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Saginaw Bay waterfront

Michigan

Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay: Outdoor Adventures in All Elements

By: Joel Welin

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  • States:
    Michigan

Go zipping through the trees, splash through shallow waters or climb towers to get a bird’s-eye view of a forest

The Great Lakes Bay region – including Bay City, Birch Run, Chesaning, Frankenmuth, Midland and Saginaw – has a virtually unlimited variety of outdoor adventures. Whether you’re zipping through the trees, splashing through shallow waters or climbing towers to get a bird’s-eye view of a forest, Michigan offers plenty of outdoor adventures. Choosing what you want to do, however, may be easier said than done.

Tall Ship Voyages

Come aboard the multi-mast schooner Appledore IV and hear the wind sing through the lines and feel the sails snap. BaySail in Bay City offers tours focused on the history of Saginaw Bay, romantic getaways via sunset dinner sails, overnight voyages, group tours and visits to various ports of call.

Take a sailing tour of Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay via historic schooner.

Take a sailing tour of Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay via historic schooner.
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Dow Gardens

Each autumn, more than 20,000 tulips and daffodils are planted in Dow Gardens, resulting in a blanket of spring blooms. The gardens, started in Midland in 1899 by Herbert Dow, founder of the Dow Chemical Company, features 44 hectares of trees, shrubs and other earthly delights. The gardens’ Whiting Forest offers four kilometers of trails and a nine-meter tower with views of the trees, covered bridge and ponds.

Stroll forest trails, manicured paths and colorful gardens in Midland's Dow Gardens.

Stroll forest trails, manicured paths and colorful gardens in Midland's Dow Gardens.
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Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

For an up-close-and-personal adventure in “The Everglades of Michigan,” take an excursion by boat with Johnny Panther Quests. Knowledgeable guides will help you spot beaver, deer, ducks, eagles, herons and geese. They’ll also share fun facts about the largest wetland ecosystem in Michigan, which contains more than 3,965 hectares of marsh, hardwood forest and grasslands. Located about 8.1 kilometers south of Saginaw, the refuge also offers seasonal recreation and viewing from land via Wildlife Drive, a 10.5-kilometer, self-guided auto tour, as well as walking trails.

Take a peaceful paddle through Michigan's Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to spot wildlife, native flora and more.

Take a peaceful paddle through Michigan's Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to spot wildlife, native flora and more.
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Getting There

MBS International Airport is located in the heart of the Great Lakes Bay region, and three additional international airports can be found within a two-hour drive — Bishop International Airport (FNT) in Flint, Lansing Capital Region International Airport (LAN) in Lansing, and Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) in Detroit.