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Head to Belle Isle for a magical search and find adventure this fall!
Fairies have landed on Belle Isle! The fairies invite you to explore and look for their fairy doors in a fun, interactive scavenger hunt. All of their doors are located on the grounds surrounding the Belle Isle Aquarium and Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. You’ll find the general whereabouts on the map, but it is up to you to find their exact locations.
Each door is a nod to environmental stewardship and the connection fairies (and humans) feel to the world around them. As you discover the fairy doors, you can read about the inspiration behind each one by taking the corresponding number from the map and matching it with the numbered description below.
- Jurassic Park (1): The fairies located here have sharp teeth, powerful jaws, long tails, pointed claws, and teeny tiny little t-rex arms. But they’re not the only prehistoric creatures on the island. The Belle Isle Aquarium has polypterus fish – a species that dates back to 400 million years ago, much older than the dinosaur species that roamed the earth about 65 million years ago.
- Cottage (2): This cottage is meant to remind all the fairies of nature’s comforts; the healing atmosphere of the outdoors that revitalizes the soul. Sometimes, the best medicine is to slow down and enjoy some time amongst the trees and shrubs.
- Nature (3): Nature is teeming all around you, all the time. From the smallest crevices in a rock to the magnificent oaks, if you look around, you will find life and nature everywhere.
- Dancing Fairy (4): Dedicated to long-time volunteer Sue Krolikowski, who passed away in 2019, we celebrate a love for dancing and spreading joy.
- Aquatic (5): These fairies are aquatic – just like the creatures inside the aquarium! Fishing line and netting have been added in order to bring awareness to the devastation that discarded fishing equipment does to aquatic life.
- Fairy (6): The floral fairy behind this woodsy door was inspired by the beautiful environment she is lucky to call home. She loves to read fantasy books which transport her to worlds far different than this one and fuel her imagination.
- Tree House (7): A tree house is the perfect hideaway for a shy fairy. Can you find the rope ladder that leads to her airy abode? When no one is looking she sneaks down and crosses her bridge to visit her koi fish in a pond that’s a lot like the one right here next to the Belle Isle Aquarium!
- Japan (8): This Shinto shrine aims to honor the connection between the City of Detroit and her sister city, Toyota Honshu, Aichi, Japan. It is adorned with the Japanese symbols for “Nature. People. Places”, whom the Belle Isle fairies aim to serve.
- Fall Market (9): Humans aren’t the only creatures who grow food or create art…fairies do too! Much like the vendors at Detroit’s Eastern Market, this fairy family offers goods for sale: homemade quilts and afghans, garden fresh produce, even pet bunnies to cuddle!
- Reading (10): Fairies are nature’s angels who watch over and guide plants, animals, birds, and all of the natural elements. Sometimes fairies can even act as guides for humans, especially if those human beings are deeply connected to and respectful of nature. We can invite them into our lives by reading about their lore and learning about the nature around us.
- Dia de los Muertos (11): During this season of change we honor those who have passed on (friends, loved ones, and ancestors) in the tradition of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos. In honor of other iconic Mexican traditions, the Belle Isle Aquarium is currently breeding Mexico’s beloved amphibians, the axolotl. Once considered to be gods, these fascinating animals now face extinction due to human impact.
- Fall Harvest (12): While Belle Isle may be most popular in the summertime, these Autumn Harvest fairies find the island most beautiful during this time as the leaves change vibrant colors and all the creatures begin to gather for the winter. The Harvest fairies that live here help the rest of the living beings and creatures enjoy the beauty of fall nature and prepare for the cold winter ahead.
- Fishing (13): The fairies in these garden have fishing licenses. They fish responsibly and support their local Department of Natural Resources by not over harvesting and throwing away bait worms.
- Harry Styles (14): Legend says a little pixie fellow named Harry Edward Styles visits this door during every Mercury Retrograde. It is covered in representations of his successes and loves in life to make him feel at home.
- Chapel (15): Witnessing many weddings on the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory grounds inspired the Belle Isle fairies to build a chapel where they too can celebrate in marriage and nature.
- Great Lakes (16): Using Petosky stones and other materials (rocks, driftwood) that she collected from Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, this fairy’s door design was influenced by and honors our beautiful Great Lakes.
- Autumn (17): Fallen leaves and pumpkins mark the dawning of the fairies’ favorite season – Autumn! The fairies behind this door are ready to curl up with a good book and carve spooky faces into their favorite gourd!
Plan a trip to see them before they fade away on Sunday, November 29th. Download the PDF of the door map here.
More Family Fun On Belle Isle
While you’re on the island, go on a nature walk (the trail starts near the Athletic Complex), let the kids run around the new playground next to the Belle Isle Nature Center, or stop by the Great Lakes Museum (current hours are Friday-Sunday from 10am to 5pm). Hold on to these days together and watch the sunset over the city from Sunset Point.
Please note, Belle Isle is a Michigan State Park and a vehicle pass is required ($12 annually for admission to all state parks).
Photo credit: Instagram @rsouthen
About Carrie Budzinski
Carrie Budzinski is the Vice President of LittleGuide Detroit. She grew up in Livonia and Detroit and continues to live life in both cities. Carrie loves exploring the city and finding hidden gems in the suburbs..