Located on the shores of the Grand River, east of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is a city with plenty of romantic things to do, including wining and dining at one of the many restaurants, eateries, cafés, and bars. While better known for many breweries dotted around town, Grand Rapids, Michigan has some fantastic restaurants for celebrating love and special occasions. Head to some of these top dining establishments for a night to remember on your weekend getaway or day trip. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck
© The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck
Located in Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, the Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck is an award-winning restaurant with out-of-this-world views of the Grand River. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner; the restaurant specializes in a global cuisine that has been prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and Wolfgang Puck's signature recipes. The outstanding cuisine is paired with fine wines from around the world from the hand-curated wine list, as well as 16 local craft beers on tap and by the bottle. Signature cocktails can be sipped on the outdoor patio against a backdrop of spectacular views, and private dining rooms are available for special occasions.
187 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-776-3230
2.Bistro Bella Vita
© Bistro Bella Vita
Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Bistro Bella Vita is a romantic Italian restaurant that echoes of Tuscany. Specializing in modern Italian and French cuisine prepared with sustainably-sourced ingredients and local produce, the restaurant serves delicious plates of fresh seafood, handmade pasta, and in-house sauces, prime rotisserie-roasted meats, and wood-fired brick-oven pizzas. Special gluten-free or custom dishes are prepared for lactose intolerant, vegetarian and vegan diets, and the full-service bar offers a wide range of libations including fine wines from around the world, craft beers, top-shelf spirits, and signature cocktails, including over 20 martinis. Bistro Bella Vita is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday, and dinner only on the weekends.
44 Grandville Avenue Southwest # 100, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-222-4600
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3.Blue Water Grill Restaurant
© Blue Water Grill Restaurant
Boasting striking Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture and stylish interiors with a large stone fireplace and floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows that embrace breath-taking views, the Blue Water Grill Restaurant serves New American cuisine and exceptional global wines. Overlooking the Versluis Lake, the northern Grand Rapids restaurant is renowned for its outstanding cuisine, which includes rotisserie chicken with snow peas and mushrooms, blackened mahi-mahi tacos with avocado and cilantro aioli, and paper-thin wood-fired pizzas with unique toppings. The wine list features curated selections from around the world, along with a range of northern Michigan's top varietals. Blue Water Grill Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
5180 Northland Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525, Phone: 616-363-5900
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4.Cork Wine & Grille
© Cork Wine & Grille
Nestled in the Cascade Township of Grand Rapids, Cork Wine & Grille is the place to go for the freshest seafood and catch of the day fish. Seamlessly blending outstanding seasonal cuisine, award-winning wines, impeccable service, and an inviting, intimate atmosphere, Cork Wine & Grille is ideal for a romantic dinner for two or special celebration. The seasonal menu features delectable dishes of handcrafted appetizers, followed by entrées of fresh seafood and fish of the day, prime steaks, housemade pasta and sauces, and wood-fired pizzas. The food menu is accompanied by an extensive wine list of local and imported wines, craft beers and microbrews, and classic cocktails made with top-shelf spirits. Cork Wine & Grille is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
5500 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, Phone: 616-949-0570
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Divani is a locally-owned and operated restaurant in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids with a well-stocked wine list and soft lighting that offers a romantic setting for a dinner date. Exuding a refined and elegant ambiance, the restaurant serves a made-from-scratch, farm-to-table menu of contemporary New American cuisine, including dishes of wild mushroom risotto, duck prepared two ways and perfectly cooked filet mignon. The cuisine is accompanied by an extensive list of fine wines from regional wine growers, along with a small selection of Grower Champagnes, and French, Italian, Spanish, and South American wines. The bar also serves hand-crafted cocktails, a global beer selection featuring local draughts, and an extensive liquor collection. Divani is open for dinner only Monday through Saturday.
15 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-774-9463
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© Andrew Bayda/stock.adobe.com
Euro Bistro is a charming eatery that brings a touch of Paris to the heart of the Cascade in Grand Rapids. The café serves European-style fare with a French twist and casual wines from a dynamic wine list, creating a dining experience akin to that of a quaint French countryside inn. The seasonal menu features farm-to-table fare and French favorites like Coq au Vin, house-made Beef Bourguignon, sautéed Perch Meuniere, and French Onion Soup. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including fine wines from around the world, craft beers, top-shelf spirits, and signature cocktails. Euro Bistro is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturdays.
6820 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, Phone: 616-719-2017
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© Grove Restaurant
Hailed as one of Grand Rapids’ best restaurants, Grove Restaurant offers an unforgettable dining experience with seasonal farm-to-table fare and award-winning wines. Sourcing their ingredients and produce from local farmers around Michigan and artisanal producers, Grove Restaurant serves a menu of innovative ‘Earth to Dining Table’ cuisine with both á la carte and three-course prix fixe menus. Artfully designed sharing plates of chili pork tacos or salmon ceviche are ideal for starters followed by entrées of prime meats and fresh seafood, vegetarian options, and mouth-watering desserts. The food menu is complemented by an impressive drink list which features Michigan craft beers, signature cocktails, and a good selection of sparkling, white, rosé, and red wines by the glass or bottle. Grove Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Friday and dinner only on Saturday.
919 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, Phone: 616-454-1000
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8.Ju Sushi and Lounge
© Ju Sushi and Lounge
Offering some of the finest handmade sushi, sashimi and other Asian-fusion fare in town, Ju Sushi and Lounge is a fantastic spot for a casual, laid-back evening out. Situated near the Bonefish Grill, the sushi bar and lounge serve a menu of starters like soft shell crab, edamame, made-from-scratch soups and salads, and hibachi grill options, followed by entrées of noodle and rice dishes, tempura, vegetable options, and a wide variety of sushi rolls, including the signature Tokyo Tower Dish. Diners can choose to eat in the main dining room or the lounge, which has a slightly more relaxed ambiance and sip on a range of traditional sake, teas, and classic cocktails. Ju Sushi and Lounge is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
1144 E Paris Ave S E #9, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, Phone: 616-575-5858
Leo's Restaurant is an excellent choice for date night, especially if you love fresh seafood. Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the romantic restaurant has an elegant yet casual ambiance with contemporary décor, soaring ceilings, and soft lighting. Fresh seafood, prime steaks, and other meat dishes, crisp salads and vegetable dishes, and inhouse pasta is artfully prepared using fresh locally sourced ingredients and presented with passion and flair in the formal dining room. Don’t miss the to-die-for desserts like the caramel peanut tart, peppermint cheesecake, passion fruit semifreddo, and coffee Trinity cream. Complement the outstanding cuisine with a selection of fine wines from around the world, classic cocktails made with high-end spirits, or craft beers and regional microbrews. Leo's Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturdays.
60 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-454-6700
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10.Marco New American Bistro
© Marco New American Bistro
Marco New American Bistro is an award-winning neighborhood bistro in the Forest Hills that serves contemporary cuisine and casual wines, along with gourmet take away, with easy pickup at the Forest Hill Avenue storefront. The bistro menu features made-from-scratch fare prepared with locally sourced ingredients like freshly made soups, salads, sandwiches and subs, hand-tossed, wood-fired pizzas, ready-made meals for dinner-on-the-go, and homemade desserts. The restaurant also offers catering service for special occasions and a to-go menu for takeaways. Marco New American Bistro is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturdays.
884 Forest Hill Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, Phone: 616-942-9100
11.New Hotel Mertens
Ideally located on the corner of Commerce Avenue and Oaks Street for pre- or post-dinner and cocktails when you're downtown, New Hotel Mertens is a retro-chic brasserie that serves classic French cuisine and old-school cocktails in an elegant and stylish setting. Based in a historic, former lodging and named after the hotel that opened in the building in 1914, New Hotel Mertens serves traditional French cuisine with signature dishes like Moules Frites and homebaked bread, buttery pork belly, coq au vine, and steak frites. Desserts include chocolate torte and towers of vanilla-bean cream puffs known as croquembouche, and the bar serves a range of vintage French beer and wine and a large selection of Michigan brews and wines. End the evening with an espresso and a sweet pastry made locally by Field & Fire. New Hotel Mertens is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
35 Oakes St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-551-1713
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12.Noto's Old World Italian
© Noto's Old World Italian
Noto's Old World Italian is a family-friendly restaurant that is the neighborhood go-to for classic Italian cuisine, casual wines, and an intimate, inviting ambiance. Based in a grand stone building with multiple entries, the fine-dining restaurant and banquet facility boasts a gracious but casually elegant dining room and serves a menu to match seasonal Italian cuisine. The food is accompanied by an award-winning wine list and live music as a subtle background, and semi-private brick arched dining spaces with individual chandeliers make for the perfect romantic date spot. Noto's Old World Italian is open for dinner only, Monday through Saturday.
6600 28th Street, SE. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, Phone: 616-493-6686
© Osteria Rossa
Osteria Rossa is a classic Italian restaurant in a brick-adorned industrial-chic space that serves authentic Italian cuisine, tapas, and hand-tossed, wood-fired pizzas. Focusing on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and made-from-scratch dishes, the menu features favorites such as house-made pasta and sauces, fresh seafood, prime beef and veal plates, wood-fired pizzas with a variety of toppings, and decadent desserts. The food is accompanied by a list of fine wines from Italy and Michigan, along with a range of craft beers and microbrews, and signature cocktails made with high-shelf spirits. Osteria Rossa is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
16 Monroe Center St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-988-9350
14.Pietro's Italian Restaurant
© Pietro's Italian Restaurant
Piero’s Italian Restaurant is a retro, Vegas-style restaurant that has been serving authentic Italian fare to patrons for over three decades. Featuring stylish décor and furnishings, intimate leather booths, soft lighting, and a romantic ambiance, the restaurant serves a menu of traditional Italian dishes like La Zuppa di Pesce, the Linguine All'Aragosta, Scaloppine Milanese, and hand-cut Delmonico. The award-winning cuisine is accompanied by an outstanding wine list that boasts more than 1,900 wines and another 10,000 bottles from around the world. Diners can also enjoy a selection of craft beers and handcrafted cocktails, as well as specialty coffees and decadent desserts. Piero’s Italian Restaurant is open for
2780 Birchcrest Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, Phone: 616-452-3228
15.Reserve Wine & Food
© Reserve Wine & Food
Located on the corner of Monroe and Lyon in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Reserve Wine & Food is a unique dining concept which features one of the finest and most extensive wine lists in the city that can be paired with a creative menu of contemporary cuisine. Perfect for a date night or a pre-show drink, Reserve has an upstairs patio with beautiful views of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and serves a seasonal menu of farm-to-table fare such as customized charcuterie and cheese plates, handmade pasta, and fresh seafood. The food is accompanied by over 100 wines by the glass as well as an extensive bottle list. Reserve Wine & Food is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
201 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-855-9463
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© Rockwell Republic
Located within the historic Heartside District, Rockwell Republic is a lively gastropub and hip hangout that serves Asian and New American cuisine in a high-ceiling stylish setting. Focusing on locally sourced ingredients and regional farm produce, Rockwell Republic spans two floors with soaring ceilings, exposed-brick walls, dark mahogany wood accents, and an elegant three-season screened-in-lounge. An elevated outdoor beer garden is ideal for alfresco summer dining where guests tuck into succulent steak and freshly made sushi, along with handcrafted cocktails, craft beers on tap or by the bottle, and easy-drinking wines. Rockwell Republic is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
45 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-551-3563
17.Rose's on Reeds Lake
© Rose's on Reeds Lake
Located in the Gaslight Village of East Grand Rapids, Rose's on Reeds Lake is a long-standing restaurant that serves a farm-to-table menu of Mediterranean, Italian and American cuisine. Established in 1901, Rose's on Reeds Lake boasts large windows and breathtaking views of the Reeds Lake, and a charming outdoor patio overlooking the lake, setting the backdrop for an intimate and romantic dinner. The menu has Mediterranean and Italian influences with dishes like Blackened Lump Crab Cake, Artichoke Caviar, Potato Crusted Walleye, Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Beef Tournedos, and Blackened Mahi Tacos. Rose's on Reeds Lake is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
550 Lakeside Drive SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506, Phone: 616-458-1122
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18.San Chez Bistro
© San Chez Bistro
San Chez Bistro is a casual eatery that specializes in Mediterranean, Spanish, and Latin American cuisine with a focus on small sharing plates and tapas. Boasting colorful décor and furnishings, and a fun, laid-back, and artsy atmosphere, the bistro serves an array of delicious plates designed for sharing like freshly baked flatbread, assorted olives, roasted red peppers, calamari and octopus, Spanish manchego cheese, lemon hummus, smoked salt black bean tortilla crisps, and more. Sip craft beers and Spanish wines with the tapas, or try a classic cocktail like a martini or mojito. San Chez Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Monday through Friday.
38 Fulton Street W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-774-8272
Named after the ancient city that was once the capital of Persia, now Iran, Shiraz Grille is a local family-owned and operated Persian restaurant in Southeast Grand Rapids. Bringing a taste of the Middle East to Grand Rapids, Shiraz Grille serves ethnic Persian cuisine of rich, contrasting tastes, ranging from savory to sweet, such as beef and chicken fire-grilled kabobs, soups made with fresh chopped herbs and lentils, lamb dishes, barbari bread, and Dolmeh Felfel. The full service bar serves an array of drinks, ranging from handcrafted classic cocktails and craft beers to easy-drinking wines, and non-alcoholic drinks like Turkish coffee and teas. Shiraz Grille is open for lunch and dinner, Friday through Sunday and dinner only Tuesday through Thursday.
2739 Breton Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, Phone: 616-949-7447
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Located in JW Marriott Grand Rapids, six.one.six is the hotel’s signature restaurant and offers an unforgettable dining experience. Connected by skywalk to several other major hotels, including the Curio Collection by Hilton, Amway Grand Plaza, and the Downtown Courtyard Marriott, as well as DeVos Place, the DeVos Performance Hall, and the Van Andel Arena, the restaurant is perfect for an after-performance dinner. The culinary team creates a menu of contemporary French cuisine with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and an extensive wine list boasts a curated selection of global wines that can be enjoyed by the glass and bottle. Floor-to-ceiling windows embrace spectacular city views. six.one.six is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
235 Louis St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-242-1448
21.Terra GR Restaurant
© Terra GR Restaurant
Set in the old Kent Records building in Eastown, Terra GR Restaurant is a locally-owned and operated eatery that focuses on serving healthy, natural, and fare in a stylish, rustic space. The seasonal farm-to-table menu features hearty dishes prepared with locally sourced and regional ingredients, such as spaghetti Bolognese, seared scallops, wood-fired pizzas, and braised beef shoulder. Brunch is popular with favorites such as a variety of egg dishes, omelets, breakfast burritos and sandwiches, and shrimp and grits, along with a range of Champagnes and sparkling wines. Terra GR Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week and Grass-Fed Tuesdays debut a different locally raised, grass-fed burgers each week.
1429 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, Phone: 616-301-0998
22.The Heritage Restaurant
Located in the GRCC Wisner-Bottrell Applied Technology Center on the corner of Ransom Streets, the Heritage Restaurant is an upmarket fine-dining restaurant that serves New American cuisine and globally-inspired wines. The Heritage Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Thursday.
151 Fountain St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-234-3700
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23.Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails
© Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails
Situated in the lively Arena Place district in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails serves a seasonal menu of classic American bistro fare with a contemporary twist in a relaxing space on Ottawa Avenue. Boasting a spacious dining room and a large bar and outdoor porch which can seat up to 85 people, the vibrant and friendly restaurant offers a variety of seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes such as Crab Croquettes, Pan-Fried Michigan Goat Cheese, Cavatelli, 62-day Dry-aged Beef Ribeye, Scottish Salmon Duet, and Pierogies. The distinctive menu is complemented by a list of artisan cocktails, select wines, and Michigan craft brews, making it the perfect place to unwind after work or enjoy a pre-concert cocktail. The Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday, and dinner only on Saturdays.
67 Ottawa Avenue, SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Phone: 616-226-3319
23 Best Restaurants in Grand Rapids, Michigan
- The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Photo: The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck
- Bistro Bella Vita, Photo: Bistro Bella Vita
- Blue Water Grill Restaurant, Photo: Blue Water Grill Restaurant
- Cork Wine & Grille, Photo: Cork Wine & Grille
- Divani, Photo: Divani
- Euro Bistro, Photo: Andrew Bayda/stock.adobe.com
- Grove Restaurant, Photo: Grove Restaurant
- Ju Sushi and Lounge, Photo: Ju Sushi and Lounge
- Leo's, Photo: alfa27/stock.adobe.com
- Marco New American Bistro, Photo: Marco New American Bistro
- New Hotel Mertens, Photo: Kzenon/stock.adobe.com
- Noto's Old World Italian, Photo: Noto's Old World Italian
- Osteria Rossa, Photo: Osteria Rossa
- Pietro's Italian Restaurant, Photo: Pietro's Italian Restaurant
- Reserve Wine & Food, Photo: Reserve Wine & Food
- Rockwell Republic, Photo: Rockwell Republic
- Rose's on Reeds Lake, Photo: Rose's on Reeds Lake
- San Chez Bistro, Photo: San Chez Bistro
- Shiraz Grille, Photo: weyo/stock.adobe.com
- six.one.six, Photo: kerkezz/stock.adobe.com
- Terra GR Restaurant, Photo: Terra GR Restaurant
- The Heritage Restaurant, Photo: puhhha/stock.adobe.com
- Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails, Photo: Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails
- Cover Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With over 650,000 visitors annually and 158 acres to explore, Meijer Gardens is fun for the entire family. The goal of the dedicated staff at the gardens is to promote enjoyment and appreciation for horticulture, the arts and the splendor of nature.
The Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is one of the top cultural destinations in the Midwest. There are five indoor gardens, each with a different theme, and plenty of outdoor gardens with nature trails, and boardwalks for hiking. The largest tropical conservatory in the nation is also housed there, as well as a variety of different gardens and sculpture collections. The world-class sculpture collection can be found spread throughout the gardens, permanently intertwined with nature. However, in order to showcase different artists from time to time, there are indoor galleries for temporary sculpture collections. There is also an outdoor amphitheater that is currently home to one of the most beloved summer concert series in the area.
Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has five different themed indoor gardens: Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, Kenneth E. Nelson Carnivorous Plant House, Earl and Donnalee Holton Victorian Garden, Earl and Donnalee Holton Arid Garden, and the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse.
The planting of the outdoor gardens vary by season so that they can be visited and enjoyed year-round. There are outdoor nature-walks throughout the year in order to foster education about nature and various ecosystems. There is the Gwen Frostic Woodland Shade Garden, which features plants that have been commonly portrayed in the work of nature artists. There are also two gardens that highlight not only the importance but the joys of horticulture: The Leslie E. Tassell English Perennial and Bulb Garden and the New American Garden.
Some more notable permanent outdoor attractions include: The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden, and Michigan’s Farm Garden.
The Japanese Garden features 8 acres of astonishing tranquility and beauty. It features an authentic Japanese Teahouse, a Zen Garden, and many classic Japanese flowers and plants. From the second visitors walk through the beautifully crafted entry gate, it will feel as though they were instantly transported to Japan.
The Children’s Garden is known as one of the most interactive children’s gardens in the nation. Its goal is to spark imagination, creativity, and education through fun-filled, hands-on activities. Kids can dig for fossils, solve mazes, sit in a giant bird’s nest, and even examine sculptures through fun “kid-friendly” viewpoints.
Michigan’s Farm Garden focuses on local horticulture during the Depression Era of the 1930s. The garden has heirloom vegetables and flowers to give it an authentic and truly self-sufficient feel. There are animal pens, a barn, and even a farmhouse which is representative of Lena Meijer’s childhood home. The goal of this garden is to showcase an era of the past when families had to work for their own food and each member contributed equally to the farms success. Multiple weekly and annual events are held in this garden which transport visitors back to a simpler time such as Old-Fashioned Farm Days, Fridays on the Farm, Amazing Honeybees, Meet me at the Fair, and Heirloom Tomatoes.
The sculpture program at Meijer Gardens is two-fold featuring an internationally-acclaimed permanent collection housed on more than 30 acres, and temporary exhibition programs. The gardens host three temporary exhibitions each year which are featured in their 4,000 square foot suite of indoor galleries.
The permanent collection is known as one of the most significant in the nation and is displayed amongst waterfalls, meadows, and quiet walkways. There are more than 50 unique works of art in the sculpture park, featuring artists such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink, Barbara Hepworth, Jim Dine, Louise Bourgeois, Mark di Suvero, Richard Serra, and many others.
After 13 long years of planning and fundraising by the West Michigan Horticulture Society, the Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened to the public in the spring of 1995. The vision may have never been realized without the support of Fred and Lena Meijer, the Gardens’ largest donors and namesake. The Meijer’s were intrigued by the idea of combining sculpture art and gardening into one exciting experience, and have not only helped the gardens become a memorable experience but a nationwide success.
The Meijer Gardens have also recently celebrated their 20 year anniversary since its founding in April 1995. Over the past 20 years, there have been countless memorable events, including visits from some of history’s most prominent individuals. In fact, during the ribbon cutting ceremony which officially declared the gardens open to the public, President and Mrs. Ford were in attendance. In 2002, President Jimmy Carter visited the gardens and deemed them a “national treasure.”
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From sculpture acquisitions and installations to garden expansions and additions, Meijer Gardens has been constantly flourishing for more than 20 years. This may not have been possible without the extensive community support for the gardens that has been present since the very beginning. Approximately 50,000 guests attended the opening of the first garden exhibition, “Butterflies are Blooming,” in March of 1996.
The sculpture park was dedicated to the public in 2002 and featured six international artists in the permanent collection. In 2004, the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden was opened to the public and is known as one of the most interactive children’s gardens in the nation. The most recently opened garden is the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, which took almost three years to construct.
Although the main campus of Meijer Gardens is 158 acres, there are an additional 200 acres of nature conservation nearby, as well as recently acquired land which the staff of the Gardens plan to use for future expansion and growth.
Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park offers various tours which highlight numerous aspects of the gardens. Depending on what visitors are interested in, tours can range anywhere from 2 to 8 hours. Tours can revolve around family fun, seasonal highlights, or a love of art or horticulture. All tours can be personalized per visitor preference (indoor, outdoor, permanent or temporary) and can accommodate various interests (abstract, animals, botanical, water or art). There are even tram tours offered for those who need assistance.
The Taste of the Gardens Café allows visitors to enjoy a relaxing bite to eat along the water underneath an astonishing glass ceiling sculpture, but if the weather is nice, outdoor picnics are encouraged. There is also a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs or gardening tools of their own.
In June, Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park will be celebrating the one year anniversary of the Japanese Garden by hosting an event. It will be held on June 21, 2016 from 9am to 9pm, and will include films, musical performances and tours of the garden.
Volunteer or Become a Member
Currently, there are approximately 200 staff members employed by the gardens, however, it takes quite a bit more man-power to keep the gardens up and running. There are more than 1,000 active volunteers and 27,000 members whose gracious gifts and constant support keep the gardens flourishing.
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1000 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525, Phone: 888-957-1580
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Attraction Spotlight: Meyer May House
The Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was originally designed for a prominent clothier in the city. The house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908 and is considered to be an excellent example of the Prairie School era. It was later bought by Steelcase and thoroughly restored, and in 1987 the house was opened to the public to visit and explore an original Prairie House.
Today, the Meyer May House is filled with meticulously executed reproductions and original furnishings, and offers a rare chance to experience a Prairie House exactly as was intended by Frank Lloyd Wright. The connection between Frank Lloyd Wright and Steelcase started in 1936, when Steelcase entered into a contract to create furniture designed by Wright for the Johnson Wax Administration Building in Racine, Wisconsin.
The relationship that was forged by Frank Lloyd Wright and David Hunting, Sr. of Steelcase during the S.C. Johnson project was one that lasted for years and Steelcase was encouraged by Hunting to buy and restore the Meyer May House in the 1980s. The house, built in the hometown of Steelcase, was the first significant commission for Wright in Michigan. The chairman of Steelcase at the time, Robert C. Pew, was in agreement that the restoration of the Meyer May House would be a great opportunity to provide the people of Grand Rapids with a gift as well as a way to pay homage to Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1985, Steelcase bought the house and began extensive research into its restoration. The Meyer May House is now maintained and owned by Steelcase.
In 1987, the Meyer May House was opened to the public after being meticulously restored. It took months of intensive studying of reference materials and interviews before the restoration process could begin to return both the exterior and the interior to their original designs. The process lasted two years, and included removing an addition from 1922, restoring a Niedecken mural that had been underneath six layers of paint, and replacing every plaster ceiling. The restoration also included repairing and cleaning over 100 skylights and art glass windows as well as rebuilding the house's roof to restore it to its cantilevered design. The interior of the Meyer May House was filled with recreations of original pieces and exact reproductions and the landscape was also redone to recreate the landscape design from 1909.
Tours of the Meyer May House are offered from 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sundays, and from 10:00am to 1:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is no admission fee to explore the house, and visitors are advised to allow for at least 90 minutes to fully tour the house and enjoy the entire experience. To complete their experience at the Meyer May house, there is a film available entitled The Renewing of a Vision
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450 Madison Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503, Phone: 616-246-4821
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