Follow the sunshine, fresh air, and this list of top outdoor attractions to make the most of your summer adventures when you Go Great Lakes Bay in Pure Michigan!
Boat Tours in Frankenmuth | @michiganaddicts

Guided Boat Tours

Could there be a better summer pairing than a relaxing boat ride where wine samples and handcrafted chocolates are served? Float away on a Wine & Chocolate River Tour with Frankenmuth FunShips, and keep your tasting glass as a souvenir!

Climb aboard to ride an icon, the 150-passenger Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Departing from the waterfalls of Frankenmuth River Place Shops, enjoy a narrated history tour as you take in the beautiful Bavarian architecture.

Experience the “Everglades of Michigan” on an expertly guided boat tour with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips. Discover one of the richest wildlife habitats in Michigan and a unique boating adventure where guests can pack picnics, coolers, beverages of choice — and bring their pets!

Drift off into the sunset aboard the Appledore Tall Ships on a Sunset Sail with BaySail — and experience vibrant hues while enjoying snacks & beverages you brought on board! Or, book a daytime Great Lakes 101 trip for gorgeous scenery and wildlife sightings.

Let yourself float freely on the Princess Wenonah excursion boat of Bay City Boat Lines this summer! Dine on deck before you boogie down aboard “Carefree Cruisin’” or “Rock the Boat” themed trips with live bands, or relax on a Saginaw River Guided Tour for spectacular views and the chance to see a lighthouse!

Bay City Boat Lines
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Unforgettable Guided Boat Tours
Bay City State Park | @finnandkelly


Relax along almost a mile of natural, sandy Saginaw Bay shoreline at Bay City State Park! Break from swimming at basketball & volleyball courts, and picnic in the shade at on-site pavilions. Inside the Park, you’ll also enjoy access to Tobico Marsh — a wetland preserve with Lagoon Trails and two observation towers!

Hit the beach at Haithco Recreation Area! This picturesque park offers a 40-acre lake and swimming beach, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits — and even scuba diving! Cook up a picnic on grills found throughout the park, rent paddleboats, rowboats, canoes, or kayaks, and see what you can catch from the fishing pier!

Bay City State Park | @mi_playground
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Places to Sink Your Toes in the Sand

Outdoors + Nature

Find yourself surrounded by vibrant blooms this summer as you stroll Dow Gardens' 110 acres, including Color and Rose Gardens, a peaceful Stream Walk, and Boulder Pass waterfall. Explore its Whiting Forest, too, with a one-of-a-kind canopy walk through the treetops — including a glass-floor viewing platform four stories high!

Soar to new heights and feel like you're flying at Frankenmuth Aerial Park! A sky-high obstacle course through the trees with options for all skill levels, this wooded park is packed with ladders, rope bridges, and ziplines for the ultimate adventure.

Venture out for fresh air, sun, and scenery at Chippewa Nature Center! Paddle the Chippewa River, overlook three marshes from the Observation Tower, and visit the 1870s Homestead Farm. With 19 miles of trails for hiking, join a Full Moon Stroll, Wildflower Walk, or a summer workshop!

Go exploring to see where four rivers converge at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge! Discover one of the largest wetland ecosystems in Michigan and experience a wondrous display of egrets, warblers, and more — especially along the 6.5-mile auto tour route, Wildlife Drive.

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Fresh, Open-Air Adventures
Outdoor Beer Gardens
Bay City

Enjoy street fare and refreshing brews at Drift Shoreside Beer Garden this summer! Split buckets of cold beer, sip wine and craft cocktails — and don't leave without sampling from a lineup of food trucks regularly parked on-site. Boaters can dock and order right from the water!

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Bay City

Imbibe on your favorite brew in the heart of Downtown Bay City's dining district at Drydock Beer Garden. It’s an outdoor beer garden under the string lights in cozy quarters at Unity Park — with low-key vibes and a prime location.

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Toss back pints at Midland Brewing Company, with its open-air Beer Garden that backs up to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail! Boasting fireside seating and lawns that host summer cornhole leagues, try flagship brews like Copper Harbor Ale alongside seasonal suds like Jenny’s Raspberry Sour Shandy.

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Sway to live music on summer nights at Schnitzelbank Bier Garten in front of the Bavarian Inn Lodge. Enjoy your favorite beverage and “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!” or “A drink to good friends and good times!”

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Inviting Outdoor Beer Gardens
Feet on the Street in Bay City | @miles2gobeforeisleep

Pedal Trolleys + Carriage Tours

Pedal below the Third Street Star Bridge when you book the Sunrise Pedal Trolley and partake in a mobile party on a 16-person trolley bike! Guests choose their own drinks and music, and each two-hour Bay City tour can include architecture, shops, and local pubs, if you like!

Coast through Frankenmuth on a City River Tour with PedAle Trolley! Power a 16-person trolley on a two-hour sightseeing tour, and visit local shops, pubs, and attractions. PedAle Trolley sells single seats for its Thursday- and Saturday-evening pub crawl tours, too!

Clip-clop through streets of “Little Bavaria” on a horse-drawn carriage ride with Fantasy Carriage Company or Frankenmuth Carriage Company. With beautifully carved carriages and extraordinary horses, your tour with either will include intriguing scenery and insider Frankenmuth gems.


Grab your lucky baseball mitts, and head out to a Great Lakes Loons game to catch a fly ball! Watch riveting Minor League Baseball with 5,200 stadium seats to pick from, or bring a blanket to cheer from the lawn!

Get a hole-in-one this summer, or have fun trying! Set your tee time at Apple Mountain to golf a championship course with generous fairways and true greens — or play The Fortress in Frankenmuth, an 18-hole, par 72 course that’s been recognized as one of Michigan's top courses.

The Fortress | @thefortressgolf
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Public Golf Courses
Saginaw River in Bay City | @mi_playground

Kayaking + Paddleboarding

Paddle along the gentle Cass River on a self-guided kayak tour with Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures, and experience the tranquility of the water as it winds its way through picturesque “Little Bavaria.”

With Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals, go on a guided tour or self-led adventure in a sit-on or sit-in kayak, or try out a double kayak for fun! Got a group, want a longer reservation, or need unique accommodations? Ike's specializes in custom outings!

Book a two- to four-hour scenic paddle on the Chippewa River with Nor’East Outdoors – Midland. Brief paddling lessons and shuttle service come with each of Nor’East’s pre-set trips!

Gain easy access to Saginaw Bay this summer with Nor’East Outdoors – Bay City, conveniently located inside Bay City State Park. Borrow your choice of kayaks or boards and enjoy the views from offshore!

Make your way north for new adventures on Saginaw Bay with Cattail Kayak Rental. Starting at Bay County Pinconning Park, take a single or double kayak for a spin and paddle through calm, blue hues.

Saginaw River in Bay City | @mi_playground
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Top Places to Dip Your Paddles
Summer Walleye Fishing + Fishing Charters

June, July, and August are primetime for Saginaw Bay walleye fishing, because a world-class walleye bite is happening all throughout the summer! Whether you’re fishing from your own boat, a chartered vessel, the Saginaw River banks, or the shores of Saginaw Bay, get in on the summer walleye action (and find which trolling tactics local anglers favor).

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Bay City State Park | @mi_playground

Hiking + Biking Trails

Ride through fields of wildflowers — or along the riverfront — on the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail! With the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail Trail, 21-mile Bay City Area Riverwalk/Railtrail, 11-mile Saginaw Valley Rail Trail and beyond, this trail system offers gorgeous scenery and even some waterfront views.

Bring your binoculars to the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, a natural habitat for more than 200 species of birds! Covering 142 shoreline miles, this trail is home to everything from tundra swans to American white pelicans.

Take on eight miles of mountain biking trails that twist and turn over flat land and steep hills at Midland City Forest! A 520-acre oasis for outdoor enthusiasts, City Forest is also home to Ray’s Bike Shop, so riders can test out Specialized, Surly, Trek, and other bikes on the trails.

Saginaw Valley Rail Trail | @djaycapeside
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Top Trails for Hiking + Biking
Downtown Frankenmuth | @roaming_michigan_together

Outdoor Public Art

Take an awe-inspiring route through dozens of outdoor art displays with the Great Lakes Bay Region Public Art Passport at your fingertips! Find information and stories about public art across the region — with photos, Google map locations, and opportunities to see an aerial preview!

Immerse yourself in an array of streetside beauty at Old Town Saginaw Street Art Park, including mini-murals dotted with bright flowers, a larger-than-life orange butterfly, and the colorful Court Street Bridge Mural.

Stroll through a garden alive with artistry at the Sculpture Garden just outside of Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. Enjoy beautiful bronze sculptures, botanical beds, and tranquil water sounds from the Day and Night Fountain.

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Places to See Public Art
Bringing the kids on your summer vacation? These outdoor attractions are favorites for families! Learn More
Zoos + Farms

Ride the iconic miniature train at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo. Choo-choo! Say hi to 150+ animals and take a few spins on the hand-carved carousel. Picnic on-site with a bite to eat from the Train Whistle Café, and snap pictures of the colorful peacocks if you see them on the paths!

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Birch Run

Meet more than 200 exotic animals at Wilderness Trails Zoo in Birch Run! With a Petting Area, Picnic Area, Parakeet Encounter, and Rainforest Experience, this 56-acre zoo is home to lions, bears, zebras, reptiles, and so much more!

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Pet Rosie The Donkey and meet Mr. Nibbles (the very soft bunny who doesn’t nibble) at Grandpa Tiny’s Heritage Farm in Frankenmuth. Enjoy hayrides, hands-on learning experiences, and chances to pet, feed, and hold some of the animals!

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Buoy 18 | @frommichiganwithlove

Outdoor Mini-Golf

Have a ball playing miniature golf at Dutch Village Adventure Park! Swing hard in the batting cages, and treat yourselves to a cool-down with hand-dipped Hudsonville ice cream.

Create forever memories at Buoy 18 Miniature Golf, Arcade & Ice Cream Shop, right by a bustling marina. Play games in the arcade, and have fun choosing your ice cream: regular, sugar-free, vegan, or gluten-free!

Putt-putt your way to a hole-in-one, race go-karts, run through laser tag, ride bumper boats, and play arcade games — all in one family-friendly place at Fun Way Amusement Park!

Choose between two mini-golf courses at Alpine Mountain, or play both! Challenge the fam to bank-shot basketball, race go-karts and bumper boats, and indulge in ice cream!

Spray Parks + Splash Pads

Giggle and play, whoop it up with water, and rest on provided lawn chairs at Spray by the Bay Splash Park inside Bay City State Park. You’re right next to a playground area, pavilions for picnics, a sandy beach, and Tobico Marsh nature trails!

Bay City State Park | @shineonsunfish

Check out the earthy-themed splash park at Haithco Recreation Area for sun-soaked fun amidst Michigan-native animals and trees spouting water! Enjoy this park and 40-acre lake with swimming beach, and be ready to ride the universally accessible merry-go-’round!

Count to 18 together, because Frankenmuth Jaycee Spray Park's zero-depth water play area has 18 different fountains, sprays, and geysers — accessible for all ages and abilities!

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

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

Splash and play by the iconic Tridge, and right next to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, at Gerstacker Spray Park. Watch the kids in the waterspouts? No way! This place is for the young and young-at-heart!

Bay City State Park
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Summer Fun for Families
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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