Cass River in Frankenmuth | @jimmytaylorphoto
Day One:
Frankenmuth

Start your long weekend in Little Bavaria — where authentic architecture, world-famous comfort food, and iconic attractions are just a taste of this tiny German town.

Frankenmuth Cheese Haus | @the_pookies_world_travelers

Breakfast: Begin your day with a made-from-scratch menu at Honey B's, filled with options for meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Choose the Lavender Pancakes, House Biscuits and Gravy, or signature Honey's Hash. Or indulge at La Crepe du Jour, where French music — and the smell of made-to-order, Parisian-style crepes — fills the air.

Morning Outings:
Stroll Main Street for ample shops to explore. Sample from Zak & Mac's Chocolate Haus and Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, browse Rapunzel’s Unique Gifts and Yarns or White House Boutique (with hand-painted leather handbags and designer jewelry), and wander about 40-plus options within Frankenmuth River Place Shops' German-inspired village.

Next, visit Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, a magical place overflowing with more than 50,000 trims and gifts (plus custom, hand-painted ornaments you can purchase as special souvenirs)!

Lunch: Feast at Michigan on Main, located inside Bavarian Inn Restaurant. With 17 Michigan craft brews on tap and a creative, locally sourced menu, even the Chicken Pot Pie is Michigan-shaped! Or, dine on the sprawling streetside patio at Tiffany's Food & Spirits for spectacular views of Downtown Frankenmuth and locally loved Sicilian Pizza.

Mid-Day Adventures: Board the Bavarian Belle Riverboat for a narrated sightseeing cruise along the Cass River, or book a Wine & Chocolate River Tour with Frankenmuth FunShips. This one-hour tour includes five wines paired with five handmade chocolates, and a full glass of your favorite!

Boat Tours in Frankenmuth | @michiganaddicts

If you’re up for thrills, zip over to Frankenmuth Aerial Park for chances to fly through the air and over the treetops! Check into Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures for tranquility in the great outdoors, and paddle yourself along the calm Cass River in single or double kayaks. Or, find Fantasy Carriage Company for a personal tour of the city in a cozy, horse-drawn carriage.

Dinner: Flip a coin to decide between dining at Bavarian Inn Restaurant or Zehnder's of Frankenmuth for world-famous chicken dinners. Both German-themed restaurants offer all-you-can-eat, multi-course meals served family style, and both are iconic to the Frankenmuth experience.

For smoked wings, brisket, and mouthwatering ribs (even live blues music on weekends), get to Slo' Bones BBQ Smokehaus. Or, dine at The Station 100 for artful European plates paired by an in-house sommelier.

Into the Night: Sample from 15 different beers on tap (while soaking up views overlooking the Cass River) at Michigan's oldest microbrewery, Frankenmuth Brewery. Raise your glasses at Prost Wine Bar & Charcuterie, with an intimate ambiance, extensive wine menu, and six wine selections on tap. Or, hop aboard the PedAle Trolley, a 16-person pedal-powered bike, for their View with a Brew Tour. This 2.5-hour journey includes three to five refreshing and refilling stops, and the experience is a beautifully fun way to wrap up the first evening of your long weekend!

Rest Up for Day Two Find a place to stay after your day of fun in Frankenmuth! Browse Frankenmuth Hotels +
MFS Museum | @bernsiekay
Day Two:
Saginaw

Spend day two in this lively city exploring all from art museums to ample shopping — with plenty of hidden-gem stops for local eats and drinks along the way!

Pasong's Cafe | @lala_lulu_espinoza

Breakfast: Start your day in Saginaw with Cinnamon French Toast from Fuzzy's, made with thick, homemade, iced cinnamon bread. Try Bringer Inn for healthy portions and a family-style ambiance, or head to dawn of a new day for “a conscious cup of coffee” and a breakfast sandwich.

Early Day Outings:
Shop SVRC Marketplace and the adjoining Downtown Saginaw Farmers Market pavilion. From Happy Little Treats to The Little Yarn Shoppe, SVRC is an indoor, European-style market with diverse eateries and retail shops — and the farmers market just outside its doors is equally fresh and inviting!

Next, head to nearby Old Town Saginaw to score one-of-a-kinds at Adomaitis Antiques, Court Street Antiques, and Old Town Furniture, all within walking distance of one another. Enjoy a “country drive” to Pride & Country Village and experience more than 40,000 square feet and seven eclectic shops, including The Schoolhouse Boutique, Farm House, and The Mill Candle Shop. Be sure to leave plenty of time for the must-shop Birch Run Premium Outlets if big name brands, low prices, and more than 100 stores are your kind of adventure!

Lunch:
Enjoy homemade soups and more than 20 gourmet sandwich selections at Fralia's. Order #13, the Black & Blue, for marinated beef flank on baguette or #23 (Beet Sandwich with goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette) for a vegetarian option. Or, taste Thai Tea at Pasong's Cafe, along with memorable Egg Drop Soup, Pho, Pad Thai, and an order of their irresistible spring rolls!

Japanese Cultural Center | @alexandra_abroad

Mid-Afternoon: Awaken your senses at Saginaw Art Museum, housed in a historical 1904 Georgian-Revival mansion. Explore Italianate gardens and the permanent collection in excess of 2,000 objects spanning 4,500 years!

Discover the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, featuring a collection of works that span the 70-year career of the Detroit-based artist. Or, enter through the bamboo gates of the Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House, and Gardens of Saginaw, revered as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America! Stroll the picturesque property along the banks of Lake Linton, and tour the traditional “sukiya” or teahouse.

You could also venture out to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and experience the Wildlife Drive Auto Tour, June through September, sunrise to sunset. (Keep your eyes peeled for nesting bald eagles!) Or, reserve a boat ride with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips to experience the “Everglades of Michigan” through the eyes of an expert guide. Bring your cameras, binoculars, picnic baskets, beverages, and a desire for adventure!

Oracle Brewing | @oraclebeer

Dinner: Take in the cozy ambiance and open-kitchen concept of Old Town Saginaw’s Artisan Urban Bistro. Order Chef Spiri’s Bolognese and select from wine made on premises. For a casual-upscale chophouse and comfortable, sophisticated atmosphere, Jake’s Old City Grill serves charbroiled steaks and seafood with an extensive wine and martini list.

Or, dine at The BoardRoom Bistro, with both intimate indoor and outdoor spaces to choose from. Select a seasonal menu option, or order the Pesto Cream Pasta that's always available (and always delicious).

Into the Eve: Catch a film or live performance at The Temple Theatre, a restored historical gem. Look to The Dow Event Center and Huntington Event Park, too, for concerts, comedy, or a Saginaw Spirit hockey game!

Take in Old Town Distillery to enjoy vodka, rum, whiskey, or moonshine, all distilled right on site. Check out Woody’s Draught House to choose from 99 rotating brews on tap, or head to nearby Oracle Brewing for a laid-back, intimate space and inventive craft brews.

Rest Up for Day Three Find a place to stay after your day of fun in Saginaw! Browse Saginaw Hotels +
Uptown Bay City | @jeffcaverlyphotography
Day Three:
Bay City

Arrive in this eclectic, waterfront city ready for a day three full of excursions — because Bay City boasts a rare blend of shops and eateries that sit right near its charming riverfront!

Harless + Hugh | @harlessandhughcoffee

Breakfast: Head Downtown to Harless + Hugh Coffee and enjoy, indoors or outside, your Onyx Pour Over and Lox Toast. Try Populace Coffee for a house-made bagel and a cup o’ joe, or a Black (Sunstone) or Oolong (Shan Lin Xi) tea. Head Uptown for Cappuccino and quiche at Live Oak Coffeehouse, or sink your teeth into upscale diner dishes at Uptown Grill. Enjoy your Baklava French Toast or Lobster Benny indoors or on the patio.

Top of the Day:
Still in Uptown, check out nearby shops including fashion-forward OMONI Boutique — then splurge on a massage or facial at Don Angelos Aveda Lifestyle Salon. Why not?

Head Downtown for a blending of modern specialty shops, like Half Mile Handmade or Soul Sister Studio (and Violets Blue is unforgettably magical), alongside historic Bay City Antiques Center / Bay Antique Center, the largest antique mall in Michigan! Stop into City Market to experience multiple shops and eats in one spot, from Oily Apothecary for homeopathic remedies to DHOP, Downtown House of Pizza.

Lunch: Craving something different? Sushi Remix in Uptown serves up poké (pronounced “poh-kay”) that’s Keto friendly, vegan, gluten free, and downright delicious! Downtown, Fusion 1 Cafe features Chef Craig Fiebke’s fresh, contemporary cuisine and an unforgettable sushi bar. Or stop into Tavern 101, a beer-forward establishment serving 54 craft brews on tap and tasty House Boards.

Bay City State Park | @nature_lover_xo

Mid-Day Adventures: Explore Saginaw Bay's sandy freshwater shoreline at Bay City State Park and linger in the lagoon of Tobico Marsh, a sprawling 2,000-acre wetland preserve with wooded walking trails, picturesque scenery, and wildlife viewing. Psst! This place makes beautiful beachy backdrops for vacation photos!

Or jump on the Bay City Area Riverwalk/RailTrail — access points are all around! Experience diverse scenery from wildflowers and countryside to residential districts — even a waterfront boardwalk with bustling marinas and access to dining that's right on the water!

Real Seafood Company | @maditaylorphoto

Dinner: Stroll right from the Riverwalk to Real Seafood Company for “Quite simply, seafood as it should be." Enjoy your Chef’s Signature Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass or Maine Scallops on the upper Mezzanine or lower-level patio. Both overlook the Saginaw River and offer spectacular views!

Or dine Downtown at MI Table to taste our state’s rich culinary history in each of this farm-to-table restaurant’s creative dishes. You could also savor the casual-upscale atmosphere of Old City Hall — and the Panko and Herb Crusted Cod or Molasses Brisket Stack Sandwich.

BaySail | @jeffcaverlyphoto

Into the Eve: Board the Princess Wenonah and dance to live band music on a Friday Evening Entertainment Cruise with Bay City Boat Lines, or set your sights on BaySail's majestic Appledore tall ships for a Sunset Sail or Celestial Excursion. Sail under the stars and see the night sky come alive while enjoying delicious, local charcuterie selections. (Your favorite beverages are welcome aboard, too!)

You could also catch a movie or live performance at State Theatre of Bay City, a renovated 1908 historical gem. Whet your whistle at the intimate Drydock Beer Garden, a seasonal outdoor space tucked into the heart of Downtown, or belly up at Tri-City Brewing for craft brews that pay homage to the area (order the Hell's Half Mile Lager). And get to The Public House for artisan cocktails like River Cruiser — a drink made for two to share!

Rest Up for Day Four Find a place to stay after your day of fun in Bay City! Browse Bay City Hotels +
Dow Gardens | @lostwonderer88
Day Four:
Midland

Finish up in Midland on day four of your long weekend — and check all from gorgeous botanical gardens to the country's longest canopy walk off your bucket list!

Cafe Zinc | @placeswithb

Breakfast: Kickstart your day with decadent and buttery. Crepes et Amis is locally loved for its Good Morning Paris crepe, and Cafe Zinc at the H Hotel is an intimate bistro with a French pastry chef who prepares European-style breads, tartlets, and tortes daily!

Look to The Loch Coffee Co. if you’re craving a good “cuppa” and some made-to-order waffles, or Live Oak Coffeehouse for specialty coffee, kombucha on tap, and quiche. Get to Grove Tea Lounge for a Turmeric Chai Tea Latte, and choose between the Avocado Toast with arugula (vegan) or a Skillet Wrap with roasted sweet potato, egg, and sausage.

Morning Outings: Spend the morning shopping Downtown and don’t miss Serendipity Road, a makers market with more than 70 Michigan-based vendors. Make your way to the Midland Area Farmers Market, one of the largest in the state, for fresh florals for your hotel room and souvenirs to take home from your trip!

Roll into Ray's Bike Shop and ride your rented Specialized along the 30-mile, picturesque Pere Marquette Rail Trail. Start at The Tridge to experience a unique three-way bridge at the confluence of two rivers! Speaking of water, keep a morning paddle with Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals on your radar, along with a visit to Chippewa Nature Center to hike… or relax with a cup of tea and watch the Pine River idle by.

Dow Gardens | @nrupalikulkarni

Lunch: Enjoy St. Louis-style barbecue right in Downtown Midland at Molasses Smokehouse + Bar, with meats smoked low and slow, signature sides, and sweet tea. Or enjoy Maru Sushi & Grill for Japanese sashimi, nigiri, omakase chef's creations, and hibachis; Basil Thai Bistro for fresh Papaya Salad, Curry Fried Rice, or Pad Thai; or Proper Taco for corn tortillas, expertly seasoned proteins, and house-made sauces.

Mid-Day Adventures:
Step into Dow Gardens and immerse your senses in 110 acres of floral beauty and natural splendor. Home to the historic Pines Home, available for tours, Dow Gardens also includes Whiting Forest, where you'll stroll up to four stories high in the treetops along the nation’s longest canopy walk!

Right nearby the gardens, tour the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio, a mid-century modern architectural masterpiece, or explore Midland Center for the Arts, where imagination and participation are encouraged. Stop into MCFTA's on-site Saints & Sinners Lounge for a cocktail, or venture out to Grape Beginnings Winery and have a tasting-good-time and a hot plate of Crab Puffs or Gorgonzola Honey Bruschetta as an early appetizer!

Aster | @astermichigan

Dinner: Dine at Aster for delicately crafted, gourmet farm-to-table selections, or enjoy the warm ambiance of Gratzi and a multi-course, authentic Italian meal. For “a wine bar with attitude” and “vino to vent by,” along with Beef Bourguignon or Garam Masala Coconut Curry Vegetables, enjoy dinner at Whine. For comfort food, ONe Eighteen is an American tavern pairing craft brews and handcrafted cocktails with dishes like Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf and Shrimp & Lobster Roll.

Into the Eve:
Saunter up to an outdoor bar made from an old shipping container, Larkin Beer Garden, on Thursday and Friday nights for easy-going fun and plentiful brews. Stop into WhichCraft Taproom for more than 80 varieties of Michigan-made craft brew, 40 of which are available on tap, and a wide selection of cider, mead, and wine. Or kick back at Midland Brewing Company for craft beers that honor regional and state history — Copper Harbor Ale, cheers — and delicious pub-style food.

Rest Up Before Heading Home Find a place to stay in Midland after the last day of your long weekend! Browse Midland Hotels +
Author
Jen W. O'Deay

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