Make a Splash at Metro Detroit’s Newest Parks and Water Parks

By: Karen Dybis | July 13, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Having a full day to explore, play and enjoy the sunshine in Metro Detroit is what makes summer vacation so much fun for families. Kids get to stretch their legs at new playgrounds or splash around at freshly opened splash pads and water parks, making long-term memories during their break from school, both virtual or in person.

Metro Detroit has some of the finest parks in the Midwest with a wide variety of things to do. There are the metro parks, which serve the area community with great lakefronts, interesting activities and lots of play areas. There also are city parks that give you areas for enjoying a leisurely lunch, some waterfront fun and big, open fields for sports or just flopping onto your back and watching the clouds float by.

As the state continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP), with major support from Rocket Mortgage and DTE Beacon Park Foundation, is planning a full summer of fun and free activities for people of all ages. The DDP encourages people to enjoy the outdoors in Downtown Detroit’s parks and public spaces and to shop and eat at local retailers and restaurants. 

“As more people return to work and are vaccinated for COVID-19, foot traffic is increasing and visitors will be enjoying our beautiful outdoor spaces,” said David Cowan, chief public space officer for the Downtown Detroit Partnership. “We want to create opportunities for Detroiters and beyond to explore Downtown and its dynamic cultural and entertainment scene in a way that is safe and comfortable. This summer’s events are certain to bring about a return to normalcy and drive business back to Downtown Detroit.” 

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The DDP reports Downtown Detroit has experienced a 174 percent increase in pedestrian traffic since April, as visitors begin to take advantage of Detroit’s outdoor venues and the warmer weather that means summer in Michigan is fully activated. 

Most Metro Detroit parks are open to the public and are free to attend. A few local waterparks have an entry fee, so you’ll want to call in advance and find out what that admission price is. You will also want to bring money for locker rental, a snack from a nearby vending machine or snack bar as well as any kind of additional supplies you may need when you get there, like forgotten bug spray or sunscreen.

Here are five new parks or water features that families across Metro Detroit can explore this summer as they look for things to do together. 

Lily Pad Springs

Lily Pad Springs in West Bloomfield is the largest splash pad in Michigan with 5,500 square feet of watery fun. The new park includes more than 50 play features, four water slides, a splash bucket that dumps 55 gallons of water as well as a 2,400-square-foot custom climbable structure. Best of all for those sunny Metro Detroit days, there are shaded areas all around. There are free public lockers and outdoor showers for getting in and out in a breeze. The cost is $4/resident or $6/nonresident per session.

Playful Dragon

This pocket park is a great spot in Orion Township to stop with the family for a run around on a warm afternoon. The new park at the corner of Baldwin Road and Jordan has a path, cool animal features and a special display that will make kids of all ages feel like they’ve stepped into a fairy tale: A huge “Playful Dragon” play structure. It has a long red tongue that kids can use for a slide and huge wings that everyone will have fun climbing on and around. 

Spencer Park

Rochester is home to one of the most enjoyable new parks in Metro Detroit. Spencer Park is an ideal summer destination with its amazing playground and a beautiful beach. You can make a splash at the beach, let the kids run around the playground and get out on the lake with a boat rental. Rental operations open at 11 a.m., with the last rental going out at 6 p.m. It’s $6 per hour for a row boat or pedal boat. Spencer Park has a daily car fee on weekends and holidays of $15 ($8 for residents). It is open from 10am to dusk daily.

Turtle Cove

Head to Belleville for some waterpark excitement. The Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center is a summer must for the summer. Zip down two waterslides, drift along a lazy river, get soaked under the 300-gallon dumping bucket at the splash pad and wade into the zero-depth entry pool with lap lanes. Have fun on the water by renting a canoe or kayak to explore the Huron River. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for kids under four feet and children under 2.5 feet are free! You also need a general park admission. 

The Beach at Campus Martius Park

Get ready for some sandy good times amid Detroit’s skyscrapers. The Beach at Campus Martius Park is back and it is the only urban beach in the region and an island oasis in the heart of Downtown Detroit. Visitors can sit back, sink their feet into the warm sand and relax in one of the many seating options, including colorful beach and lounge chairs or have fun in the sun building sandcastles with the family. Umbrellas and palm trees in the park offer a resort-like feel and staycation vibes for those looking to stay cool on a hot, summer day.