Tag Archives: Conservatory

Roadtrip…….Grand Rapids; Meijer Gardens,Van Andel Public Museum

5 Jun

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We were hoping to get away for a little bit over the holiday weekend, with the prediction of sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s for Monday, the west coast of Michigan seemed an ideal place to go. We left Sunday morning and headed directly to Grand Rapids. We are regular visitors here, and have watched it change and reinvent itself over the years.  There are so many things to see and do here, you can easily spend a few days in town.

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We started with a visit to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, this place is incredible! The tropical conservatory is the largest in Michigan, along with a stunning collection of plants there are several water features, but that is only the beginning! The five-acre Children’s Garden is unlike any other I’ve seen, anywhere, and it’s not just fun for kids. There is an amazing tree house, get to it from a wooden stairway and elevated walkway, it even has a swinging bridge. Kids love to play in water, here  the bodies of water are actually the shape of  the Great Lakes, they surround the concrete patio area that is of course in the shape of Michigan, lots of splashing and giggling takes place here. The outdoor gardens are stunning, there are benches to sit and rest before visiting the Midwest’s most significant outdoor sculpture collection, seriously. Major works by artists with names like Rodin, Moore, Rickey, and Marshall Fredericks, very impressive. You can do a walking tour or take a tram. All in all there are 125 acres of nature and art, which go hand in hand beautifully.


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While downtown has been making great strides, now surrounding districts are too. Streets like Wealthy and Cherry are seeing a surge in independent entrepreneurs; boutiques, bakeries, and restaurants are popping up in these neighborhoods. We had lunch at the Cherry Deli on, well, Cherry. Order at the counter from an extensive deli menu, then take a seat, we went Al fresco, and your order will be brought out to you. Ours was a panini with a stack of turkey, crispy bacon, and melted cheese, all smothered in a herb mayo, excellent. The Pasta salad was quite good too, no mushy noodles here, all in all good food for a good price. We needed some time to re-charge our batteries, The Sparrows Coffee Shop and Newsstand is a relaxing place to hang out. Serving organic coffee and tea, they also sell local pastries and over 75 magazine titles and newspapers. It’s a cozy space located in the lower floor of a historic building, it seems to be a favorite of neighborhood residents. We had iced coffees and some kind of multi-grained bar with pieces of dried fruit that was scrumptious.

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The Grand Rapids Public Museum was next on our list, this is one of those spectacular museums with top of the line exhibits. With three floors of things to see and do plan on spending a couple of hours here. I always enjoy the “Furniture City” section, which is what Grand Rapids has been primarily known for. The “Streets of Old Grand Rapids” is very popular as is the “Habitats” display. There are life-size items suspended from the ceiling and in the galleria, learn about the history of Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan. One of the big attractions is the 1928 antique Spillman Carousel housed in the Cook Pavilion. It is one of only three of its style known to have been produced by the company. Take a ride; young or old, all are invited to enjoy a spin revolving to the music of a Wurlitzer band organ.

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We had dinner at The Winchester on Wealthy Street, it is a restaurant and bar, but it feels more like a bar. We had a nice dinner at a fair price, but it was pretty loud. Afterwards we went for a walk in the Heritage Hill Historic District, this is one of the largest urban historic districts in the United States. You could walk for hours and never get bored looking at the homes. They just held their 42nd annual home tour in May, this is the first time they scheduled it in spring, instead of fall. We have been on the tour probably a dozen times, and enjoyed the variety of stately homes each time. Grand Rapids hosts a large scope of architectural styles running the gamut from Queen Ann and Frank Lloyd Wright, all the way to Mid Century Modern.

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Back downtown we had a nightcap at one of the newer places in the city called The Viceroy. Come in the door and step back in time to the 1930’s. The decor is retro and cool, red is the preferred color here, from the tin ceiling and walls to tabletops and seats and it looks fabulous. A funky mix of musical styles play in the background adding to the atmosphere.  Their cocktail menu is unique in that in features a wide variety of timeless cocktails; a Perfect Rob Roy, an Old Fashioned, or Kris’s selection for the evening, a Sidecar. I went the boring route with a simple glass of wine, which by the way, was excellent, because one of us needed to be able to drive back to the hotel. Kris found his Sidecar quite enjoyable, and we had a great conversation about Detroit with the manager who had moved to Grand Rapids only recently from Ferndale. It was really a splendid place to end the evening, unique setting, unusual cocktails, and  peaceful enough to have a conversation without yelling across the table. Next time we’re in town we’ll definitely come back!

Just over two hours away from the D, Grand Rapids makes a great get-away.

Detroit; Belle Isle Conservatory, Sunday Dinner Company

23 Apr

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Spring is one of my favorite times of the year to visit the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle. It was built in 1904 and designed by famed architect Albert Kahn, and was modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The conservatory occupies 13 acres of land, it features five horticultural houses, an outdoor Lily Pond, and formal perennial gardens. The tallest palms reside under the central 85 foot high dome. The showhouse display reflects the season and in the Spring features bright white Easter Lillies with their sweet scent, pastel tinted  Azaleas, and brightly colored Amaryllis, just gorgeous. This is a wonderful area for wedding or family photos too.  I just love the fountain area, it is so relaxing with the sound of water trickling down the rocks, a bench facing the fountain  is a great place for a little respite. This is where the highest concentration of orchids are displayed, the conservatory houses many rare orchids that were transported here from Great Britain during the WWII bombing.  The conservatory was named in honor of Anna Scripps Whitcomb who left her 600 plant orchid collection to the city.

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We crossed back over the Belle Isle bridge and made a left on Jefferson, it was lunch time.  Our destination was The Sunday Dinner Company, a southern comfort style restaurant, open nearly a year now. The handsome building was formerly a post office, now transformed into an elegant dining space. The colors are warm, bright paintings grace the walls, the large front window overlooks Jefferson

Once you are comfortable at your table you are greeted by your server delivering salad and warm, delicious cornbread.  Next you are escorted to the buffet where you choose from 6 or 7 dishes; Baked macaroni & cheese, fried corn, dirty rice and shrimp to name a few. Deep fried Louisiana Catfish, and Southern style buttermilk chicken are also included, and made to order. Fresh brewed sweet tea is complimentary and goes perfectly with your meal.

The owners go the extra mile for the community employing returning citizens and at risk youth, helping to change lives, and impact Detroit in a positive way.

The Sunday Dinner Company, 6470 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit 48207      PH 313-877-9255

UPDATE: Sunday Dinner Company is now closed

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