Indoor Waterparks
Frankenmuth

Dive into 50,000 square feet of high-fives and smiles inside Zehnder's Splash Village. Discover the four-person Family Raft Ride that twists and turns down the six-story Tantrum Twist Slide, or dare to take the four-story Perilous Plunge straight down! With lazy rivers, 400-gallon dumping buckets, an on-site arcade, and Elf Hollow Cafe or Mushroom Grille for dining, Splash Village offers half- or full-day waterpark passes and family packages, too!

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Frankenmuth

Make forever memories together at Bavarian Inn Lodge, home to the largest family fun center inside any Midwest hotel! Experience four indoor pools, two waterslides, an 18-hole indoor mini-golf course, a two-story Children’s Village play area, and more than 150 video games — plus the Ratskeller for dining, daily family activities, and even live karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights!

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Dow Gardens | @consistently_curious

Outdoors + Nature

Find yourselves amidst 22,000 bright, blooming flowers at Dow Gardens in Midland during the spring display. Visit the award-winning Children’s Garden and stroll through Whiting Forest along a 1,400-foot canopy walk above the trees — which includes a glass-floor viewing platform 40 feet high! (The kids will love it, if they dare!)

Be sure to plan your Dow Gardens trip around Butterflies in Bloom for the chance to see thousands of brilliantly colored butterflies from around the world emerging, feeding, and flying!

Make sweet memories during Maple Syrup Season at Chippewa Nature Center! See syrup made and smell the delicious experience during An Afternoon at the Sugarhouse. Tour the Sugarbush at Tap-A-Tree outings, and celebrate Maple Syrup Day with a pure maple pancake breakfast, wagon rides, crafts, and “sugar on snow” old-fashioned maple syrup taffy!

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 this wooded park!

Spend the day along the shoreline at Bay City State Park — and don't forget to pack a family picnic! Stop into the Saginaw Bay Visitors Center for hands-on nature exploration, discover an expansive wooden playground, and gain access (right inside the park) to Tobico Marsh, a scenic wetland that’s home to wildlife and walking trails — with two observation towers for views the whole family will enjoy!

Grandpa Tiny's Farm | @consistently_curious

Zoos + Farms

Pet Rosie The Donkey and hold Mr. Nibbles (the very soft bunny who doesn’t nibble) at Grandpa Tiny's Farm. This working historical farm is filled with hands-on, family-friendly learning experiences, hayrides, and a place where petting and holding the farm animals is welcomed!

Swing like a capuchin in “Monkey Jungle”, climb “Kilimanjaro Mountain”, dive into an “Underwater Viewing Cave”, and ride both the hand-carved carousel and iconic miniature train at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo! With 10 acres for exploring, let the kiddos burn off energy at “Cheetah Run” before enjoying a tasty lunch at the Train Whistle Café — or bring a picnic right inside this incredible zoo!

With a “Petting Area”, “Picnic Area”, and “Parakeet Encounter”, spend the day at the 56-acre Wilderness Trails Zoo in Birch Run! Discover life as a bird-eating spider (or a red-tailed boa constrictor) in “Rainforest Experience”, feed goats and fish throughout the park, and get acquainted with more than 200 exotic animals, including zebras, lions, and reptiles.

Outdoor Mini-Golf + More

Hit the batting cages, race go-karts, or team up for laser tag at Kokomo’s Family Fun Center in Saginaw! With an 18-hole mini-golf course, bumper boats, arcade games, and the “Family Kombo” of pizza and pop (ice-cold beer, too, parents), this place has something for everyone this spring!

Decide between two mini-golf courses at Alpine Mountain in Birch Run — or play a round on each! With single & double bumper boats and go-karts, bank-shot basketball, and a small arcade, enjoy your time together here.

Dutch Village Adventure Park | @dutchvillageadventurepark

With batting cages and mini-golf, play your way around a rushing waterfall during 18 holes at Dutch Village Adventure Park in Bay City — and choose from 32 flavors of Hudsonville ice cream!

Spend a fun-filled afternoon at Bay City's Buoy 18 Miniature Golf, Arcade & Ice Cream Shop. Putt-putt your way through 18 holes overlooking Liberty Harbor Marina, and enjoy the game room for free with your golf purchase!

Have a ball together and head out to a Great Lakes Loons game! Catch riveting Minor League Baseball from one of 5,200 stadium seats, or bring a blanket to cheer from the lawn. With the Loon Loft shop and Lou E.’s Lookout playground, be sure to get your family photo snapped with the larger-than-life mascot, Lou E. Loon.

Take the kids on a tour of Little Bavaria with a horse-drawn carriage ride from Fantasy Carriage Company or Frankenmuth Carriage Company (just across the street from one another). Ask first, but kids can usually pet the horses, and “big kids” will enjoy local stories and picturesque Bavarian architecture along the way.

Shiawassee NWR | @consistently_curious
Get Outside on the
Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail

With multiple trail legs throughout the region — adding up to almost 100 miles — hop onto this interconnected trail system for scenery and even some waterfront views! Look to local Ray’s Bike Shop in Midland and Bay City to rent rides for your family time on the trails!

The Playground | @midlandsplayground

Indoor Family Fun Zones

Step into Stardust this spring and try for a strike on 25 bowling lanes, crash into fun with bumper cars, play more than 60 arcade games, and take on the challenge of a two-story laser tag game!

Discover a four-player Hologate virtual reality game at Valley Lanes Family Entertainment Center! Enjoy 20 lanes of bowling, indoor Lost Pirates Adventure Golf, a next-level arcade, bumper cars, laser maze challenge, and two escape rooms!

Let the little ones burn off some energy at The Playground in Midland, an indoor space with playscapes and inflatables for kids. Or, jump into Airborne Adventure Park where the whole family can defy gravity, compete in ultimate dodgeball, and fly through the air on wall-to-wall trampolines.

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, dedicated to pinball machines!

Play a mixture of arcade and pinball games, vintage to newer, at Brinstar — and taste specialty burgers, fresh-cut fries, plus 12 brews on tap for the “big kids”.

Find your way through thousands of mirrors, twists, and turns inside Ultimate Mirror Maze — one of only a handful of mirror mazes in the country — and try The Vault Laser Beam Challenge! Can your family step over, under, and around the many beams of light without getting caught? Be sure to stop by River Place Game Room in Frankenmuth, too, for 40 arcade games and the chance to earn cool prizes!

MMCM | @mmcmadventures

Museums + More

Crawl into a larger-than-life mouth complete with teeth, dress up like doctors and use the “x-ray” machine, giggle and play as plastic balls fall around you — Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum in Saginaw is 16,000 square feet of interactive galleries made for hands-on exploration and family fun. Don't miss this!

Travel out of this world together at Delta College Planetarium! With showings including “From Earth to the Universe” and “Perfect Little Planet”, your whole family will be starry-eyed over this adventure! (Be sure to visit the rooftop observation deck for bird's-eye views of Bay City and a great family photo op!)

Prepare for big smiles and forever memories inside the Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum. “Kids from 1 to 101” will enjoy the NASCAR and Tonka rooms and more than 60 motorized fire trucks — the largest collection in the world!

Discover Spark!Lab® Smithsonian at Midland Center for the Arts, where everyone gets the chance to be an inventor! Bring your creativity and work as a team through this one-of-a-kind and hands-on learning lab.

Midland Center for the Arts

Arts + Entertainment

Try your hand at pottery inside Space Studios. Get creative at the Glaze Bar, with a wide selection of handcrafted pottery ready for you to personalize, or discover unique Pick-A-Project events. Each three-hour clay project includes age-based instruction, and kids and adults use stamps, textures, underglazes, and a real pottery wheel!

Work on a large piece together as a family or each paint your own at Painterly Pottery, a relaxing studio space with thousands of unfinished clay items ready to be created. Or, discover a walk-in, self-service art experience at the Craft Bar inside Studio 23/The Arts Center. Choose from a menu of options to create — all instructions and supplies are provided!

Bay City | @consistently_curious

Find your family's groove this spring at Midland Center for the Arts! Come see the Company everyone's talking about when the global sensation Hiplet™ Ballerinas take the stage. And don’t miss Latin Grammy-nominated artist Sonia De Los Santos sharing her lively, lyrical, soulful sounds that Billboard Magazine called the "Best Latin kids music".

Have the whole family dancing, singing, and learning together as you embark on the ultimate curiosity adventure in Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour at The Dow Event Center. Or, bring the kids to the Temple Theatre (extra popcorn, please!) to catch Encanto or The Sandlot on the Saginaw Silver Screen.

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Things To Do

Spend a long weekend in Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region checking items off this bursting bucket list — and have a four-day adventure your family will never forget! Because here, it’ll be a toss up: who had more fun, the parents or kids?

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Fun for the Whole Family
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Author
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 feelthesewords.com