Known for its small-town charm and waterfront communities, Bay County in Michigan provides a unique experience filled with exciting activities and attractions for all adventurers.
Located along Saginaw Bay, the county serves as a production hub for the area's agricultural, fishing, and salt mine industries.
It comprises 14 townships and four cities, including the county seat, Bay City.
Home to 102,985 people as of the 2021 census, Bay County is the 20th most populous county out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan.
If you love spending time outdoors, you should start planning your visit to the county.
You won’t just enjoy the exciting activities available in the area but also the coastal views and well-preserved nature.
Before you hit the road, don’t forget to save this list of the best things to do in Bay County, Michigan!
Go Camping at the Bay City State Park
The Bay City State Park is the perfect campground if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure.
The park encompasses over a thousand feet of sandy beach and over 2,000 acres of wet meadows, wetland woods, cattail marshlands, and oak savannah prairies.
The Bay City State Park environment makes it the ideal assembly area for migratory birds, so watch out for different bird species.
It is a sanctuary for wildlife and nature that you’ll only find in wetlands.
Here you’ll also find the Tobico Marsh, one of the biggest coastal wetlands and freshwaters that still exists on the Great Lakes.
You’ll have the chance to explore nature in its purest form when you visit the Bay City State Park!
Sail the River of Saginaw with Bay City Boat Lines
The Bay City Boat Lines has been offering public excursions since 1998.
Operated by the local Fournier family, the establishment uses two boats, Princess Wenonah and Island, for their services.
Bay City Boat Lines vessels are docked in the Wenonah Park Dock and the Middlegrounds Dock.
They offer cruises with concerts and dinners, history tours aboard their boats, and private charters.
Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or alone, they have the perfect tour or cruise for you.
If you enjoy watching pyrotechnic displays, you should try their VIP fireworks experience!
Book your slot in advance if you’re planning to try one of Bay City Boat Lines’ excursions.
Go Skating at the Bay County Civic Arena
If you’re a fan of ice skating rinks, spend some of your time at the Bay County Civic Arena.
The facility houses two ice surfaces for public skating, drop-in figure skating, stick and puck, and drop-in hockey, among others.
One of the ice rinks is Olympic-sized, while the other is NHL-sized.
The arena uses high-quality ice for its surfaces, providing opportunities for the community and visitors to practice winter sports professionally or for recreation.
Besides the ice rinks, the facility also has concessions, locker rooms, and shops.
A room, which can accommodate up to 40 people, may also be rented for events like birthday parties or other celebrations.
Stop by the Bay County Civic Arena when you're in Bay City!
Admire the Sights When You Stroll around the Bay County Riverwalk
Take the Bay County Riverwalk route, and you’ll discover the place's natural beauty.
If you want to explore the county's best spots, go through this trail that passes the townships of Hampton, Portsmouth, and Bangor.
It is a network of interconnected 17.5-mile pedestrian walkways accessible for people with disabilities.
You’ll have the chance to see both the county's residential and agricultural areas and their communities.
You may start the trail from the north through the Bay City State Recreation Area, where you’ll get a scenic view of Saginaw Bay and the Tobico Marsh.
As you walk the trail, you’ll pass through the commercial and entertainment district, the Liberty Bridge, and parks with waterfront views.
If you like spending time outdoors, you’ll enjoy a hike on the Bay County Riverwalk.
Find Vintage Treasures at Bay City Antiques Center
Spend time hunting for the best vintage items when visiting the Bay City Antiques Center.
It is located in the heart of Bay City’s downtown and housed inside the historic building of the Campbell House Hotel.
The center features Michigan’s biggest collection of quality antiques from regional and European dealers.
You will need to allow a good amount of time to cover the entire 60,000-square-foot building filled with antique treasures.
Enjoy shopping for the most interesting items when you visit the Bay City Antiques Center!
Play Around at Buoy 18
Play mini golf at Buoy 18, located inside Veterans Memorial Park in Bay City.
Buoy 18 features 18-hole mini golf with charming landscaping.
You’ll even have a great view of the Saginaw River while playing golf.
It also houses an arcade with games like Dance Dance Revolution, Ms. Pac-Man, the Golden Knight pinball machine, Nintendo, PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox.
You may take a break from playing and try one or two of their ice creams with homemade waffle cones!
Add Buoy 18 to your list of stops when you visit Bay County.
Hang around the Veterans Memorial Park
You can’t miss out on the Veterans Memorial Park when you go to Bay County.
The 97-acre area, located in Bay City, is considered the central park of the county.
It encompasses different attractions, including the ball fields, a fitness park, the Liberty Harbor Marina, Santa House, the Kantzler Arboretum, and the Trombley House.
The park also has pavilions, picnic areas, a playground, and a tennis court, among many others.
If you’re interested in boating, you’d be happy to know that at least eight boat launches are accessible through the park.
Some major community events are also held in the park, so check its schedule with the management if you want to attend some of the festivities.
You won’t run out of activities to do when you stay at Veterans Memorial Park, whether for relaxing or active recreation.
Check Out the Historic Trombley House
Witness a piece of the past when you stop by the Trombley House, located within the Veterans Memorial Park.
The Greek Revival house is the oldest standing frame house in the county.
Today, the house is under renovation with the help of volunteers and the Bay County Historical Society.
You’ll also find an herb garden outside the house, which the Olde Thyme Herb Society maintains.
If you want to tour the Trombley House, set an appointment with the Bay County Historical Society.
Stop by the Kantzler Memorial Arboretum
When you’re in the Veterans Memorial Park, you should stop by the Kantzler Memorial Arboretum.
It is a 12-acre landscaped plaza filled with plants that private and civic groups maintain.
The arboretum features an interpretive space in honor of the life and legacy of Leopold Kantzler, a well-known historical figure in Bay City.
Stay for a while and read about his significant contributions to the community that lives on to this day.
The plaza is situated along the riverfront, so you’ll also see a nice view of the water and the Davidson Dry Dock.
Add the Kantzler Memorial Arboretum to the attractions you should visit when you find yourself in Bay County.
Watch the Stars at the Delta College Planetarium
Bay City has one of the country’s most unique and technologically advanced planetariums, the Delta College Planetarium.
Catch one of the planetarium’s shows and learn more about the universe's wonders.
It’s no wonder the planetarium is a state-of-the-art facility because Delta College built it through an $8.75 million grant from NASA in 1993.
Even the architecture of the planetarium’s building, with its red and orange colors representing the sun, is satisfying to look at on its own.
The shape of the planetarium represents a rocket’s exhaust nozzle, while the black exterior of the building’s other parts symbolizes space and its blackness.
Every architectural element of the planetarium was well-thought-out by its designer, so getting a glimpse of the building alone is already a special experience.
You can’t pass on the Delta College Planetarium when you visit downtown Bay City!
Experience a Piece of the Netherlands at the Dutch Village Adventure Park
One of Bay County’s unique and charming parks is the Dutch Village Adventure Park, located along Euclid Avenue in Bay City.
Bring your family and friends to this park, resembling a Dutch village, and spend some quality time outdoors.
You may play mini golf at their 18-hole miniature golf course with just the right amount of challenge.
The park has batting cages that offer both faster throws for baseball enthusiasts and slower pitches for those who like softball.
You won’t go hungry while playing at the Dutch Village Adventure Park because snacks and frozen treats are also available!
Explore the Historic Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum
The USS Edson, a significant part of U.S. naval history, is a part of the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum.
Located in Bay City, the ship museum will teach you the history of the USS Edson and why it is called the “Grey Ghost of the Vietnamese Coast.”
The century-old ship also serves as a memorial of those who served during the Vietnam War.
You may tour the place and get a glimpse of the ship’s important parts, including the command and control centers, weapons systems, hurricane bow, and berthing areas.
Before leaving the place, drop by the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum’s shop to get a souvenir or two!
Play Indoors at Crazy Quarters Arcade
Kids and kids at heart will enjoy playing at the Crazy Quarters Arcade, which you’ll find along Center Avenue of Bay City.
You’ll find here your favorite games from childhood, including over 70 classic and modern arcade and pinball games.
The place has different sections, with an underground area called Nudged Underground, where you may hear classic speakeasy tunes.
The arcade also hosts events, so you may check with them if you plan to book a place for a party.
Plan a night out with friends at Crazy Quarters Arcade!
Visit the Warmbier Farms
A family-owned business in the city of Auburn, Warmbier Farms has been offering home and garden accents to the community since 1995.
The garden features more than 1,800 statues that you can view from their showroom.
If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you’ll enjoy perusing the place for various plants and garden decorations.
Depending on the season, you may find over 100 roses in the garden.
Warmbier Farms also hosts events like decorating and painting classes, so you may check the schedule on their website in advance.
Watch Stock Car Racing at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Go to Tri-City Motor Speedway to watch stock car racing with your family and friends.
It has a 3/8-mile oval track where the race competitions commence.
It is located in Auburn, just 12 miles from Bay City.
You may check out the schedule of events on their website if you want to plan your visit ahead.
Even if you’re new to races, you’ll enjoy one of Tri-City Motor Speedway’s Friday nights if you like socializing and spending exciting nights outdoors.
If you like exploring coastal areas with small-town charm, you should give Bay County a chance.
With its historic sites, natural wonders, and stunning views, the county offers a lot for all kinds of travelers.
Before you hit the road, don’t forget to go through this list of the best things to do in Bay County, Michigan!