Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
|Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park|
1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
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 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.
That’s because 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 open up to the spacious grounds.
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
This maze made of hedges is home to a variety of drums and other delights to play with along the way.
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.
Michigan’s Farm Garden
The 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 summertime the farm garden often hosts activities and old fashioned games for kids on special days.
The Japanese Garden
Older kids (kids who can resist running) might like the newer Japanese Gardens to the north of the Children’s Garden. 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.
The Sculpture Park
Hop on the tram ($4 for adults, $2 for kids 12 and younger) to get a fun tour of the gardens with added history and stories included. The schedules are posted daily at the Information Desk and Tram Ticket Office.
We love walking the sculpture park, making sure to stop at The Waterfalls & Koi Pond. Kids love just watching these giant fish swim around and it’s the perfect spot for selfies.
My favorite suggestion? You must visit The American Horse by Nina Akamu. Kids and adults alike will enjoy posing with this enormous 24-foot sculpture and rolling down the grassy hills nearby.
The Tropical Conservatory
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 story!) 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.
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.
Sculpture Gallery Exhibitions
Meijer Gardens Butterflies
Meijer Gardens Concerts & Tuesday Evening Music Club
Meijer Gardens Classes & Camps
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 over-sized 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) Go to 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 Christmas
Meijer Gardens Memberships
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).
Events at the Gardens
Many 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!