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Amazing Aquariums and Zoos in Michigan

fish at a michigan aquarium - best michigan zoos and 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 or through an underwater tunnel, 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?

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. Seeing the sharks, stingrays and cute and cuddly Magellanic penguins up close is a memory-making experience that will last a lifetime.

Read on to discover some of our favorite aquariums and zoos in Michigan. Scroll to the bottom for a Michigan map of these maazing spost and start planning your road trip now!

sea life michigan - best aquariums
SEA LIFE Aquarium in Michigan

Aquariums in Michigan

SEA LIFE Aquarium
4316 Baldwin Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326

‘Dive’ into SEA LIFE, Michigan’s largest aquarium and get up close and personal with some of your favorite deep-sea creatures! You’ll come face-to-fin with over 250 species and 2,000+ creatures including sharks, rays, and green sea turtles.

Experience what it’s like to touch a ‘splash’-tacular sea star or sticky anemone at the interactive Touchpool and then walk through Michigan’s only 180-degree ocean tunnel! From the colorful to the curious, the majestic to the mystical, get ready to be amazed as you discover the stories of the oceans’ most fascinating creatures at SEA LIFE Aquarium.

Belle Isle Aquarium
3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207

The Belle Isle Aquarium is a gorgeous and historic building on Belle Isle. It was considered 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 (it was designed by Albert Kahn) 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.”

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

Detroit Zoo
8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067

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

Those in the Grand Rapids area know John Ball Zoo to be a fabulous 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.

Special holiday events, like the ZooBoo at Halloween, make this Zoo a top destination in for families in West Michgan.

Zebra in a Michigan Zoo

Binder Park Zoo
7400 Division Dr., Battle Creek, MI 49014

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

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.

Wolves in a Michigan Zoo

GarLyn Zoo
W1904 US2, Naubinway, MI 49762

In Michigan’s 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

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.

Michigan aquariums

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
  • Wilderness Trails Zoo in Birch Run
Is There a Widlife Refuge in Michigan?

There are seven wildlife refuges in Michigan:
Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge
Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge
Huron National Wildlife Refuge
Michigan Wetland Management District
Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge
Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

About the Author-
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for 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.