If you’re in need of an island getaway this winter, check out what’s happening on Belle Isle! It’s been over a year since the state of Michigan leased the island from the city of Detroit, officially making Belle Isle the 102nd state park. This move, which will reportedly save the Detroit $4 million to $6 million a year, has also brought new security and maintenance to the island. With so many improvements, Belle Isle is becoming a local hotspot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
While winter rages on, Belle Isle still buzzes with activity, so come out for an afternoon and visit fan favorites like the Nature Zoo, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and the Belle Isle Aquarium. The snowy weather has also turned the island’s spacious landscape into a crisp winter wonderland, making it the perfect place to bring your kids for a day in the snow. The Belle Isle terrain is ideal for staging epic snowball fights or for building a snowman.
And if you’re worried about catching a chill, escape the cold by visiting the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. “It’s great to walk into a tropical building and get warm when it’s 10 below outside,” says Joe Hall, park supervisor for Belle Isle. This beautiful dome has captured the balmy feelings of summer, so come on by and stick your nose in a flower. The Palm House, the Tropical House, the Showroom, the Cactus House and the Fernery are all open this winter.
Due to the improvements happening on the island, all passenger vehicles visiting the park are now required to have a Recreation Passport. Recreation Passports only cost $11 a year for Michigan-registered vehicles and $5 for motorcycles, and their proceeds are used to support the continued maintenance of the park. This small fee is a great way for Detroit citizens to invest in the future of Belle Isle. Take a look at the Belle Isle Conservancy Blog to learn more about the Recreation Passport, as well as the different places you can purchase them.
What’s Coming Up?
Over the course of the year, there are over 300 events (and counting) happening on Belle Isle. “By next winter,” Hall explains, “we’ll also have ice skating rentals, snow shoes rentals, and cross country ski rentals during the winter season.” And if you’re wanting to get out in nature while supporting the island, you should consider volunteering for Saturday Stewardship Days. Held on the third Saturday of every month, Stewardship Days are an opportunity for volunteers to get their hands dirty and clean up invasive plant species across the island.
With so much happening, now’s the perfect time to get away from the concrete jungle and explore what’s new on Belle Isle. “It’s a pretty unique place where you can get out and enjoy nature,” says Hall. “You’re right between Canada and the U.S. You can’t get that kind of view anywhere else in the world.”
For more information on the events that are coming up in the state park, or if you want to schedule your own event, take a look at the Belle Isle Conservancy Website.