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Amazing Aquariums and Zoos in Michigan

Michigan aquariums

Discover Michigan’s Top Zoos and Aquariums

We’re not ALL about the beaches in Michigan: Michigan aquariums and zoo’s are almost as plentiful here!

We’ve got more than 25 amazing aquariums and zoo’s throughout the state, just waiting for your to explore. So take a walk on the wild side and explore one of these spectacular sanctuaries of wildlife.

Field trips to Michigan zoos and aquariums are a rite of passage for many Michigan school students, but did you know that visiting a zoological park is one of the top outdoor activities in Michigan for families, perfect for a day trip or even a Michigan vacation?

Visiting a zoo, aquarium, or animal sanctuary is always a fantastic choice for a family outing. The thrill of seeing wild animals up close with the opportunity to learn about wildlife conservation making a visit to the zoo both an educational and awe-inspiring experience.

Read on to discover some of our favorite aquariums and zoos in Michigan.

Aquariums in Michigan

Belle Isle Aquarium

3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
Phone: (313) 402-0466

The Belle Isle Aquarium is a gorgeous and historic building on Belle Isle. Known to be the oldest aquarium in North America when it was originally closed in 2003. Since its reopening in 2012, it has exploded in popularity, and for good reason.

This intimate aquarium experience is enhanced by the stunning architecture all around and the beauty of Belle Isle around it. This is a one-of-a-kind local aquarium experience you don’t want to miss out on.

Use our Guide to Belle Isle to learn more about the aquarium and Belle Isle, the “Jewel of Detroit.”

top aquariums and zoos in michigan
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SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

4316 Baldwin Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Phone: (248) 409-6001

The SEA LIFE MIchigan aquarium Auburn Hills is the newest and largest aquarium in the state. This location is home to several unique exhibits you simply can’t find anywhere else in Michigan.

Among these are an underwater ocean tunnel where you can see 20 species, such as turtles and sharks swimming overhead and a 360 degree schooling ring exhibit where you will find yourself surrounded by hundreds of schooling fish, like pilchards or flagtails.

The aquarium experience of a lifetime is finally here in Michigan for the whole family to enjoy.

lions at a michigan zoo - top aquariums and zoos in Michigan

Detroit Zoo

8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067
Phone: 248-541-5717

Ever heard of a Macaroni penguin? You can get an up-close-and-personal view of these noodle-headed birds at the Detroit Zoo and watch as they frolic and play with their tuxedoed friends.

The Detroit Zoo, located in Royal Oak, MI, boasts that it is Michigan’s largest family attraction, drawing millions of visitors to see and learn about the wildlife in their care.

Despite being closed for repairs, the world-famous Polk Penguin Conservation Center is a favorite among guests, who flock to the aquarium to watch the penguins play.

There’s so much more here, too. Giraffes, apes, elephants, zebras and even pink flamingoes are some of the animals that reside at the zoo.

Amur Tigers are among the newest species to be featured at the Detroit Zoo and have become popular quickly. For a more close-up experience with many Michigan-native species while still supporting the Detroit Zoological Society, consider visiting the Belle Isle Nature Center.

The zoo’s dedication to creature conservancy and top-notch exhibits make it a highlight in the American Association of Zoos.

zoos and aquariums in Michigan

John Ball Zoo

1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: 616-336-4300

Those in the Grand Rapids area know John Ball Zoo to be a significant regional attraction.

The red pandas are a favorite among zoo guests and expectations for them to become even more active and visible this spring makes this a great place for an outing once the weather warms up.

With ten habitats housing over 2,000 animals (and more animal touching exhibits than any other zoo in the state) John Ball Zoo is an exciting place for the whole family.

Zebra in a Michigan Zoo

Binder Park Zoo

7400 Division Dr., Battle Creek, MI 49014
Phone: 269-979-3151

Binder Park Zoo is a Southwest Michigan gem that you can find in Battle Creek.

Among the largest of the Michigan zoos, Binder Park really wows guests with the Wild Africa exhibit, where you can see a variety of African wildlife roaming the open plains, including zebras, impalas, gazelles, and giraffes, which you can actually hand-feed with the zoo’s signature experience at the Twiga Overlook.

There’s simply nothing like hand feeding these gentle giants, it’s a hands-on experience you won’t want to miss out on.

kanagaroo at a michigan zoo

Potter Park Zoo

1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
Phone: 517-483-4222

In the state capitol, Potter Park of Lansing sits as the oldest public zoo in Michigan. Potter Park is home to over 160 species of animals from wolves to kangaroos, including a selection of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

For the 2020-2021 season, Potter Park Zoo is celebrating 100 years of conservation and education, so now is the time to visit and join in the celebration.

Wolves in a Michigan Zoo

GarLyn Zoo

W1904 US2, Naubinway, MI 49762
Phone: 906-477-1085

In the upper peninsula, near Naubinway, just 40 miles from the Mackinac Bridge, GarLyn Zoo was founded by a couple who loves nature. Their passion for wildlife is easily seen in the care they provide for their animals.

With many native North American species, such as wolves, deer, and otters as well as a variety of worldwide marvels, like big cats, bears, and even lemurs, GarLyn Zoo is providing the rural upper peninsula with an experience to learn about and interact with animals from all around.

Saginaw Children’s Zoo

1730 S. Washington Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48601
Phone: 989-759-1408

This children’s zoo in mid-Michigan is a great spot for families to visit as they travel Michigan, as they offer a wide variety of activities and camps geared toward educating children of all ages about the natural world.

The eclectic collection of animals include prairie dogs, pygmy goats and an alpaca. This animal park also includes a replica “crawl-through” beaver dam.

Don’t miss a ride on the Carousel Train, which has run for more than 50 years and carries passengers on a delightful ride through this 10-acre park.

More Michigan Aquariums and Zoos

  • Mackinac Island Butterfly House
  • DeYoung Family Zoo in Menominee (Upper Peninsula)
  • Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park
  • Indian Creek Zoo in Lambertville MI
  • GT Butterfly House & Bug Zoo in Traverse City
  • Domino’s Farm Petting Zoo in Ann Arbor

About the Author-
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.