Art and Culture with Kids at Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park


Walk into a world of art you can touch and feel in today’s guest post by Wander Educator’s Jessie Voigts.

Too often, art and kids don’t go together. Museums value quiet, and often have soundproof doors to their kids areas.

One place that not only values, but welcomes, kids is the world-class Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is one of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences. Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park was called one of the world’s 30 “Must-See Museums” by Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

What can you find at Meijer Gardens?

You’ll find the largest tropical conservatory in Michigan; 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.

But the gem for families is the children’s garden, one of the biggest in the United States. There are family art activities and classes scheduled almost every weekend.

You enter though an adult-sized gate, or a small-child sized gate called the Mouse Hole. And there is plenty of room to play – in a variety of gardens.

  • 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, play in the sand.
  • Wooded Wetlands: be a beaver in the kid-sized beaver lodge (gnawing on imaginary logs optional).
  • Treehouse Village: climb up high, perch in a bird’s nest, run the ramps, sit in a bird’s nest, learn about spiders.
  • Log Cabin: play pioneer games, weave on a loom, imagine life back in the day.
  • Labyrinth: wander the labyrinth – will you find your way out?
  • Butterfly Maze: solve a musical puzzle.
  • Great Lakes Garden: which is our very favorite – a water playland shaped like the Great Lakes. You can run plastic 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 – or down the path.

There are very clean and family-sized bathrooms (including step stools to the sinks), plenty of benches scattered throughout the park for resting and chatting, handicap accessible paths, and much to hold your interest.

Once you’re done playing in the Children’s Garden, take a stroll through the sculpture garden. Make it a game, to find an egg-shaped sculpture, a face, a geometric shape, something hidden in the woods.

Head to the Farm Garden, where you can “pet” bronze statues of farm animals, run an old metal water pump, and rock in old-fashioned rocking chairs on the wide porch.

Take a stroll through the wetlands boardwalk and see what creatures you’ll find.

Whether you stay in the Children’s Garden, or wander the entire sculpture park, you’ll be among art – and showing your kids how much fun and inspiring art can be. No stuffy museum – get out and about with art!

For more information head over to the  Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park site.

Dr. Jessie Voigts is the Publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She also founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world. Written by Jessica Voigts

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