In Michigan, we are fortunate to be surrounded by one of the largest groups of freshwater lakes on Earth. Our Great Lakes make up 84% of North America’s surface fresh water and about 21% of the world’s fresh water supply. These lakes are part of what makes Michigan such a great place to live and visit. One particular region especially benefits from the beauty and resources these lakes provide – the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Made up by six cities – Bay City, Birch Run, Chesaning, Frankenmuth, Midland, and Saginaw – it is considered one of the best vacation spots in the state. With each city providing something different from the next, the Great Lakes Bay Region makes for a wonderful weekend getaway. Planning a visit? Take a look inside each city’s must-see sights to build your to-do list.
Known as an urban, eclectic waterfront escape, Bay City sits along Saginaw Bay which feeds into Lake Huron. When visiting you can look forward to:
- Spending a day or night on the water with BaySail’s Appledore Tall Ships or Bay City Boat Lines.
- Exploring Michigan’s largest antique market at the Bay City Antiques Center.
- Strolling down the Bay City Area Riverwalk/Railtrail for a true glimpse into the community and all its sights.
- Indulging into your inner history buff by visiting the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum which is home to the U.S.S. Edson DD-946 – a National and Michigan Historic Landmark.
Most people have heard of or visited the Birch Run Premium Outlets – one of the largest outlet malls in the Midwest – but there is plenty more to do besides shop. While you’re in Birch Run, make sure to:
- Keep the kids entertained by visiting the Spring Break Family Fun Center, filled with giant inflatable play structures.
- Take a leisurely stroll through the 56-acre Wilderness Trails Zoo inclusive of 50 different species of animals.
- Enjoy high-powered racing at the Birch Run Speedway and Event Center which is considered one of the premier short tracks in the Midwest.
This city is the perfect place to take a break from the hustle & bustle and enjoy the simplicities of life again. When you’re visiting Chesaning, you should:
- Dine at the Showboat Restaurant that is reminiscent of the iconic Chesaning Showboat.
- Visit the Chesaning Area Historical Museum which is located in a late-19th century church and displays historical artifacts and information.
- Stay at one of the local inns, like The Stone House Inn, to bring back feelings of nostalgia and relaxation.
It’s like visiting two places at once when you’re in Frankenmuth thanks to the German inspirations all around. In Michigan’s Little Bavaria, don’t forget to:
- Enjoy a world-famous, all-you-can-eat, chicken dinner at Zehnder’s or Bavarian Inn Restaurant.
- Take the family on a wild, waterpark adventure at Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark or high-flying fun at the Frankenmuth Aerial Park.
- Enlighten your spirits by visiting America’s oldest microbrewery, Frankenmuth Brewery, or Michigan’s oldest and largest wine company, St. Julian Winery.
- Awaken your holiday spirit by visiting Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, open year-round.
Seamlessly blending nature and cityscapes, Midland is filled with beautiful views all around. There is so much to see, but you should consider:
- Strolling through the 110-acre Dow Gardens which is filled with breathtaking florals and greenery. In October, it will be home to the longest canopy walk in the nation – the Whiting Forest Canopy Walk.
- Exploring your creativity at the Midland Center for the Arts or getting your pottery on at Space Studios.
- Hiking over 15 miles of trails in the 1,200-acre Chippewa Nature Center.
- Experience the Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House, dubbed the only authentic Japanese tea house in the Midwest.
- Travel through the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge – one of the richest wildlife habitats in Michigan.
- Channel your inner royal while visiting the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, which was originally built as a post office.
There is plenty to see and experience while visiting the Great Lakes Bay Region. Whether you only have a weekend or can stretch it out over a week, you’re guaranteed to enjoy one of Michigan’s most beautiful, diverse regions. For more happening in your neighborhood, check out Empowering Michigan.
Photo credit: Catia Sabak