Butterflies are free to bloom at Meijer Gardens
March 21, 2012 3:50PM
If you go
Meijer Gardens is at 1000 E. Beltline NE in Grand Rapids, Mich. The drive takes about 21/2 hours via Interstate 94 east to Interstate 196 east. Take Exit 38, East Belt Line Avenue, and follow the signs. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CDT) Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
“Butterflies are Blooming” runs through April 30. Admission to Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park includes admission to special exhibits and is: $12 for age 14 to 64; $9 for seniors and students with ID; $6 for ages 5 to 13; $4 for ages 3 and 4; and free for children 2 and younger. For more information, call (888) 957-1580 or go to www.meijergardens.org.
Updated: April 23, 2012 11:25AM
Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich., makes a great family destination any time of year.
In winter, the lush indoor conservatories are a welcome escape from the cold and gray of winter. In the summer, the gardens are in full regalia while the outdoor concert season is in full swing. Fall brings beautiful colors that further enhance the striking contemporary sculptures installed on the lovely grounds. But spring is my favorite time to visit.
In spring, Meijer Gardens hosts “Butterflies are Blooming,” releasing more than 6,000 butterflies within the already beautiful Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. The butterflies fly freely among the plants, the feeding sites and even the visitors.
Each week more than 800 cocoon-like chrysalides of 40-plus different species arrive at the gardens, coming from breeders around the world who raise butterflies in captivity. They are pinned inside Butterfly Bungalow, an exhibit space where they can grow while visitors can see the variety and details up close. Patient — and fortunate — visitors can see them wiggle, and push, and eventually emerge, wet and crumpled, and stretch their wings to dry.
The complete metamorphosis of monarchs is on display in the Caterpillar Room. There, visitors can see how much monarch caterpillars grow while feeding on milkweed, how they form their chrysalides, and how they eventually emerge and take their first flight.
The conservatory building also includes arid, carnivorous, Victorian and seasonal gardens, in addition to an art exhibit space, gift shop and cafe with seating under an impressive glass installation by Dale Chihuly.
The conservatory is just part of the 132-acre grounds. The outdoor areas include a delightful Children’s Garden, outdoor display gardens, and nature trails through gardens, woodlands, wetlands and meadows, and past waterfalls plus beautiful and interesting sculptures. Tram tours through much of the outdoor areas are also available. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1 for children ages 12 and younger.