With the Once Around Belle Isle race coming up this weekend, we’ve put together a list of ways to spend your day in Belle Isle Park.
Make sure to purchase your Recreation Passport to the island, enabling you access to free attractions and parking. For more information on passport purchase, check out the Belle Isle Conservancy website for details.
From sandy beaches to grassy parks, a historic aquarium to an exotic conservatory, Belle Isle has it all and we have the insider’s look on how you can make the most of your day in one of Detroit’s most unique destination spots.
Open Year ‘Round
We’re kicking off our guide to Belle Isle with a list of attractions open year ‘round.
Belle Isle Aquarium
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!
Since the reopening in 2012, the Aquarium has continued to grow in exhibits and popularity, with new fish, restored tanks, and added fun for the whole family.
Travel through the diverse and unique collections from the Albino African Clawed Frog to Yellow Perch and everything in between.
Here’s something for science lovers: Science Saturday is a monthly presentation held on the second Saturday of each month. Guest speakers lecture on all things science and fun, taking guests on a journey through the Aquarium.
The Belle Isle Aquarium is open on the weekends, every Friday – Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and located at 900 Inselruhe Avenue on Belle Isle State Park. Admission and Parking at the Aquarium is free, but be advised that all vehicles entering Belle Isle require a Recreation Passport.
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
Stop and smell the flowers…and palm trees…and cacti?
That’s right: at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (ASWC), visitors can travel around various habitats without ever leaving the building.
Here’s how it works: the Conservatory is divided into five “houses:” The Palm House, Cactus House, Fernery, Tropical House, and the Show House.
Each house has a unique structure and design that allows these diverse plants to thrive under one roof, according to the Belle Isle Conservancy webpage.
Probably the most interesting house in the Conservatory is the Show House, with a changing display of flowers and plants to keep you on your toes.
As you’re checking out the grounds, be sure to stop by the Levi Barbour Memorial Fountain, a beautiful picture opportunity right in front of the Conservatory.
The ASWC is open and free to the public every Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and located on 900 Inselruhe Ave.
Dossin Great Lakes Museum
Dedicated to showcasing over 300 years of maritime history, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum features a variety of exhibits, attractions, films, and lectures on the history of the Great Lakes of Michigan.
Visitors are able to tour the 16,000-square foot museum, featuring a hydroplane, bow anchor, ship model, and their newest permanent exhibit, Built by the River.
Built by the River explores the link between Detroit and the river, according to the website. Visitors are able to experience this exhibit hands-on, steering a long-ship down the Detroit River.
The Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and is located on 100 Strand Drive. Admission and parking is free.
As Belle Isle is exposed to the Michigan elements, a few attractions have seasonal operation hours. Keep reading to learn more.
Belle Isle Nature Zoo
Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!
Well, Belle Isle Nature Zoo (BINZ) may not have those specific animals, but they do have an exhibit of the most interesting Michigan wildlife like snakes, deer, and turtles.
The mission of BINZ is to bring the wildlife of Michigan to the heart of Detroit, giving city dwellers and suburbanites the ability to experience the great outdoors.
The Zoo offers visitors the opportunity for environmental experiences like an inside look of an actual beehive, watching birds find food sources, and feeding deer.
All of this takes places while the workers address environmental awareness topics to the community, such as conservation, water protection, nature preservation, and community cleanup.
The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open seasonally from April – October with daily hours of 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Located at 176 Lakeside Drive, BINZ is open and free to the public.
Belle Isle Beach
Ahh! Sit back and relax on the Belle Isle Beach, located on 7845 Riverbank Drive and open Memorial Day – Labor Day from 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Bring your beach towel and sunscreen to soak up the last rays of summer sun. Forgot your beach supplies? Don’t worry: rentals are available on the beach and include beach chairs and umbrellas.
Looking for something to eat? Food vendors and concessions are available by the beach along with ice cream and frozen novelties. Yum!
If you’re looking for some excitement, water rentals are available for purchase and include canoes, pedal boats, kayaks (solo and tandem), and stand up paddleboards. Riverside Kayak Connection provides rentals; information on rental pricing can be found on their website.
Belle Isle Golf Range
Every March – October, Island-goers can enjoy the Belle Isle Golf Range, located at 175 Lakeside Drive.
This nine-acre, 30-bay full-length driving range is perfect for experts and beginners alike, with chip & putt practice areas, putting greens, and a 6-hole mini golf course. For information on range prices and cards, check out the Belle Isle Golf Range website.
Beginner Lessons can be purchased for $60 for five lessons that span 50 minutes. Here, participants will learn the basics of golf, like gripping the club, putting, chipping, half swing, and full swing. Golf equipment is provided.
If you’re looking for something challenging, check out the Intermediate Lessons, including play on the 6-hole mini golf course. For five lessons spanning 50 minutes each, the cost is $60 to kick your golf game into high gear.
Managed by Come Play Detroit, the Athletic Fields on Belle Isle are home to sports like softball, baseball, football, soccer, rugby, track, and handball/racquetball.
Come Play Detroit seeks to provide an opportunity for young adults to achieve a healthy lifestyle, becoming involved in their community. One of the ways they fulfill this mission is through the leagues on the Athletic Fields.
Registration for fall leagues is now open for applicants. Check out the Come Play Detroit website for information on how to register or to stay in the loop for league events you want to attend.
As you can see, Belle Isle is a beautiful Detroit attraction that provides endless opportunities to experience the wonder of the outdoors.
It’s also home to great picture opportunities. Help spread the beauty of Belle Isle by snapping your favorite shot on the island: whether in front of a fountain or a gorgeous sunset.
Make sure to tag us in your pictures on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @OpportunityDetroit. You never know: we might even repost your photo!
Here are a few of our favorite spots:
James Scott Memorial Fountain
Located at Sunset & Fountain Drive, the James Scott Memorial Fountain is one of the most well known images of Belle Isle. Strike a pose by the beautifully crafted foundation.
Grab a blanket and a loved one and snuggle up at Sunset Point, a beautiful spot on Belle Isle that overlooks our city skyline. Watch the sun go down on a perfect day on Belle Isle.
Sunset Point is open 7 days a week from 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse
On the north end of Belle Isle is the only lighthouse in the nation that is constructed of marble. This structure towers over the island, welcoming all to its sandy shores.
Plan Your Day Today
There’s something for everybody on Belle Isle Park: for the athletes, science and history buffs, and nature lovers alike, it’s truly a unique Detroit destination.