The Belle Isle Nature Center is offering a variety of programs for the summer. All programming is limited to a capacity of 20 registered participants including siblings, adults, and/or caregivers.

Programs are FREE but registration is required.

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Children on a woodland hike

Family Nature Hike  Get ready for adventure and explore Belle Isle’s natural wonders. This facilitated hike is a great introductory hike for you and your family to discover the wonders of this urban gem. There are endless possibilities to what you might discover!  Great for all ages, experience, and ability levels.

  • Program days and times vary. Check the registration page for details.

Mindfulness Hike  Time spent in nature is a great way to clear the mind. Join us as we participate in observation activities to immerse us in the natural world and go on a brief walk spaced out from others. We will conclude the session with a final meditative activity. You will feel connected, refreshed and rejuvenated.

  • Program days and times vary. Check the registration page for details.

Belle Isle Exploration Hike  It has been a stressful year! Hikes are a great way to get back outside to enjoy natural spaces, right near the city. This hiking series is your opportunity to get to know this unique space we share. From the forest to the shoreline, Belle Isle has many fascinating areas to explore.

  • Program days and times vary. Check the registration page for details.

Participatory Science Hikes Let’s learn about participatory science projects while exploring the island! Participatory science projects utilize the passions and talents of volunteers to participate in data collection. Each Friday, we’ll take a hike and explore a science project that you can participate in. Whether your interest is water quality, butterflies, or simply using your phone’s camera to make wildlife observations, there is a science project for everyone.

  • iNaturalist/Seek! On the first and third Fridays of June, we’ll learn to use iNaturalist and Seek!, apps that can help us identify plants, animals, fungi and more. With these free tools at our fingertips, we not only learn about the natural world around us but contribute to a global body of wildlife sightings data.
    • Friday, June 18 at 2 p.m.; Friday, July 2 at 2 p.m.; Friday, July 16 at 2 p.m.

  • Focus on Monarchs Learn about monarch butterflies through the lens of community science. We’ll explore milkweed plants and ways that you can support monarchs, look for eggs, caterpillars and adult butterflies. Learn how observing these colorful creatures, at all life stages, can contribute to scientific understanding of their populations.
    • Friday, July 9 at 2 p.m.; Friday, July 30 at 2 p.m.

  • Adopt a Beach On the fourth Friday in June, learn how to give back to Belle Isle while contributing to science through participating in the Adopt-a-Beach program. We’ll clean up the shoreline of one of the island’s lakes, weigh and measure all trash and recycle what can be recycled. This data helps scientists understand and track trash, while contributing to cleaner, safer freshwater ecosystems for all of us.
    • Friday, June 25

Early Bird Walk Join us for an early morning walk focused on Belle Isle’s bountiful bird life as it changes throughout the summer. Designed for all experience levels, we encourage new birders to participate as we look, listen, and enjoy this time of year. Each walk will focus on learning to identify birds by sight and sound, as well as the seasonal behaviors we might encounter. Bring binoculars or a camera if you have them handy, but optics are certainly not necessary to participate.

  • Saturday, July 10, 8 a.m.
  • Saturday, July 24, 8 a.m.

Nature Tots 

What shapes can you find in the clouds? What’s the recipe for the perfect mud pie? Can you paint without a paintbrush? Important questions like these and more will be answered in Nature Tots, a sensory-rich exploration of the natural world for children 2-4 years old and their caregivers. Each session is designed to support early learning with stories, movement, adventures in nature and crafts. Themes and activities will change monthly. 

 Program will take place outdoors and each group is limited to 20 total participants including children, siblings, and adult caregivers.

June: Flowers and Friends Let’s explore the needs of living things. We will start with a story, discover what helps plants grow, take an adventure in nature to find flowers and their important pollinator friends, and plant some seeds to take home and care for.

  • Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

July: Insect Hide and Seek Learn, play and discover ways to explore the hidden world of insects, right in our own neighborhoods! Let’s listen to a story about bugs, go on an insect-seeking adventure and design some fingerprint insect friends to take home!

  • Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.


Neighborhood Nature Adventure

A collage of photos featuring kids enjoying camp activities, holding a caterpillar, looking at birds, and playing with flowers

 Let’s explore nearby nature. Each Neighborhood Nature Adventure program will focus on a natural theme and include a story, nature activities, a craft and a way to continue the learning and exploring at home. Themes and activities will change monthly.

Over and Under the Pond What lives Over and Under the Pond? With Kate Messner’s book as our guide, we’ll take a hike to the pond, use nets to carefully explore the animals who live there, create an art project and learn about ways to keep our waterways clean for everyone.

  • Program days and times vary. Check the registration page for details.

Waiting for Wings  How does a butterfly grow and change through time? What do they need to survive? With Lois Ehlert’s colorful book to lead us, we’ll take a hike to seek out butterflies, caterpillars, and chrysalids; learn about the flowers that grow and how to help attract butterflies to our yards and parks; and create a piece of art to take home.

  • Program days and times vary. Check the registration page for details.


Nature at Night

Nature Night LogoNature at Night is a celebration of animals who call Belle Isle home and become more active after dark. Take a hike and learn more about the island’s wildlife through crafts, activities and participatory science projects. In June, we’ll focus on cicadas and the incredible life and times of the 17-year emergence.  In July, we’ll focus on moths and other night-flying insects. 

  • Thursdays at 6 p.m.

Nature at Night- Full Moon  Each month, we’ll have one special nature at night that focuses on the full moon. June’s full moon, the Strawberry Moon, happens on June 24.  July’s full moon, the Buck Moon, occurs on July 24.

  • Thursday, June 24 at 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 22 at 6 p.m.


Nature Art

The natural world is a perennial inspiration for the creation of art. Join us for activities that use the beauty, shapes and textures of nature as our subject, inspiration, and sometimes even materials. Bring your creativity and sense of adventure as we enjoy a hike to our natural art studio and then have time to create.

Nature Art Inspired by the groundbreaking work of Andy Goldsworthy, we will be creating art from the natural world. By using natural materials like wood, rocks and soil to create something amazing, we are reminded of just how wonderful nature can be. These works of art will only last a short time, but your creativity will not. 

  • Program days and times vary. Check the registration page for details.

Sunprint Art Sunprints, or cyanotypes, utilize the sun to create permanent images of natural materials on specially-coated paper. These prints have a long history in the world of nature art- they were used to create permanent artistic and scientific collections of algae, ferns, and other plants, dating back into the 1800s! Join us as we learn about this simple technique, make observations and plan our designs, and then create brilliant works of solar-powered art with leaves, sticks, stones, and other materials. 

  • Program days and times vary. Check the registration page for details.


Bee Friendly 

""Come visit the honeybee hives at the Belle Isle Nature Center, where beekeepers will offer you an inside peek at our busy working hives. You will learn why we need bees, including diverse native species, and what we can do to help them survive. The visit includes a tour of our pollinator gardens with a stop at the pollinator hotel. The one-hour program will take place outdoors and each group is limited to 20 participants including children and their adults.  

  • Saturday, June 5, 11 a.m.


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