This guest post was written by Dr. Jessie Voigts, a mom who loves sharing the world with her family. She co-authored the book Bringing the World Home: A Resource Guide to Raising Intercultural Kids with her daughter, publishes WanderingEducators.com, the online resource for global educators, directs the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program, and recently founded the Family Travel Blogger Association.
If your family is anything like mine, they love to explore. Whether it is outside or indoors, we love to get moving, learn, and poke around different places. One of the best places to poke around – and play – in Michigan is Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. It’s one of the best art museums and gardens in the world – truly a world-class treasure. What makes it special for families is the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden. It’s a kid-sized exploration of the natural world.
Head in through the regular gate, or through a tiny kid-sized gate called the mouse hole! Once in, you can play and explore for hours. Check out these cool parts of the garden:
Kid Sense garden: where you can touch, see, smell, and feel all kinds of plants.
Story-telling Garden: where you can put on a performance!
Rock Quarry: dig for buried fossils
Wooded Wetlands: be a beaver in the kid-sized beaver lodge
Treehouse Village: climb up high, perch in a bird’s nest, run the ramps
Log Cabin: play pioneer games, weave on a loom
Labyrinth: wander the labyrinth – will you find your way out?
Butterfly Maze: solve a musical puzzle
Great Lakes Garden: our favorite – a water playland shaped like the Great Lakes – run boats through the Great Lakes, figure out the waterways, and splash!
Sculpture Walk: spin a sculpture spinner to see where you’ll find your next piece of art around the corner
There are plenty of plants, flowers, and paths to make this exciting. If you can tear yourself away from the Children’s Garden, you can wander the acres of habitat in Meijer Gardens, spotting sculptures the whole way. See a waterfall and feed the koi. Wander past giant eggs. Make faces like some of the sculptures. Head to the Farm Garden and see farm animals in sculpture (and run the old-fashioned pump!).
Meijer Gardens also has an Arid Garden, a Carnivorous Plant House, an English Perennial Garden, a Tropical Conservatory (with butterflies each spring!), a Victorian Garden, and a Woodland Shade Garden. There are rotating exhibits inside, and the outdoor amphitheatre has great summer concerts.
It’s well worth a visit to drive to Grand Rapids and play all day! On site, there is a cafeteria and gift shop. There are also family art classes held almost every weekend and during the summer. You can learn more at www.meijergardens.org.
About Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, called one of the world’s 30 “Must-See Museums” by Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, contains the largest tropical conservatory in Michigan; one of the U.S.’s biggest children’s gardens; arid and Victorian gardens featuring bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a house of carnivorous plants; and an outdoor amphitheater. The internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park includes a permanent collection with works by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, Bourgeois, and Plensa. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, Butterfield, di Suvero, and Calder.