5 Beautiful Garden Walks in Michigan
Are you looking to enjoy lovely gardens as you get your exercise? Look no further than these 5 natural gems, all located an easy drive from the metro-Detroit region.
The Dow Gardens- Midland. This 111 acre garden established in 1889 features a wide variety of garden features and well-maintained trails. Enjoy the lovely flora as you stroll pass sculptures such as Franklin Lloyd Wright’s “Water Nymph.” The entire loop can be done in about an hour at a leisurely pass, but feel free to add a second go-around to get a bit more exercise! Admission is only $5.00 for adults. In the summer, go on a Wednesday morning and cap off your walk with a picnic and a noon time concert.
Mathei Botanical Gardens-Ann Arbor. This is one of two gorgeous natural gems maintained by The University of Michigan. The Mathei Gardens was formally established in 1962 as the home of the formal botanical gardens and greenhouse structure for the University. In the winter, to sit in the greenhouse and enjoy the lush greenery and warm air is a treat. But in the summer, you definitely want to put on your walking shoes. There are wonderful gardens located right near the main building and greenhouse which features lovely flowers and plants, with many benches and seating areas, as well as a children’s garden area. I really enjoy the collection of bonsai, which are labeled to show their creator and their age. It is humbling to see this art form-some creations are decades in the making! There are a network of short trails through the woods and meadows. You can complete the entire trail network and go close to 3 miles. Admission is free with paid parking, which is about $1.40 per hour.
Nichols Arboretum-Ann Arbor. This is the older of the two University of Michigan run garden walks, created in 1907. Now, over 100 years old, “the Arb” is a123 acre oasis, and an Ann Arbor institution. It does not feature many maintained flower gardens (that is the focus of Mathei), but it does features several miles of well-groomed dirt or crushed gravel trails through a variety of woodland features, hills, meadows, and the Huron River watershed. As it is embedded near neighborhoods, dorms, and the hospital complex, Nichols Arboretum is not the place to feel as if you are on a trailblazing wilderness adventure. Still, it is large enough so that there is enough peace, quiet and natural beauty to let you forget you are in the midst of an urban environment. It is free. One of the biggest challenges though is parking. There is parking down a small hill near the hospital, but this is usually filled during the day during the week. You might get a little bit luckier there early in the mornings or on the weekend. If you don’t mind additional walking, you might be best off parking in one of the lots in town and making the trek to the Nichols Arboretum.
Hidden Lakes Gardens- Tipton. This is one of our favorite new places. Located southwest of Ann Arbor, Hidden Lakes is a 755 acre Botanical Garden and Arboretum maintained by Michigan State University. Donated to the MSU in 1945 by Adrian businessman, Harry Fee, this lovely locale not only features nicely maintained gardens and driving paths, but a nice wheelchair accessible path and six miles of very well maintained hiking paths. You can enjoy the beauty of the site without the hikes, but for us, they were a welcome bonus. The hiking paths are well-marked and moderately hilly. Admission is $3.00 per person.
Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park-Grand Rapids. This world-renowned garden and sculpture park was established by Frederik and Lena Meijer in 1995 and quickly rose to the top tier of gardens in the country. It features lovely indoor gardens, 4 seasons gardens, a Japanese Garden, a boardwalk, Children’s Garden area, and a 30 acre sculpture garden. What I personally find impressive is how well the sculptures are integrated into the overall feel of the garden site. You can be roaming through the English style garden and notice a sculpture from the corner of your eye that fits so seamlessly it is almost as if it was planted there as well. It is the most expensive garden walk on this list, with adult admission of $14.00, but if that is within your budget, I never am disappointed to be able to spend a few hours among such beauty.