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Great Lakes Bay Region

Posted on May 2nd, 2024

by  Danielle Devota

The Great Lakes Bay Region offers a little of everything. I recently had the chance to visit the Great Lakes Bay Region, and there truly are so many great places to go to in the six cities that make up the area—Bay City, Birch Run, Chesaning, Frankenmuth, Midland, and Saginaw. But for this weekend trip, I focused specifically on Bay City, Midland, and Saginaw.

My first stop was Bay City, which is known for its nautical vibes and vast selection of restaurants.  I satisfied my nautical itch with a visit to the Saginaw Valley Navel Ship Museum, which is actually located on USS Edson, a retired destroyer. While I opted for the day trip, I learned you can actually book an overnight tour and stay onboard the ship. (I’ll be adding that as a must-do for my return visit!)

From my tour, I swung into Artigiano Artisan Cheese Shoppe where I sampled and stocked up on way too much cheese. Nibbling away, I decided to enjoy walking around Bay City, which is a treat in and of itself, and stopped into the Bay City Antiques Center, incidentally the largest in Michigan.

The next day I headed 20 minutes west to Bay City’s neighbor, Midland. If Bay City is nautical, Midland is modern. I checked another item off my bucket list by visiting the Canopy Walk in Whiting Forest at Dow Gardens. This walk is the longest in the country at a quarter mile long. The scenery is an added bonus! From there, I had to dive into the modern art that sets Midland apart at the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio—which sums up Midland’s vibe perfectly. After my tour, a beer and burger at Midland Brewing Co. rounded out my day.

Last, but certainly not least, on my weekend trip was Saginaw.

I started the day by visiting the Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House, and Gardens where I had the chance to participate in an official tea ceremony and tour the beautiful grounds. For even more breathtaking views, my next step was a unique experience touring the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge on a flat boat with Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Tours. While I had to book this ecotour in advance, the wildlife habitat made it more than worth it.

If you feel a certain buzz around Saginaw, it might be because the 2024 Memorial Cup for Canadian hockey leagues will be held at the Dow Event Center at the end of May. (This is a big deal, whether you’re a hockey fan or not!) The Saginaw Spirit will be playing for the cup as well. Even though my weekend was jam packed, I could’ve spent even more time in each city, as well as visiting some of the other cities in the Great Lakes Bay.

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