Enjoy the Great Outdoors at These Michigan State Parks Near Detroit

These state parks have tons of scenic views and nature fun. Plus, they’re just a drive away!

Michigan is rich in natural beauty, whether you’re Up North or down in metro Detroit. 

A trip to the Upper Peninsula can be a magical nature experience, but a multi-night getaway isn’t always an option. For a close-to-home family adventure, plan a visit to a state park in southeast Michigan. 

These 10 scenic Michigan state parks offer tons of outdoor fun for families of all ages and abilities. Families can go hiking, fishing, picnicking, biking, camping and more at these nature spots. Plus, these outdoor destinations are just a drive away from Detroit, making them perfect for your next day trip or when you need a quick nature getaway. 

Happy trails! 

Michigan State Parks Near Detroit

Algonac State Park

michigan state parks
Photo credit: Michigan DNR

Spot endangered plants, birds and butterflies at this state park with views of the St. Clair River. Littles will love watching as freighters and boats drift by. 

Explore the riverfront, lake plain prairies and oak savannas using the park’s hiking and biking trails. The Bridge to Bay Trail is a whopping 54 miles and connects users to many other parks, museums, neighborhoods and scenic areas. Campgrounds are available for families planning an overnight trip, as is an unstaffed archery and shooting range. 

Family pets are welcome! A recreation passport is required for entry. 

Note: The campground and day-use area are closed through summer 2024. 

Bald Mountain State Recreation Area

While not an official state park, this Michigan recreation area is home to some of the steepest hills and most rugged terrain in the region. Families can enjoy swimming, fishing, hiking and mountain biking, as well as seasonal winter sports. Rustic cabins are available for overnight stays. 

The park’s main attraction for kids is Water Warrior Island, a floating water park with an obstacle course and slides. Families can also rent kayaks (single or tandem) and paddle boards. For an overnight water park trip, rustic cabins are available. Water Warrior Island fees are $20/hour, $35/two hours or $55/all day access. Kayak and paddle board rentals are $15-$35/hour. 

Bald Mountain offers a track chair to make the outdoors more accessible. Track chairs are off-road, electric chairs that can handle trails, snow, sand and water crossings that wheelchairs cannot navigate. Rent the track chair at the park headquarters on a first-come, first-served basis. 

A recreation passport is required for entry. 

Belle Isle State Park

michigan state parks
Photo credit: Paul Massie

Belle Isle is an urban state park offering scenic natural beauty and outdoor activities for residents. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities, including a giant slide and a swimming beach! 

Active families can explore the park’s river views, green spaces and natural beauty on walking and biking trails. Belle Isle Beach is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day for swimming, 

Families that prefer to interact with nature in a more structured setting can visit the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Belle Isle Nature Center or the Belle Isle Aquarium. 

A recreation passport is required for entry. 

Note: The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and gardens are closed through fall 2024. 

Dodge #4 State Park

michigan state parks
Photo credit: Diane Wilks

Dodge #4 State Park is a small state park on Cass Lake. Small but mighty, this mile of shoreline packs in a lot of outdoor fun! 

The park is a great place for family gatherings and picnics, as well as fishing, swimming and boating. Play volleyball at the beach volleyball courts, or get out on the water at one of the boat launches. Kayak rentals are available. 

Family pets are welcome! A recreation passport is required for entry. 

Hayes State Park

michigan state parks
Photo credit: Michigan DNR

Located in the heart of the rolling Irish Hills, Hayes State Park sits on Wamplers Lake. This park is surrounded by small inland lakes, making it a great destination for families that love to unwind by getting out on the water. 

Enjoy a large swimming area, two boat access sites, a fishing pier and a walking trail. For families interested in planning an overnight stay, a modern campground with cabins and lodges is available.  

 A recreation passport is required for entry. 

Maybury State Park

maybury state park
Photo credit: Michigan DNR

Maybury State Park is a natural gem tucked away at the edge of metro Detroit. The state park offers 944 acres of gently rolling terrain, open meadows, forests and fun outdoor recreation activities for families.

Hike six miles of interconnecting loops, or go fishing at a spring-fed pond. The park also offers an accessible playground and nature education programs for kids of all ages. 

If you have time, be sure to visit Maybury Farm for wagon rides, animal encounters, gardening experiences, farm fresh goodies and more family fun.

A recreation passport is required for entry. 

Seven Lakes State Park

michigan state parks
Photo credit: Paul Massie

Seven Lakes State Park is a haven for any family that loves to relax on the water. Living up to its name, the park was originally seven small lakes. Today, a dam creates one large body of water, Big Seven Lake.

Families can paddle, fish and swim across 230 acres of water. There is also a two-and-a-half mile trail for hiking or biking, scenic picnic areas and 70 campsites. 

A recreation passport is required for entry. 

William C. Sterling State Park 

michigan state parks
Couple using cell phone to take selfie on Lake Erie

Sterling State Park is Michigan’s only state park on Lake Erie! 

Pitch a tent on the lakefront or stay in a cottage with all the amenities you need for a weekend in the Great Outdoors. Catch fish in the lake or in one of the park’s fishing lagoons. Whether you’re exploring the park on land or by boat, there are plenty of exciting outdoor activities for families. 

A recreation passport is required for entry. 

Watkins Lake State Park

michigan state parks
Photo credit: Michigan DNR

Watkins Lake is the main draw at this state park, but the five-mile walking trail along a picturesque rolling landscape is also a great way to spend some family time outdoors. 

The spring and fall seasons at Watkins Lake State Park are exciting times for birdwatchers. In the winter, cross country skiers can take advantage of the slightly hilly landscape. 

A recreation passport is required for entry. 

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor 

michigan state parks
Milliken State Park & Harbor Facebook photos.

Thirty-one acres of green oasis await you at Milliken State Park, Detroit’s first urban state park. Enjoy shoreline fishing platforms, a water conservation wetlands area, views of boats in the harbor and even a replica lighthouse.

This park is a popular destination for picnics and gatherings. Its proximity to the Detroit Riverfront makes it a great place to stop and enjoy a picnic meal while you’re out exploring the city with your little ones. 

This state park is completely free and does not require a recreation passport. 


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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Metro Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for metro Detroit families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

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