- Things to Do
- Eat + Drink
- Places to Stay
- Plan Your Trip
Clear rivers, babbling brooks, and beautiful, deep-blue lakes — sparkling freshwaters are simply what we’re known for here in Michigan! Whether you’re looking to set sail on a tall ship, hop aboard a river cruise, dine dockside with scenic views, or wake to boats drifting by your hotel window — we’ll show you the waterways to get there.
Dip your toes, drop a line, and dive right in as you discover these must-try attractions, hotels, and restaurants on the water in the Great Lakes Bay!
Ride off into the sunset aboard the Appledore Tall Ships on a Sunset Sail with BaySail! Experience vibrant hues and billowing white sails aboard Appledore IV and Appledore V schooners while enjoying gorgeous scenery (and snacks & beverages you brought on deck). Or, book a daytime Great Lakes 101 Sail to explore the rich history of the Saginaw River, with abundant wildlife sightings along the way.Read More +
Find yourself smiling while floating aboard the Princess Wenonah and Islander excursion boats with Bay City Boat Lines! Take a Free Weekday Morning History Tour for natural beauty and interesting bits of Bay City history, savor a catered meal on deck before dancing the night away aboard “Rock the Boat” or “Carefree Cruisin’” themed trips with live bands, or enjoy a family-friendly Saginaw River Guided Tour for a relaxing afternoon, glorious views, and the chance to see a lighthouse!Read More +
What better way to enjoy the water than on a relaxing boat ride that supplies five wines expertly paired with five handmade chocolates? Float away on a Wine & Chocolate River Tour with Frankenmuth FunShips to experience it for yourself! Or, book a 30-minute or one-hour guided River Tour and languidly glide along the scenic Cass River on these ultra-quiet 12-passenger electric boats.Read More +
Board the 150-passenger Bavarian Belle Riverboat, and float beneath the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke (German for “wooden bridge”). Departing from the waterfalls of Frankenmuth River Place Shops, enjoy a one-hour narrated sightseeing tour aboard the Riverboat’s canopied upper deck (or fully enclosed lower salon) as you discover fascinating facts about Frankenmuth.Read More +
Experience the waterways of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge on a personally guided boat tour with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips. Specializing in ecotours, birding trips, romantic escapes, and even B&B packages, discover one of the richest wildlife habitats in Michigan and a one-of-a-kind boating adventure where guests are welcomed to bring picnics, coolers, beverages of choice, and even pets. Adventures are by appointment only, so book early!Read More +
Swim, splash, and play all day along almost a mile of natural, sandy Saginaw Bay shoreline at Bay City State Park! Take a break from swimming at volleyball and basketball courts, and enjoy a picnic at the on-site pavilions. Inside Bay City State Park, you’ll also discover a Splash Park and playscape for the kids, Saginaw Bay Visitors Center for more nature exploration, and access to breathtaking Tobico Marsh — a wetland preserve with nearly five miles of trails, and two 32-foot observation towers for bird’s-eye views!Read More +
Hit the beach and make a day of it at Haithco Recreation Area! This 74-acre park offers a 40-acre man-made lake, new earthy-themed Splash Park, on-site playground, volleyball courts, and even horseshoe pits. Roast hot dogs on grills available throughout the park, drop in a line from the fishing pier, and even rent paddleboats, rowboats, canoes, or kayaks, right on-site!Read More +
Summertime is primetime for walleye anglers visiting the Great Lakes Bay Region, because a world-class bite occurs on Saginaw Bay from June to August! Whether you’re fishing from your own boat, a chartered one, the banks of the Saginaw River, or the shores of Saginaw Bay, get in on the walleye action (and discover which trolling tactics dominate these waters).Read More +
With an international reputation for serious walleye fishing, your best fishing tale may come to life aboard any one of a fleet of Saginaw Bay charter fishing boats — piloted by savvy captains who know exactly where to go for the best catch! Hook your fill this summer from waters teeming with walleye and plentiful with pros.Read More +
See Bay City a whole new way — right from the water with Float Paddle Center. Located next to the Ted Putz Nature Area, find yourself next to nature in just a few steps and enjoy your float on rented single kayaks, tandem kayaks, or stand-up paddleboards.Read More +
Head North for adventures on Saginaw Bay with Cattail Kayak Rental. With trips beginning at Bay County Pinconning Park, take a single or double kayak out for a summer spin and paddle through calm, blue waters.
Enjoy easy access to Saginaw Bay this summer with Nor’East Outdoors' newest location — right inside Bay City State Park! Rent a kayak or paddleboard for the day, or just an hour or two, and bob on the waves to explore the view from offshore. Single and tandem kayaks are available, alongside paddleboards.
Book a two- to four-hour scenic trip on the Chippewa River with Nor’East Outdoors in Midland. Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or paddleboard aficionado — or you’re just ready to get your feet wet with either — instructional sessions and shuttle service come with each of Nor’East Outdoors’ pre-set paddles.
Gain access to custom trips in kayaks with Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals. Take a guided tour or an on-your-own adventure in a 12-foot sit-on or sit-in kayak, or try out a double kayak for fun. Got a group, want a longer reservation, or need special accommodations? Custom requests are always welcomed — just ask when you call!
Set adrift on the gentle Cass River with Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures. Paddle along calm waters on a self-guided kayak tour, and experience the tranquility of the river as it winds its way to and through “Little Bavaria”.
Dockside dining will never be the same once you pull up to Drift Shoreside Beer Garden! Step from ship to shore and enjoy a plethora of handcrafted beers, wine, and craft cocktails. Dine with a river view on your pick of street fare selections from local food trucks — including popular Drift staples, The Green Chile & Acosta’s Havana Bites — for a whole new shoreside eatery experience!Read More +
Enjoy spectacular views of the Saginaw River from one of two levels, indoors or out, at Real Seafood Company in Uptown Bay City. With premium selections and fresh Great Lakes seafood, dine in an upscale, but relaxed atmosphere with savory flavors and riverside scenery you won’t soon forget!
Bring your appetite and prepare your tastebuds to dance to new beats at Costela Brazilian Steak House in Uptown Bay City. Taste authentic Brazilian churrascaria (grilled meats) carved and served tableside, and sample gourmet wines before enjoying an evening stroll along the banks of the Saginaw River.
Experience comfort food served with modern twists at Uptown Grill in Bay City. Serving breakfast and lunch, taste Baklava French Toast or a Waffle Cristo on the 30-seat outdoor gated patio, and watch the sunshine dance across the Saginaw River in the distance.
Step into Tavern 101, a beer-forward restaurant in Downtown Bay City with views of waterfront Wenonah Park and the glistening Saginaw River! Select from 54 rotating taps pouring an ever-changing selection of craft beers — and a menu designed to complement beer, including using beer in a number of recipes.
Featuring seasonal outdoor seating and stellar river views, enjoy a breakfast buffet, lunch, or dinner at Riverfront Grille & Lounge at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Bay City - Riverfront. Dine shoreside at an umbrellaed table for an intimate meal, complete with the tranquility of the Saginaw River, and sink into cozy lounge seating by the fire bar with your nightcap cocktail!
Spend time on the Kawkawlin River with good friends and fabulous food at Castaways! Whether fishing, floating, paddling, or just looking for fun, guests can dock & dine at this waterside eatery. Feast on specialty pizzas, burgers, and catch of the day, and wash it down with cold brews and live entertainment on weekends!
Take in beautiful vistas over the Cass River from one of two levels of outdoor seating at Frankenmuth Brewery, established in 1862. This historic brewery and restaurant has heated decks and an enclosed patio — with ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking the river — where you’re sure to discover memorable brews and views!
See Great Lakes freighters heading upstream and watch anglers catch walleye right from your room at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Bay City - Riverfront. This full-service hotel on the banks of the Saginaw River is within walking distance to Downtown Bay City’s specialty shops, restaurants, antiques, and exciting nightlife — including Feet on the Street social zones where you can dine, drink, and dance in Downtown streets!Read More +
Witness views of the beautiful Cass River right from your room at the Marv Herzog Hotel in Downtown Frankenmuth. Make yourself at home, put your feet up and relax by the river, and stroll to nearby shops and eateries from this central location in charming “Little Bavaria”.
Enjoy the water — both indoors and out — at Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth! Nestled on the banks of the picturesque Cass River, this indoor waterpark hotel has four indoor pools, nightly entertainment in the Lorelei Lounge, and the perfect setting for moonlit walks along the water.
The view from your room at Comfort Inn Bay City - Riverfront is just a glimpse of what awaits. Enjoy gorgeous sunset views and easy access to both Uptown and Downtown. Take a stroll along the river and visit any number of nearby boutiques, shops, and waterfront restaurants.
With the confluence of two rivers just outside your window at The H Hotel in Downtown Midland, relax and let yourself be pampered in a setting of modern elegance. Enjoy walkable paths along the water — or over the water, on Midland’s unique, three-legged bridge, the Tridge — and explore shopping and dining options right outside your Downtown door. Just steps away, you can also venture out into The Commons — a Pedestrian Plaza and Refreshment Area where streets are filled with live music, good food, cold drinks, and plenty of picnic tables!
Linger along the banks of Lake Linton and step back in time at Montague Inn, a spacious mansion turned B&B in Saginaw. Experience the ambiance of a roaring 20s mansion and relish a needed getaway amidst serenity, stunning gardens, and picturesque waterfront views.
Roast hot dogs over the fire and marshmallows, too, after a day spent swimming the waters of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay at Bay City State Park. A modern, all-season campground nestled in a stand of mature oaks, cabins and pop-up campers are available to rent and wonderful waterfront memories are sure to be made!Read More +
No boat? No problem. Pull in your camper or pop up your tent on one of 135 sites at Linwood Beach Marina & Campground — then charter a fishing excursion with the pros that launch from Linwood! This modern campground has all the amenities and access to some of the best walleye and perch fishing around — no boat needed — with a fish-cleaning station on-site.
A sandy beach is one of many highlights at the popular, year-round campground in Bay County Pinconning Park. Set deep in a 206-acre hardwood forest nature preserve with 62 modern and semi-modern sites, bring your boat or rent a kayak to spend time on the water while enjoying your prime camping location along Saginaw Bay, a world-renowned walleye and perch fishery!
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
Refreshing & cool, salt-free & scenic: the Great Lakes Bay is hands-down and all-in the place to be for affordable waterfront vacationing in Michigan!Read More +
Read on to meet the fleet of boats and find adventures you can enjoy on the waves of the Great Lakes Bay.Read More +