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Best Parks In Detroit

belle isle
(credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

After one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, metro Detroiters are flocking by the bus full (and boat full) to some of the Motor City's best parks (and island parks). Many of the city's best parks offer free admission and are open most anytime someone is looking to get out to enjoy the warm weather. Detroit's parks are also unique because of their long and rich history within this 300-year-old city, and many have some very unique and time-spanning history of their own. Get out there and celebrate the nice weather now, because before long, old man winter will return to blow us back indoors before you know it.

Belle Isle State Park
Belle Isle Conservancy
8109 E Jefferson Ave.
Detroit, MI 48214
(313) 331-7760

As of February 2014, Belle Isle, the crown jewel of Detroit city parks, has officially become a state park. While many residents fought this transition at first, park officials have quickly demonstrated that most of the planned changes will benefit everyone and provide a much cleaner, more beautiful park for Detroiters and visitors alike to enjoy. Commissioned and designed by New York City's Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted in 1879 after being purchased by Detroit's city fathers for the staggering (at the time) price of $200,000, this 983-acre island was renamed back to its original name of "Belle Isle," meaning "Beautiful Island." Being such a magnificent and large island, there is absolutely no shortage of things to do. Please visit the website for more information.

Belle Isle Aquarium 
Belle Isle Conservancy
8109 E Jefferson Ave.
Detroit, MI 48214
(313) 331-7760

We couldn't mention the amazing Belle Isle Park and not give the Belle Isle Aquarium its own entry on this list. Technically considered a public aquarium, this landmark built and opened in 1904 by architect Albert Kahn is the longest continually running aquarium within North America. It closed in 2005 after the city was unable to afford its expenses, but reopened back in 2012 and is now run entirely by volunteers who are a part of the Belle Isle Conservancy. The historic 10,000-square-foot building features a single large gallery with some impressive wildlife and an arched ceiling covered in green glass tile and iridescent blue and green lights to evoke an underwater feeling while within the structure. Admission and parking are always free.


Campus Martius Park
800 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 962-0101

If it's more of an urban setting you prefer, Campus Martius Park, right in the heart of downtown Detroit, is the place for you. With restaurants, walking areas and nature settings to boot, Campus Martius serves as a meeting place for friends, families and coworkers in the hustle and bustle of the downtown atmosphere. This park has been renovated and is now home to many of the area's hippest eateries and much of the Motown tech hub that young people and longtime residents have grown accustomed to. And with its close proximity to just about everything Detroit has to offer, you're never too far from getting right back on your daily schedule.

Related: Best Kayaking Around Detroit

Palmer Park
910 Merrill Plaisance St.
Detroit, MI 48203
(313) 757-2751

When the Detroit bankruptcy was looming and city budget cuts were in full swing in the past few years, residents and devotees of the historic Palmer Park district of Detroit banded together in an effort to save their little slice of heaven right in the picturesque neighborhood of the Motor City. Palmer Park was officially saved by the People for Palmer Park movement, and today, the park is flourishing with many new events and attractions for young and old alike. Like Belle Isle, Palmer Park was developed and designed by famed New York City Central Park mastermind Frederick Law Olmstead in the late 1800s and has become well known as one of the country's most beautiful parks. Volunteers gather year-round to help beautify the park and hold special events to raise awareness and promote the natural splendor of this incredible public park. For more information on events, or even on how to get involved, please visit the People for Palmer Park's website.


Hart Plaza Park
1 Hart Plaza
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 877-8057

Hart Plaza is one of the most popular parks in the city of Detroit. Located along the mighty Detroit River, Hart Plaza boasts some incredible views of the Windsor, Canada skyline and is host to many incredibly popular events within the Motor City, such as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, The Detroit Jazz Festival, Motor City Pride Parade and the Detroit City Fireworks. In 2014, the city is going all out to promote the natural splendor of the park, with its many trees, grassy areas and garden settings. If you're looking to just take a nice afternoon walk through nature along the river's edge, perhaps while on a break from work, you cannot beat the easy access and clean surroundings of Detroit's Hart Plaza.

Related: Best Hotels And Halls For Weddings In Metro Detroit

Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at
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