Bay City Waterfront
Experience
Tall Ships,
Tours + Tastings

Whether you'll bring your own beverages on-board for a tall ship sailing excursion in Bay City — or sample locally produced wines and chocolates on a river cruise through Frankenmuth — waterfront outings pair well with everything here!

Go Freshwater Sailing

Climb aboard BaySail’s Appledore tall ships to feel freshwater breeze whip through your hair and watch it fill the billowing sails that'll lead you onto Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay! From dreamy Sunset Sails to dark-skied stargazing ones (where you’ll sample Artigiano charcuterie with drinks you brought on board), these outings are just as ethereal as they sound.

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Sip Wine on the Water

For a laid-back, hour-long boat ride right through Michigan’s Little Bavaria — made infinitely sweeter by the Michigan wines and handcrafted chocolate pairings served — find Frankenmuth FunShips at the top of the hill in Midtown near Frankenmuth Brewery, and? Clink!

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Cruise to Views

Whether you’ll board the Bavarian Belle Riverboat in Frankenmuth for a sightseeing river tour on the Cass, or catch one of Bay City Boat Lines' Friday-night cruises with dinner, live music, and dancing on deck — enjoy these guided options for getting out on the water.

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William H. Haithco Recreation Area
Try
Paddleboating
+ Paddleboarding

Lap around the lake on a paddleboat or dip your paddles in a peaceful river — but enjoy every ounce of scenery, no matter which waters you're on.

Feel the Beach Vibes

Enjoy swim, sun, and sand along almost a mile of natural Saginaw Bay shoreline at one of “The 20 Best Michigan State Parks”, Bay City State Park. Or, grill and chill lakeside at William H. Haithco Recreation Area for uncrowded beachfront with plenty of spots to fish and picnic — plus paddleboat, kayak, and canoe rentals right on-site.

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Spot Incredible Wildlife

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is 10,000 acres of awesome wilderness, any way you see it. So, should you board with Johnny Panther Quests for an ecotour by boat, or wind along the outskirts on Wildlife Drive from the comfort of your air-conditioned car? (There’s no wrong answer; try each for a different experience!)

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Paddle Past Iconic Sights

Ever witnessed Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke — a 230-ton covered bridge made entirely of wood? Or Midland's three-legged Tridge that hovers at the confluence of two rivers? Rent from a local kayak shop — and keep your eyes peeled for impressive sights like these along your paddle!

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Discover
Adventure Amidst
the Trees + Flowers

On gorgeous grounds covered in blooms or high up in the lush tree canopy — both thrilling adventures and total tranquility await you out here.

Eye-Pleasing Pops of Color

Punctuated by bright-red architectural bridges and peaceful water features, Dow Gardens' 110 acres of florals pop against the green grasses and clear, blue skies of summer. Stroll on a tranquil streamside walk and tour the Color Garden, Estate Garden, and Rose Garden — but take your time to let the beauty fully sink in.

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A Unique Perspective

Situated still within Dow Gardens, but offering an experience all its own, Whiting Forest and its Canopy Walk are a summer treat too surreal to miss. 1,400 feet long, up to four stories high, and fully ADA-accessible, this elevated walk serves up unique perspective of forest, ponds, meadows, trails, and orchard. Admire the fruit trees from a glass-floored overlook, gaze out over a peaceful reflecting pond, and lounge in a giant cargo net tucked into a grove of spruces.

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Zoom + Zip

Discover another treetop adventure — in a combination ropes course and ziplining experience — when you challenge yourself at Frankenmuth Aerial Park. Balance on swaying bridges, climb through obstacles, and feel the release as you swing right through the trees!

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Midland Brewing | @midlandbrewingcompany
Take Time To
Dine, Unwind +
Drink in the Views

On pedal pubs and at warm-weather beer gardens, outdoor patios and waterfront ones — indulge in every bite, sip, and ounce of scenery.

Bike Your Way to Brews

If any two things scream summertime, it’s a nice, long bike ride and a good, cold beer. Put them together on a pub you can pedal — and you've got the best of both refreshing worlds! Try Sunrise Pedal Trolley in Bay City or PedAle Trolley in Frankenmuth (that also has a smaller, four- to six-person Circle Cruiser).

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Picnic Table Up with Pints

A few pints and some fresh, open air? Cheers to the beers you'll be tasting here: at Larkin Beer Garden in Midland, Drydock Beer Garden in Bay City, and Schnitzelbank Bier Garten in Frankenmuth. All three have refreshing pours — and beautiful scenery to bask in while you're sipping.

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Dine with a View

Eat al fresco on a welcoming patio or drink in cool-blue views at a handful of waterfront ones — but be sure to bring your appetites to these places where the plates are served with the perfect backdrop!

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Bay City State Park | @travelingmichigan
Indulge in More
Fresh + Summery
Excursions

Whether your perfect summer afternoon is scooping up farmers market finds or following biking and birding trails where they wind through scenic stretches — there's no shortage of outings to get into here!

Shop Seasonal + Local

Under the tents of our seasonal farmers markets or inside our year-around city ones — find produce and goods that were grown and made here (and save ample space in the car to haul it all home)!

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Pick a Path

Explore close to 100 miles of paths that wind along woodlands, wetlands, and unbeatable scenery when you hike or bike the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail. Chippewa Nature Center offers 19 miles of open-dawn-to-dark trails, too, and the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail serves up 142 shoreline miles of outstanding sightings.

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Reel in Unbelievable Catch

Head out solo to fish the absolute walleye factory that is Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, or book an excursion with a charter fishing guide who'll help you catch the really big ones!

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Author
Blair Cook

A Great Lakes Bay native, Blair is the Founder at Brandscape — a boutique creative company specializing in content. Her favorite part? Sharing stories about the Pure Michigan places she loves!