How do you and yours celebrate holiday traditions? Do you bake cookies, sing carols and visit Santa Claus? Of course you do! Time-honored traditions mark the merriment of the Christmas season, and there's no better place than the Great Lakes Bay to take part.

Your children may have seen Santa, but have they visited Santa's Village at The North Pole USA? A trip to this indoor wonderland will become a new annual tradition - as will petting Santa's reindeer and taking free ride ponies (with cookies, cocoa, and fireworks) at Holidays in the Heart of the City! Visit an unforgettable poinsettia display, laugh and sing in the back of horse-drawn carriage rides through Downtown streets and experience the magic of holly, jolly holiday traditions in the Great Lakes Bay!

Santa Sign 

The North Pole

Santa's Village at North Pole USA - located at the Saginaw County Fairgrounds in Chesaning - is all kinds of what kids (and kids-at-heart) could hope for in the North Pole: a 25,000 square-foot, indoor winter wonderland, model trains, carnival rides, gingerbread houses, sweet treats, vendors' unique gifts, craft activities for the children and Santa! Plan to stay awhile when you come, and to return.

  • November 26 - December 18
  • Saturdays and Sundays only, 12 - 7 p.m.
  • Admission: $10/ Children 3 - 5, $5/ Children 2 & younger are free

Holly Jolly Tradition: Don't pass on writing a letter to Santa while here. This precious time together, every year, is priceless. (And, parents, go down the gigantic slide with the kids!)  

Letter To Santa 

Dashing Through Downtown 

Ready yourselves for merry memories, and climb into free, horse-drawn carriage rides November 13 - December 18 at Sundays in the City in Downtown Bay City (weather permitting). 

  • Ride by carolers singing in the streets and pass beautifully-decorated shops displaying their Festival of Wreaths (and offering free gift wrapping inside). 
  • Catch a Sundays in the City Holiday Movie, beginning at 1 and 4 p.m., and maybe even a double-feature! Tickets are just $5 to share in the magic of "Miracle on 34th Street" or "The Polar Express" on the big screen. 

Holly Jolly Tradition: Pass under the red-and-white-striped awning annually, and into Bay City's historic candy shop, St. Laurent Brothers. Your kids will be as happy as, well, kids in a candy store!

St. Laurent Brothers Nut Company 

Ho! Ho! Ho! Here! Here! Here!

Time slows inside the quaint and cozy Midland Santa House, and visiting with Santa and Mrs. Clause and their reindeer is magical each and every time.

  • Open daily beginning November 29, times vary
  • Admission is free, and bring your camera for a personal picture with Santa!

Holly Jolly Tradition: While in Midland, hop aboard the Northern Star Train, and enjoy each of the 10 - 15 minutes spent riding through Downtown, trimmed for the holidays.

Midland Santa House 

Santa also makes his appearance daily at Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth. With over 50,000 trims and dubbed the "World's Largest Christmas Store", folks near and far include a trip to Bronner's among their favored holiday traditions.

  • Santa visits daily November 25 - December 24, times vary
  • Bring your camera here, too, for your free picture with Santa, and all the grins and giggles!

Holly Jolly Tradition: Find the perfect family ornament for the year, and have it hand-painted for free by one of Santa's helpful elves. (Psst! Have a uniquely-spelled Jayne or a teacher, Mr. Smyth, on your list? Bronner's is your personalized gift solution.)

Bronner's Handpainted Ornaments 

Walks to Remember

Spend quality time together November 25 - 26 at the Chesaning Christmas Candlelight Walk, and enjoy hot cocoa and free horse-drawn carriage rides amidst streets a'glow with thousands of luminaries. Take part in the Nativity Challenge, decide as a family the best Festival of Trees entry, and croon Christmas classics together at the Village Sing-Along.

Chesaning Candlewalk 

And be sure to take the wondrous Dow Gardens Christmas Walk together along pathways lined with candles and carolers. Experience the Dow Gardens' wintry beauty, and behold a dramatic poinsettia display in the conservatory. 

  • December 8 - 10, 16 - 17, 5 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Admission is free, a gift from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation
Dow Gardens Christmas Walk 

Holly Jolly Traditions

Whether you Black Friday-shop with your family at Birch Run Premium Outlets (because the 145 name brand stores' prices begin 25% - 65% lower even before holiday sales), or gather together in the European-inspired holiday Christkindlmarkt in Frankenmuth for one-of-a-kind gifting finds, or even plan for a good ole snuggling-session on the couch each year to watch "The Christmas Story" together, holiday traditions are worth making ... and worth keeping.