available. But when they are available, they’re a great way to see the sculpture park.
The tour is narrated, so you’ll get to hear the stories behind the artwork you see along the way.
4) Walk the Loop to See Even More Art
The Tropical Conservatory & Other Indoor Gardens
This is my favorite part. Venturing through the different garden areas and wondering at the different kinds of plants that they’re growing in different environments. I mean, where else can you find the tropics in Michigan in the dead of winter??
There’s the Arid Garden, the Carnivorous Plant House, and the Tropical Conservatory. The tropical conservatory alone is a sight to see. The soaring ceilings (5 stories!) make you feel like you’re truly outdoors as you take in amazing foliage and catch glimpses of the birds that call the conservatory their home.
While you’re here, be sure to look for the bananas in the banana tree.
These places are super popular each spring when the butterflies are blooming in the conservatory. They even make a special caterpillar room in this area during the butterfly event, and kids love looking around the garden for caterpillars hiding on leaves.
So Meijer Gardens’ indoor activities for kids have really ramped up. Their newest endeavor: the Curiosity Courtyard, an entire peaceful play area in the lower level.
Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved classic The Secret Garden and composed of elements popular in English garden design, this 2,500 square foot space includes ten engaging activity stations.
Honestly. feeling a little jealous that I’m not a kid right now…
I love watching the games kids make up when they’re hanging out in the Curiosity Courtyard.
Meijer Gardens Butterflies
Our family loves visiting the Butterflies are Blooming exhibit annually with cameras in tow. The exhibit (included with admission) returns annually every March and April with 7,000 tropical butterflies of 60 different species fluttering around the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.
It’s a unique – and warm – 85-degree experience in 70% humidity.
And since I’ve gone to the exhibit every year since before I had kids, I’ve got tips for bringing all ages along to the Meijer Gardens butterflies.
1) Dress in Layers
It gets warm in the butterfly exhibit. The humidity is kept at 70% and when the sun is shining it feels downright tropical (85 degrees or warmer!). Leave your coat in the coatroom (when you first enter Meijer Gardens) and have a short-sleeved shirt on under a sweater or long sleeve shirt.
Pro tip: Pack a bag of outdoor, winter clothes for the Children’s Garden. Leave it in the coatroom while you visit the butterflies and then head outside to play!
2) Wear Bright Colors
While you aren’t allowed to reach out and catch a butterfly, you can encourage them to land on you. (Please do not touch the butterflies.)
Chances of that increase if the butterfly is attracted to you, and they love bright colors.
3) Visit the Meijer Gardens Butterflies on a Sunny Day
Butterflies are most active when the sun is shining.
After dark, they settle down and can be found lounging around on the leaves of their favorite plants. If you do go after dark, bring a flashlight to see if you can spot them.
4) Visit on a Weekday During the Late Afternoon
The best chance you have to get the “place to yourself” is to go around 3 PM on a weekday.
Most school-aged kids are still on the bus and the littles are probably still napping. If you can get that nap in early or your kids get out of school a little early, this is a great time to visit Frederik Meijer Gardens and see the butterflies.
We’ve also had good luck first thing in the morning!
5) Use a Baby Carrier if You Can
It’s easier to navigate the tight spaces in the conservatory with baby in a carrier.
6) Spend Time with the Caterpillars
Since these caterpillars are native to Michigan, they do not have to be contained like the butterflies in the larger exhibit do.
Find a docent and learn all about the life-cycle of a caterpillar as well as find them hiding on green leafy plants all over the room.
7) Grab a Brochure
Free guides are available at the information desk or on your way in.
The guide highlights all of the different butterflies and can turn your visit into an I Spy game.
8) Butterfly Bungalow Observation Station is a Must
My kids loved identifying the different types of butterflies while we were in the exhibit, including those we could see in the butterfly bungalow!
9) Watch a Butterfly Release
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to watch a horticulturalist catch the butterflies and release them.
There is no set time for this, but if you see a uniformed person enter the Butterfly Bungalow, stick around because you might be in for a treat.
10) Charge Your Camera
There aren’t many places that are as photogenic as Meijer Gardens.
Just make sure you arrive with a full battery and enough space to capture the memories. If your kids are old enough, consider letting them operate their own camera. The bright colors of the butterflies and flowers (in addition to the thrilled faces of your children) are keepers!
11) Bring Your Flashlight
Bring your flashlight and search for butterflies with every Tuesday night in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory until 9 pm.
12) Pack Outdoor Gear for a Outdoor Playtime
If it’s not raining plan to play outside on your visit.
The Children’s Garden is a fantastic place for kids to blow off steam any time of year – even in snow pants. During the Meijer Gardens Butterflies exhibit, the Children’s Garden hosts special butterfly-themed activities:
– 10:30 am Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri: Spring-themed storytimes about butterflies, moths, gardens, and rain.
– Navigate the Butterfly Maze, discovering images of Michigan butterflies and moths along the way.
– Play Monarch’s Journey, a life-sized game to experience a monarch butterfly’s journey by using your imagination & completing challenges.
If you’re visiting and would like a lovely walk, stroll the campus and be sure to stop by the Japanese Garden for waterfalls and other delights.
Of course, there is artwork to appreciate anywhere you turn.
Meijer Gardens Concerts & Tuesday Evening Music Club
Summer Concert Series
FMG’s summer concert series is a highly anticipated season for live music fans.
Expect amazing performances from acts like Lyle Lovett, The Verve Pipe, Emmylou Harris, the GR Symphony, The Accidentals & more.
Tickets sell out quickly each summer, and members get first dibs.
Tuesday Evening Music Club
Summer Tuesday nights at the amphitheater are reserved for free concerts (with admission) at Meijer Gardens!
Featuring local and regional musicians, you can even find family-friendly performances and a more chill vibe.
Guests are welcome to bring a picnic or grab a bite from the cafe to enjoy at the show.
Get your tickets on the day-of at either the welcome center or the box office.
Meijer Gardens Classes & Camps
What You Can Expect at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Summer Camps
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Summer Camps last from one to five days and serve children and young teens. Their unique selection of camps is sure to engage and educate.
Camps explore themes based on Meijer Gardens’ mission of promoting the enjoyment, understanding, and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment, and the arts.
Explore your inner artist with art-focused camps like Photo Ops, where kids will learn about photography with fun art projects, Plenty of Art, and Outdoor Watercolor.
For budding young explorers, they have camps like The Great Lakes Adventure, where each camper will learn fun facts about the Great Lakes and build and test small model boats, Build a Model Treehouse, and Movin’ Around the Gardens.
For campers ages 6-8, looking for a whole week of adventure, they have Camp Kaleidoscope: A Wacky Week of Fun. In this camp, kids will explore The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, Lena Meijer Children’s Garden, Michigan’s Farm Garden, and Sculpture Park and participate in fun activities like making butter, designing boats, playing survival games, and creating a collection of unique works of art.
Meijer Gardens’ camps are a great way for kids to engage in learning during the summer while having fun and making new friends. Explore all the great summer camps we offer by visiting MeijerGardens.org/calendar and selecting “Classes and Camps” on the event calendar. WEBSITE
Fall at Frederik Meijer Gardens
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is on the map for the holidays and for the springtime butterfly show, but most people don’t realize that a visit to Frederik Meijer Gardens in the fall is a treat as well.
Their annual Chrysanthemums & More! event brings autumn front and center, as mums, fall foliage, and harvest decorations bring out the best the season has to offer.
If you do everything on this Meijer Gardens Fall Fun list, you’re likely going to want to stay for the whole day.
*Side note: Our family purchases an annual membership – which is an idea all families should consider if you think you might visit more than once in a year. You can find more on memberships and admission prices at the end of this article.
1) Enter the Children’s Garden through the Little Gate
The little door is a delight. Kids will think it’s pretty funny if you go through it, too.
We love how the garden’s entrance changes with the seasons. It’s magical.
2) Take Selfies with the Scarecrows
Just inside of the entrance you’ll find a few scarecrow friends waiting for photos.
3) Visit the Giant Pumpkins at the Farm Garden
If you’re lucky enought to visit while the gigantic pumpkins are on the property, you’ll find them near the farmhouse in the farm garden.
4) Take Selfies in the Pumpkin Patch
Put little kids in this grassy area filled with oversized pumpkins and they immediately start climbing.
Haybales and cornstalks flank the area, ready for your family selfies and candid shots.
5) Drink in the Quiet Beauty of the Japanese Garden
This garden is more contemplative and does not offer the hands-on experiences found in the Children’s Garden or the Farm Garden.
I’ve dubbed the Japanese Garden the “noticing and thinking garden” with my kids.
Numerous bridges and pathways lead you past waterfalls, over ponds, and up and down hills.
6) Take Photos Against the Autumn Backdrop
Trek through the sculpture park and be on the look out for nature’s interaction with the art.
Vibrany colors from changing folaige may gift you with once-in-a-lifetime displays.
7) Don’t Miss the Mums
If you spent all of your time outdoors, you’d miss the fabulous display of mums in the Victorian Garden Parlor and the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.
Be sure to keep your camera handy, because the wall of mums is another perfect backdrop for gorgeous fall photos.
8) Attend Hallowee-Ones in Late October
Dress your child as a sculpture, mammal, fish, insect, bird, tree, flower or in any other way that highlights something about the Children’s Garden.
Celebrate Halloween with your wee-ones as you listen to Halloween-themed stories and go on a Halloween-themed hunt. No tricks, no treats, just fun!
Fee: Included with admission
Meijer Gardens Memberships
As of November 2021, Family Memberships (one or two adults and children in the household under 18) are $90. You can add a guest for $30, allowing you to bring one extra non-household guest every time you visit.
Individual tickets are $14.50 for adults and $4 for kids (ages 3-4) and $7 for kids 5-13 (older students are $11). So if you had a child in each younger age group, a family visit would run $40. A Meijer Gardens membership would pay for itself in 3 visits, even with an add-on guest.
And I’d say that most families with a membership visit at least 6 times a year, and if you’re my family, it’s more like once a week in the spring and summer and at least once a month the rest of the year.
PERKS of a Meijer Gardens Membership
- Early Hours: The first full weekend of each month on Saturdays from 8 am – 9 am and Sundays from 9 am – 11 am are exclusive to members.
- Unlimited General Admission for Members and Guests Based on Membership Level
- Gift Shop Discount
- Early access to discounted concert tickets
- Invitations to Member-Only Events
- Quarterly Seasons Magazine
- Reciprocal privileges with other botanical gardens
- Discounts on Classes and Workshops for Kids and Adults
The Cafe at Frederik Meijer Gardens
And if you’re hungry, don’t miss the James & Shirley Balk Cafe, located behind the gift shop.
Not only are there kid-friendly options on their artisanal menu, but the cafe itself is a beautiful spot for lunch.
Don’t forget to look up to see amazing Chihuly glass sculptures.
The Gift Shop
My kids could spend hours in the gift shop looking at all the clever educational toys and colorful art pieces. I like to tell my kids beforehand that they have X amount of dollars to spend on something special.
They’ll consider their choices for EV ER, giving me lots of time to shop the “grown up” side of the gift shop. I’ve given and received my fair share of gifts from this place.
Frederik Meijer Gardens FAQs
How Long to Plan for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Visit?
If We Only Have 3 Hours, What Should We See/Do?
Before you try all these things to do at Meijer Gardens, be sure you have all the right gear:
–Bring a stroller if you’ve got littles. This will keep you sane navigating through the large campus. This also gives you a place to stash all your belongings.
-Come dressed for the weather. We all know Michigan weather changes in an instant – so make sure you’re prepared.
-Bring your camera – Meijer Gardens has plenty of gorgeous spots for photos. You can snap some among the flowers or near sculptures, and the Children’s Garden also gives a chance to to get great candids of the kiddos. I always walk away with a ridiculous amount of pictures to choose from.
-Other items you may need: sunscreen, water bottles, snacks (or money for their delicious cafe!) and a change of clothes or bathing suits (driving toy boats in the Great Lakes pools can drench a kid).
Special Events at the Gardens
Families eagerly await these annual events at the gardens, adding a little extra sparkle to their visit.
- Tuesday Evening Music Club: included with FMG admission the Amphitheater hosts a variety of local musicians. Pack a picnic, bring a chair and enjoy the sounds.
- Summer Concert Series: bringing an amazing array of international musicians, you can experience an intimate and beautiful show. Members get first dibs on tickets.
- Butterflies are Blooming (March 1 – April 30): Each spring thousands of butterflies fill the Tropical Conservancy.
- Christmas & Holiday Traditions Around the World (November 21 – January 7): Transformed into a winter wonderland, Christmas trees from around the world fill the halls and Santa is available to hear all your Christmas wishes. Don’t miss the model train or the pickle in the Germany Tree.
- Chrysanthemums & More: Each fall the Children’s Garden is filled with mums and giant pumpkins.
- Artprize: the only venue outside of GR city limits that hosts a series of artists.
Admission Rates & Hours
|Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park |
1000 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
The Gardens are open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, except for Sundays (open at 11:00 AM) and Tuesdays (open until 9:00 PM)
Did we miss anything? Share with us in the comments!