Spring is the perfect time of year to visit to the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan because during the months of March and April the atrium is full to the brim with fluttering butterflies! We decided to use this seasonal opportunity as our excuse to finally hit the road and take a drive over to check it out. Read more about our family adventure to the Frederik Meijer Gardens, with a pit stop in East Lansing, taken in the new 2016 Toyota Highlander.
Now that the weather has started to warm up and the sun is finally out of hiding (on most days at least) – the urge to jump in the car and head out on an adventure is tugging at me more than ever. After my recent upset in Maryland, I decided that the only thing for me to do is to jump back in the saddle and start planning trips again – pushing myself onward.
While as a family we have already explored most of the state of Michigan, we still love it and never seem to lack new places to discover. Grand Rapids is one of our favorites and a place that we have actually traveled to many times – although I still feel like we’ve only skimmed the surface on what it had to offer. For that reason, and because I was craving some time on the road, we decided to take a road trip over specifically to check out the Frederik Meijer Gardens – but since we were heading out that way we first planned to make a stop at the Le Bon Macaron in East Lansing for a quick macaron fix. After taking only a moment to type both destinations into the 8″ touch screen navigation in the Highlander – we were off!
2016 Toyota Highlander
For this road trip we were excited to be loaned a new 2016 Toyota Highlander! Our mission was to see how the vehicle handled on the road and find out if it worked well for road tripping families like us. We ended up loving it! The more time we spent driving around, the more little extra’s we found that could make life of the road with kids more convenient. One such discovery was the second row captains seats and third row bench seating. Having captains seats in the second row instead of a bench seat meant more space between the kids. More space = happy kids.
Another other cool thing we found in the 2016 Toyota Highlander was a collapsible tray table/cup holder in between the second row seats that could pop up into place when needed or fold down and out of the way when we didn’t (this is an upgrade option). My kids thought that little table was fantastic and ended up using it not only for beverages, but for playing card games on or drawing pictures on as well. Psst. From a mom with a headache, thank you Toyota for both of those little bit of sanity saver moments!
Le Bon Macaron – East Lansing
While it wasn’t exactly on the way – we made a short dash over to East Lansing before heading into Grand Rapids. The reason? Because we heard there was an amazing little shop in East Lansing that makes and sells delicious macarons. Oh my goodness! Ever since my first macaron experience in Walt Disney World, I have been obsessed with them – but unfortunately finding a place that makes them to my liking has been difficult. Super difficult!! That is why the hour detour that it took us to get some was totally worth it. They were just as I’d hoped – crunchy on the outside, smooth and chilled on the inside. Perfection!! So if you wondered if I would drive (almost) 100 miles out of my way for a sugary dessert, the answer is yes – yes I would.
FYI – just for giggles. After making our drive out to East Lansing for some macarons, we found out they also have a location in Grand Rapids. Ha! Go figure. 🙂
Frederik Meijer Gardens – Grand Rapids, Michigan
After our “quick” detour, we headed over to the Frederik Meijer Gardens to find out exactly what this place was all about. I’ve heard people talk about the gardens for years, but never took the leap over to see for myself. As by luck, we planned our trip during peak butterfly season – a time when they fill the atrium with a multitude of butterflies and caterpillars just before releasing them out into the gardens for summer.
Walking into that warm, summer-like room and having butterflies dance all around was like a dreamland. Imagine the immediate feeling of warm tropical temperatures touching your skin, imagine smelling the endorphin releasing fragrance of the dirt – hear with me the sound of crashing water coming from the interior waterfall, and smile in wonder as colors dance around the room – not only from the butterflies but from the large array of blooming flowers. Sigh.
Outside the atrium was magical just the same because all over the grounds were paths lined in grand displays of art – some reaching up so high as to appear to touch the sky. Each piece of art was nestled between natural beauty – even though it was spring and nothing was blooming yet, it was still rustic fab!
Wondering what’s in it for the kids at Frederik Meijer Gardens? Pop on over to TravelingMom.com to see my article naming off several kid loving things to do at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.
After spending our entire day wandering the gardens and eating macarons, we all climbed back into the Highlander and found it to be super relaxing after the busy day we just had. To keep the magic going after our amazing adventure , we decided to open up the moon roof and watch the stars drift by as the two kids in the back seat (and maybe dad in the front passenger seat) drifted off to sleep. It was an awesome adventure.
Special Video Footage
Is anyone else super excited about getting back into summer road tripping? Where are you planning to go? We want to know all about your upcoming or most desired road trip destination. Share with us in the comments.
Disclosure: We were loaned this vehicle for review purposes. No compensation was received for this post.