Visiting Michigan to See a Sculpture Garden and a Lighthouse

It was my last day in the hotel from hell and in the morning when I woke up was having a hard time getting myself out of bed.  I was still dead tired and it felt like I had a weight on my body telling me to keep sleeping in.  I heard my alarm go off and I had to force myself to overcome that mental weight keeping me from getting out of bed.  Once I finally got out of bed I started to pack up my things.  The goal for today was to see two things that were fairly close to where I was staying.

First was Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture park in Grand Rapids.  I would say it was a good hour drive from the hotel and by the time I got to the sculpture garden the sun was finally coming out.  I got Indiana’s vest on and we headed into the building to pay for our entry, which was $14.50.  The gardens and sculpture park is opened every day of the week from 9am-5pm except on Sundays then it’s open from 11am-5pm.

succulents-variety-green-purple-red-photographWhen you first go past the ticket booth to your left you’ll see a ton of indoor gardens. That’s where I decided to venture first.  The first garden room was mostly succulents and desert type plants.  Which for me I was all about since succulents seemed to be the only plant I could keep alive for at least a month.  I’ve never been known as having a green thumb.  In fact if you want your plant to die let me watch it cuz I’m sure it won’t be alive by the time you come home.

Venus-fly-trap-green-gardenAs you followed around these mini indoor greenhouses there was even a room just for carnivorous plants.  Venus fly traps as well as a ton of pitcher plants.  This room was fun since you could touch the plants and watch them close thinking that they just caught an insect that they would soon be digesting.  I’ve also love venus fly traps.  I had a few when I was single in my own apartment in Nebraska.  I ended up having such a bad fruit fly problem that these little guys were a pretty answer to my problem.  Once again I’m not the best person to own plants so sadly they didn’t live long and I think I ended up having to go through 5 of them before I finally gave up.

Once I was done exploring the mini indoor green houses I walked into a monarch-butterfly-caterpillar-flowers-red-orange-yellowbig room with a sculpture in the middle and it had a ton of plants near the walls.  Then there was a sign that said you could find monarch butterfly caterpillars as well as their cocoons amongst the plants in the room.  This was fun because you had to search the plants to see these caterpillars.  They even had the cocoons on display for viewing as well.

Also if you’re a huge butterfly fan then this next feature of Frederik Meijer’s will excite you.  They have a huge indoor pavilion for butterflies.  You walk in to this huge open room that is a garden itself that has a little waterfall, stream, and two bridges.  There’s even a part where you see all the butterflies cocoons and caterpillars that are on display orchid-butterfly-orange-purple-photographyto show you the stages of a butterfly.  You can also see some butterflies hatching from the cocoons where they will then be released into the pavilion. I do feel like I should mention it’s humid!  Very, very, very humid!  Expect to be sweating in this place since it’s pretty much unavoidable.  However, it’s the best atmosphere for all the orchids as well as the butterflies to thrive.  I loved this part of the Frederik Meijer’s since I loved to take photographs of butterflies.   The only downside is the lighting is very dim so expect to jump your ISO up a lot or try for a slow shutter speed and low aperture.  Frederik Meijer’s doesn’t allow tripods in the butterfly pavilion.  However, you can bring a monopod if you have one.  I didn’t feel like going out to my car to grab my monopod so I just suck with the higher ISO and slower shutter speed.

Parent’s in the butterfly pavilion were telling their kids not to pet Indiana since he was working and would explain to them what service dogs are.  One woman asked if I was training him and seemed shocked when I said he was mine.  My only issue that I ran into while being in the butterfly-blue-fruit-orange-kiwibutterfly pavilion was while I was taking a picture of this beautiful blue winged butterfly on a colorful tray of fruit I felt Indiana move.  Since he was in a command to watch my back I was just checking to make sure he was still following the command.  When I turned around I found that this woman about 50-60 years old had taken it upon herself to grab Indiana’s head to pet him.  I had to scold the woman letting her know that, one, it’s not ok to just come up to a person’s dog and start petting it with out talking to the owner first, and second, he’s a service dog that shouldn’t be pet at all out in public since now she distracted him from doing his job which was to watch my back while I was taking a photograph.  After that I figured I had enough of the butterfly pavilion and headed out towards the sculpture garden.

Once in the sculpture garden I felt a sense of relief since I was the only one out there.  The sculpture garden was vast and contemporary-art-sculpture-silver-beams-poles-blue-sky-frederik-meijer-garden
full of interesting contemporary pieces.  Some were really cool in a photography standpoint while others seemed mundane or as if anyone could create that piece of art.  However, it was a really good walk and all the sculptures were pretty well spaced out so I’d say I walked at least a mile or so just to see all the sculptures in the garden.  Once you left the sculpture garden there was a ginormous Japanese garden with a very good sized pond in the center of it.  There were a lot of places to sit and take in the beauty of the garden. As well as waterfalls and a few gazebos either in the center of the pond or along the walking trail in the garden.  However, the sculpture garden doesn’t stop there.  After walking around the Japanese garden I headed to the “farm”.  This was another sculpture garden that was set up to look like a feeding zoo but was a compilation of sculptures of farm animals or kids feeding the animals.  The buildings weren’t sculptures and looked like a real farm house and barn.  It
was insane since it really gave you the feeling like there would be real farm animals there since it was set up like a petting zoo.   There was also a sensory sculpture park for children that I didn’t venture into since I had Indiana but from a distance it looked like the sculptures where of animals.

Also once you’re done seeing everything on the outside there were 2 rooms that were set up like an art gallery.  Both rooms had artistic wallpaper on the walls and some sort of sculpture piece in the center of the room.  The best wallpaper was called “The Finger” which comprised of many hands giving the middle finger in an odd artistic sort of way.

All in all I walked about 4 miles too see everything in Frederik Meijer’s.  I would highly suggest visiting as well since I was there for a pretty good chunk of the day and it was also very reasonably priced.

Once I was done exploring Frederik Meijer’s I decided to head back south to see the lighthouse in South Haven.

When I got to the lighthouse the clouds started coming in since there was supposed to be a storm coming.  Not only that but the lighthouse was actually a pretty big attraction to locals as well as tourists.  Lots of people were walking their dogs on the long path to reach the lighthouse and there were people fishing off the walkway as well.  I got one decent photograph of Indiana near the lighthouse.  I ended up taking him on a walk as well trying to hold out until sunset to hopefully get a really pretty orange sky with the lights on the walk way lit up and a silhouette of Indiana and the lighthouse. german-shepherd-lighthouse-dark-night-sky-boardwalk-dogUnfortunately, that pretty orange sky never happened once the sun went behind this giant cloud which turned the whole sky back to gray.

Feeling a tad let down with what amazing idea I had for a great photograph and the crummy weather ruining it, I went to find a place to park so I could car camp for the night.  I ended up running past an American Legion building and decided to stop in and see what it was about and if I could ask someone if I could park there overnight.

I ended up parking in a residential area so I could be close to the Lighthouse so hopefully I could get sunrise photos. However, it ended up raining in the morning so any chance of that pretty sunrise photograph was nonexistent.  Not only that but I had to wait in between rain storms to get out and move my kayak and cooler back to the top of my bed so Indiana and I could sit in the front seat and passenger seat.  While sitting in my car I reached out to this Facebook travel group I belong to called Girls Love Travel and asked them where I should go in Indiana.  They suggested 3 Floyds Brewery and Turkey Run State Park.  I then hit the road to my new destinations.

Dog Friendly Rating

Frederik Meijer Sculpture Gardens:   I give them 5 paws since they were really great at understanding service dog laws.  Indy had his vest on and they didn’t even ask if he was a service dog and all the staff in every section of Frederik Meijer were very courteous.

South Haven Lighthouse:  I give this 5 paws as well since it allows dogs on the walkway to the lighthouse.  It’s also a park with a beach that’s also very dog friendly.

Indiana’s Final Thoughts

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2 thoughts on “Visiting Michigan to See a Sculpture Garden and a Lighthouse

  1. Brittany…
    It was a pleasure meeting you and your Dog, Indiana.
    Indiana was “very well mannered” and also performed his duties as requested.
    We met at the AML Post #49, that overlooks the Black River and the S. haven harbor.
    I was the old guy, sitting on the same side of the bar; When you came in.

    I left not too long after you came in or stopped by.
    I live East of S. Haven, and headed home.
    Not realizing you were looking for an overnight parking, for the night,
    Or either I was not listening closely or very well.
    I probably could have showed you where the Local V.f.w. post (667) was and you could have parked behind it; Well off the road and a park setting.
    If need be we could have let the local South haven police, know you were there and not to bother you.

    I don’t go over to South Haven as much as I use to, maybe a couple times a month.?
    37 year member of Aml, (and post 49, a couple different times of 1-2 and 5 year stretches.)
    now at another again…Life member of s.h. vfw post 667, but about 50 years total.
    And life member of the dav in Michigan. (service connected)

    Too bad I/we didn’t show you around the Legion a little more, especially the newly rebuilt wall along the river overlook and the “tiki hut” outside in the side yard; it’s a very pretty area.
    and plenty of post along the fence for Indiana to check out or mark.
    Many use to call the club, “the legion with a ‘million dollar’ view”;
    that was years ago, and now it would be a “ten million dollar view’.
    plus it is very pretty with the boats going in and out, along with the pier (light house) and beach view at sunset.

    sorry you didn’t get any better pictures of the pier and l.h., but the one you have of Indiana is pretty decent..
    a few years back, a photographer captured a spectacular shot of a 50′-60′ foot wave, breaking over the top of that lighthouse….it was in several state and regional papers and calendars were made of the occasion.. Along with farmable posters and the like. wish I had been the photog..
    there are many nowadays that line the bluffs to get the “perfect shot”

    South haven is one of many nice resort towns along lake Michigan, and larger than many, with several events going on during the year; particularly the very well known “blueberry festival” in the fall.
    the military service clubs of s. haven (aml and vfw) are also home clubs to two(2) of the existing or alive, Medal of honor inductees of Michigan.
    (they are from the Bangor and s. haven area)
    the latest yet to have his ceremony in Washington for the presentation. but has been approved.
    a third m.o.h. (now deceased) was from a few miles north in the city of Holland, MI.

    It was nice of you to stop by in South haven, and it was nice meeting you.
    Your description of Meijer’s gardens was excellent, it is also a worthwhile trip or attraction up north near grand rapids.
    Hope your trip is going well, drop a line if you wish to let us know where you are going or at.
    mentioned you to my wife several weeks back, but just happen to find your website card in my wallet a couple of days ago..
    wishing you the best and a safe trip…good luck.

    1. Of course I remember you! I’m so glad you found my card! Also I wish I was still in MI to check those places out but I’ve since ventured to different states. Also it’s no big deal with the parking. I found a good spot and that’s all that really matters.

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