20 Best Things to Do in Bay City, MI

firework display on river at Bay City, MI
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This lakeside city in Michigan is one of the smallest in terms of land area but is highly populated.

It is a great city to live in, with facilities and amenities that led to almost 35,000 people calling it their home.

All these people are living in just 11.20 square miles of city area!

Since the Saginaw River passes through the city intermittently, it has four main bridges cross-linking the areas.

These are the Liberty Bridge, the Veterans Memorial Bridge, the Independence Bridge, and the Lafayette Avenue Bridge.

These are all set in a bascule-type drawbridge, which means the bridges are movable; watching these bridges move about is certainly fun.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 20 best things to do in Bay City, Michigan:

Peruse the Different Shops at Downtown Bay City

Downtown Bay City
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Downtown Bay City hosts various yearly and special event festivals throughout the year.

There are several sights to view, unique stores to peruse, and restaurants to try.

The Riverwalk, with its parks and art galleries, is right on the river, so you can take a stroll and take in the scenery.

view of water Downtown Bay City
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Evenings are a time for entertainment in the downtown area.

There's always a parking spot nearby, no matter where you're going!

Parking on the street and in visitor spots is completely free.

At night and on the weekends, permit spots are open to the public.

Do something kind for the local businesses when you're in town!

Learn about Space at the Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center

View of Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center
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Outer space has always been a fascinating subject, and what better way to explore more about it than visiting a planetarium.

Built with a whopping grant of $8.75 million from NASA, this planetarium teems with very hi-tech stuff.

So you can very well imagine how awesome it must be!

This learning center is definitely recommended if you are planning a family outing.

The 360-degree screen inside makes for excellent stargazing or watching space-related movies.

The center also has various exhibits about NASA and its research, including moon rocks, space facts, and more.

Gift your children a beautiful and fun educational experience by visiting here.

Take a Walk at the Riverwalk Pier

Front View of Riverwalk Pier
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It’s always a beautiful sight to stroll down the pier as the water moves around you.

Walkways are a great place to spend some quiet time with your lover or even just by yourself.

Take a walk down this riverwalk and spend some time with yourself.

Think about your goals and find peace amidst the beautiful, serene surroundings.

The viewing points are all strategically placed at the most scenic spots.

You can even rent a bicycle to roam around.

The gardens nearby are also very green and stunning.

You will also find various locals here along with their dogs.

Try Different Recreational Activities at the Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Memorial Park has many different features and areas that you would love to visit.

Spread over a large land area of 97 acres, this park has stunning features in it.

These include an arboretum, a memorial, a public marina, and even a sports field.

The Kantzler Memorial Arboretum has very different beautiful plant species on its premises.

Located near the Community Center, it is maintained by civic bodies.

There is also a dry dock called Davidson near the north side.

Bay County’s first-ever frame house, the Trombley House, is situated here.

The Bay County Historical Society owns and maintains this public house today.

It finds a place on the National Register of Historical Places.

Additionally, it has a beautiful exercise track equipped with special equipment for special people.

Visit the Liberty Harbor Marina

Liberty Harbor Marina is located inside the Veterans Memorial Park.

There is a parking lot and stand building nearby.

The staff here is accommodating and warm.

The operations run from May to October every year.

You can choose from a variety of boats for your boat launch as per your needs.

Explore the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum

A boat in Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum
Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com

This wonderful museum is housed inside the U.S. Destroyer, the USS Edison.

It is 418 feet tall, and all areas are open to public display.

Here, you'll learn about the great history of naval services and ships in the United States.

The ship features themed attractions during the September-October period, including Dismazed or the Edison Incident.

Also, this real-life ship is complete with amenities like ladders and doorways, so have fun while exploring.

Halloween times are even more fun times to visit.

Have Fun at Wenonah Park

The sea at Wenonah Park
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During summer and spring, there are various fun activities that you can enjoy here.

The amphitheater located inside the park hosts many events and movie screenings for the crowd.

There are also concerts that take place here, where you can groove to some funky music.

The Nickless Family Community Pavilion is great for conducting parties and weddings.

The clear water in Wenonah Park
Guettarda, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the winter times, the entire pavilion is covered with ice and gets converted to a glossy ice rink.

Try out ice skating during the Christmas holidays with your family.

The Saginaw River near this huge 6.1-acre park has a very well-built mooring station, where various boats of different shapes and sizes reside.

Tour through the Sage Library

Front View of Sage Library
Asher196 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A part of the National Register of Historic Places list, this beautiful library is a storehouse of books.

The building was constructed in 1884 and is set in a typical Victorian style.

With over 110,000 books, this library is a haven for book lovers.

There are tours available too, which you can explore through this huge Victorian building.

It is one of the four components of the Bay County Library System.

There are also meeting rooms and local Wi-Fi inside.

The library is only open on weekdays.

Go Birdwatching at the Bay City State Park

A beach at Bay City State Park
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The largest marsh wetlands in the Great Lakes region, Bay City State Park is home to many migratory birds during the summers.

It also has many wetland animal species that live here, where you may do sightseeing of these animals.

Entrance sign in  Bay City State Park
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There are also woodlands and meadows.

The beach might be closed on particular days, but the quirky and fun splash park serves all its functions.

It has fun rides for adults and kids to prance in the waters.

Visit the Quirky Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum

Embrace your inner kid as you visit this sprawling, cheerful museum that houses beautiful toys and cars from the olden times.

It also has various classical times’ fire trucks and pumpers.

The museum has collections of over 50 years of popular toys, such as ships, Hess trucks, Tonka toys, and Betty Boop toys.

Fire engines and antique cars will certainly gain the interest of all ages, including kids and adults alike.

The entrance room is called the NASCAR room, and as the name suggests, it is the main display for all types of cars from many different periods of time.

There are also different varieties of cars showcased here.

The best part is that the museum is free for kids below the age of four.

The tickets are also affordable, making your visit here totally worth it.

Watch a Movie at the State Theatre

Front View of State theatre
"Bay City, Michigan" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Jasperdo

This Aztec-themed theatre is a piece of artwork in itself.

State Theatre is very different and is heavily influenced by the Aztec styles.

It was first opened in 1908 and used to be a vaudeville theatre.

It then underwent various changes and renovations to become what it is today.

It holds various free movie screenings associated with Wenonah Park.

Most of the events conducted here are free and sponsored by various businessmen.

Taste Steaks at the Lucky’s Steakhouse

Lucky’s Steakhouse, which Lucky Vasilakis started, has become a trendy eatery today.

It has all kinds of steaks and chicken on its menu that you would love to try out.

There are various other namesakes, too, that sell seafood and Mexican food.

This steakhouse is also selling a great deal of sea fare.

The soups are hot and filling, like the flowering onion or the chunk potato cheese soup.

The entrée menu also consists of delicious burgers and sandwiches.

The dessert options include cheesecake, carrot cake, and even lime pie.

Gram Some Brews at the Coonan’s Irish Pub

The Bay County’s Best Neighborhood Bar surely stands up to its tag.

It has 20 types of beers to choose from, including craft beers and more.

The bar menu includes many types of ales, brews, cocktails, and more.

Make sure you get your friends along to drink the night away.

The appetizers and starters are all very great to complement your drinks.

Additionally, their menu includes parmesan fries, Irish fried, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, fried pickles, and Irish potato skins.

The hot dogs are a specialty of their menu, and there are seven types of dogs to choose from.

Visit the Christened Bay City Mall

Interior View of Christened Bay City Mall
TenPoundHammer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Christened Bay City Mall is the one-stop shop for all your shopping needs.

Who doesn’t love getting shopping bags and clicking some shopaholic pictures, right?

The shopping mall also has a movie theater and fitness area.

You can grab a quick bite of pretzels at Auntie Anne’s to munch on while shopping with your family or girlfriends.

Fishing at the Bigelow Park

This beautiful park is located near the Saginaw River and makes for the perfect spot for fishing some freshwater game.

It is located on the north side of Middleground Island and is very scenic to look at.

The pedestrian bridge crossing over the river is stunning, making it a perfect place for picture-taking.

There is also the typical playground and pavilion to play at with your kids.

Swing and slides are all kid-friendly and suited to children’s needs.

Try Out Polish Cuisine at the Krzysiak’s House Restaurant

Polish food has different flavors and spices that are a must-try.

The restaurant staff is amiable, and the atmosphere is friendly and cheerful.

The appetizers have the typical American tinge, with items like cheese sticks, blooming onion, and fried mushrooms.

The soups and entrees are completely polished in taste, like the Czarina, which is a duck blood soup.

For the main course, try out the Polish sausages, or Polish Philly, a philly cheesesteak with polish flavors and aromas.

Pizzas are also made on the traditional focaccia bread.

The noodles are a must-try and famous all over Bay City all the way to Kentucky.

View of Bay City Downtown
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Explore the City's Past at Historical Museum of Bay County

The Historical Museum of Bay County and the Butterfield Memorial Research Library are located within the Bay County Historical Society.

The Bay County Historical Society and the Bay County Historical Museum are located in the former National Guard Armory.

Since 1988, the Society has been housed in this 1910 structure.

The Diebel Home at Center Avenue and N. Hampton Street, the second story of the Bay County Building, and the hallways of Central High School have all served as previous sites.

The annual "Tour of Homes" and "River of Time" are two of the many events the Bay County Historical Society puts on each fall.

In addition, a complete Bay County gallery is open to the public.

Take Photographs with Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse

Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse
Craig Sterken / shutterstock.com

Saginaw River Range Lighthouse was erected in 1876 and stood beside a front range light on the Saginaw River at the time.

Using range lights in this way was one of the country's early applications, and both lights were used for many years to lead ships upriver.

Around 40 years of the Coast Guard's existence were spent on the back range at this lighthouse.

Fresnel lenses were previously stored in the tower, which stands at 59 feet.

Many of the lighthouses in Michigan are made of Cream City brick, including this one.

It has a white exterior with black accents.

A little additional work is necessary to reach some of Michigan's historic lighthouses, but many of them are easily accessible.

Because Dow Chemical owns the surrounding land, the Saginaw River Range Lighthouse in Bay City may only be viewed from the water.

Explore Tobico Marsh & Frank N. Andersen Nature Trail

One of Bay City State Park's natural habitats, Tobico Marsh, has an area of 1,848 acres and is located within sight of the city itself.

The Tobico Hunt Club already residing there in 1907, the area is steeped in history.

Native Americans occupied the area until 1837.

The 17.5-mile trail includes the complete trail system. The trail's breathtaking landscape is just as varied as the journey you'll take.

At the Bay City State Recreation Area, you'll be able to see Saginaw Bay and the Tobico Marsh from a distance.

The first mile of the Frank N. Andersen Nature Trail leads to hiking paths to the west and an observation platform with vistas of the marsh and bay, as well as wetlands.

To learn more about this unusual terrain, look for interpretive markers along the path and make a pit stop at the nature center, which has a variety of displays.

Final Thoughts

Small-town charm meets big-city amenities in Bay City.

In this maritime city, you'll find old buildings, hidden treasures, delicious food, and a riverside outlook.

It is also a great place for touring museums.

The restaurants and eateries in this city serve great food.

Make sure you sample the delicious appetizers and food at all the abovementioned restaurants for a terrific experience.

The parks are also wonderful and fun to visit.

They are all family-friendly, with different recreational activities that you can enjoy, like baseball, fishing, jogging, and more.

Indulge your senses in the wonders of Bay City, Michigan.

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Best Things to Do in Bay City, Michigan