If you’re in need of an island escape, Belle Isle State Park is the perfect place to escape with the family all year long.

The state park and jewel of Detroit is one of our favorite places to visit any time of the year. With a $13 annual state park pass, you can drive on the island and enjoy free family fun. In addition to the destinations listed below you can also find fun nature trails, sport fields and perfect photo-ops for a complete day of family fun.

Plan your trip for a special event, here are a few for the calendar:



Belle Isle Aquarium

Designed by famed architect, Albert Kahn, the over 100 year old aquarium is the oldest in the county. Although it is relatively small, it is fun to explore – you definitely want to see the ‘Finding Nemo’ inspired exhibit and say hi to Mr. Ray. The aquarium is FREE to visit and open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum

A great hands-on museum for kids and adults, the Dossin Museum celebrates the maritime history of Detroit. Take a seat on a variety of boat exhibits and take a look outside to see what kind of steamboats you can spot on the River. An outdoor enhancement project is underway and you can now enjoy a new Riverwalk with observation telescope and patio seating. The museum is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm.

Belle Isle Nature Center

The Belle Isle Nature Center is one of our favorite FREE destinations in metro Detroit and with state-of-the-art updates, your littles will love it. From the minute you enter, kids will be excited to explore. Animal lovers will rush to the turtle pond and more active kids will crawl through the tunnels where they can pretend to be ants hard at work collecting and storing food. Afterwards go around the circular loop to see native fish and animals and check out hands-on activities to help kids learn about nature.

The Belle Isle Nature Center is also where you will find our favorite play structure with large slides, zip lines, climbing walls and more. The Playground on Oakway Road is open and accessible to the public daily.

Oudolf Garden Detroit

Oudolf Garden Detroit is a local group of volunteers dedicated to creating and maintaining a Piet Oudolf public garden in Detroit. Both artistic and ecological, the garden project is underway and will be fun to watch grow in the years to come.

Belle Isle Beach

Soak up the sun, play in the sand and make a splash in the Detroit River at Belle Isle Beach. The beach is open to the public daily from 5am to 9pm.


Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

Enjoy a tropical escape in the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory! The oldest conservatory in the country features a Palm House,  Tropical House, Cactus House, a sunken Fernery, and Show House. It’s also a beautiful background for some family photos and fun to explore. The Conservatory is currently being repaired but the grounds are still gorgeous.

Giant Slide

Everyone who grew up in metro Detroit has memories of going down the 6 lane slide on Belle Isle and now you can make new ones. Details on the Giant Slide re-opening for 2023 are TBD but it was a fan favorite in 2022.

Photo credit: Belle Isle Nature Center Playground