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Detroit's Belle Isle Gets Better With Food, Other Vendors

The renaissance of Belle Isle, the island gem in the Detroit River that has provided recreation since the 1880s, continues as Michigan's 102nd state park now has a great summer addition: vendors selling everything from food and water, to providing rental kayaks and canoes and beach umbrellas, the same way your great grandparents enjoyed the island in the early 1900s.

Visitors to Belle Isle this summer now won’t have to leave the island park to find a bite to eat or shade from the hot sun. Numerous vendors, offering everything from food services to beach umbrella rentals to kayak and canoe rentals will be on the island through at least Labor Day.

“The public requested we have concessionaires on Belle Isle this summer and so we delivered,” said Joe Hall, Department of Natural Resources Belle Isle Park supervisor. “Instead of leaving the island to have lunch or dinner, visitors can now stay and enjoy the island while also enjoying a variety of food choices and rental opportunities.”

The vendors – reviewed and selected on a first-come, first-served application process based on a maximum island space capacity – are located in four designated vendor areas, including:

  • Parking lot to the west of the Belle Isle Conservatory, near the intersection of Loiter Way and Conservatory Drive.
  • Near Scott Fountain, located just off the paddock area near the intersection of Fountain Drive and Sunset Drive.
  • Near the swimming beach on Riverbank Road.
  • Near the athletic fields by Loiter Way.

A variety of food concessionaires offer refreshments and meals, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, catfish, French fries, meatball, panini and ham and cheese sandwiches, pasta, garlic bread, nachos, chips, cookies, candy, cupcakes, soda, juice, bottled water and more. For a complete list of Belle Isle Concessionaires and their offerings, visit www.BelleIslePark.orghttp://www.BelleIslePark.organd click on “Concessionaires.” In other words, lots and lots of reasons to stay as long as you like now.

Although there aren’t established dates and times for each concessionaire to offer food and rentals on the island, most will be available for durations of each day through at least Labor Day. Belle Isle Park opens at 5 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m., although concessionaires’ hours of operation may vary.

While visiting Belle Isle Park, stop by the mobile information booth, located along the circle drive just after crossing the McArthur Bridge. The mobile booth – wrapped in iconic Belle Isle imagery – is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day and staffed by a park ranger. Belle Isle maps and information, including directions to the designated concessionaire locations, are available at the booth. The $11 Recreation Passport – required for access to Belle Isle Park – is also available for purchase at the mobile information booth.

The Recreation Passport requirement is being phased in gradually here. Vehicles will not need the Passport during the first year of state management until their next license plate registration renewal date. For example, if the vehicle license plate registration renewal date is in October 2014, then the Passport is not needed on that vehicle to enter Belle Isle until October. Once a full year has cycled (February 2015), all vehicles entering the park must have a Recreation Passport. The Recreation Passport applies only to vehicles, not individuals. Pedestrians, bicyclists and those using public transportation can enter the park free; in other words they will not need the Passport.

Belle Isle Park visitors can also purchase their Recreation Passport at the White House (administrative building) on Belle Isle from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from any Michigan state park or recreation area or from the Secretary of State during license plate registration renewal.