What to Know Before Visiting the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is one of Grand Rapids' most treasured outdoor, cultural institutions. Ask any local for advice on what to do during your stay and they'll suggest the gardens and park almost immediately. A leader in the Midwest, the destination is also known around the world for its late 19th century to present-day sculpture collections.

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Navigating the park

With 18 indoor and outdoor gardens, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park can seem quite overwhelming. Let's be honest: the 158-acre property is huge! 

I knew that with its popularity and size, it'd be difficult to navigate the park in just two hours, but I had a tight schedule and needed to make the most of the time I had. To plan for our visit, I chose to arrive around opening time with the intent to see as much as possible in the time allotted. Because of this, I passed through the conservatory swiftly and completely skipped the children's gardens.

I then used the map to strategically navigate my route: thoroughly exploring the Japanese Gardens, looping the sculpture park, and trailing the shade garden to the wetlands and farmhouse. This figure-eight route wasn’t the most efficient in distance, but prioritized what I wanted to see most. If I had extra time, I'd have dedicated more of it to the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.

 
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What not to miss: My favorites

With over 200 permanent works of art, there is a lot to love about the park and gardens. But my eyes ventured beyond the sculpted masterworks to the nature surrounding it all. During my visit I found a few big favorites: the Japanese gardens (created by Hoichi Kurisu), scenic wetlands, and nature trails.

As an outdoor travel enthusiast (that’s how I best achieve wellness), the Meijer Gardens & Sculpture park was one of my top outdoor things to do in Grand Rapids because it offered such a serene setting. There was always a spot to get away and just breathe; always a spot to meditate; and always a spot to observe nature up close.

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I also loved the amphitheater, which is where you’d enjoy performances if you planned your visit around their event calendar — especially the summer concert series! The bed of lawn tiered in a crescent shape reminded me of my travels (sort of Machu Picchu-esque).

Best time to visit the Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is open year-round, with the exception of big holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. You can visit any time of the year to explore special exhibitions including their summer concert series, Christmas and holiday traditions around the world (November - January), or their popular annual tropical butterfly exhibition (March - April) — which is the largest temporary butterfly exhibit in the USA.

When I visited during the late summer, I arrived at opening time to beat crowds plus have time to take photos and meditate with nature. When I left around noon, I noticed a number of groups arriving so was glad I came early.

 
 Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Amphitheater
 

Logistics: Visiting the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Just a 10-minute drive away, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is pretty easy to get to (especially from downtown Grand Rapids). Here are a few things you should know about visiting the gardens and park:

  • Entry fee: $14.50 per adult

  • Hours: Monday thru Saturday, 9am-5pm (Tuesdays close at 9pm)  |  Sunday, 11am-5pm

There is free parking onsite, accessible walkways (with courtesy wheelchairs also available), tram tours operating from March - December for an additional fee, and food options that include an onsite cafe and outdoor pavilion for picnicking. This park does not allow pets, alcohol, nor smoking.

Are you thinking about visiting Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park?

Let me know if you’ve ever been there (or if you plan on visiting) — and what you look forward to experiencing! If you’re in Michigan and Grand Rapids for a while, be sure to check out my other articles on the area for some great activity ideas. For more photos of the gardens and park, view my Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park photo story, here.


 

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