Zehnder's Splash Village
Day One:

Kick off your long weekend away in Little Bavaria — with two of Michigan's top indoor waterparks and the world's largest Christmas store!

Zehnder's Splash Village | @ceebeevan

Breakfast: Sit at patio tables inside Parisian-inspired La Crepe du Jour and enjoy French-style crepes together while French music fills the air. Bonjour! Or, begin your day at Honey B's Eatery, with options for meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Try the Eggs Florentine or signature Honey's Hash and let the kids enjoy the Classic French Toast or Coconut Pancakes.

Mid-Morning Outings:
Experience sights, sounds, the spirit of Christmas, and more than 50,000 trims and gifts inside Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the world's largest Christmas store. (Psst! Bronner’s offers hand-painted, personalized ornaments that’ll make special souvenirs from your family trip!)

Stroll Main Street to sample treats from Zak & Mac’s Chocolate Haus, Frankenmuth Taffy Kitchen, Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen, and Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, just to name a few.

If you're staying at either of two Frankenmuth hotels that also have epic waterparks, you'll want to spend the morning soaking it in. Experience Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark for two distinct waterparks in one, the four-story Perilous Plunge, and the six-story Family Raft Ride!

Or, dive into Bavarian Inn Lodge for four indoor pools, two waterslides, an on-site Family Fun Center with indoor mini-golf course, 170-game arcade, and two-story Children's Village play area!

Not whooping it up at the waterpark? Make your way to Grandpa Tiny's Heritage Farm, where you can pet, hold, and even help feed all kinds of amazing farm animals! Or, climb aboard for a Family Fun Ride on the Golden Ticket Trolley. The ride lasts 15 minutes, the playlist is kid-friendly, and, at the end, kids can ring the trolley bell and choose a treat!

Boat Tours in Frankenmuth | @michiganaddicts

Lunch Options: Dine on the patio overlooking Main Street at Tiffany's Food & Spirits. Choose from homemade pasta dishes, Sicilian-style pizza, and an impressively robust kids' menu.

Or, make your way to Frankenmuth River Place Shops to stroll, shop, and sample. Grab a bite to eat at Pasty Haus (with unique Snow Ice treats for the kids), check out the Ultimate Mirror Maze and River Place Game Room, and have fun shopping around for souvenirs!

Afternoon Fun:
Cruise aboard the 150-passenger Bavarian Belle Riverboat, where kids will enjoy the cool, shaded ride and "big kids" will appreciate the narrated historical tour.

Book a river excursion with Frankenmuth FunShips and a 12-passenger tour boat will be your chariot. Take the family-friendly Wine & Chocolate River Tour to sample wines paired with handmade chocolates, parents — with sparkling grape juice available for the kids. Cheers!

Or, take to the trees at Frankenmuth Aerial Park! With thrilling ropes courses and ziplines, the multi-skill leveled challenges will provide excitement for the whole family.

Discover Frankenmuth Jaycee Spray Park, a water play area that is completely accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Enjoy 18 fountains, sprayers, and geysers, and have hours of fun together for free!

Dinner Options: Find your way to Bavarian Inn Restaurant or Zehnder's Restaurant for world-famous chicken dinners. Both German-themed restaurants offer all-you-can-eat meals served family-style, and both are an absolute must for the full Frankenmuth experience.

Or, dine in a classic blues atmosphere, complete with live music on weekends, at Slo' Bones BBQ Smokehaus. Dive into delicious smoked wings, mouthwatering ribs, and the Lil’ Slo’s menu for the wee ones!

Frankenmuth Brewery | @frankenmuthbrewery

You could also enjoy dinner at the historic Frankenmuth Brewery, with outdoor seating overlooking the Cass River and made-from-scratch pizza, burgers, brats, and sandwiches. Sample from 15 craft beers available on tap, and order the kiddos a cold mug of Frankie’s Root Bier. The specialty craft soda, brewed in small batches, will have the whole family saying, “That’s one dog-gone good root bier!”

Into the Eve:
Relax after a busy day of fun while on a horse-drawn carriage ride with Fantasy Carriage Company or Frankenmuth Carriage Company. Travel through charming Downtown Frankenmuth to see sights like the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke (Frankenmuth's covered wooden bridge) and the Bavarian Inn Glockenspiel Tower.

Before bed, save time for a drive down Bronner's 25 Christmas Lane — a half-mile holiday light display, illuminated every night of the year, that's sure to make their little faces light up!

Find a place to stay after your day in Frankenmuth
Bay City State Park
Day Two:
Bay City

Splashing at a spray park or building sandcastles on the beach — day two in Bay City packs options for all ages!

Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum | @frommichiganwithlove

Breakfast: Begin with a cup of joe and a Chocolate Frosted Cream Filled Long John at Cops & Doughnuts - Sutherland Precinct, a completely unique and entirely cop-owned bakery.

Or, get to Uptown Grill to taste classic diner dishes with modern twists. The kids (and "big kids") can choose between options like Banana Bread French Toast or Apple Cinnamon Cakes with caramel, and the truth is, you can't go wrong with either!

Morning Outings: Have your camera ready at the Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum. With a NASCAR and Tonka Room, along with 60 motorized fire trucks on display, smiles get really wide here! Or, head into Painterly Pottery, a paint-your-own pottery studio with 1,000+ clay items waiting to be made into one-of-a-kind creations.

Experience something out of this world together at Delta College Planetarium! See the solar system through fresh eyes — and grab astronaut food and stellar souvenirs at the gift shop before you go!

There’s no time like vacation to rent bikes for the fam! Roll into Ray's Bike Shop to gear up before hitting the Bay City Area Riverwalk/RailTrail, and be ready to ride along wildflower corridors, residential districts, and even a waterfront boardwalk.

Bay City State Park | @shineonsunfish

Want to see your kids as happy as, well, kids in a candy store? Stop into century-old St. Laurent Brothers nut & candy company for homemade treats, ice cream, and nostalgic candies — and be sure to buy some extra for the trip back home!

Lunch: Eat Downtown at Intermission Deli for daily soups with a bread bowl option, salads, and more than 40 overstuffed sandwiches to choose from. Or, book it to Mussel Beach Drive In (right by your next stop) for a family-friendly restaurant and premium ice cream parlor.

Mid-Day Adventures: Explore the Saginaw Bay shoreline and sandy swimming beach at Bay City State Park — along with Tobico Marsh, a wetland preserve with walking trails, wildlife viewing, and observation towers! Giggle and play at on-site Spray by the Bay Splash Park, and enjoy every minute at the all-new playground area!

Dinner Options: Introduce your family to our state’s culinary history in every bite at MI Table. With creative dishes, sourced locally, order from a seasonal menu — or go straight for the Chicken Pot Pie with Michigan Biscuits that just might become the kids' new favorite meal!

If dining down by the waterside is more your family's style, get to H2O's Waterside Grill. Grab a picnic table right on the riverfront, order O's Famous Burgers or a delicious fish dish, and let the kids choose something from the Little O's Menu.

Dutch Village Adventure Park | @dutchvillageadventurepark

Evening Fun: Have all the fun playing mini-golf at Buoy 18, overlooking a bustling marina — or putt-putt the night away at Dutch Village Adventure Park before you hit the batting cages.

Experience an evening straight out of “Pirates of the Caribbean” when you hop aboard BaySail's Appledore Tall Ships for a sunset cruise. Feel the wind in your hair and be sure to snap a photo of your family’s unforgettable sail — it’ll be a framer!

Or, take your evening indoors to see which family member can set a new high score at Crazy Quarters Arcade. Play classics from Pac-Man to Galaga and discover dozens of pinball machines!

Get to Michigan Cream & Sugar Ice Cream Company for locally sourced (Michigan-grown sugar and Michigan-produced milk) freshly churned ice cream, served in bubble waffle cones — then bring down the night together underneath the lights of the Third Street Star Bridge!

An illuminating art project in the heart of Downtown, the star bridge is an outdoor visual experience that your family won’t forget. (Psst! Hope you're still feeling photogenic after your sail, because pictures under the Third Street Star Bridge are a must!)

Find a place to stay after your day in Bay City
Dow Gardens | @sallyannrudy
Day Three:

Keep living up your weekend of fun making memories in Midland — while deep in the woods discovering nature or sky-high on a treetop canopy walk!

Chippewa Nature Center | @ehlerspartyofthree

Breakfast: Start your day with “go-juice” (aka: coffee) at Creation Coffee or Live Oak Coffeehouse. Enjoy Live Oak’s Traditional or Crustless Quiche, order the kids cinnamon rolls, and don’t pass on a family photo in front of the colorful mural that spans the side of the building!

Get to Grove Tea Lounge for boba tea, tea lattes, scones, seasonal muffins, and scratch-made donuts. If the kids are into crepes, Crepes Et Amis serves an irresistible Strawberry Cheesecrepe with strawberries, cheesecake filling, and Nutella®.

Morning Outings:
Get some fresh air on the Pere Marquette Rail Trail! Begin at The Tridge to experience a unique three-way bridge, possibly the only one of its kind in the country! Or, venture out to Chippewa Nature Center where admission is free, the Visitor Center houses hands-on exhibits in the Ecosystem Gallery, and the Nature Discovery Area will have your whole family playing while witnessing wildlife.

Let loose and get loud at The Playground, an indoor haven for kids to burn off some energy and parents to kick back and take a break. Or, dazzle all of your senses at Midland Center for the Arts, a family-friendly facility home to live entertainment, pop-up STEM exhibits, and an interactive learning lab, Spark!Lab® Smithsonian.

Midland Center for the Arts

Downtown Finds: Dip Downtown as a family and have fun popping in & out of shops! Step inside Joyful Tantrum to find a variety of imaginative toys, no batteries required. Or, land at Aviator Cookie Company to try your choice from a dozen scratch-made-daily flavors, from Red Velvet Crinkle to Birthday Cake.

Head to Pizza Baker for wood-fired, Neapolitan-style, crowd-pleasing pizza. Or, let the kids build their own at Pizza Sam's while the "big kids" enjoy the Michigan Cherry Salad and The Godfather sandwich. Drop into Amazing Deli for sandwiches, salads, soups, and 10 Reuben Dog to Chicago Dog hotdogs to choose from.

Dow Gardens | @jenniferrussell1105

Mid-Day Adventures: Get to Dow Gardens for 110 acres of floral beauty (including an award-winning Children's Garden) and marvel at the epic canopy walk, which will take your family four stories high through the trees! The longest canopy walk in the nation at 1,400 feet long, enjoy exploring three unique walkway arms: the Spruce Arm with tree-supported cargo nets; the Pond Arm with tranquil overlooks; and the Orchard Arm with a glass-floored perch 40 feet above the ground!

Splash around at Gerstacker Spray Park (right near The Tridge and the Pere Marquette Rail Trail), or have belly laughs by the buckets, and water spouts, at Longview Spray Park!

Get your fill of St. Louis, sauce-style barbecue at Molasses Smokehouse & Bar. If the name alone isn’t ‘nuff said, the Loaded BBQ Tots, Burnt Ends Mac & Cheese, St. Louis Ribs, and Strawberry Shortcake will have everyone saying, “Let’s come back here soon!”

Evening Fun:
Be ready for big fun at Valley Lanes Family Entertainment Center! Featuring bowling, indoor mini-golf, a huge arcade, laser maze challenge, bumper cars, and two escape rooms, the whole family will have a blast (and everyone will sleep great after a day of adventures)!

Or, bring your crew to Brinstar, where a blend of arcade and pinball games will bring everyone big smiles! Introduce the kids to classics like Pac-Man while you all split delicious burgers & fresh-cut fries.

Find a place to stay after your day in Midland
Saginaw Children's Zoo | @shineonsunfish
Day Four:

Day four in Saginaw brings new cool, families — from zoos the kids will go wild for to spray parks where you'll all be splashing together!

Breakfast: Start your day deliciously with Fuzzy’s Cinnamon French Toast! Made with thick, homemade, iced cinnamon bread, this might be a favorite for the "big kids," too (with coffee, of course).

Or, let the scent of fresh-baked artisan breads and pastries welcome your family into The Bread Gal. Order up flaky chocolate croissants or cinnamon rolls for the kids — and a seasonal danish or scone for yourself!

Saginaw Children's Zoo | @thekatierex

Morning Outings: Step into more than 16,000 square feet of hands-on fun at the Mid-Michigan Children's Museum! Every gallery is interactive, but don’t miss the "Tinker Track," or “Insides Out” where the kids can climb inside a giant mouth complete with teeth and a tongue!

Go wild spotting more than 150 animals (including adorable African penguins) at the nearby Saginaw Children's Zoo, and ride both the hand-carved carousel and iconic miniature train. Toot toot!

With just a quick hop over to Birch Run, you could also take on Wilderness Trails Zoo, with more than 200 animals and 50 exotic species. Or, make memories at Alpine Mountain while playing two 18-hole mini-golf courses or racing go-karts and bumper boats!

Wilderness Trails Zoo | @frommichiganwithlove

Lunch Options: Introduce the kids to carhops at Old Town Drive In, and treat your whole family to homemade draft root beer and delicious Coney dogs. Savor homemade soups at Fralia's, and choose from more than 20 sandwiches. (Psst! Fralia’s is great for families with picky palates; there are so many options!)

For homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, and Mexican favorites, too — Valerie's Downtown is the place. And Big O Burgers and Barbecue specializes in Southern-style home cooking and keeping it simple with “meat, wood and fire.”

Afternoon Adventures:
Hit the beach at Haithco Recreation Area and make memories a’plenty with a playground, splash pad, sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a fishing pier, and paddleboat, rowboat, canoe, and kayak rentals!

Sprawl out together at the four-acre Frank N. Andersen Celebration Park. With a European-style playscape, Bocce ball courts, and nature viewing along Lake Linton, it's also home to a skate park — plus Celebration Square Splash Park with three bays catered to kiddos of different ages!

Johnny Panther Quests

Take a guided boating ecotour with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips, and experience a pristine wildlife gem, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Bring cameras, binoculars, beverages, and your picnic basket for this one-of-a-kind outing!

Kokomo's | @moodini31

Indoors, challenge your family to Airborne Adventure Park and its wall-to-wall trampolines. Defy gravity, train like a Ninja Warrior, conquer the Warped Wall, and compete in Ultimate Dodgeball!

Dinner: Order some sushi to start, parents, and let the kids take in a table-side Teppanyaki cooking show by trained chefs at Benihana. It’s high-energy, exciting, and unforgettable! Or, dine at Goose Tooth Co. inside the SVRC Marketplace for artisan fire-roasted pizzas and a Gosling Menu the kids are sure to love!

Into the Eve:
Race go-karts, play mini-golf, chase each other through laser tag, and play arcade games all in one place at Fun Way Amusement Park. Don't miss this, families!

Step into Stardust to bowl with the family, and be ready for the Entertainment Center, too, including: a video arcade with more than 60 games, four escape rooms, LED-lit bumper cars, and two-story laser tag for all kinds of family adventures!

Find a place to stay after your day in Saginaw
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Get to dozens of magical outdoor spaces where toddlers giggle and teenagers come alive (and parents have just as much fun as the half-pints)! Bring your camera, your favorite sneakers, and your sense of family adventure — big smiles are just up ahead!

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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 feelthesewords.com