Butterfly Close Up - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit
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Step Into Spring at Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

The birds are singing, the days are getting longer, and the butterflies are blooming!

To celebrate the coming of spring, get some inspiration from the #MIAwesomeList Spring Bucket List and plan a visit to the tropical oasis at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Throughout the months of March and April, the Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit is a must-see spring spectacular for all Michiganders. 

Butterfly Close Up - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit
photo via Leah Tennant

3 Tips Before Visiting the Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

1. Visit early morning or late afternoon for fewer crowds.

With all the beautiful displays, it should be no surprise that the butterfly exhibit at Meijer Gardens is popular! If you visit over spring break or on a weekend, plan on sharing your experience with many other butterfly enthusiasts.

On busier days, there will be a wait to enter the conservatory to see the butterflies. Since space is limited, there is a maximum number of guests allowed in at one time. Staff track the number of people entering and exiting to keep it from being too crowded inside. 

For a quieter visit, try going when Meijer Gardens first opens at 9 am or later in the afternoon between 3-5 pm. We visited on a weekday morning, which tends to be less busy, and did not have a wait. 

Another option is going on Tuesday nights when the gardens are open until 9 pm. You can even bring flashlights and go for a butterfly hunt in the dark. We haven’t gone in the evening yet but hope to try it sometime!

Colorful Orchids - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

2. Dress in layers for contrasting climates.

To keep the butterflies happy, the conservatory is 85 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% humidity. Sounds dreamy after a long winter, but also quite a contrast from the outdoor conditions!

Plan on leaving bulky winter coats in your vehicle or hanging them up in the coat check area by the entrance. There are some lockers available as well if you prefer that option.

If you plan to visit some of the outdoor exhibits, those coats may come in handy again.

3. Wear bright colors to attract butterflies.

Butterflies tend to be more attracted to bright colors, so dressing vibrantly may increase your butterfly appeal. I have yet to have a butterfly land on me, but dress like a colorful flower and you just might attract a butterfly friend.  

Flower Power Theme - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

Butterflies Are Blooming: Flower Power Theme

No matter how many times you’ve visited the butterflies at Meijer Gardens, there is always a new unique seasonal display to enjoy.

This year’s Flower Power theme focuses on the positive impact flowers can have on our personal well-being and their adaptable relationship with pollinators. Look for fun graphics with retro designs splashed throughout the exhibit. 

Note: The indoor gardens are barrier-free and can accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. However, a baby carrier may be an easier option for navigating with young children through busy areas. There is a convenient spot to park any strollers in the hallway outside the conservatory.

Chrysalis - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit
Monarch butterfly chrysalis in the Caterpillar Room

Experience the Life Cycle of a Butterfly

From egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to mature butterfly, you can observe the fascinating stages in the life cycle of a butterfly at Meijer Gardens. 

Depending on how busy it is in each area will help you decide if you want to start in the caterpillar or butterfly area first.

Hanging Plants In The Caterpillar Room - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

The Caterpillar Room

If you head to the Caterpillar Room first, you’ll stroll through the Arid Garden on your way. Lots of interesting cacti and succulents to observe here – a rare sight in Michigan. Don’t miss the Carnivorous Plant House too which is full of interesting plants like venus fly traps. 

Once you make it to the Caterpillar Room, this area is full of seasonal flower displays and of course, monarch caterpillars. 

Caterpillars Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

Throughout the area, you’ll find helpful signs by clusters of milkweed that say “Look for monarch caterpillars here.”  We found some hungry caterpillars right underneath a sign. Caterpillar spotting is definitely a hit with kids!

For the chrysalis stage, you will find some monarch chrysalises in the Caterpillar Room and more butterfly varieties at the Observation Station in the tropical conservatory.   

Tropical Path - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

Stroll Through a Tropical Butterfly Garden

Now for the start of the show – the butterfly garden!

With over 7,000 butterflies from 60 different species, it is a magical experience to wander along the cobblestone path with butterflies fluttering all around.

Pick up one of the butterfly exhibit brochures on the way in for helpful pictures of all the different butterfly species you might spot. If you have any questions, several knowledgeable volunteers are available to help.

Note: To protect the butterflies’ fragile wings, take lots of pictures but don’t touch the butterflies.

Feeding Stations - Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit

3 Best Spots to View the Butterflies

  • Observation Station: For a view of cocoons waiting to hatch, peer through the glass Observation Station. 
  • Butterfly Feeding Stations: One of the easiest places to find a cluster of butterflies is around the feeding stations filled with fruit and honey water. 
  • Tropical Flowers: Another favorite butterfly hangout is among the colorful floral patches. So many gorgeous orchids are blooming!

Along the paths, you’ll also find several benches to sit on and observe the butterflies. While seated, make sure to look up to appreciate the full height of the lush foliage that surrounds you.

Butterfly Vestibule Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit
Butterfly Vestibule which also serves as an exhibit sign

On your way out of the conservatory, you’ll pass through the Butterfly Vestibule, a temporary enclosure to keep any butterflies from escaping. Use the mirrors to make sure no stowaway butterflies are hitching a ride on your clothes or bags. 

Frederik Meijer Gardens &Amp; Sculpture Park - Grand Rapids, Michigan
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park | photo via Brandi O’Granning

3 Other Areas to See on Your Meijer Gardens Visit

After your butterfly adventure, there are plenty of other sections of Meijer Gardens to explore if you have the time. 

  • Curiosity Garden: Located on the lower level, the Curiosity Garden is a great indoor play area for children, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating outdoors. 
  • Outdoor Trails: Walk along miles of paved trails to view impressive sculptures or the picturesque Japanese garden.
  • Children’s Garden: If you have little ones with you, the Children’s Garden is full of fun sculptures and outdoor play structures including a multi-level treehouse. During the Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit, look for special children’s programming here too.

Marvel at the Sights of Spring

Complete with beautiful butterflies and tropical gardens of blooming flowers, a visit to Meijer Gardens is the perfect activity from the #MIAwesomeList to welcome the new season of spring! 

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