Dow Gardens | @calvinmarteen

Outdoors + Nature

Find yourself amidst 22,000 bright, flowering bulbs at Dow Gardens during the spring display! Discover 110 acres of natural splendor, award-winning gardens, and Whiting Forest with a unique canopy walk that stretches four stories high in the trees!

Time your trip to also experience Butterflies in Bloom — and witness thousands of brilliantly colored butterflies from around the globe taking flight within the tropical conservatory!

Venture out to Chippewa Nature Center, with 19 miles of trails for hiking (and a stretch for biking, too). Join a guided Full Moon Stroll, Spring Wildflower Walk, or even a Bee Hotel Workshop.

Spend a day along the shoreline at Bay City State Park! With a public beach, boat launch, picnic areas, and volleyball and basketball courts, stop into the Saginaw Bay Visitors Center for even more nature exploration.

Gain access (right inside the park) to Tobico Marsh, a scenic, coastal wetland that’s home to migratory birds, abundant wildlife, walking trails, and two 32-foot observation towers with unforgettable views.

Frankenmuth Aerial Park

Fly through the air, swing through trees, and challenge yourself on an aerial obstacle course of ziplines, ladders, and rope bridges at Frankenmuth Aerial Park. With adventures for all skill levels (and even a Twilight option), you’re sure to enjoy this wooded park!

Tour the streets of Little Bavaria on a horse-drawn carriage with Fantasy Carriage Company or Frankenmuth Carriage Company (just across the street from one another). Your tour with either will include local history, picturesque scenery, and insider gems about Frankenmuth.

Book a City River Tour with PedAle Trolley to ride a 16-person trolley bike through Frankenmuth with your group — or purchase single seats on Thursday and Saturday evenings for a pedal-powered pub crawl!

Or, bike through Bay City when you reserve the entire Sunrise Pedal Trolley. With music pumping, you’ll be invited to bring your own beverages, choose your stops, and coast into great times!

Get some fresh air along the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail! With multiple segments throughout the region — including the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail Trail, 21-mile Bay City Area Riverwalk/Railtrail, and 11-mile Saginaw Valley Rail Trail — hop onto this vast trail system for scenery and even some waterfront views. Look to local Ray’s Bike Shop in Midland and Bay City to rent bikes for your time on the trails!

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!

Discover the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Saginaw Bay watershed, and encounter one of the largest wetland ecosystems in Michigan, home to egrets, geese, warblers, and more.

Boat Tours in Frankenmuth | @michiganaddicts

Waterfront Excursions

Book a 30-minute or one-hour River Tour aboard Frankenmuth FunShips, or take the Wine & Chocolate River Tour to sip wines paired with handmade chocolates while you’re on the water (and enjoy the souvenir glass)!

Board the 150-passenger 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, and discover fascinating facts about Frankenmuth while you glide along the Cass River.

Reserve a personally guided ecotour through the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips. Rated a GEM ‘Great Experience for Members’ Attraction of Michigan by AAA, travel on shallow-draft, custom-built boats through pristine nature.

Spend the day catching big ones on Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay with the pros from a local walleye fishing charter. Or, brush up on these spring tips for targeting walleye on the Bay, and captain your own adventure!

Paddle yourself along calm waters on a spring kayaking trip! Try Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures in Frankenmuth, Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals in Midland, Nor’East Outdoors in Midland and Bay City, or Cattail Kayak Rental in Pinconning. Some offer a guided tour option; others provide rentals and transportation with convenient launch and pick-up sites of your choosing.

Saginaw River in Bay City | @mi_playground
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Top Spring Outdoor Attractions
Frankenmuth River Place Shops


Waltz in and out of more than 40 shops at the German-themed, outdoor Frankenmuth River Place Shops. Follow cobblestone walks through clothing boutiques to fudge shops, partake in wine tastings to spa treatments, and enjoy the spring floral displays and Bavarian architecture.

Spruce up your spring wardrobe (and save big) at Birch Run Premium Outlets! Find more than 100 designer and name brand stores, including Nike, Coach, Columbia, and Michael Kors, at discounts of up to 65% off!

Discover “Michigan's Largest Village of Unique Shops” at Pride and Country Village. Celebrate spring through six sprawling shops, each housed in a historic farm building, including The Farm House for unique home decor and The Mill that changes inventory with each season.

Birch Run Premium Outlets
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Best Spots for Shopping
Bay City Antiques Center / Bay Antique Center


Find just the treasure you’re searching for inside the 60,000-square-foot Bay City Antiques Center/Bay Antique Center, the largest of its kind in Michigan! With more than 400 booths housed in a historic building at the heart of Downtown Bay City, enjoy this two-story, multi-dealer shop that includes finds from European importers.

Stroll through 90 booth spaces at Freeland Antique Mall and immerse yourself in 17,000 square feet of priceless pieces and vintage eye candy, or marvel at memorabilia, collectibles, and antique embellishments inside the 20,000-square-foot Antique Warehouse.

Japanese Cultural Center | @you._can._call._me._al

Arts + Culture

Tour the traditional sukiya (rustic) style tea house at the Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House and Gardens of Saginaw, situated along Lake Linton’s scenic banks. Book a class in traditional Japanese arts, including origami, bonsai, and calligraphy, and stroll three acres of serene gardens with bridges, lanterns, and weeping cherry blossoms.

Explore gorgeous, Italianate gardens with terraces and groves while enjoying a self- or guided tour through permanent and traveling exhibitions at the Saginaw Art Museum.

MFS Museum | @mfsmuseum

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.

Peruse Gingerblue Gallery to experience locally crafted art alongside national and international works, or browse the gallery at Studio 23/The Arts Center, dedicated to making the arts relevant and accessible to all.

Discover the Great Lakes Bay Region Public Art Passport, and map your route to see public art — like the enormous Matisse Mural — before you go! The Passport includes information about each public art work, photos, Google map locations, and aerial viewing.

Space Studios | @camieelaine

Find handcrafted pottery ready for painting at Space Studios, an architecturally unique facility on rural, five-acre property — and try your hand at wheel throwing, hand-building, and glazing techniques, too.

Create something fresh and new at Painterly Pottery, a walk-in, paint-your-own pottery studio with more than 1,000 unfinished items to choose from, alongside mosaic designing, fused glass design, and weekly workshops.

Turn raw wood into a work of art with your own hands at Board & Brush Creative Studio. Book a workshop, create and have fun, and leave with an on-trend piece of spring décor for your home.

Explore your creative side at Parker Lane Art & Design Studios and discover handmade cards, custom jewelry, and artistic home decor while you’re there for a hands-on workshop.

Try something new at Creative 360. Peruse art exhibits, discover creative programs and classes, and don’t miss upcoming ARTSHOP events.

Visit the Craft Bar at Studio 23/The Arts Center, and begin your endeavor! A walk-in, self-service art experience, choose a project from the menu and get creative — instructions and supplies are provided!

Saginaw Art Museum | @travelingmichigan
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An Art Lover's Guide to the Great Lakes Bay
U.S.S. Edson | @jeffcaverlyphotography

History + Museums

Explore the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, located aboard the U.S.S. Edson DD-946! A Forrest Sherman-class destroyer prevalent in the Vietnam War, tour this National Historic Landmark and Michigan Historic Landmark that was permanently moored in Bay City in 2012.

Venture through the Michigan Heroes Museum, the only museum of its kind in the country! Featuring displays of Michigan veterans through seven foreign wars and space programs, discover the Medal of Honor Gallery, Astronaut Gallery, and so much more in this unique museum.

Experience the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, a three-story gem of fascinating history. Built in 1897 in the style of a French chateau, enjoy permanent and traveling exhibits and a gift shop fit for a castle.

Castle Museum | @travelingmichigan
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Self-Guided Museums Tour
Alden B. Dow Home & Studio | @caseyjfcfl

Architectural Tours

Reserve a private tour through the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, a 20,000-square-foot oasis of Mid-Twentieth Century Modern architecture. Feel alive amongst dynamic color, light, and an unmatched integration of the structure with its natural surrounding — and experience the Floating Conference Room situated eighteen inches below the encompassing pond.

Find your way to more than 400 awe-inspiring structures via the Mid-Century Modern Midland mobile app, and discover each structure’s design heritage and storied details about the architect who imagined it. Follow a pre-selected route, or filter to create your own custom tour!

Take the Center Avenue Historic District Walking Tour through Bay City and enjoy a self-guided exploration of buildings and homes that were built prior to cars — best observed at slow speeds or a standstill.

Great Lakes Loons Baseball | @vickis_views


Grab some peanuts & Cracker Jack and head to see the Great Lakes Loons at bat! Catch a riveting Minor League Baseball game from one of 5,200 stadium seats, a handful of Adirondack chairs, or bring a blanket to cheer from the lawn.

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 Michigan’s top golf courses. Or, set your tee time at Apple Mountain to golf an 18-hole championship course with four sets of tee boxes, generous fairways, true greens — and spectacular views of the surrounding resort.

The Fortress | @thefortressgolf
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Public Golf Courses
Temple Theatre

Live Entertainment + Nightlife

Get into the groove of spring at Midland Center for the Arts! Experience the "fabulously fun and internationally award-winning" Legally Blonde - The Musical — or see the forgotten story of Mozart's sister performed by one extraordinary actress in The Other Mozart.

See where the night takes you at the Temple Theatre! Stir your senses during a Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra performance of Beethoven's Immortal 5th and sway to the sounds as the Saginaw Choral Society presents their season-ender, Broadway!

State Theatre | @tomilynmaggart

Relive the colorful, creative magic of the Woodstock era with The Magic Bus Live and In Concert at the State Theatre of Bay City — or dust off your best cowboy boots for the Country Spring Fling, featuring Jessie Campbell, Todd Michael Band, and Brett Lowry.

See, hear, and physically feel an unforgettable show when the Toughest Monster Truck Tour rolls into town, or belly laugh to Jim Gaffigan's unique brand of humor when the Dark Pale Tour visits The Dow Event Center.

Book a one-of-a-kind Private Boutique Bowling experience this spring at Stardust — or enjoy 25 public lanes, The Taproom (with 41 craft beer handles and delicious burgers), arcade games, and more!

Act fast and work together — you’ve only got 60 minutes — at Frankenmuth's Great Lakes Escape Game to see if you can solve cryptic clues and get out! Enter Midland’s Code Breakers Escape & Puzzle Rooms, and “save the world or disappear in time”. Good luck!

Step back in time at Crazy Quarters Arcade into Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders, Big Buck Hunter, Dance Dance Revolution — and discover a whole new level, called Nudged Underground, located below Crazy Quarters! All can enter this pinball paradise with a 1920s speakeasy vibe. No secret password is required to play (and no alcohol is served).

Or, stretch your fun at Brinstar, perfect for date-night and late-night! Play a mixture of pinball and video arcade games, vintage to newer, and sample from 12 on-tap beer options, many from local brewers.

Oracle Brewing | @oraclebeer

Breweries + Taprooms

Order the rotating IPA at Oracle Brewing Company in Old Town Saginaw, a laid-back space with six taps and inventive brews like Sweetness Follows, a grapefruit and guava oak-aged sour.

Enjoy outdoor seating and Cass River views at the historic Frankenmuth Brewery, established in 1862. Order from 15 beers on tap, including six core brews like Brown Hound Dunkel and American Blonde Ale, alongside nine seasonal, special release, and rotating experimental ones!

Toast to regional and Michigan history with a Copper Harbor Ale or Isle Royale Cream Ale, always on tap at Midland Brewing Company, and keep watch for spring’s seasonal Three Mile Marker Hefeweizen and Jenny’s Raspberry Sour Shandy!

Sip on suds that pay local tribute at Tri-City Brewing Company, including Bay City Light Ale and Hell's Half Mile Lager — and be ready for rotating food trucks and events including Beer & Chocolate Pairing!

Frankenmuth FunShips | @brittanybydesign_

Wineries + Wine Tasting

Indulge this spring with a Wine & Chocolate Tasting inside Frankenmuth FunShips Tasting & Tours. Sample six wines, provided and paired with handmade chocolates, for just $​5.

Experience a guided wine tasting with fourth-generation St. Julian Winery whose portfolio of award-winning wines has more than 100 products! Sample six wines, including the ever-popular Solera Cream Sherry, and hang onto your souvenir glass.

​Mix it up at Modern Craft Winery, located within Bead Haven inside Frankenmuth River Place Shops, and discover a wine tasting unlike any other! You’ll not only mix wines together, but you’ll also be encouraged to mix select wines with lemonade or even cream soda, if you dare!

Sample “worldly wines made local” at Grape Beginnings Winery, known for its wine flights including the Dessert Flight and International Red Flight. Don’t miss the food menu while you’re here, or the Honey G Bruschetta!

Gather indoors or out at Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie and discover tap wines! Served via a system similar to that of a keg, sample all six rotating options with a Tap Sampler. Or, select from a menu that includes more than 50 wines from around the globe, wine cocktails, house specialty drinks, beers and hard ciders, and seven Mules — including the London Mule and Frankenmule. Did we mention Prost offers live music, too? Enjoy!

Old Town Distillery | @oldtowndistillery

Distilleries + Craft Cocktails

For a brewery, distillery, and winery in one inviting space, look to Three Bridges Distillery & Taproom. Try a Grove Tea Lounge cocktail collaboration, the frothy Blue Jasmine Fizz — or a pint of Have Some Fun IPA, brewed with rum-soaked raisins.

Sip handcrafted cocktails this spring at Old Town Distillery. Sample vodka, rum, whiskey, and even Moonshine, or “Old Town Shine”, that’s distilled right on-site!

Discover thoughtfully crafted artisan cocktails at The Public House. Choose from house specialties like Gin-Soaked Girl with gin, tonic, basil, cucumber, salt & pepper, or the drink-for-two River Cruiser, served in a golden pineapple chalice!

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Best Places to Sip Beer, Wine + Spirits
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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