Spend a Day Exploring Belle Isle

By: Amber Ogden | July 9, 2015

Whenever a free day presents itself during the summer, your best bet is to spend your time outdoors. While there are many ways to enjoy the warmth Metro Detroit has to offer throughout the summer months, you may be looking for a new suggestion. Here’s one: spend a day on Belle Isle!

Belle Isle is Michigan’s 102nd state park, and spans approximately 987 acres. While you will need a recreation passport on your car to access Belle Isle by vehicle, pedestrian access (walkers, cyclists and those using public transportation) is granted for free.

There’s always something fun going on at Belle Isle, like Mike Posner’s free “Ninja Show Tour” concert earlier this week. If you’re looking to spend an afternoon on Belle Isle, consider one of the following:

Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, 7000 Inselruhe Ave., has been open for over 110 years and is divided into five different sections: Tropical House, the Palm House, Cactus House, Showroom and the Fernery. In 1955, the Conservatory was dedicated to Mrs. Anna Scripps Whitcomb, who donated her 600 plant orchid collection to the city. See it for yourself Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Belle Isle Aquarium, 900 Inselruhe Ave., was the first public aquarium open in the United States when it debuted in 1904. It was also the oldest continually operating aquarium in North America until it closed in 2005. Reopened since 2012, the aquarium is open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Consider planning your visit around Science Saturdays, a lecture series that takes place the first Saturday of each month in which speakers give 20 minute presentations on a particular topic. Aquarium admission and parking are free.

Belle Isle Nature Zoo, 176 Lakeside Dr., has everything you need to keep your kids entertained (and educated) this summer, from amphibians to fish to mammals to reptiles. Watch migratory birds from the observation window, or learn about and feed fallow deer at the Deer Encounter. Throughout the summer, the Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is free with admission to Belle Isle State Park.

Belle Isle Golf Range, 175 Lakeside Dr., allows you to work on your swing, island style. The nine-acre practice facility includes a sand bunker practice area, five hole mini course, three USGA quality sand-based putting greens and more. You can even take lessons here! Individual and group lessons are available, as well as a junior golf camp for the little ones.

Belle Isle Beach is the city of Detroit’s only public beach, which is free to access through Labor Day. Right next to the beach you’ll find the water slide, where you can get unlimited rides in the form of a $3 day pass.

Additional Belle Isle attractions you don’t want to miss out on include Dossin Great Lakes Museum, James Scott Memorial Fountain and Borreal Wetlands Forest.

Enjoy exploring Belle Isle Park!