Who says Detroiters are only enamored with the city life? Sure, those of us who call Detroit home certainly appreciate the hustle and bustle of day-to-day activities throughout the metropolis, but that doesn’t mean we lack admiration for the great outdoors. In fact, Metro Detroit is home to some of the state’s prettiest and most peaceful natural attractions. If you’re a Motor City resident who simply adores nature, these nine destinations undoubtedly belong on your bucket list.
1. Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve (27215 W 10 Mile Rd, Southfield)
There’s a real sense of peace throughout this stunning destination, which sits just a short drive from downtown Detroit in the suburb of Southfield. When you visit Carpenter Lake, you’ll find 42 wooded acres, a stunning inland body of water, fishing platforms, native meadows, and so much more. Explorers of all ages will appreciate all that this spot has to offer.
2. Kensington Metropark (4570 Huron River Pkwy, Milford)
If you’re looking to make a full day out of your next outdoor adventure, head to Kensington Metropark. Nature enthusiasts will be in heaven while appreciating the many wonders of this 4,481-acre park, which is home to recreational adventure options and events throughout the year. From cross-country skiing in the winter months to biking trails and beaches for warmer days, Kensington has something for everyone.
3. Red Oaks Nature Center (30300 Hales St, Madison Heights)
Seeking a healthy dose of peace and quiet? Red Oaks Nature Center fits the bill. This 38-acre gem is full to the brim with greenery, growth, and plenty of pathways that will help you escape the stresses of city life. In addition to a paved trail, there’s also an indoor area that houses classrooms, educational exhibits, and space for special events throughout the year.
4. Milliken State Park and Harbor (1900 Atwater St, Detroit)
This magical spot is tucked away within the city limits, so you won’t have to venture too far when you want to explore its many facets. Milliken State Park sits along the banks of the beautiful Detroit River and features a charming lighthouse, not to mention plenty of greenery for those who want to picnic or read under the sun. Watch boats make their way through the waterway as you unwind here.
5. Belle Isle Nature Center (176 Lakeside Dr, Detroit)
You’ve surely heard of Belle Isle, but did you know that it’s home to a fantastic nature center? Outdoor fanatics should undoubtedly explore this spot at least once, as its exhibits, animal encounter options, and family-friendly atmosphere will quickly capture your attention. While admission to the nature center itself is free, visitors should be prepared to pay a $12 entrance fee to access Belle Isle as a whole.
6. Lake St. Clair Metropark (31300 Metro Pkwy, Harrison Charter Township)
For those who can’t get enough fresh air, Lake St. Clair Metropark is an absolute must-see. This gorgeous and sprawling spot is home to nearly every outdoor attraction imaginable, from boat rentals to birdwatching to hiking and picnic areas. Embark on a geocaching journey or visit the park’s golf course. No matter how you choose to appreciate the great outdoors, you’ll find something to love here.
7. Nichols Arboretum (1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor)
Make your way to Ann Arbor for a whimsical experience at Nichols Arboretum, also known as the Arb. This stunning space is home to more than 120 acres of land, including plenty of space along the shores of the Huron River. As you walk through, you’ll encounter everything from wildflowers to towering trees, not to mention all sorts of wonderful wildlife. This is nature at its most magical.
8. Lakeport State Park (7605 Lakeshore Rd, Fort Gratiot Twp)
Do you prefer to appreciate nature by spending time along the shoreline? Lakeport State Park has you covered, offering campsites and access to the stunning shores of Lake Huron. Whether you rent a cozy cabin along the lake or snag a spot at the campground, this state park will make you feel like you’re in an entirely new world — despite being just an hour from Detroit by car.
9. Whitcomb Conservatory (4 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit)
This colorful spot on Belle Isle is sure to take your breath away with its seemingly endless array of blooms and pathways. Whether you’re enjoying tropical foliage or snapping a few photos of the exterior, this botanical garden deserves a spot on your Metro Detroit bucket list. It’s easy to see why this locale remains one of the Motor City’s most popular attractions.
If you were crafting your own bucket list for nature lovers throughout the Detroit area, which destinations would you include? We love hearing from you, so share your thoughts with us in the comment section below or make an official recommendation by filling out our nomination form
here. Happy trails, Detroiters!
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