A 982-acre island park, and the ‘Jewel of Detroit’, Belle Isle has so many things to offer to its visitors. Developed in the late 19th century, one-third of the island is covered in natural wood and has a wide variety of flora and fauna.
It also has quite a few historical landmarks, picnic areas, beaches, and hiking trails, including the only marble lighthouse in the nation, making it a great place for hiking, biking, and spending some relaxing time.
Things To Do On Belle Isle
1. William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse
Description: Located on the northeast end of the island and facing Lake St. Clair, it was named after William Livingston, the owner of Detroit Evening Journal and an important contributor to the improvements on the Great Lakes. The lighthouse was designed by the famous architect, Albert Kahn and is 58 feet tall and made out of Georgia marble, making it the only marble lighthouse in the country. An important historical landmark, the lighthouse is still in work and serves as a memorial to the person it was named after.
It is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit with friends and family. Explore the grounds and admire the stunning architecture. The Canadian shoreline is also visible from the lighthouse.
Address: William Livingstone Memorial Light, Detroit, MI 48207, United States
How to reach: you can easily take a walking tour to this part of the island
Timings: remains open throughout the week between 5 am and 10 pm.
2. Belle Isle Aquarium
Description: Designed by Albert Kahn and George D. Mason and opened in 1904, it was at one time the oldest aquarium in the United States and a very popular place among locals and tourists. Besides being a historical landmark, The aquarium also holds one of the largest varieties of fish from all around the world including clownfish, starfish, emperor red snapper, catfish, bichir, Arowana, and many more. It is a great place to take kids to and have an informative and breathtaking experience.
Address: 3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207, United States
How to reach: You can drive or take a can or bus to reach the aquarium. You can also take your bike.
Timings: Opens from Friday to Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm.
3. Belle Isle Conservatory
Description: Also known as the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, it is a greenhouse and botanical garden that aims to protect, preserve, restore ad enhance the natural environment and the historical landmarks of the island. It was also designed by Albert Kahn and is divided into five houses based on different climates as Palm House, the Tropical House, the Cactus House, a sunken Fernery, and the Show House. It also has beautiful gardens and a pond and is surrounded by beautiful flowers all around. This is a great place to visit and have the chance to see rare and exotic plants from all over the world thriving here.
Address: 4 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207, United States
How to reach: it can be reached by car or bus.
Timings: Opens from Wednesday to Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm.
4. Douglas MacArthur Bridge
Description: Completed in 1923, the bridge spans over the Detroit River and connects the island with Detroit, and is the only way to enter the island. Another historical landmark, the bridge was the third bridge to be built over the river and the first to stand the test of time. It features 19 arches and covers 2193 feet across the river. This architectural structure is a remarkable sight to see and is famous for its arch design. It is a very picturesque bridge.
Address: 7200 E Jefferson, Detroit, MI 48214, United States
How to reach: you can travel over the bridge in a bus, car, or taxi but a recreation passport is needed to drive into the island.
Timings: opens all year
5. Dossin Great Lakes Museum
Description: A historic maritime museum, it spreads over 16000 sq ft and showcases the maritime history of the Great Lakes over the period of more than 300 years. The exhibits include rotating as well as permanent displays and are suitable for both children and adults. Some of the exhibits included are Built By the River, The Gothic Room, the Miss Pepsi Hydroplane, and the S.S William Clay Ford Pilot House. Another fascinating display includes the bow anchor from one of the largest shipwrecks on the Great Lake.
Address: 100 The Strand, Detroit, MI 48207, United States
How to reach: the museum can be reached by either bus or car.
Timings: Opens from Friday to Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm.
6. Belle Isle Beach
Description: This beach is a far sight from the hustle and bustle of Detroit city and an awesome getaway to spend the day soaking up the sun and splashing in the water. You can also view the Detroit skyline from the beach. The beach is a great place to unwind and spend time with friends, family, and kids, having a picnic, floating in the water, reading a book, watching the sunset, or walking along the shore. You can also fish or bike on the bike paths.
Address: 7845 Riverbank Drive
How to reach: it can be reached by bus or car.
Timings: open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Visit Belle Isle Park Detroit
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your trip to Belle Isle Park:
- A Recreation Passport is required for all vehicles to enter Belle Isle Park.
- Make sure to pack a water cooler, and food and snacks while traveling to the island since there are no restaurants there. You can also get food from the food carts.
- Visiting the island is free of cost if you have the state park pass on your license plate
How To Get To Belle Isle Park In Detroit
To enter the island by car, you will need a Recreation Passport that can be purchased from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on entering the island park.
Things To See On Belle Isle
The park is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. It has lots of gardens, parks, a beach, museums, and historic structures that can easily be explored in a day or two. Some must-see things on Belle Isle include Belle Isle Aquarium, Douglas MacArthur Bridge, Belle Isle Nature Center, Belle Isle Conservatory, James Scott Memorial Fountain, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Belle Isle Worth Visiting?
Belle Isle is a great place to go and makes for a quick getaway destination. It is a beautiful place with historical and cultural significance and has plenty of natural vegetation, picnic spots, and hiking and biking trails.
2. How Long Does It Take To Go Through Belle Isle Aquarium?
It takes fifteen minutes to get through the Belle Isle Aquarium.
3. What Is Belle Isle Famous For?
It is known as the ‘Jewel of Detroit’ and is famous for its rich history and natural beauty. Its historic landmarks, perennial gardens, museums, and outdoor recreation space make it a popular destination.
4. How Much Is The Giant Slide At Belle Isle?
Each ride on the Giant Slide cost $1.
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