Frederik Meijer Gardens is a Treat for the Whole Family
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, known as FMG to locals, 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.
Follow our guide for insider tips on how to make the most out of your trip to FMG with kids. Soon, you’ll be doing the gardens like a local and have your own favorite spots.
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.
Things to Prep for Before you Arrive at Frederik Meijer Gardens
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).
Visit the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden
Did a trip to Meijer Gardens even happen if you didn’t visit the Children’s Garden? 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.
- 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 traveling in reverse. This way you save the Great Lakes for last and avoid getting wet until the end.
- Bang on the bongos and then ring the bell in the Butterfly Maze.
- Follow the Labyrinth and take the back trail to the Treehouse Village. 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!
A short walk takes you to the log cabin, ready with old fashioned fun. There are many old time games worth investigating.
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!
As you travel towards the Great Lakes Garden, stop at the Wooded Wetlands and visit the (puppet) beavers in the Beaver Cave.
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.
Finally 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.
More Outdoor Things to do at Meijer Gardens with Kids
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.
- 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 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.
Indoor Things to do at Meijer Gardens
Curiosity Courtyard in the Lower Level
So Meijer Gardens’ indoor activities for kids has really ramped up. Their newest endeavor: the Curiosity Courtyard, an entire peaceful play area in their basement.
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.
Indoor Gardens and Incredible 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.
Cafe and Gift Shop Serve up Special Treats
- 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.
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.
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.
About Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
|Frederik Meijer Gardens |
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)
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