Dow Gardens | @jenniferrussell1105
New Adventures in Nature

Climb your way through an aerial ropes course or soar four stories high in the trees — there's no limit to the fun your family will have!


Explore 110 acres of floral beauty — including an award-winning Children's Garden — and America's longest canopy walk, four stories high in Whiting Forest! Discover Spruce Arm tree-supported cargo nets and the Orchard Arm glass-floored overlook — plus a giant, nature-inspired playground the kids can enjoy for hours!

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Venture out into 1,200 acres of awesome! Go hands-on in the Ecosystem Gallery; see a Native American wigwam, one-room Log Schoolhouse, and working Sugarhouse; and “time travel” back to the 1870s log cabin Homestead Farm to meet friendly farm animals, May to November, for free!

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Take to the trees together as a family! Rock ropes courses and ziplines galore, and cheer one another on through multi-skill leveled challenges, made for ages seven and up. (Try Glow Nights or Twilight Climbs to skip the mid-day heat!)

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Grandpa Tiny's Farm | @x_stina
Have Hands-On Fun At
Zoos + Farms

Feed chickens on the farm, pet a pygmy goat, or see adorable African penguins swim — and enjoy your up-close encounter with the animals!


Go wild observing more than 150 animals — from river otters to a two-toed sloth — and be one of the thousands of people who ride the hand-carved carousel each season or take a spin on the miniature train! Toot toot!

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Birch Run

Prepare yourself for this 56-acre park with primates, zebras, lions, reptiles, parrots, and a special petting area. Meet more than 200 animals and make your kiddos’ whole day!

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Tour this working heritage farm while pulled by a tractor! See the one-room schoolhouse along with lavender and sunflower fields — then pet all the cuddly farm animals, from lambs to bunnies!

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Johnny Panther Quests
Cruise Into
Magical Family Moments

With boats your whole crew can board, these outings make family vacation an absolute breeze!

Boat Tours in Frankenmuth | @michiganaddicts

Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips (Saginaw) Spot wildlife galore on this family adventure through 18,000 acres of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and beyond! Board a custom, shallow-draft boat and glide through the wilderness with a one-of-a-kind local guide.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat (Frankenmuth) Cruise aboard a paddlewheel beauty, the 150-passenger Bavarian Belle. Kids will love the ride and the refreshments available, adults will appreciate the narrated historical tour.

Frankenmuth FunShips (Frankenmuth) Board an electric boat for a 1-hour Wine & Chocolate River Tour. "Big kids" sample wines, little kids sip sparkling grape juice, and the whole family wins!

BaySail (Bay City) Feel the wind in your hair and watch your little ones' eyes sparkle aboard a majestic tall ship, the Appledore. Choose between Great Lakes 101 or Sunset Sails, Matey!

Bay City Boat Lines (Bay City) Join your local guide for a relaxing Saginaw River Guided Tour aboard the Princess Wenonah or the Islander. Let the kiddos enjoy snacks & soft drinks while they keep watch for the Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse!

Bay City State Park
Play All Day At
Sandy Beaches + Splash Pads

Get ready for sunny fun when you cool off with a dip in the water or get doused by geysers and giant dumping buckets!

Bay City State Park | @shineonsunfish

Bay City State Park (Bay City) Enjoy a mile of Saginaw Bay shoreline, sandy swimming beach, boat launch, and picnic areas — and the Tobico Marsh wetland preserve with walking trails, wildlife viewing, and two observation towers! Or, whoop it up with water at the on-site Spray by the Bay Splash Park. You’re right alongside a playground area, too!

Haithco Recreation Area
(Saginaw) Hit the beach and make it a day full of playground fun, volleyball in the sand, tossing horseshoes, and renting your choice of paddleboat, rowboat, canoe, or kayak! Fish from the pier, grill up a picnic, and cool off at an earthy-themed splash park!

Frankenmuth Jaycee Spray Park
(Frankenmuth) Practice counting to 18 together, because this zero-depth water play area has 18 different fountains, sprays, and geysers — completely accessible for all ages and abilities and completely cool for family fun!

Celebration Square Splash Park (Saginaw) Play for ages in filtered-water, zero-depth splash sections! Enjoy Discovery Bay with misters for toddlers, Adventure Bay with showers and dumping buckets for children, and Action Bay with Spray Cannon water soakers and large Ground Geysers fun!

Longview Spray Park (Midland) Get wet, wild, and feel wonderful! Be ready for belly laughs by the buckets, and waterspouts, at Longview Spray Park!

Gerstacker Spray Park (Midland) Splash right by the iconic Tridge (that's also an entrance to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail). Watch the kids in the waterspouts? No way! This place is for the young and young-at-heart!

Dutch Village Adventure Park | @dutchvillageadventurepark
Gear Up For
Family Game Time

Mini-golf, go-karts, or an afternoon at the ballgame? You'll be all-in for good times on these family outings!

Alpine Mountain | @jylensmom

Alpine Mountain (Birch Run) Choose between two 18-hole mini-golf courses — or play both! Challenge the fam to bank-shot basketball, race go-karts and bumper boats, and indulge in ice cream!

Press Play 989 (Saginaw) Get a hole-in-one, race go-karts, ride bumper boats, run through laser tag, and play arcade games... all in one family-friendly place!

Dutch Village Adventure Park
(Bay City) Have a blast playing mini-golf or swing at a bucket of balls in the batting cages — there's hand-dipped Hudsonville ice cream when you're through!

Buoy 18 Miniature Golf, Arcade & Ice Cream Shop (Bay City) Create forever memories on the green, and have fun choosing your ice cream: regular, sugar-free, vegan, or gluten-free?

Great Lakes Loons Baseball
(Midland) Buy peanuts & Cracker Jack, or brats & beer, from 24 concession options on-site — and take your family out to the ballgame! With stadium seating for 5,200, Adirondack chairs, and grass a’plenty, watch the Minor League Great Lakes Loons play ball. Be sure to visit the on-site playground and the two-story Loon Loft gift shop on your way out!

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Things To Do

Spend a long weekend in Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region checking items off this bursting bucket list — and have a four-day adventure your family will never forget! Because here, it’ll be a toss up: who had more fun, the parents or kids?

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Things To Do

Sunscreen, sandals, and ice cream cones — it’s summertime in Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region! And with warm sun shining and cool, blue waters, every day is ripe for adventure!

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Jen W. O'Deay + Go Great Lakes Bay

By: Jen W. O'Deay | Updates: Go Great Lakes Bay | Jen is a Saginaw native and owner of Feel These Words, an independent copywriting studio & home to the free "5 Day Website MiniBoost". Jen specializes in writing that connects, delivered through website copy, branded content articles, and WingWoman writing services. You'll find Jen camping with her family, laughing, and at