Don’t let Detroit’s status as the largest city in Michigan keep you from appreciating its natural beauty. After all, our beloved Motor City is chock full of peaceful destinations, surrounding splendor, and plenty of outdoor gems. If you’re ready to experience our region like never before, hop in the car and take this natural wonders road trip through Detroit and its neighboring communities.
For an adjustable map of our route, which can be rearranged to suit your travel needs, click here.
1. Lake St. Clair Metropark
Whether you’re stopping by in the heat of summer or visiting on a chilly winter afternoon, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with the natural beauty of Lake St. Clair Metropark. This stunning destination along the shores of Lake St. Clair itself features 770 stunning acres and offers everything from hiking trails to boating space to cross-country skiing. The whole family will be enamored.
2. Blue Heron Lagoon
It’s no secret that Belle Isle is one of the most beloved and beautiful places to spend time in Detroit, but did you know that there’s a marvelous lagoon trail within this spectacular island park? This lovely loop trail comprises just over two miles and leads walkers past Blue Heron Lagoon, a pretty inland lake that often flies under the radar. During your journey, you’ll also appreciate beautiful Detroit River views and the impressive William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse, which dates back to 1930.
3. Milliken State Park and Harbor
One of Detroit’s most unique features is its state park right here within city limits: Milliken State Park and Harbor. In fact, this riverfront locale is the first urban state park in all of Michigan, which only adds to its charm. Check out a 63-foot light tower, watch boats make their way down the Detroit River, appreciate greenery and garden space during warmer months, or settle in for a picnic lunch. What’s not to love?
4. Eliza Howell Park
If you’re looking for a dash of peace and quiet without venturing too far from the heart of Detroit, Eliza Howell Park is a perfect destination. The park is a real treasure of Northwest Detroit, offering 250 sprawling acres and two miles of hiking paths that wind through towering trees, prairie land, and even a few wildflower patches. You might even spot a few unique bird species as you explore the park with the family in tow.
5. Nichols Arboretum
While Ann Arbor is slightly outside the immediate Metro Detroit area, we think it’s well worth an hour-long drive from the city. Upon arriving, you’ll find yourself happily overwhelmed by a real natural wonderland and some of the most amazing scenery in all of Michigan. Known by locals and University of Michigan students as “the Arb,” this 123-acre space offers Huron River Access, lush gardens, wooded hiking trails, greenery galore, and rich beauty in every season. You might never want to head home.
6. Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge
Despite its many impressive features, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge remains something of a spectacular hidden treasure among Motor City residents and those who live nearby. This 5,868-acre space is jointly managed by the United States and Canada and boasts the title of North America’s only international wildlife refuge. Accessible via Grosse Ile, the refuge offers three primary public use sections: Gibraltar Bay, the Strong Unit, and the Fix Unit. From birdwatching to fishing to meandering through the lush landscape, there’s so much to appreciate when you make the journey to this utterly original outdoor locale.
So, there you have it: a natural wonders road trip through Detroit that leads to some of the area’s most marvelous attractions. Have you visited any of these pretty places during previous outings with loved ones? Which of your favorites made (or didn’t make) our list? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a Facebook comment or recommend another natural wonder in Metro Detroit by filling out our nomination form here.