An island in the Detroit River is home to a ton of history and lots of fun things to do right outside the city. Belle Isle Park is our own little slice of natural splendor without having to leave the concrete jungle. One of the most exciting spots is the aquarium, which is the oldest in the country. 

The aquarium's architecture is what's the most striking about the place. It stands next to the sparkling glass domes that make up the conservatory. 

The front is a very intimidating facade with intricate carvings and on the inside, you're met with an unexpected burst of color. 

The ceiling is covered in green tiles that seem to glow — it feels like you've stepped into an exclusive underground club. You can almost feel the guests of 100 years ago walking along with you. 

Built in 1905, it was the third-largest aquarium in the U.S. at the time. Today, it's the oldest aquarium in the entire country. 

Parking and admission are free; however, a recreation passport is required to enter the island in a car. You can purchase those at the entrance or get the pass added to your license plate when you renew your registration. 

Under the aquarium is a speakeasy that was in business during the Prohibition Era. As if this place wasn't cool enough, there's an underground club that used to let people party their hearts out. 

The speakeasy is only open to the public during certain special events so make sure to look out for an opportunity to check it out.

Outside of the aquarium itself, there is a koi pond that is filled with fish annually. In the past, Belle Isle has had a springtime celebration for them.

The greenhouse is in the domed building and houses plants in five different climates. Once you've had a full day of enjoying nature, you can head to a hidden bar in the area. 

Belle Isle Aquarium

Price: Parking and admission to the exhibit are free; however, you do need an $11 recreation passport to enter the island in a car. 

Hours: Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 

Address: 3 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit, MI

Why You Need To Go: If you have a free Saturday or Sunday, this is the perfect little day trip that's close to the city. It's a gorgeous piece of history that will bring you joy and make you feel closer to the spirit of Detroit. 

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