Belle Isle

A Day in The D

There’s an oasis of flora and fauna just minutes from Detroit’s urban center. Discover Belle Isle Park, and spend a day frolicking in the city’s island jewel.
1 Day
3-12 Hours
Features

Outdoor, Sports & Recreation

Destinations

Downtown Detroit

1
Attractions

Visit the electric eel at the Belle Isle Aquarium, the oldest in the country. Feed the fallow deer at the Belle Isle Nature Center, where a fully accessible, nature-themed playground recently opened. Immerse yourself in the lush landscapes of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. Or get schooled on the region’s maritime history at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

Ideas for the Isle: Take a snapshot at the William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse, the only marble lighthouse in the U.S., and at the picturesque Scott Memorial Fountain.

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2
Recreation

Rent bikes, kayaks, canoes, pedal boats or stand-up paddleboards. Hike nature trails or run the six-mile exterior road that circles the park. Golfers can take advantage of a nine-acre outdoor practice facility and six-hole golf course. Fishing piers are located at both the north and south sides of the island. Ride down a giant slide, splash around at the beach or pack a picnic spread and take in serene views of the Detroit and Windsor skylines at the island’s Sunset Point.

Ideas for the Isle: Be sure to have a fishing license if you plan on casting a line.

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3
Events

Insert these to-dos on your calendar. The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix races into town June 2-4. The race’s challenging street circuit on Belle Isle is a favorite among drivers. Eyes to the skies on June 26 for the dazzling Ford Fireworks. Search for treasures at the Belle Isle Art Fair Aug. 5-6. OABI (Once Around Belle Isle) — the annual kayak, paddleboard and surf-ski race and beach party — returns Aug. 12.

About Belle Isle Park

Sitting in the international waters of the Detroit River, between the U.S. and Canada, Belle Isle is 2.5-miles long and 982 acres. The park, larger than New York City’s Central Park, was actually designed by Central Park’s landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Almost a third of the island is a wooded home to many birds and small animals.

Getting In

To enter Belle Isle Park, Michigan residents need a Recreation Passport, which actually gets you in more than 120 Michigan state parks. The annual passport is $11 for cars, $5 for motorcycles. A one-day pass for nonresidents is $9. All are sold at the gate. Entry is free for those who walk or bike onto the island.

Photo Credits: Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and pedal boat by Michelle & Chris Gerard; aerial by Vito Palmisano; OABI by Toddstar Photography

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Belle Isle Aquarium
    Belle Isle State Park, 900 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit, MI 48207313-402-0466 Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Belle Isle Nature Center
    Belle Isle State Park, 176 Lakeside Drive, Detroit, MI 48207313-852-4056 Highlight on map | More Details
  3. Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
    Belle Isle State Park, 900 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit, MI 48207313-821-5428 Highlight on map | More Details
  4. Dossin Great Lakes Museum
    Belle Isle State Park, 100 Strand Drive, Detroit, MI 48207313-833-5538 Highlight on map | More Details