Whether you are young or young at heart, spending a day at an aquarium is a fun activity for all ages. The Belle Isle Aquarium located in Detroit is a great place to visit during a weekend and is the perfect backup plan when planning a weekend in Detroit in the event of a rainy day.
Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium is located on the 982 acre Belle Island Park, which is a destination in itself. Other activities in Belle Isle Park include the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Belle Isle Nature Center, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and the James Scott Memorial Fountain.
The Belle Isle Aquarium is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm.
Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium dates all the way back to 1904 where it was designed by Detroit’s famed architect Albert Kahn. The building is known for its green tiled walls, arched ceilings and unique character. When the aquarium was first opened, it was the third largest aquarium in the world. It remained a popular gathering spot in Detroit, hosting numerous events and being a speakeasy during prohibition. Saltwater had to be shipped in from the Atlantic Ocean in order to have saltwater specimen. The aquarium fell on tough times and had to close in 2005 but reopened in 2012. Since reopening, the aquarium has seen attendance triple.
Belle Isle Aquarium was also known to be America’s oldest continually operated public aquarium, as the sign on the wall will tell you. Today the aquarium is run completely by volunteers.
The aquarium’s goal is also to educate their visitors about the threat of invasive species to the Great Lakes region. They have an invasive species tank that features Asian Carp on display as well as various species that are invasive and destructive to Michigan’s wetland habitats. These include zebra mussels, quagga mussels, round goby and white perch.
The staff and volunteers of the Belle Isle Aquarium also educate their visitors on ways to protect lakes and rivers in Michigan, including the importance of cleaning boats before transporting them and ballast water technologies that prevent spreading of invasive species.
Parking is available on site, but a recreational passport is required. As of today, parking costs $11 per vehicle, $5 for motorcycles, and $16 for commercial vehicles. There is no entrance fee for bicycles or for anyone walking to Belle Isle. You can find parking additional information on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.
The easiest way to get a hold of the Detroit aquarium is to give them a call at (313) 402-0466. The venue can also be available for private events like corporate parties and weddings. You can find them at 900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207.