Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, located on the Grand River about 40 miles east of Lake Michigan. When you are visiting Grand Rapids you should stop by at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. It is a 132-acre botanical garden and outdoor sculpture park in Grand Rapids commonly referred to as Meijer Gardens. It was listed as one of the top “30 Must-See Museums” in the world in “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” book published in 2009. At present, it is the second largest tourist attraction in Michigan bringing more than half-million visitors annually. Meijer Gardens features Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, indoor and outdoor theme gardens, nature trails and boardwalk, sculpture galleries and permanent sculpture, a library and an audiovisual theater. Indoor exhibits include Lena Meijer conservatory, Victorian garden, seasonal garden, carnivorous plant and arid garden. Lena Meijer conservatory is a five story facility featuring rock landscapes and plants. It houses various tropical plants from around the world. The arid garden contains many species of desert plants. Outdoor exhibits include Sculpture Park, amphitheater and Lena Meijer children’s garden. The Lena Meijer children’s garden is one of the largest children’s gardens in the county. The amphitheater can seat about 1750 people. The entire facility is handicapped accessible. It also has a café and a gift shop. The sculpture park features more than 170 sculptures by various well-known artists including Alexander Calder, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Tony Smith, Marshal Fredericks, Laura Ford and Henry Moore among others. The collection includes many monumental indoor and outdoor exhibits scattered throughout the facility.
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Grand Rapids was the hometown of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States. He and his wife, former First Lady Betty Ford, are buried on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. If you are visiting Grand Rapids and want to pay a tribute or learn about his legacy you can go to Gerald R. Ford Museum, part of the Presidential Library System. The permanent exhibits are the main attractions of the Museum. Permanent exhibits showcase everything from the early years of young Ford to his time as the President of the United States. The main floor of the museum also contains a replica of the Oval Office furnished as it was during his presidency. The museum also offers visitors a wide variety of temporary exhibits. Another museum in the area is Grand Rapids Public Museum. Founded in 1854 as the Grand Rapids Lyceum of Natural History, it is one of the oldest history museums in the United States. The museum showcases the cultural heritage and manufacturing history of the city. It features five permanent exhibits that display long history of Grand Rapids. The museum also features a natural history exhibit of Western Michigan. If you have children then you can take them to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. It is a great place for children with lots of fun and interactive activities. This museum offers various permanent and changing exhibits along with educational programs for children where they get hands-on learning experience. The museum has different activities for children of all ages. Older children can participate in a wide variety of activities such as obstacle courses, printmaking and ball play. Younger children can play with slippery bubbles or study the live beehive among other activities.