- Things to Do
- Eat + Drink
- Places to Stay
- Plan Your Trip
Nothing perks up winter-weary souls like the sights and sounds of spring! As daffodils and crocuses bring bright pops of yellow and purple to our newly budding landscape of green, we start to wake up inside — and we want to get outside and enjoy it all!
With sunshine and fresh air beckoning, let this list of favorite outdoor attractions inspire your adventures in Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region this spring!
Take a curated walking tour, self-guided, at Dow Gardens in Midland! Find yourself immersed in more than 22,000 budding blooms and stroll through glorious acres including the Color Garden, Stream Walk, and Boulder Pass waterfall. Experience Whiting Forest with its unique canopy walk above the trees — including a glass-floor viewing platform 40 feet above an orchard!
Refresh at Chippewa Nature Center this spring. Enjoy a guided bike ride on the Chippewa Trail — or an evening kayak trip with a naturalist, spotting herons, hawks, and eagles as you paddle. With 19 miles of trails to explore, join a Spring Wildflower Walk or Full Moon Stroll!
Climb to new heights, test your limits, and feel like you're flying at Frankenmuth Aerial Park! A sky-high obstacle course with adventures for all skill levels, this wooded park is woven with ladders, rope bridges, and ziplines for a one-of-a-kind experience in the trees.
Put your toes in the sand along the shoreline at Bay City State Park. With a boat launch, picnic areas, and volleyball and basketball courts, stop into the on-site Saginaw Bay Visitors Center for even more nature exploration!
Climb two observation towers inside Tobico Marsh! Accessible through Bay City State Park, Tobico Marsh is a scenic, 2,000-acre wetland that’s home to migratory birds, wildlife, plants, walking trails, a beautiful boardwalk, and two 32-foot observation towers with panoramic views.
Go exploring to see where four rivers converge at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge! Located in the Saginaw Bay watershed, it’s one of the largest wetland ecosystems in Michigan and a scenic home to egrets, geese, warblers, and more.
Experience the iconic Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Docked at the waterfalls of Frankenmuth River Place Shops, relax on the canopied upper deck or in the fully-enclosed lower salon of this authentic paddlewheel riverboat. Discover fascinating facts about Frankenmuth and enjoy scenic views of the Cass River on the one-hour narrated tour.
Attend a wine tasting on the water! Book a Wine & Chocolate River Tour with Frankenmuth FunShips to enjoy five wines expertly paired with five handmade chocolates, a full glass of your favorite selection, two additional wine samples, and a stemless souvenir glass. Cheers!
Ride a shallow-draft, custom-built boat through pristine nature on a personally guided tour of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips. Rated a GEM ‘Great Experience for Members’ Attraction of Michigan by AAA, discover the “Everglades of Michigan” with a one-of-a-kind, expert guide.
Yell, “Fish on!” Spend the day catching big ones on Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay with the pros of a Saginaw Bay walleye fishing charter! After spring spawning in tributary rivers, walleye enter the Bay, fueling hot springtime fisheries. Study these tips for targeting spring walleye before you go!
Float into a radiant sunset this spring on a Sunset Paddle Tour with Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals. Choose the launch and pick-up sites you prefer, and decide between sit-on or sit-in kayaks. Paddle yourself along the Cass River's calm waters on a self-guided tour with Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures, pick a 2 - 4 hour pre-set trip from Nor’East Outdoors’ offerings, or venture onto Saginaw Bay with Cattail Kayak Rental.
Take on eight miles of winding bike trails that twist and turn over flat land and steep hills within Midland City Forest! A 520-acre mecca for bikers, runners, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts, City Forest is home to Ray’s Bike Shop where thrill-seekers can test out Specialized, Salso, Surly, Trek, and other mountain bikes on the trails.
Enjoy a guided tour through the streets of Little Bavaria with Fantasy Carriage Company, located next to Zehnder’s Restaurant, or Frankenmuth Carriage Company, beneath the Bavarian Inn Glockenspiel Tower. With beautifully carved carriages and extraordinary horses, your leisurely ride with either will include history, lore, intriguing scenery, and insider gems about Frankenmuth.
Spot a peregrine falcon this spring! Bring your binoculars to the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, a birder’s paradise of sprawling shoreline that is a natural habitat for more than 200 species of birds. Covering 142 miles, the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail is home to tundra swans and American white pelicans — and the best time to witness birds is often early morning.
Ride through fields of wildflowers on the 21-mile Bay City Area Riverwalk/Railtrail! Part of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail — which also includes the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail Trail and 11-mile Saginaw Valley Rail Trail — this interconnected system offers spectacular scenery and even some waterfront views! Look to local Ray’s Bike Shop in Midland or Bay City to rent rides for your time on the trails!
Pedal below the Third Street Star Bridge with Sunrise Pedal Trolley! Experience illuminating lights strung between rooftops, and partake in a mobile party on a 16-person, pedal-powered trolley bike. Guests choose drinks, festivities, and music, and each two-hour trolley tour includes architecture, ambiance, shops, and local pubs (if you like) of Bay City!
Power through Little Bavaria on a City River Tour with PedAle Trolley. Two-hour City River Tours on this 16-person, pedal-powered trolley include 3 - 5 stops at Frankenmuth shops, restaurants, pubs, and attractions. (Psst! PedAle Trolley sells single seats, too, on its Thursday- and Saturday-evening pub crawl tours!)
Catch a game ball! Grab your lucky baseball and softball mitts, and head out to a Great Lakes Loons game. Watch riveting Minor League Baseball with 5,200 stadium seats to choose from and 12 suites available for private viewing — or bring a blanket to cheer from the lawn!
Get a hole-in-one this spring, or have fun trying! Set your tee time at Apple Mountain to golf a championship course with generous fairways, true greens — and breathtaking views of the surrounding resort. Or, tee off on greens inspired by golf's early Scottish origins at The Fortress, an 18-hole, par 72 course that’s been noted as one of the top golf courses in Michigan.
Take a riveting route through public art with the Great Lakes Bay Region Public Art Passport. Uncover intriguing details about outdoor art on display throughout the region — from the Madonna Mural in Downtown Bay City to the enormous Matisse Mural in Old Town Saginaw — with photos, Google map locations, and aerial viewing opportunities!
Snap a photo by the wall-sized butterfly at Old Town Saginaw Street Art Park. Explore a mecca of murals and an impressive array of street art including mini-murals with bright flowers, a larger-than-life bright orange butterfly, and the colorful Court Street Bridge Mural.
Stroll through a garden of sculptures. Visit the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and the outdoor Jo Anne & Donald Petersen Sculpture Garden to enjoy beautiful bronze sculptures, botanical beds, and the sounds of water created by the Day and Night Fountain.
Bringing the kids? Add these outings to your list!
Ride the Iberschoff Special miniature train at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo! Swing like a capuchin in “Monkey Jungle”, climb “Kilimanjaro Mountain”, dive into an “Underwater Viewing Cave”, and spin around on the carousel’s hand-carved figurines. Enjoy lunch right on-site at the Train Whistle Café, and don’t leave without pictures of the peacocks!
See “lions and tigers and bears, oh my” 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 more than 200 exotic animals including a bird-eating spider, red-tailed boa constrictor, lions, reptiles, bears, and zebras.
Pet Rosie The Donkey and meet Mr. Nibbles (the very soft bunny who doesn’t nibble) at Grandpa Tiny’s Farm, a working historical farm in Frankenmuth. Enjoy hands-on, family-friendly learning experiences, hayrides, and a magical place where petting and holding the farm animals is always welcomed!
Hit the batting cages, race go-karts, or team up for laser tag at Kokomo’s Family Fun Center! With an 18-hole mini-golf course, bumper boats, arcade games, and the “Family Kombo” of pizza and pop available (ice-cold beer, too, parents), this place has something for everyone this spring!
Try bank-shot basketball before deciding between two mini-golf courses at Alpine Mountain, or play both! Ride bumper boats and go-karts, and enjoy time together at the small arcade — and the on-site ice cream!
Slap high-fives in the batting cages and golf your way up and around a massive waterfall while playing 18 holes of mini-golf at Dutch Village Adventure Park!
Enjoy a waffle cone (and the view) at Buoy 18 Miniature Golf, Arcade & Ice Cream Shop! Serving up Michigan-made Ashby's Sterling ice cream, with vegan and gluten-free flavors, spend a delicious day putt-putting your way through 18 holes, overlooking the scenic Liberty Harbor Marina, and enjoying the game room, free every day with your golf purchase!
Whether you take in a ball game or a guided boat tour, hike new trails or taste fresh cocktails, discover the best of all that spring brings as you explore Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region!Read More +
When the kiddos are ready for easy-breezy fun, discover the best of what spring brings while you explore Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region as a family!Read More +
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