Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Saginaw, MI

  • Published 2023/01/14

Saginaw is a city in Saginaw County, Michigan, offering a diverse array of attractions to explore, from natural wonders to historical things worth seeing.

Previously a lumbering region, Saginaw turned into agriculture and diversified manufacturing, particularly auto parts.

The Saginaw Valley produces bountiful harvests of beans and sugar beets, with significant salt deposits, coal, and petroleum deposits nearby.

Visit Saginaw to discover a city engrossed in arts and culture, with secret treasures and instantaneous splendor encompassing each iconic mural-covered street corner.

Here are the great things to do in Saginaw, Michigan, to help you get the most out of your visit and maximize your time.

See the Birds at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

A great egret at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

James W. Thompson /

Established in 1953, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is an undisturbed sanctuary used to manage migratory birds.

This 10,000-acre sanctuary also serves as a perfect destination for recreation, providing many great opportunities to rejoice in the outdoors.

You’ll be amazed at the patchwork of bottomland forests and marshlands that make extensive waterways for kayaking and canoeing.

They are also excellent wildlife observation, hunting, and fishing areas.

A bird perched on a tree at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

James W. Thompson /

Located on Mower Road, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge accommodates over 280 migratory bird species and more than 100 songbirds.

The Refuge likewise supports several colonial nesting waterbirds, including great blue herons, herring gulls, and egrets, and is home to numerous pairs of nesting eagles.

You might also see non-venomous eastern fox snakes or white-tailed deer on the trails during spring.

Caspian Terns at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

James W. Thompson /

Explore the Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House, and Gardens

Designed by Mr. Yataro Suzue and Lori Barber, the Japanese Cultural Center opened its door in 1971, allowing the public to appreciate its beautiful garden.

The three-acre garden ascends slightly to Lake Linton’s shore, providing a spectacular view of genuine stone lanterns, an Asian-inspired gazebo, weeping cherry trees, hand-crafted bamboo gates, and a bowing vermillion bridge over a winding stream.

On the other hand, the well-known architect Mr. Tsutomu Takenaka designed the tea house.

Built in 1986, the tea was a collaborative endeavor between Tokushima, Japan, and the City of Saginaw, revered as one of North America’s most certifiable tea houses.

Situated along Ezra Rust Drive, the Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House, and Gardens of Saginaw performs the classical Japanese tea ceremony, which started in 1600.

Check Out the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum has over 200 unique sculptures.

The museum was named after Marshall M. Fredericks, “America’s Public Sculptor,” and known worldwide for his majestic monumental figurative sculptures, fountains, medals, public memorials, and portraits.

The Main Exhibit Gallery showcases Fredericks’ exceptional collection of over 200 works.

Likewise, the Jo Anne & Donald Petersen Sculpture Garden is an excellent stopover for visitors to the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is a beautiful venue on Bay Road.

You can socialize, relax, reflect, enjoy lunch, or admire the bronze sculptures and botanical gardens, as well as the soothing sounds of the Otter Pool and Day and Night Fountain.

Take a Stroll at Ojibway Island

Ojibway Island has gorgeous lush topography along the Saginaw River, attracting guests for a stroll along the water.

You can ride your bikes, fish on the docks, or enjoy sumptuous picnics.

The beautiful island is accessible by bridge or walking path, suitably located next to the Anderson Enrichment Center, Hoyt Park, and the Japanese Tea Gardens.

Ojibway Island offers a comforting refuge in the bustling downtown area, where you can revel in the natural beauty of Saginaw.

Join the Fun at the Jolt Credit Union Event Park

Constructed in 2013, Jolt Credit Union Event Park is a beautiful outdoor venue that features a 10,000-square-foot pavilion.

It also includes a green space styled to attract people to downtown Saginaw.

The park has a capacity of 5,500 people to gather for various significant events such as concerts, fundraisers, community, and more.

The spacious venue already hosted major events like Chicago, Rob Zombie, Beach Boys, Bryan Adams, The Saginaw Eddy Band Summer Concert Series, and Midwest Tejano Festival, among others.

Situated along Johnston Street, Jolt Credit Union Event Park is a secure and economical place for all people of all ages to congregate.

The venue allows lawn chairs, blankets, and service dogs.

Take a Hike at the Price Nature Center

The Price Nature Center is a lovely park that extends 186 acres and offers visitors three miles of hiking trails.

Various facilities include a rentable pavilion, a children’s playscape, a picnic area, and a group campground.

However, most visitors come to the Price Nature Center, which lies on Sheridan Road, for the trees, especially in spring and fall.

The park’s trail system has three short loops: the White Oak Trail (1.1-mile loop), Cottonwood Grove Trail (one-mile loop), and Deer Run Trail (0.7-mile).

As you trek, you’ll see different birds, such as black-billed cuckoo, red-bellied woodpecker, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, American robin, and wood duck.

Read a Book at Hoyt Public Library

New Yorker Jesse Hoyt gave the Hoyt Public Library as a present to the city of Saginaw.

A couple of conditions for building the library were that it should only be used for consultation and reference, and it should always carry the name “Hoyt Public Library.”

The library opened to the public in 1890, retaining its original structure until after World War I.

The Hoyt Public Library disassociated from public schools to become an independent district library.

Explore Pride and Country Village

The Pride and Country Village is one of the biggest unique shops in Michigan.

Guests visit the village to shop or see the historic buildings that accommodate the stores.

The historic buildings in the village include Tumbleweed Farms, Schoolhouse Fashion Boutique, the Barn, the Farmhouse, the Mill, and the Woodshop.

Every Pride and Country Village building is as exceptional as the merchandise sold there.

Explore the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail

The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail envelops 9.55 miles of deserted rail corridor in Saginaw County that extends from Lumberjack Park (St. Charles) to Stroebel Road (James Township).

The trail proceeds a rail bed initially used by the Saginaw, Lansing, and Jackson Railroad during the late 1860s.

Located on Stroebel Road, it extended north ultimately to Mackinaw City and was governed by the Michigan Central Railroad in 1881.

Moreover, the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail offers trails for equestrians, trail shelters, restroom facilities, benches, and viewing platforms.

You can jog, hike, ride your bicycle or horse, cross-country ski, and study nature on the trail.

Discover Activities at Hoyt Park

Located near the Saginaw Children’s Zoo and overlooking the Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House, Hoyt Park provides plenty of fun and family-friendly activities.

The park has six football fields, abundant green spaces, and a convenient place to ride your bike, play sports, jog, or take a walk.

During winter, you can enjoy outdoor ice skating or play hockey with your family and friends.

It also provides spectators a pleasant spot far from the crowd to see Saginaw’s yearly Fourth of July fireworks display.

Visit Hoyt Park at South Washington Avenue and enjoy its activities and scenery.

Show off Your Skating Skills at Frank N. Andersen Celebration Park

Why not try skating if you’re tired of walking, running, or riding a bike?

Pick up a new hobby at the Frank N. Andersen Celebration Park, where the city’s new skate park is located.

The skate park is a portion of the four-acre park, featuring Bocce ball courts with provided seating and a three-section splash park.

It also has a picnic area with a 40-foot steel-framed cedar-interior pavilion with picnic tables, as well as a European-style playscape furnished with three slides, including a rock-climbing wall.

Located on Fordney Street, the Frank N. Andersen Celebration Park provides locals and visitors an opportunity to appreciate the thrills and excitement of inline skating, biking, and skateboarding on varied courses.

Beat the Heat at the Splash Park

Cool off at Splash Park, a free water amusement facility in downtown Saginaw, near Crayola Park, Saginaw Children’s Zoo, and the Saginaw YMCA.

The ingenious Splash Park on Fordney Street provides children with hours of fun and helps their mobility and sensory skills with its unique water features.

Discovery Bay consists of non-threatening water misters and low-pressure fountains that are best for your infant or toddler.

Adventure Bay has showers, large water fountains, and dumping buckets such as Palm Tree fountains, a Rainforest water pourer, a Bullfrog mister, and Water Tunnel.

Action Bay, on the other hand, caters to older or bigger children, enabling them to interact with changeable water soakers and bigger water features.

Spend the Day at Veterans Memorial Plaza

Located on Bay City Road, the Veterans Memorial Plaza is a non-profit service that spans approximately 97 acres.

It’s also the central park of Bay County.

In 2000, community members showed interest in restoring the 100-year-old Michael Jeffers Park, getting funds from donations, fundraising, and brick sales.

The Veterans Memorial Plaza is also the site of a World War II monument, attracting many veterans and their families.

The plaza is also inside Hoyt Park, honoring the men and women of Saginaw County who gave their lives to defend freedom across the world.

Step Back in Time at the Saginaw Railway Museum

The Saginaw Railway Museum is a teaching society for railroad history and technology within the Pere Marquette Railway depot, restored in 1907.

The historical museum exhibits cabooses, box cars, an interlocking tower, and an operable diesel locomotive that still functions.

Founded in 1982, the non-profit organization Saginaw Valley Railroad Historical Society, Inc. preserves and showcases information and artifacts about the critical history of American railroading.

See the gorgeous HO scale model train display in the basement the Society manages.

The Saginaw Railway Museum gives you a glimpse of railroad history.

Savor Art and Entertainment at Andersen Enrichment Center

Overlooking the colorful Lucille E. Andersen Memorial Garden, the Andersen Enrichment Center lets guests understand the city, appreciate local art, and celebrate festivals.

Enjoy the breathtaking view of the captivating rose garden when you enter the Garden Room with the wall of French doors.

The center features a circular pool with a sculpture of Marshall M. Fredericks, enhancing the center with lovely flowering plants, shrubs, and trees.

It’s also the home of the Saginaw Community Enrichment Commission, which aims to promote entertainment and arts in the area.

Even if you don’t like art that much, you will appreciate the 70 large watercolor paintings in the Andersen Enrichment Center along Ezra Rust Drive.

Final Thoughts

Are you feeling stressed and tired?

Why not go on a trip with your loved ones to change the atmosphere?

Plan your trip and check out the free things to do in Saginaw, Michigan!

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