Dow Gardens | @calvinmarteen

Find yourself amidst 22,000 bright, budding flowers at Dow Gardens during the spring display! While you’re there, experience 110 acres of natural splendor, award-winning gardens, and Whiting Forest with a unique canopy walk that stretches four stories high in the trees!

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

Spend the 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 on-site Saginaw Bay Visitors Center for more nature exploration. Gain access (right inside the park) to Tobico Marsh, a scenic, 2,000-acre wetland that’s home to migratory birds, abundant wildlife, walking trails, and two 32-foot observation towers with unforgettable views.

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 and Jack’s Bicycle Shop in Downtown Bay City to rent bikes (even tandem ones) for your time on the trails!

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, weekend and family specials, and even a Twilight option, you’re sure to enjoy the adventure at 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 & Saturday evenings for a pedal-powered pub crawl!

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

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

Book a 30-minute or one-hour River Tour aboard Frankenmuth FunShips, or take the one-hour Wine & Chocolate River Tour to sip wines paired with handmade chocolates while you’re on the water (and enjoy the take-home 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 tour 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 18,000 acres of 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 or Nor’East Outdoors in Midland, Float Paddle Center in Bay City, or Cattail Kayak Rental in Pinconning. Some offer a guided tour option; others provide rentals & transportation with convenient launch & pick-up sites of your choosing.

Saginaw River in Bay City | @mi_playground
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Top Spring Things to Do Outdoors
Saginaw Art Museum | @micah.arner

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.

Peruse Gingerblue Gallery to experience locally crafted art alongside national and international works, including paintings, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and jewelry.

Browse the gallery at Studio 23/The Arts Center, dedicated to making the arts relevant and accessible to all, and discover the 100 Day Project to ignite your own self-led, creative project.

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.

Step outside for Art Around the City, an outdoor exhibition featuring 50 Artists of the Great Lakes Bay Region! Find this public art project displayed throughout Downtown Bay City, Uptown Bay City, Veterans Park, and Bigelow Park around the Bay City Area Riverwalk/Railtrail.

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.

Attend a session with U Me Paint Experience, and unleash your inner artist. Enjoy guided painting and the one-of-a-kind artwork you create!

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

Visit Studio 23/The Arts Center’s Craft Bar, 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
Discover More:
An Art Lover's Guide to the Great Lakes Bay
Japanese Cultural Center | @you._can._call._me._al

Tour the traditional sukiya (rustic) style teahouse at Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House & 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.

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

U.S.S. Edson | @jeffcaverlyphotography

Explore the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, located on 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, Michigan Governor Gallery, Astronaut Gallery, and so much more in this unique museum.

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

Reserve a private or group 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.

View more than 400 awe-inspiring structures via Mid-Century Modern Midland, and discover each structure’s design heritage and storied details about the architect who created it. Use the free mobile app to 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.

Frankenmuth River Place Shops

Waltz in and out of more than 40 shops and attractions at the German-themed, outdoor Frankenmuth River Place Shops. Walk along cobblestone sidewalks through clothing boutiques to fudge shops, partake in wine tastings to spa treatments, and be sure to snap a few springtime photos in front of the vibrant flower displays and Bavarian architecture.

Spruce up your spring wardrobe (and save big) on a shopping trip to Birch Run Premium Outlets! Find more than 100 designer and name brand stores, including Nike, Gap, and Pottery Barn, at discounts of up to 65% off!

Bay City | @marjojaroch

Discover “Michigan's Largest Village of Country Shoppes” at Pride & Country Village. Celebrate spring through seven sprawling shops, including The Farm House for unique home decor and The Mill that changes inventory with each season — and don’t leave without a scoop or two from the old-fashioned ice cream parlor!

Find just what you’re looking 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 — and enjoy lunch at the on-site Memory Lane Cafe.

Bay City Antiques Center / Bay Antique Center
Discover More:
Best Antique Shops in the Great Lakes Bay
Great Lakes Loons Baseball | @vickis_views

Hoot and holler at a lively Saginaw Spirit hockey game, an Ontario Hockey League team with players ages 16-20 — many who get drafted into the NHL! Or, grab some peanuts & Cracker Jacks 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 encompasses 6,813 yards of formidable play, and has 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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Great Lakes Bay Golf Courses
Midland Center for the Arts

Get into the groove of spring at Midland Center for the Arts, with two performance venues. Experience the "#1 Dance Show in the World", Riverdance, set to a Grammy® Award-winning score — or step into Artrageous to witness works of art created live before your eyes.

See where the night takes you at the Temple Theatre when “Weird Al” Yankovic takes the stage this spring! Stir your senses during a Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra performance, and sway to “Sister Golden Hair” and “A Horse With No Name” at the live America: 50th Anniversary Tour.

Belt out the lyrics to “Free Fallin’” at State Theatre of Bay City with The Insiders - A Tom Petty Tribute, and play your cards right at The Gambler Returns: A Kenny Rogers Tribute.

State Theatre | @tomilynmaggart

See, hear, and physically feel an unforgettable show when STOMP rocks the 25,000-square-foot Wendler Arena at The Dow Event Center, or let global music sensation Celtic Woman transport you across the Emerald Isle in their brand-new show, Postcards from Ireland.

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!

“Do Something AXciting” at Underground Axe Club, with one- and two-hour throwfests, or order popcorn with extra butter and enjoy a movie in fully reclinable seats at Emagine Theatre in Birch Run or Quality 10 Powered by Emagine in Saginaw.

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 Pacman, 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).

Oracle Brewing | @oraclebeer

Order the rotating IPA at Oracle Brewing in Old Town Saginaw, a laid-back space with six taps and bottled brews, too — including Passion Over Boredom, a barrel aged, passion fruit imbued gose ale, and Reflection of a Million Dew Drops, available in 750ml cork and cage bottles.

Choose between two levels of outdoor seating at the historic Frankenmuth Brewery, established in 1862. Order from 15 beers on tap, including six core craft brews like Brown Hound Dunkel and American Blonde Ale, alongside nine seasonal, special release, and rotating experimental beers, including limited-time Old Detroit Muscle!

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 this 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 Saginaw Joe Porter, Bay City Light Ale, and Hell's Half Mile Lager — and be sure to check out springtime events like Belgian Beer & Cheese Pairing or Cornhole Night.

Frankenmuth FunShips | @brittanybydesign_

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 inside Bead Haven in the Frankenmuth River Place Shops, and discover a wine tasting that’s unlike any other! You’ll not only mix wines together, but you’ll also be encouraged to mix select wines with lemonade and even cream soda, if you dare!

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

The Public House | @thepublichousebaycity

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 with Wodka Vodka, pineapple shrub, lemon, and maraschino liqueur.

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!

Taste the results of a grain-to-glass process at Grand Traverse Distillery. Sample from nearly 20 selections like Cocoa Bean Vodka, Peninsula Gin, Isles O’ Rye Whiskey, and Solera Bourbon.

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 Moscow Mule, London Mule, and Frankenmule. Did we mention Prost offers live music, too? Enjoy!

Jen W. O'Deay

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

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When talking “bucket list” in the Great Lakes Bay, let’s tackle a biggie right up front: pack the bigger suitcase! Because here, you can explore six eclectic towns bursting with everything from boat tours to craft breweries, artisan boutiques, antique shops and markets — including one of the largest farmers markets in Michigan!

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