Looking for a unique road trip destination? How about an indoor polar landscape where penguins roam all around you? The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is now open and it’s described as “the most extraordinary center for penguins in the world.”

The center, which has been closed for water repairs since 2019, opened its doors once again this past February. The 33,000-square-foot facility features a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where you can watch the penguins swim, explore, and thrive.

An underwater gallery with massive windows, tunnels and glass floors provides breathtaking views of the penguins above, around, and below you.

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“Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expedition and epic crossing of the Drake Passage, the penguin center evokes the harsh and visceral ice world of the southern continent, recreated in a 360-degree 4-D entry experience that includes blasts of polar air and sea mist,” says the facility’s website.

“A cool video and sound feature called projection mapping depicts a phenomenon known as iceberg calving – one of nature’s most dramatic spectacles where icebergs split and send massive cascades of ice crashing into the sea.”

There are more than 75 penguins that call this place home, including king, rockhopper, macaroni, gentoo and chinstrap penguins.

The conservation center is located within the Detroit Zoo in Michigan. Which, believe it or not, is only a four-hour drive from Toronto.

With Quebec next door and cottage country a few hours north, we Ontarians are no strangers to road trips and this is definitely one for the bucket list.


Where: Royal Oak, MI 48067