The results are in, and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was voted the #1 Sculpture Park in the United States by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards in 2023.
A panel of experts submit nominations for the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can then vote daily for their favorites.
About Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids
Since it opened to the public in April 1995, Meijer Gardens has welcomed over 14 million people at 1000 East Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
What makes Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park the best in the country? Meijer Gardens is home to one of the largest tropical conservatories in Michigan, five indoor theme gardens, outdoor gardens, nature trails, and a boardwalk, as well as galleries and a permanent sculpture collection, a library, a café, a gift shop, an education center, and meeting spaces.
This Grand Rapids destination is also one of the United States’ most significant sculpture and botanic experiences. It also offers frequent concerts with national, regional, and local musicians and features annual exhibitions that draw millions of people.
Fred Meijer donated 70.7 acres of land in January 1991 to the West Michigan Horticultural Society to create a botanical garden and conservatory. The project required an additional $13 million capital campaign and resulted in further contributions from the Meijer family.
The Meijer family donated its personal sculpture collection, and the garden’s collection included over 300 permanent pieces by 2015.
Due to the family’s generosity, the park was renamed the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in 2002, and the Children’s Garden and Tropical Conservancy are named for Lena Meijer.
The gardens opened to the public in 1995, and the 30-acre Sculpture Park opened in May 2002. Additions and updates to the gardens and park enhance its charm and attraction.
The 158-acre main campus is barrier-free and handicap accessible both inside and out. The USGBC (U.S Green Building Council) has granted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation to its building renovation and expansion projects.
Significant works of art are displayed in a variety of natural settings connected by waterways, meandering paths, lawns, meadows, and quiet walkways. Although sculptures are found throughout the Meijer Gardens campus, the Sculpture Park features over 50 major works by masters such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Louise Bourgeois, Mark di Suvero, Richard Serra, Roxy Paine, Ai Weiwei, as well as many others.
The Marshall Fredericks Collection was the start of the Grand Rapids sculpture park. This impressive collection of 29 bronze sculptures was very important to Fred Meijer and is the foundation of the expansive collection displayed throughout the campus. This collection began Mr. Meijer’s philanthropic role as a collector and was gifted to the park in 1995.
As you meander through the campus, keep your eyes peeled for sculptures that are part of the Garden Trails and Conservatory Collection. Intended to complement areas like the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden and Michigan’s Farm Garden, the Garden Trails and Conservatory Collection is eclectic, whimsical, and fun to see.
In addition to five indoor gardens and the conservatory, there are many outdoor gardens and natural areas to explore across the campus.
The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden opened in June 2015 and is Meijer Gardens’ most recent garden addition. Hoichi Kurisu designed the eight-acre project, including traditional elements such as waterfalls, elevation changes, extensive boulder placement, authentic Japanese structures, and a working teahouse.
The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden is one of the country’s largest interactive children’s gardens. There are tree houses, a log cabin, a butterfly labyrinth, a sensory garden, and a child-sized beaver lodge for them to explore. It features hundreds of plants, whimsical, child-oriented sculptures, and natural wetlands.
Michigan’s Farm Garden is reminiscent of a 1930s family farm where the land provided groceries and income and when every family member assisted with chores. The farmhouse is a scaled-down replica of Lena (Rader) Meijer’s childhood home. Bronze sculptures of farm animals appear throughout this garden, and there are vegetable gardens and flower beds, too.
More to Explore in Grand Rapids, Michigan
While spending the day at the Best Sculpture Park in the US is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is not the only attraction in this bustling city! This metro area has something for everyone, from historic districts full of charming bed and breakfasts to cosmopolitan downtown areas with dozens of museums.
Spend a day at the John Ball Zoo, visit Grand Rapids museums downtown, catch a concert at the Van Andel Arena, and stroll along the Grand River to experience the best of Grand Rapids. Great dining, unique hotels, and an international airport make Grand Rapids the perfect destination for a day trip or extended stay!