Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

From a peaceful Japanese Garden to a playful garden space for kids, enjoy a day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, surrounded by art and nature.  

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan (photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park)

It doesn’t take a green thumb or an obsession with houseplants to admire the horticultural artistry on display at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 158-acre attraction opened in 1995 with the support of Frederik Meijer, whose father founded the Meijer grocery store chain, and Frederik’s wife, Lena. 

The park is split into different sections and each one — including the Children’s Garden, Great Lakes Garden and Michigan’s Farm Garden — is a world of its own. The delightful 8-acre Japanese Garden is one of the best examples of this, as it offers the chance to see plants native to the Pacific Island nation, as well as those native to Michigan and other temperate climates from around the globe. Six sculptures call this garden home, including Zhang Huan’s “Long Island Buddha.” A Zen-style garden within the Japanese Garden inspires quiet reflection, while a nearby collection of bonsai trees provides a chance to admire the small complexities of nature.

For a more tropical flair, a 15,000-square-foot conservatory (one of six indoor gardens) houses plants from around the world, including fig trees from India and exotic orchids from Central and South America. The indoor Victorian Garden is a lush reminder of a bygone era and features sculptures by Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin. 

More than 50 other works of art dot the outdoor sculpture park, including “American Horse” by Nina Akamu. The 24-foot-tall bronze marvel can be observed from several spots in the garden and illustrates one of the park’s most charming features. No matter where you are, from a boardwalk that cuts through marshes to a narrow path between the Japanese and children’s gardens, there’s always something to see. 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525, 616/957-1580,