- Things to Do
- Eat + Drink
- Places to Stay
- Plan Your Trip
If leaf piles are for jumping in, puddles are for playing, and your people still get caramel apples all over their little faces — then this guide to fall family fun in the Great Lakes Bay is for you!
With pumpkin patches & corn mazes ready — and fresh apple cider & donuts waiting at orchards & farms — read on to discover what to do this season to make family memories that'll last a lifetime!
Go face-to-face this fall with 17-feet-tall bugs at Dow Gardens! Kids of all ages will be inspired by 10 larger-than-life sculptures in David Rogers’ Big Bugs Exhibit. Created with recycled and sustainably harvested materials, discover a trio of 10-foot ants and an unforgettable praying mantis. Catch a bird’s-eye view of brilliance, too, inside Whiting Forest — along a 1,400-foot canopy walk through the trees that stretches as high as 40 feet in the air!Read More +
The colorful treetops await your family this fall at Frankenmuth Aerial Park! Swing through the woods and challenge yourselves on an aerial obstacle course with ziplines! Enjoy hours of fall fun, multi-skill challenges, and one-of-a-kind memories with the kids. Look into Glow Nights to add even more colorful fun for the whole family!Read More +
Crunch leaves underfoot together at Chippewa Nature Center. Explore 19 miles of nature trails and hands-on exhibits at the Homestead Farm, Visitor Center, and Ecosystem Gallery. Watch birds fly in and out of the Wildlife Viewing Area, and enjoy the Nature Discovery Area with close-up views of wildlife. Be sure to climb the two-story observation tower that overlooks the wetlands!Read More +
Meet more than 150 animals, including African penguins and a two-toed sloth, at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo where kids of all ages are inspired to appreciate and respect animals and nature! Situated on 10 acres of landscaped paths, pass through beautiful gardens and find peacock feathers! Visit rescued animals in the Forgotten Forest before riding the region's only hand-carved carousel and the iconic “Ibershoff Special” miniature train!Read More +
Explore 56 acres of Reptile Sanctuary, Rainforest Experience, and more at Wilderness Trails Zoo. Home to more than 200 animals and 50 different species, get hands-on with animals in the petting area or have a close encounter with a parakeet — photo op included! Picnics are welcome, lunch is available on-site, and be sure to visit the gift shop for “wild” souvenirs.Read More +
Discover the changing season together along nearly a mile of Saginaw Bay shoreline at Bay City State Park. Walk through a nearby lagoon full of wildlife, birds, and even fish to catch, and climb two 4-story observation towers in the scenic Tobico Marsh for fall color and fun. Stop into the Saginaw Bay Visitors Center for hands-on exploration and a gift shop that little nature enthusiasts will enjoy big-time!Read More +
Enjoy cool cider slushies while experiencing farm fun and one of the area’s oldest working orchards at Leaman’s Green Applebarn! Have a hayride, try your hand at farm chores, pet and feed baby animals, go on a scavenger hunt, and learn fun facts about tractors and farming. Enjoy fresh donuts, made right before your eyes, pick a bushel of apples together, and don’t pass up a ride on the Apple Barrel Express!Read More +
Watch a real cider press in action at Bayne’s Apple Valley Farm, and savor the results! Kids of all ages will love gigantic, gourmet caramel apples, warm apple pastries, handmade pies, amazing apple cinnamon muffins, and, of course, delicious cider donuts from the bakery!Read More +
Have your camera ready at this 25-acre farm, and watch your kiddos’ eyes go wide as pumpkins are launched through the air by a trebuchet! Pet farm animals, pick gigantic pumpkins, and taste treats of the season at Johnson’s Pumpkin Farm! Cider & donuts await at the end of a 13-acre corn maze, and you’ll find live music on weekends along with a kiddie train ride and horse rides!Read More +
A visit to Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch is a seasonal must for fresh cider & donuts — and the Kidland Play Yard! Filled with family-fun activities from a cow train to hayrides, head to designated Toddlerville for fun with wee ones. Pick your perfect jack-o-lanterns, pet farm animals, and find your way through the 3-acre corn maze before grabbing gourmet caramel apples to-go!Read More +
Wear overalls for fam photos in the pumpkin patch, and lose yourself (but not your kids) in the corn maze at Grandpa Tiny’s Farm! Visitors rave about the signs throughout the maze that kids of all ages love — and about Mr. Nibbles, the softest bunny in the world who doesn’t nibble! Take a tractor-pulled hayride, enjoy cider & donuts, and pet mini-horses, goats, sheep, bunnies, pigs, roosters, and a donkey named Rosie!Read More +
Explore the best of fall through the 5-acre Frankenmuth Corn Maze! Located on the grounds of Weiss Centennial Farm, and boasting 2.5 miles of winding trails, three observation bridges, and more than 20 interactive game stations throughout, you’ll never have so much fun getting lost! Play yard games, enjoy a petting zoo, and hop onto a weekend hayride while you’re here.Read More +
Fantasy Carriage Company: Take the fam and cruise into fall on a horse-drawn carriage ride! Cozy up together under your warm, provided blanket, and ride through the streets of “Little Bavaria” with Fantasy Carriage Company. Take a 15- or 30-minute guided trip to learn about the history and lore of Frankenmuth, and be sure to frame the photo of this fall-time forever memory!
Frankenmuth Carriage Company: Climb aboard a beautifully carved carriage, and let the rhythmic clip-clop of horses’ hooves lull your family into fall relaxation with Frankenmuth Carriage Company. Your 20- or 30-minute carriage trip begins beneath the Glockenspiel Tower at Bavarian Inn Restaurant, and your fall adventure can include the Bavarian Inn Holz Brucke (wooden bridge), River Place Shops, Main Street, and interesting gems you may not know of!
Kokomo's Family Fun Center: Kids of all ages will “fall” for Kokomo’s! Hit the batting cages, race go-karts, rock 18 holes of miniature golf, challenge the fam to Lazer Tag — and don’t leave hungry! The “Family Kombo” includes pizza and pop, and there’s beer on the menu for big kids, too!
Alpine Mountain: Teach wee ones how to mini-golf and challenge bigger kids to up their putt-putt game at Alpine Mountain! Choose between one of two 18-hole courses, or play a round on each. Jump into go-karts, try bank-shot basketball, and visit the arcade for all-around family fun!
Dutch Village Adventure Park: Putt-putt your way through an early-fall afternoon and take photos in front of the rushing waterfall at Dutch Village Adventure Park! Swing for a bucket of balls in the batting cages, and save room for one of 32 flavors of Hudsonville ice cream!
Buoy 18 Miniature Golf, Arcade & Ice Cream Shop: Take in the sights of fall and a memorable sunset over Liberty Harbor Marina at Buoy 18! Order double scoops of Ashby’s Sterling ice cream and hit the arcade inside the game room, free for the whole family with your mini-golf purchase!
Great Lakes Loons: Snap a fam photo this fall with mascots Lou E. Loon and Rall E. Camel and cheer on the Great Lakes Loons! Bring your mitts to catch a fly-ball souvenir, and experience High-A Minor League Baseball as the boys of summer head into fall!
Saginaw Spirit: Be part of the excitement as up-and-coming NHL hopefuls defend, shoot, and score at a Saginaw Spirit hockey game! Grab concessions early, and don’t miss a minute of the non-stop action on mid-Michigan’s fastest ice. Choose your favorite player and follow them into the playoffs!
Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark: There’s a chill to the air outside, but your family will warm up in no time to 50,000 square feet of aquatic fun at Zehnder's Splash Village — one of the only indoor waterparks in the country offering two distinct waterparks in one! With day passes and hotel packages, fall into fun on tube slides, play water basketball, lounge in the lazy rivers, get doused by the 400-gallon dumping bucket, and relax in your private cabana rental — all indoors!
Bavarian Inn Lodge: Choose your favorite from two indoor waterslides and four indoor pools (one pool & whirlpool are reserved just for grown-ups!) at Bavarian Inn Lodge. Swim, play, and enjoy quality time at the largest family fun center in any Midwest hotel! With a two-story Children's Village play area, more than 150 video games, and live entertainment nightly in the Lorelei Lounge, your family is sure to have a ball here this fall!
Stardust Entertainment Center: Step into bowling shoes and try for a strike — and find your way out of four escape rooms, play two-story laser tag, and hop into indoor bumper cars at Stardust! With an exciting cosmic light show, parent-approved music videos, more than 50 video arcade games (and The Taproom on-site, parents), treat your family to all kinds of fun!
Kokomo's Family Fun Center: Indoor fun is endless at Kokomo’s! Try your skills at Lazer Tag (parents vs. kids), or battle to see who’s the next skee ball champ in the action-packed arcade! Enjoy an afternoon to remember with games, giggles, pizza, pop, and plenty of family high-fives!
Valley Lanes Family Entertainment Center: Choose your adventure inside Valley Lanes! Whether it’s bowling, mini-golf, billiards, or bumper cars, enjoy the thrill of family fun. With arcade games, Lazer Maze challenges, escape rooms, Hologate Virtual Reality, and delicious food at on-site Gimmicks, you’re sure to find something for everyone here this fall!
Airborne Adventure Park: Flip, fly, and soar to new heights on ginormous, wall-to-wall trampolines at Airborne Adventure Park! Fly through the air as your family defies gravity on more than a dozen attractions. Try tricks and flips together in Freestyle Jump, or sit back during special times just for kids (so they don’t have to compete with grown-ups for air-time)!
The Playground: When fall feels chilly, let the kiddos burn off energy indoors at The Playground — where parents and caregivers are welcomed to kick back with a latte and take a break, and kids slide, climb, hide, roll, swing, and have a ball in this safe, indoor playground. We call this a win-win for fall (or anytime at all)!
Ultimate Mirror Maze: Laugh and giggle at views of your crew on a visual adventure through a life-sized maze of more than 1,000 mirrors in the Ultimate Mirror Maze! Try The Vault Laser Beam Challenge and see if you can twist, squeeze, and duck your way through laser beams, and appease your family’s sweet tooth at River Sweets Candy for a variety of mix & match candy by the pound!
Crazy Quarters Arcade: Grab a roll of quarters for family fun and retro gaming at Crazy Quarters Arcade. See who the pinball wizard really is on one of 75 pinball machines, and enjoy hours of gaming fun on arcade classics including Pacman, Galaga, Asteroids Deluxe, Space Invaders Deluxe, and Dance Dance Revolution!
River Place Game Room: Put your skills to the test in the River Place Game Room at Frankenmuth River Place Shops, where you’ll be met with more than 40 arcade game challenges. When you win — and you will — choose from countless prizes in the redemption center, and find “sweet rewards” at close-by SugarHigh Bakery and SugarRush Sweets & Treats!
Mid-Michigan Children's Museum: Discover 16,000 square feet where “big kids” have just as much fun as wee ones at Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum! With hands-on, interactive galleries, from “Insides Out” to “Water, Water Everywhere”, and a larger-than-life mouth to crawl right inside, color your own masterpiece and find infinite fun here this fall!
Delta College Planetarium & Learning Center: Explore outer space without leaving your seat! View the night sky on an overhead dome and be transported to every corner of the cosmos at Delta College Planetarium. Discover astronomy, art, history, culture, nature — and a gift shop that is out of this world!
Antique Toy & Fire Truck Museum: Discover the largest collection of motorized fire trucks in the world — and shelves upon shelves of Tonka toys — at the Antique Toy & Fire Truck Museum! Step back in time to find horse-drawn ladder carts, hand- and steam-pumpers from the 1800s, and 60 motorized fire trucks on display — including the FDNY Super Pumper, the largest land-based fire truck ever built!
Spark!Lab® Smithsonian at Midland Center for the Arts: Enjoy family fun where creativity and collaboration are encouraged, at Spark!Lab® Smithsonian! Explore what it means to be an inventor in this unique hands-on learning lab and safe space where failure is an option — it’s just another attempt! Bring your family this fall and discover your inner-Einstein!
Painterly Pottery: Make time for quality time working on a pottery piece together at Painterly Pottery! Choose from thousands of unfinished clay items ready to be personalized and hand-painted by yours truly. Check into special events and classes, and find your family’s creative niche this fall at the region's largest paint-your-own pottery studio.
Space Studios: Get creative together at the Glaze Bar and discover unique Pick-A-Project events inside Space Studios! With a wide selection of pottery ready for you to paint, bring your imagination and make it your own. Or choose a three-hour clay project with age-based instruction, and use stamps, textures, underglazes, and a real pottery wheel!
Family-Friendly Fall Festivals: Enjoy unforgettable street foods (with options for even the pickiest eaters!) at 20 food trucks during Funtown Chowdown Food Truck Festival this fall! Or, soar into the season — and launch the ever-popular pumpkin catapult — during Scarecrow Fest at Frankenmuth River Place Shops. With family events fit for all ages, your calendar will be packed all autumn long!
Family-Friendly Live Entertainment: Experience good ole classic fun this fall at The Dow Event Center! Celebrate Mickey and all your faves during Disney on Ice, and help Josh conjure up a magic show following the clues in Blues Clues & You! Live on Stage.
If a big costume party and meeting Disney Junior characters would make your kiddos’ eyes light up, get to Midland Center for the Arts this fall for Disney Junior LIVE on Tour: Costume Palooza. Sing, dance, and see beloved Disney Junior characters and favorite Marvel super heroes together live on stage!
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
Want to see excited eyes and ear-to-ear smiles on your little ones' faces? Here’s the surefire way: head to Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region with this list in your luggage!Read More +
Enjoy a leisurely hayride, get lost in corn fields, find future jack-o-lanterns, and absolutely indulge in the quintessential combo of fall: cider & donuts! Grab a fleece, gather your flock, and enjoy a crisp autumn day in the Great Lakes Bay!Read More +