Michigan Dnr Outdoor Adventure Center In Detroit
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Awesome Mitten’s Guide to Visiting the Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit

If you’re an adventure seeker looking for a way to experience the beauty and wonder of Michigan’s outdoors, the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit is the ideal location to do so.

Located on the city’s riverfront, the adventure center offers a variety of things to do, see, and experience. Plus, it’s educational purely for the fun of it.

Dnr Nature Center
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center | photo via exploremichiganmore

About the Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center

The DNR Outdoor Adventure Center — often called the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) — is in the former Globe Building in Detroit. It provides an innovative way to experience the outdoors.

There are many hands-on experiences to try out, but there’s also a fantastic natural setting in the heart of one of the country’s most notable urban centers.

Funded through the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund and other partners, the center sits on Atwater Street. Located in its backyard is the Dequindre Cut Trail.

While experiencing the outdoors firsthand is the main benefit of a visit here, that’s not all there is to do and see. Rather, there’s a large educational environment with information about conservation, the local environment, and the region’s natural history.

Dnr Nature Center
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center | photo via justonebiteandsites

Things to Do at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center

Plan to spend a full day exploring all that the Outdoor Adventure Center has to offer. While the following are some of the constant experiences to have here, there are also rotating exhibits, planned events, and sensory-friendly days to visit. Overall, there are typically 20 interactive exhibits to explore.

Beaver Lodge and Wetland

In this exhibit, you can see what a beaver lodge looks like and learn how wetlands work. You walk through a marsh and learn about how it functions, restores the clarity of the water, and prevents flooding.

Underwater Michigan

In this exhibit, you get to see the unique qualities of Michigan’s natural freshwater lake and the 154 species of fish that call it home. You can see the vibrantly colored fish in the aquarium and read about the area’s conservation efforts.

Waterfall and Underground Mine

For those who want to see what the backside of a waterfall looks like, you can do that here. Michigan is home to over 150 waterfalls. Here, you can learn about a range of them, including walking behind one.

Then, you can cross over stones and a pond as you enter an underground cave. This creates an opportunity to learn about the geology of the state. Also, there’s some insight into the mining industry here.

Dnr Nature Center
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center | photo via jilly_donuts

Big Tree

Located within the adventure center is a 35-foot-tall bur oak tree. It’s more than just a tree, though. The giant roots create a way for smaller guests to slide down on them.

There’s also an exhibit of a black bear den here, which is a fantastic look at what happens in the wild. For those who climb within the tree, it’s possible to explore how a tree lives and functions. With lots of climbing and a suspension bridge, this is a great way for younger children to explore nature.

Detroit River and Globe Building

For those who are a bit older and want to learn more about the area’s history, the Detroit River exhibit is a fantastic one. It offers information about the value of the river to the region, including its shipping history, its ecosystem, and the species that have invaded and polluted it over the years.

In addition, there’s a lot of insight into conservation and pollution prevention. This is also the best exhibit for learning about the Globe Building, which has a strong historical connection to the city itself.

Citizen Science

Explore the citizen science exhibit to gather data about insects, animals, and plants, as well as practice bird identification skills and watch honeybees in action. There’s a live stream of the honeybee hive on the property that you can watch.

One of the best features of the exhibit, though, is an area where you can learn the difference between toad and frog sounds.

Dnr Nature Center
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center | photo via exploremichiganmore

Fire Circle

The Outdoor Adventure Center features an indoor fire circle, which welcomes you to sit around a fire pit to watch a video about camping and wildlife. The topic of conversation here is habitat and how to protect it while camping.

Nature in the Neighborhood

This exhibit helps provide a more localized level of insight into conservation and efforts each person can take around home to improve the planet’s health.

The conversation here includes how kitchen waste becomes fertilizer and steps you can take to create a backyard habitat that’s ideal for birds and bats. There are also insightful displays on how to recycle, use less water, and limit electricity use.

Dnr Nature Center
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center | photo via justonebiteandsites

Sand Dunes

Michigan’s sand dunes are some of the most mesmerizing of the natural features in the state. At the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, it’s possible to learn more about them. That includes seeing what sand dunes look like, how and why they form, and what makes those in Michigan so unique.

Hit the Trail

This exhibit is an interactive way to see some of the more than 13,000 miles of trails in Michigan. You get to sit in a simulator, which could be an off-road vehicle or a mountain bike, as you watch and virtually move through the paths and wooded areas in the state.


If you wish to learn archery, you can do that at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. Free introductory classes are provided. Then, you can learn through a four-week-long program that meets the National Archery in the Schools Program standards. All equipment is provided for those who register and qualify.

William G. Milliken State Park And Harbor-Detroit
William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor | photo via luckygirlkris

More Things to Do Near the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center

If you are visiting the Outdoor Adventure Center over the weekend, you may want to find a few more things to do in the area. There’s plenty to do in the heart of Detroit Michigan.

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor

Located virtually next door is the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, which offers walking paths, a waterfront area along the river, and stunning open green spaces.

Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre

Find out what’s showing at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre, and plan to make that a part of your experience downtown. The shows here range widely throughout the warmer months of the year.

Guardian Building

Those who enjoy architecture will find the Guardian Building one of the best in the city. Its towering interior is nothing short of stunning. Tours are available throughout the year.

Eastern Market

Not far from the Outdoor Adventure Center, the Eastern Market is a huge 19th-century market. It hosts tons of vendors who sell everything from fresh produce to artisan products. The market is full of restaurants and arts and culture as well.

Sweetwater Tavern-Detroit
Sweetwater Tavern | photo via breathing_timemachine

Dining Near the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center

If you’re looking for a meal or two while visiting the adventure center, there are numerous options nearby. Here are a few places that we recommend.

Sweetwater Tavern

For those who want some great American cuisine, the Sweetwater Tavern is a great choice. And, it has a menu of Creole and Cajun for those who want some heat.

Roasting Plant

If you are looking for a good cup of coffee before your drive home, stop at the Roasting Plant. It offers some fantastic brews and is noted for its Chai latte.

The Cochrane-Detroit
The Cochrane | photo via thecochrane313

Lodging Near the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center

If you are planning a trip to the Detroit area and want to stay close to the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, a few hotels and larger establishments are available. There are a few local or smaller locations worthy of consideration too.

The Inn on Ferry Street

Check out The Inn on Ferry Street. This 3-star hotel offers free breakfast and free parking, and it’s pet friendly. There’s also a restaurant on site when you want a quick meal.

The Cochrane House Luxury Historic Inn

The Cochrane House Luxury Historic Inn is a fantastic, adults-only bed and breakfast in the heart of the city. It offers a full lounge and stunning rooms.

Atheneum Suite Hotel

For a more luxurious stay in Detroit Michigan, consider the Atheneum Suite Hotel. It has a bar, hot tub, fitness center, and on-site restaurant to enjoy.

Dnr Nature Center
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center | photo via exploremichiganmore

FAQs About the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center

Can I bring my class to the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center?

Yes, the Outdoor Adventure Center offers a range of programs for school field trips.

It also provides Scout badge workshops, virtual education sessions to display in the classroom, and team-building and retreat options for adults. Summer-focused field trips are available as well.

Can I host a business meeting or formal event at the Outdoor Adventure Center?

The beauty of the Globe Building lends itself well to a wide range of professional events.

With views of the Downtown Detroit area and the Detroit River, it is the ideal backdrop for a wide range of events and meetings. It’s also used for a corporate training and retreat center with several room sizes and styles.

Is it free to visit the Outdoor Adventure Center?

Take advantage of Free First Sundays at the Outdoor Adventure Center! On the first Sunday of each month (when open), get FREE ADMISSION for all guests, plus each event will feature a specific themed activity adjacent to the Critter Room.

Dnr Nature Center
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center | photo via jilly_donuts

Check Out the Recreational Experience at the Outdoor Adventure Center

The Outdoor Adventure Center is a treasure in the heart of Detroit Michigan. Plan a visit to explore the numerous exhibits, and get to know all that this area has to offer. Doing so can help the young and old appreciate the beauty of Michigan’s nature even more.

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