Best Picnic Spots In Detroit

August 17, 2011 8:56 AM

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Ants and cartoon bears aside, picnics combine two great things about life, food and nature. Whether you’re looking for a romantic date or just trying to eat your lunch in some fresh air … learn about Detroit’s scenic locales including Belle Isle, Rolling Hills County Park, Kensington Metropark and others in our list.
scenic Best Picnic Spots In Detroit

(credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Belle Isle

E Jefferson Ave
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 852-4075
Cost: Free

Despite recent budget cuts, the 982-acre island remains one of Detroit’s premier attractions.  Belle Isle has an incredible range of things to see and do, including 5 miles of scenic shoreline, cultural institutions, historical monuments, sports facilities, and outdoor recreation.  During your visit, consider packing a lunch and enjoy great views of the Detroit skyline, Windsor (Canada), freighter traffic, and the Ambassador Bridge from the beach or shoreline picnic areas.  There are dozens of great attractions to see on Belle Isle while enjoying a picnic.

Kensington Metropark


Kensington Metropark

2240 W. Buno Road
Milford, MI 48380
(800) 477-3178
Cost:   Daily Park Pass $4, Annual Car Pass $20

Kensington is most popular for its eight-mile paved path that circles Kent Lake. The pavement is smooth and the hills are just challenging enough to work up a good sweat – and it’s a terrific place for the kids to practice on their own bikes or blades. This park is loaded with beautiful, scenic spots. The Island Queen II, a 39-passenger pontoon boat makes hourly trips from 12n-6pm for just a few bucks/person. Rowboats and kayaks can be rented as well. Fishing is allowed year-round. A surprisingly large indoor/outdoor farm center is worth the trip alone. Hayrides and sleigh rides are offered. Take a self-guided tour of the park’s Nature Center and take a chance at spotting fish, heron, swans, deer, and many species of birds. In the winter months, there’s ice skating, and some really great sledding hills, with separate areas for your little ones (snowboarding is not allowed). Two toboggan runs are located in the Orchard Picnic area. Shush for hours on the 12 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails that loop around the park.

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Rolling Hills County Park

7660 Stony Creek Road
Ypsilanti, MI 48197-6611
(734) 484-9676
Cost: $5 residents; $9 nonresidents

The 363-acre park offers nearly two miles of paved trails, three miles of nature trails, an 18-hole disc golf course, picnic tables, and grills located throughout the park.

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Heritage Park

Between 10 & 11 Mile
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
Cost: Free

Included within this 211-acre park are more than four miles of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, a large picnic area, playground, sand volleyball courts, and an in-line hockey rink. Heritage Park is home to the Nature Discovery Center and has an amphitheater that hosts summer concerts.

independence oaks county park Best Picnic Spots In Detroit


Independence Oaks County Park

9501 Shasabaw Road
Clarkston, MI  48348
(248) 625-0877
Cost: Daily Rate $10 non-residents $5 Residents

At Independence Oaks, families can enjoy picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping, swimming, and nature study. The park has nearly 10 miles of marked nature, bike/blade, and ski trails, as well as ball fields, sand volleyball courts, playground equipment, and horseshoes pits. Picnicking, hiking, fishing, swimming, nature study and youth group camping. Picnic areas and rental shelters for group rental include ball field, sand volleyball courts, playground equipment, horseshoes pits. Picturesque Tony Filippis Memorial Garden and wheelchair-accessible gazebo shelter adjacent to Twin Chimneys area with view of Crooked Lake. In the winter, the park offers cross-country skiing, ski rental, ice skating, ice fishing, and warming shelters.

View Comments
  • Alan Amen

    One benefit to living in Wayne County is the amazing variety of recreational, athletic, educational and nature opportunities available for people of all ages, interests and abilities. Whether you live here or are just visiting, I invite you to take advantage of the services we provide.

    Wayne County Parks offers a broad range of activities including Jazz on the River, Kite Fest, Senior Picnic, Saturday in the Park and Pioneer Day. We cap the year with our Lightfest display in beautiful Hines Park. In addition, there are miles of trails at Crosswinds Marsh in Sumpter Township and the Holliday Nature Preserve in Westland.

    Wayne County Parks also owns Chandler Park Family Aquatic Center in Detroit and two golf courses, Inkster Valley in Inkster and Warren Valley in Dearborn Heights.

    Your tax dollars have provided new playscapes and picnic shelters along Hines Drive. In addition, improvements will be completed this year at the Shelter Building, Tourist Lodge and three bridges at Elizabeth Park. We also moved the Dog Park in Westland to a more visible location with a new fence, shelter and locking system.

    The best part is that most of the events and facilities in Wayne County Parks are free! The Nankin Mills Interpretive Center is open six days a week and there is no cost to tour.

    There are no entrance fees to the parks and no charges for any of our special events! We have two disc golf courses in Redford and Northville that are also free of charge.

    A world of friends, fun and fitness awaits you just outside your door. I encourage all Wayne County residents to discover and enjoy the world of Wayne County Parks!

    Quote from Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano

  • Alan Amen

    Nankin Mills Recreation Center is an historic site at the heart of Hines Park. The picnic area is nestled between the Tonquish Creek and the Rouge River. This spot was an important meeting point for the three Algonquin Indian Tribes, Ottawo, Ojibwa and Potowanami, during the late 1700’s.
    It is also one of the last farming grounds for the Potowamani Indian Tribes in Southeast Michigan. The European Settlers discovered the value of the area during the 1800’s as the river was dammed and the Nankin Gristmill was built around 1843. The Mill is presently operated as a:
    Nature Center
    Public Interpretive Programs
    Scout Programs
    School Trips & Outreach Programs
    The picnic area can accommodate large groups as it offers a large picnic shelter, play structure, two ball diamonds, beach volleyball courts and a comfort station.

    Nanking Mills Recreation Area was voted the 2009 Parents Pick Award for the Best Picnic/Playground in Detroit Area!

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