Michiganders know there are many beautiful, natural wonders all around the state, including the Great Lakes, state forests, sand dunes, botanical gardens, such as Dow Gardens in Midland, and so much more.
Dow Gardens is, in a word, impressive. This botanical garden estate in Mid-Michigan is the perfect place for a family adventure. The 110-acre Dow Gardens property sees thousands of visitors each year and has a unique landscape to explore.
You can participate in educational programs, discover art and music, and even tour a historic home. It’s a wonderful place where you can walk above the trees, see eye-popping arrays of color, and explore one of Michigan’s most unique garden landscapes.
Learning About Dow Gardens Before You Go
The site of Dow Gardens was established in 1899 as the home of Herbert H. Dow and Grace A. Dow. When Herbert died, his son Alden Dow helped expand the property.
Then, Grace established the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to honor her husband’s legacy and promote the growth of Midland residents and Michigan through education and culture among other things.
With so much to see and do, it’s a great place to spend a day. No matter how old you are, Dow Gardens is a place where you can forget all your worries and cares and feel like a kid again!
We expected to spend about an hour or so here, but wound up exploring for more than three. We visited in late summer but there were still tons of different plants in full flower. We lost count of the different garden areas – loved the herb garden and the gardens by the house.
Lots of trails to wander along. Almost every plant and tree had identifying tags which was great if you’re looking for ideas for your own gardens. We spent about two hours in the gardens before heading across the bridge to the Canopy Walk area. Also awesome.Elizabeth O. via TripAdvisor
Exploring the Award-Winning Botanical Dow Gardens
The 110-acre Dow Gardens property has so much to offer, but the gardens here are a pride and joy. Lovers of nature and flowers will be in awe of the brilliant displays of annuals and perennials, which add vibrant splashes of color among the trees, structures, and other parts of the uniquely-designed landscape.
Dow Gardens offers an Exploration Garden, a Children’s Garden, a Color Garden, an Estate Garden, a Stream Walk, and a Pineside Garden with many ways to enjoy them.
You can see what’s in bloom before you go and locate specific plants during your visit with a helpful interactive map. Spring typically welcomes the flowering of more than 20,000 bulbs. By summer, the gardens have more than 35,000 blooming annuals on the property.
On top of being beautiful, the gardens have won many awards. They earned the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2018 and the Keep Michigan Beautiful President’s Award in 2018, among many recent accolades.
Soaking Up History at The Pines
Herbert H. Dow and Grace A. Dow built The Pines in 1899 as their family home, and it’s the only one they ever lived in. The family grew over the years, but The Pines remained at the heart of everything they did, including the development of Dow Gardens.
Today, The Pines is a National Historic Landmark and visitors to Dow Gardens can go on self-guided tours to soak up the history of the grounds and the family. The home is still filled with many of the family’s furnishings, offering a peek into their home life.
The tours last about an hour and are $5 for adults and $3 for students.
Discovering the Wonders of Whiting Forest
Billed as “a forest like no other,” Dow Gardens’ Whiting Forest is really something to behold. The first piece of property for the forest was acquired in 1905. Over time, the Dow family cared for and grew the property.
It was opened to the public in 2004 and had a grand reopening in 2018 with all of the features the public enjoys today. With 54 acres of meadows, apple orchards, woodlands, ponds, and so much more, there’s something here to amaze visitors young and old.
Come prepared to explore, because you’re likely to find one thing (or multiple things) that you’ll fall in love with at Dow Gardens.
The Canopy Walk
You can let your imagination soar and give in to your sense of adventure on the Canopy Walk. This 1,400-foot, walk (nearly a quarter-mile), reaches four stories up into beautiful Michigan trees and offers so much to see and do.
You can see just how high up you really are as you walk across transparent floors. You can also pull out your camera for panoramic views like nothing else you’ve seen. It’s a great place to pause and reflect on the beauty all around you too — literally see the forest for the trees.
The Canopy Walk is included in the entrance fee, so you don’t have to worry about spending anything extra to see and enjoy it. It’s also wheelchair-accessible. There are three walkway arms that are elevated and extend into the Dow Gardens’ woods:
- The Spruce Arm has a tree-supported cargo net, which beckons young visitors to jump in and roll around.
- The Orchard Arm has a glass-floored overlook that reaches 40 feet above the ground, giving you a sense of how high up you are above the forest floor.
- The Pond Arm offers a peaceful overlook that’s great for taking a few minutes to reflect.
Enjoying the Rest of Whiting Forest
Besides the forest Canopy Walk, there’s so much more to see and do within the 54-acre forest. If you’re up for a stroll on a nice day, two pedestrian bridges and 1.5 miles of trails connect Whiting Forest and Dow Gardens.
If your kids are getting restless, they can burn off some energy and have fun in a large playground. This isn’t just any playground either. It’s 13,600 square feet with swings, a slide, and plenty of structures to climb on.
There’s plenty more nature to marvel at as well. The forest’s apple orchards — on the site where founder Herbert H. Dow’s original orchards watched over his own — are plentiful and bear fruit. One of the original trees is still standing and bearing fruit!
If you’re craving a bite to eat, there’s a cafe where you can pick up a little something to munch on.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dow Gardens in Midland Michigan
Where is Dow Gardens?
Dow Gardens is located at 1809 Eastman Ave in Midland Michigan. It’s about a 1.5-hour drive from Lansing and about a 2-hour drive from both Detroit and Gaylord.
When is Dow Gardens open?
Dow Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, except on major holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
Are there admission fees for Dow Gardens?
An annual admission card for Dow Gardens is available for $20 per person. Daily passes are $10 for adults and $2 for college students with an ID and for kids aged 6 to 17.
How accessible is Dow Gardens?
Dow Gardens has tried to make its property as accessible to everyone as possible. However, some of the buildings may be inaccessible because of their historic nature.
Strollers and wagons are allowed for small kids, and special parking arrangements can be made for those with mobility impairments who wish to access areas like the Canopy Walk.
Can I take pictures at Dow Gardens?
Absolutely! Photography is encouraged at Dow Gardens. Guests are asked to be respectful of each other and not to block walkways. The panoramic views on the Canopy Walk are definitely worth photographing.
Making Plans to Visit Dow Gardens in Mid-Michigan
When you’re meandering through the Dow Gardens, curiosity draws you to that next surprise around the corner. Majestic pines. Colorful, gorgeous flowers blooming all spring & summer. Curving paths. Red bridges over streams and ponds. Sculptures that captivate your imagination… these are the memories that stay with you until that next visit. We never get tired of visiting the Dow Gardens!Beth W. via Trip Advisor
If you love nature and all it has to offer — trees, flowers, wildlife, hiking, and much more — make plans to visit Dow Gardens! It’s accessible for visitors of all ages, offers some of the best views you’re going to find in Mid-Michigan and the entire state, and has so much to do.
Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll along the grounds, locate your favorite flowers in the gardens, or experience the thrill that is the Dow Gardens Canopy Walk, there’s something for everyone at Dow Gardens! Plus, it’s a fantastic fall thing to do in Mid-Michigan and a romantic winter thing to do in Michigan.