Detroit’s Belle Isle State Park Information and Tips

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Detroit's Belle Isle State Park Information and Tips

Detroit’s Belle Isle State Park Information and Tips

Belle Isle is a beautiful island park located in the Detroit River. This 982-acre park was developed in the late 19th century as a city park. Although currently owned by the city of Detroit, Belle Isle is managed as a state park by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Belle Isle Park is home to the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Belle Isle Nature Center, a municipal golf course, a half-mile swimming beach, and more!

If you haven’t been to Belle Isle recently, I highly recommend a visit! The park has gone through some major renovations with more projects in progress. Hubby and I visited the park last weekend (August 27) and we were pleasantly surprised by the improvements.

From new paved walking trails to a 3-acre garden called the Oudolf Garden, Belle Isle has so much to offer! Open from 5 am-10 pm seven days a week year-round, you can spend a few hours or the whole day at the park. And there’s even a food truck area located on Central Ave near Inselruhe Ave right next to the Giant Slide – Belle Isle’s newest (and most talked about) attraction.

When it comes to activities on the island, people enjoy biking, running, walking, kayaking, swimming, grilling, sightseeing, relaxing and so much more. And the new paved trails allow safer exercising and sightseeing. There are also some new kayak launches that enable you to kayak inland waterways or venture into the Detroit River.


The Aquarium and Conservatory 

During our recent visit, we checked out the Belle Isle Aquarium and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. With an open date of August 18, 1904, the Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest in the country. Just like many other attractions, it was closed due to COVID for 16 months. During this time, improvements to the tune of $1.2M took place.

The highlight of our day was a walk through the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, which is the oldest continually-running conservatory in the United States. It shares 13 acres of land with the formal gardens and the Lily Pond. To find out more about the conservatory, visit my other post which includes photos of the many exotic and rare collections of plants found within the facility. 

Tips for Visiting the Belle Isle
  1. There is no cost to enter the park as a pedestrian or cyclist. However, a Recreation Passport is needed to drive onto the island.
  2. There is public bus transportation to the island. Visit the link for more information.
  3. The park can get very busy on the weekends in the summer. When the park reaches a maximum, entry into the park is paused. Follow their Facebook page for updates on closures.
  4. Food trucks are available during peak season only. 
  5. Alcohol is only allowed with a permit from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. 
  6. Although there are picnic tables and benches in the park, it’s a good idea to bring your own chairs or a blanket.
  7. The aquarium and conservatory are free and donations are accepted. 
  8. Consider bringing your bicycle or kayak. 
  9. Wear good walking shoes. 
  10. Plan to take lots of photos!


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