Fun In Detroit: Belle Isle
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Fun In Detroit: Belle Isle

Belle Isle, Detroit's island oasis park, offers fun for visitors of all ages.

Visitors to Detroit should not miss a trip to Belle Isle, the Motor City's uniquely urban island oasis park. There are many fun things to do on this 985 acre park just minutes from the attractions of downtown Detroit.

Crossing over the MacArthur Bridge, you will pass by the floral clock and Scott Fountain, and from there you can continue on the road all the way around the island, taking in the Detroit River, the beach, the Detroit and Windsor, Ontario city scapes, the private members-only Detroit Yacht Club, and many of the attractions on the island. Unfortunately, many lovely features have been closed for some time, such as the Belle Isle Zoo and the Belle Isle Aquarium. But the remaining features make a trip to Belle Isle a worthwhile destination for an afternoon of quiet fun.

As you drive around the island, you will see many places to stop along the way. There are several playgrounds on the island, including the large and modern Playscape on Kid Row. All around the island there are picnic shelters and picnic tables, some overlooking the Detroit river, some near play areas. You will see people jogging, riding their bikes, fishing, and having barbecues. There are statues, historical markers,crumbling old bridges, and interesting looking buildings; such as the Casino, which can be rented out for special events. Get out of your car and explore whenever you see something of interest to you. There is plentiful free parking on Belle Isle.

One site not to be missed on the island is the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. This showcase of plant life of all kinds is over 100 years old and the admission is free. After exploring inside, be sure to check out the koi pond outside as well as the extensive gardens.

The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is a good way to spend an hour or so while learning about the natural history of the area, peeking into aquariums, and if you're timing is right you might be able to see some deer, which are indigenous to the island, being fed by employees of the Nature Zoo. Admission is free here too. For a little history of the Great Lakes, visit the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, where admission is also free.

If you visit Belle Isle, be prepared for a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, visitors minding their own business, and some buildings and areas that have fallen into disrepair due to budget cuts throughout the years. There are one or two concession stands on Belle Isle, but they don't offer many options and the hours are sporadic. So if you plan on staying for a few hours, pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery. Chances are, you'll be able to find a perfect picnic spot with no one around to interrupt your lunch. 

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