If you’ve ever wanted to see a forest with a bird’s eye view or climb up into the trees like a squirrel, you’ll love Dow Gardens. It’s a phenomenal outdoor attraction in Midland, Michigan with the longest canopy walk in the United States. It’s great for kids and adults alike and anyone who enjoys the outdoors will have a blast.
Dow Gardens Canopy Walk
The headlining attraction at Dow Gardens is the canopy walk. This wheelchair accessible pathway winds up into the trees and allows you to get a unique view of the forest it’s built through. As you continue along the walkway, you’re treated to a perspective on trees that you rarely see. At one end, there’s a lovely little pond surrounded by evergreens.
There are several fun spots built for hanging out and testing your bravery a bit. At one end of the pathway, there’s a large section of nets that you can climb onto like a big hammock. You can look straight down to the ground below you from the holes in the nets. You’ll definitely want to hang onto your phones and other items.
In an other area, there’s a glass panel you can step out on to again see straight down below your feet.
As you get to the more-wooded area, there are a few little “pods” that offer a relaxing spot to chill out. One of them has a little rope tunnel to walk through to get to it, which involves balancing on a thick rope with walls of net on either side. It’s lots of fun – and it has a little lower level you can drop down to once you reach the pod.
Other parts of Dow Gardens
While the canopy walk may be the most famous part of Dow Gardens, there are plenty of other areas to explore. You’ll find miles of pathways, some wooded, some through colorful gardens, and others along streams. If you’re looking for bright blooms, head to the Rose Garden and the Color Garden during springtime and summer. In late April and early May, you’ll also be treated to short-lived but delightful tulips in full bloom.
Walking through the gardens, you’ll have several bridges that you can cross. Some are artwork in and of themselves like this beautifully designed red one.
Boulder Pass features a small artificial waterfall and is a popular spot for photos. From here, you can follow a pathway that runs along the side of the stream that leads away from its base and enjoy the pleasant sounds of flowing water.
Don’t miss a chance to visit the historic Pines Home, which is a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1899. If you’d like to visit inside, tours are available. If you don’t have something scheduled, you can relax on the front porch or just enjoy views of the exterior.
Activities for kids at Dow Gardens
In addition to getting outside and exploring nature (and the previously-mentioned canopy walk) there are two areas at Dow Gardens for kids. Near the canopy walk, you’ll find a nature playground full of slides, things to climb, swings, and more. It looks super cool because it features more natural elements like wood and grass than the typical plastic and metal play structures at parks, and it blends in nicely to its surroundings. It’s likely to be lively with kids having fun, especially on summer weekends.
Closer to the main entrance, you’ll find the Children’s Garden. This area is a little more low key, though it does include a small play structure. It’s bright and colorful with plants, water features, bridges, and umbrella-topped tables. Story times and other events occur periodically throughout the year.
Dow Gardens food options
As there aren’t a lot of food options, bringing your own is highly recommended if you plan to spend a full day at Dow Gardens. Picnic lunches and snacks can be brought in for outdoor dining. In the area near the canopy walk and nature playground, you’ll find the Whiting Forest Cafe. You can get drinks and light snacks here, but my favorite offering is the ice cream. It’s the perfect afternoon treat in the summer.
Events at Dow Gardens
Dow Gardens hosts numerous events throughout the year. They range from outdoor concerts to story time for kids to movie nights to tree climbing. Check their events calendar to see upcoming activities.
Dow Gardens tickets
Dow Gardens tickets can be bought online or in person, and they’re surprisingly affordable. Kids 5 and under are free (!) and children from 6-17 are only $2 as of summer 2021. Adults are $10 and season passes are only $20. I’d highly recommend reserving in advance, especially for weekends in the summer. It’s convenient and very nice to skip the line when you arrive.
Getting to Dow Gardens
Dow Gardens is located in the small town of Midland, which is about an hour and a half northeast of Detroit. From the metro area, you’ll take I-75 north to US-10, which runs west toward Midland. The visitor center address is 1809 Eastman Avenue Midland, MI 48640.
Dow Gardens is open year round except for Mondays and Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Check their website for current hours as they vary by season.