- Things to Do
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- Places to Stay
- Plan Your Trip
Clear blue waters, warm rays of sunshine, and oh-so-lovely long weekends ahead — summer is finally here! And here’s how to make the most of every sun-soaked moment in this delicious season!
From frolicking in the waves to boarding sailboat cruises at sunset — with dancing in the streets, swaying to live music, farmers markets and food trucks all as options — explore all you can in the Great Lakes Bay this summer!
Sit back and relax aboard a cozy 12-passenger tour boat with Frankenmuth FunShips! Book a 30-minute or one-hour River Tour, and enjoy an informative captain guiding you along the scenic Cass River. Or indulge your senses on a one-hour Wine & Chocolate River Tour. Sip five wines expertly paired with five handmade chocolates while you’re on the water, and enjoy the take-home souvenir glass!
Board the 150-passenger paddlewheel Bavarian Belle Riverboat for a one-hour narrated history tour along the Cass River, and pass beneath the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke (German for “wooden bridge”). Docked at the waterfalls of Frankenmuth River Place Shops, relax on the Riverboat’s canopied upper deck and enjoy a snack bar and soft drinks on board — and, especially, the views!
Available by reservation only, take a personally guided scenic boat tour with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips through one of the richest wildlife habitats in Michigan, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Johnny Panther specializes in ecotours, birding trips, romantic escapes, and one-of-a-kind boating experiences!
Feel the wind in your hair on a majestic sailboat excursion with BaySail! Board the Appledore Tall Ship schooners, Appledore IV and Appledore V, to enjoy gorgeous scenery, nature sightings, and snacks (even adult beverages) you’re invited to bring on deck. Book the Great Lakes 101 Sail to explore the rich history of the Saginaw River, or a Sunset Sail to sail off, literally, into the sunset.
Nothing says summer like riding aboard the Princess Wenonah and Islander ferry boats with Bay City Boat Lines! Float a Free Weekday History Tour to experience fascinating facts and natural beauty. Book tickets for three-hour Rock the Boat or Carefree Cruisin’ trips to savor a catered meal before dancing the night away to themed live bands, or enjoy a Saginaw River Guided Tour for a relaxing ride with unforgettable scenery — including the Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse!
Soak up the sun at Bay City State Park, on a public swimming beach with nearly a mile of natural Saginaw Bay shoreline! Enjoy on-site picnic areas, volleyball and basketball courts, and access to Tobico Marsh — a gorgeous wetland preserve featuring flora & fauna, nearly five miles of trails, and two 32-foot observation towers.
Or, spend your beach day at Haithco Recreation Area, a 76-acre park with a 40-acre lake and swimming beach. Enjoy on-site concessions, areas for grilling, and volleyball courts. Rent paddleboats, rowboats, canoes, or kayaks — and bring your fishing pole if you’d like casting off the pier to catch sunfish, perch, bluegill, and bass!
Group paddles, Yoga & Paddle Night, Sunset Paddles — choose your adventure and get into abundant rivers, lakes, and pleasurable paddling routes this summer!
Experience joy and tranquility in the great outdoors with Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals, and decide between guided or on-your-own tours from launch & pick-up sites of your choosing. Paddle yourself through the Cass River's calm waters on a self-guided kayak tour with Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures. Pick your paddle from Nor’East Outdoors’ offerings (with locations in both Midland and Bay City), drop in rentals from Float Paddle Center, or venture onto Saginaw Bay with Cattail Kayak Rental.
This summer, drop your line in water that’s earned an international reputation for extreme walleye fishing. Catch a big one — or stringers full of ‘em — on Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay! Set out on your own to bring in the walleye, or charter an excursion on The Bay that includes priceless expertise.Read More +
With an extensive fleet of fishing charters and boats equipped with the latest electronics and gear, you don’t need to be an accomplished angler to bring in trophy fish. From The Michigan Experience to Adventure 1 Charters and beyond, these captains know how walleyes move through the Saginaw Bay, and where, when, and how to catch ‘em!Read More +
Find yourself immersed this summer in thousands upon thousands of colorful blooms, and amidst winding pathways and ambling streams at Dow Gardens. Smell their fantastical herb garden, enjoy a picnic next to the historic red bridge, discover David Rogers’ Big Bugs exhibit and horticulturist-led Wildflower Tours, and don’t leave without experiencing Whiting Forest — along a 1,400-foot canopy walk through the trees that soars 40 feet into the air and stands as the nation’s longest!
Ready, set, glow at Frankenmuth Aerial Park! Swing through the trees and fly through the air, challenge yourself on aerial obstacle courses of ziplines, ladders, and rope bridges for all skill levels, and look for dazzling Glow Nights this summer! Back by popular demand for 2022, the Park is set aglow with color arches, LED sequences, lighting and lasers — and climbers receive glow attire and visit glow paint stations along the way!
Cruise through Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in your car along the scenic, seasonal Wildlife Drive — a jaw-dropping, breathtaking, 6.5-mile auto tour route that's open from June to October, sunrise to sunset. Discover out-of-this-world scenery around each new bend, and prepare to view wildlife including hundreds of birds from pelicans to eagles, plus deer, frogs, turtles, and more.
Meet 19 miles of trails to explore, and step into summer at Chippewa Nature Center! Venture out for a guided bike ride on the Chippewa Trail, or take an evening kayak trip with a naturalist. Join a guided Twilight Hike, attend summer workshops like “How Does Your Garden Grow”, or travel back in time at themed Homestead Sundays at the log cabin, timber-frame barn, and one-room schoolhouse.
Coast into great times on the custom-made bar-on-wheels that is the Sunrise Pedal Trolley! You’ll be invited to bring your own beverages aboard this 16-passenger bike, and you’ll ride through Downtown Bay City enjoying the area’s architecture, history, specialty and antique shops — and, if desired, local pubs. Be sure to stop by Bay City’s iconic Friendship Shell or the Third Street Star Bridge for a memorable group photo!
Power your way through Frankenmuth on a 16-person trolley bike with PedAle Trolley. Book a City River Tour whole-trolley rental and pedal through the streets of Frankenmuth, enjoying stops you’ll choose along your two-hour custom outing! Or, purchase single seats on Thursday- or Saturday-evening bar-hopping tours to pedal between pubs for just $25/person!
Enjoy a guided tour and intriguing scenery along the Cass River and streets of “Little Bavaria” on a horse-drawn carriage ride with Frankenmuth Carriage Company. Located at the Bavarian Inn, look for the carriages underneath the Glockenspiel Tower, a magnificent 35-bell carillon with beautiful figurine movement and an illuminated clock!
Step into a magical outing with Fantasy Carriage Company, located next to Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. Allow magnificent horses and your coachman to guide your carriage through historic streets, highlighting attractions and sharing gems about Frankenmuth as you travel.
With waterfront scenery, wildflower corridors, and views of grand gardens and historic estates, get outdoors along the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail! Discover multiple trailheads throughout the region and trail loops, including the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail Trail, 21-mile Bay City Area Riverwalk/RailTrail, and 11-mile Saginaw Valley Rail Trail! Stop into Ray’s Bike Shop in Midland or Bay City to rent bikes for your time on the trail!
This summer, encounter a birder’s paradise of egrets, geese, warblers, and more along the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail! Covering a total of 142 miles, and largely following the shoreline of the entire Saginaw Bay, bring your binoculars and discover this sprawling natural habitat for more than 200 species of birds.
Make s’mores and summer memories in a modern, all-season campground with grassy sites at Bay City State Park! With mini-cabins available for rent, and a location within a stand of mature oaks, the day-use area features nearly a mile of natural Saginaw Bay shoreline, a boat launch, picnic areas, volleyball and basketball courts, a maintained public swimming beach, and access to the scenic Tobico Marsh.Read More +
From art fairs to food truck gatherings, car shows to craft beer sampling, the Great Lakes Bay is the place to be for summertime festival fun! Attend the Classic Car Show and shop hundreds of dealers at the Michigan Antique Festival. Experience authentic German food, beers, music, and dancing at the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival, or celebrate one of the largest fireworks shows in the whole Midwest at the Bay City Fireworks Festival!Read More +
Enjoy amazing music all summer for free as can be! Get to Wednesdays in the Park and witness a Paul Simon tribute or “Simply Queen” at Wenonah Park Bandshell in Bay City. Join the Party on McCarty on Thursdays in Saginaw for Motown to Country live entertainment, food vendors, and a beer & wine tent. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to Tunes by the Tridge on Thursdays in Midland for family-friendly evenings and live music from Dueling Pianos to multiple tribute bands.Read More +
Enjoy fresh air and al fresco dining options, outdoor public art installations and live music, comedians and community events — even must-try morning yoga sessions! Discover Bay City’s Feet on the Street communal areas, made possible by purposeful road closures, and relax in the city streets all summer long!
Explore The Commons Pedestrian Plaza in Downtown Midland, with ample shade and picnic table seating, and visit The Commons Refreshment Area where alcoholic drinks are openly allowed outdoors, craft brews and cocktails flow freely, and The Commons Live Music Series gets people dancing in the streets!
Float your boat into Bay City’s Drift Shoreside Beer Garden, where boaters can dock and order from the water! Land dwellers will also enjoy multi-deck seating, handcrafted beers of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and North Peak Brewing Company, and a parking lot lined with food trucks. Head to the heart of Downtown Bay City's dining district at Drydock Beer Garden to enjoy an intimate space, live music, beer and wine.
Belly up at seasonal Larkin Beer Garden, featuring a bar made from an old shipping container, and enjoy fantastic beers amongst family, friends, and even pets! Sample craft beer and wine selections at Red Keg Beer Garden (the beautiful backyard of Midland Brewing Company, complete with picnic tables and a fire pit), or discover Schnitzelbank Biergarten in front of Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn Lodge for outdoor drinks, dinner, and fun!
This summer, taste delicious offerings throughout our neighborhoods that are pleasantly packed with outdoor patios! Dine on fresh catch on the decks of Real Seafood, or by Prost’s intimate outdoor fire bar, and enjoy your brews with a view at Frankenmuth Brewery.Read More +
Experience what food trucks make possible in our city streets! From Makin’ Bacon Truck that serves next-level bacon mac ‘n' cheese to The Cheese Trap's gourmet grilled cheese and 5-2-Oh's Korean-inspired street tacos, stop to enjoy a bite outdoors this summer!Read More +
Shop more than 100 designer and name brand stores, including Nike and Pottery Barn, at prices of up to 65% off at Birch Run Premium Outlets. Follow cobblestone sidewalks through more than 40 stores at outdoor, German-themed Frankenmuth River Place Shops, and discover clothing boutiques to fudge kitchens, a creperie, and even a distillery!Read More +
This summer, travel to (and get lost within) the largest antique center in the state of Michigan, the 60,000-square-foot Bay City Antiques Center/Bay Antique Center! Shop two stories and more than 400 booths all housed in a historic building at the heart of Downtown Bay City, and enjoy this multi-dealer-mecca antique shop that includes finds from European importers!Read More +
Saunter through fresh produce, herbs, florals, local honey, handmade goods, and more at a handful of local farmers markets — and look for “Market After Dark” events, or open-air Friday nights with art exhibitions, hands-on creative sessions, shopping, live music, craft beverages and diverse food features at Frankenmuth Farmers Market!Read More +
Spend time in the sunshine at Art Around the City, an outdoor exhibition and public art project featuring 50 artists of the Great Lakes Bay Region, and discover pieces displayed throughout Downtown Bay City, Uptown Bay City, Veterans Park, and Bigelow Park around the Bay City Area Riverwalk/Railtrail.
Get the Great Lakes Bay Region Public Art Passport (free), and preview public art from the comfort of your home or hotel room before you travel to see it in person! The Passport includes information about public art work and artists, and provides photos, Google map locations, and aerial views for a sneak peek!
Have a summer daydream amidst gorgeous, Italianate gardens outside the Saginaw Art Museum, and enjoy a tour through the historic 1904 Georgian-Revival mansion and its permanent and traveling exhibitions. Or, discover beautiful bronze sculptures, botanical beds, and the contrasting Day and Night Fountain at the Jo Anne & Donald Petersen Sculpture Garden, just outside the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.
Take a break from the heat inside Painterly Pottery, a walk-in ‘paint your own’ pottery studio with more than 1,000 unfinished items to choose from. Or, create a cool sign at Board & Brush Creative Studio! Attend a workshop and turn raw wood into a work of art and on-trend decor for your home.
Spend an afternoon amidst bountiful gardens with bridges, lanterns, and weeping cherry blossoms at the three-acre Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House & Gardens of Saginaw, and tour the traditional tea house.
Or, explore the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, located aboard the U.S.S. Edson DD-946! Travel all through the Forrest Sherman-class destroyer naval ship and National Historic Landmark that was permanently moored in Bay City in 2012.
With fastballs and line drives, catch an exciting High-A Minor League Baseball Great Lakes Loons game! Watch from one of 5,200 stadium seats, a handful of Adirondack chairs, or bring a blanket to cheer from the grassy lawns.
Tee off at The Fortress in Frankenmuth, an 18-hole, par 72 course that encompasses 6,813 yards of formidable play, or set your tee time at Apple Mountain to golf an 18-hole championship course with four sets of tee boxes, generous fairways, and true greens. Book a mix & match Great Lakes Bay golf package to make planning the whole trip a cinch!
No muss, no fuss (and no planning needed), enjoy a self-guided Gardens Tour and find yourself surrounded by more than 3,000 dahlias or strolling about an oasis of 35,000 annuals in bloom! Take the very tasty, self-guided Ice Cream Tour to experience Honey Lavender or Bay City Brown-‘E’ at Cream and Sugar Ice Cream Company and “hometown & homemade” flavors at Great Lakes Ice Cream Company. Or, explore all from wine and ale trails to inspiring and educational museum tours!Read More +
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
Dip your toes, drop a line, and dive right in as you discover these must-try attractions, hotels, and restaurants on the water in Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region!Read More +
Follow the sunshine, fresh air, and this list of top outdoor attractions to make the most of your summer adventures in Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region!Read More +