Add these 25 can’t-miss events and activities to your to-do list for
1 FUN AT THE FAIR
The only issue you’ll have August 13 – 19 during the Midland County Fair (Midland County Fair Grounds, Eastman Ave, Midland, 989-835-7901, www.midlandfair.com) will be deciding which activity to partake in first: animal barns or 102,000 square feet of indoor exhibition space, petting zoo, grandstand activities and shows, fair rides, games, vendors, and more.
You could travel far and wide and still not find a locale with greater summer offerings than our own Great Lakes Bay Region. Our waterfronts mean splashing and playing at Sanford Lake Beach, having fun and getting wet at Chippewassee Park during River Days Festival, and oohing and ahhing at the water’s edge while we watch one of the largest fireworks shows in all of the Midwest at the Bay City Fireworks Festival.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail beckons nature hikes and bike rides (and just might deliver a bald eagle sighting), the farmers markets are ripe with fresh, locally grown food, and our unique streets and alleys pave the way to take in global flavors, car shows, and even outdoor concerts.
Whether you polka the night away at St. Stan’s Polish Festival, let loose at Dixie Motor Speedway’s racetrack, or spend a quiet afternoon under the sun amidst the awe-inspiring, floral beauty of Dow Gardens, summer is the time to make time and truly experience warm-weather fun.
2 Track it
Take a spin on the curve, and discover the Great Lakes Bay Region Bicycle Motor Cross (BMX) Track inside Stratford Woods Park (3922 E Ashman St, Midland, 989-837-6930, www.cityofmidlandmi.gov). All ages and abilities are welcome, weather permitting, from 8 a.m. to dusk, April – October, for free.
3 Take me out to the ballgame
Nothing says summer quite like baseball. Watch the Class A Great Lakes Loons take on rival teams at the 20,000-square-foot Dow Diamond (825 E Main St, Midland, 989-837-2255, www.greatlakes.loons.milb.com). There will be hot plays, cold drinks, and a fifth- or sixth-inning chance to dance with beloved mascot Lou E. Loon.
4 Make a splash
Get wet and wild at over a half mile of lake frontage and 1,000 square feet of sandy beach at Sanford Lake Beach Park (Sanford, east end of Irish St, ½ mile south of US-10, Midland, www.co.midland.mi.us). Play volleyball, cool off in the spray pad area, and barbecue summer favorites.
5 Have a dog-gone good time
Cheer on your favorite pooch flying through the air, leaping over obstacles, and prancing into victory from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., May 27 – 28, during Dog Bowl 2017 at Frankenmuth’s River Place Shops (989-652-6613, www.frankenmuthriverplace.com). Have your cameras ready—this Olympic-style competition also includes a four-legged fashion show.
6 Artistically immersed
Why not take a break from the hot summer days? Step inside a cool museum for an up-close view of glorious statues and local artistry at the Creative Cardinals exhibition, May 26 – June 17, at Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum (Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Rd, University Center, 989-964-7125, www.marshallfredericks.org).
7 Summertime salute
Don red, white, and blue, and share in the sentiment of saluting servicemen and servicewomen on May 29 at the Midland Memorial Day Parade (W Main to Rodd St to Nelson St, downtown Midland, www.downtownmidland.com). After the parade, you’ll be surrounded with opportunities to enjoy a leisurely lunch and a summertime stroll.
8 Un-“Belle”-ievable Ride
Take a tour of Frankenmuth aboard the Bavarian Belle Riverboat. The Queen departs from the Docks at the Waterfall (River Place Shops, 925 S Main St, Suite D-3, Frankenmuth, 866-808-2628, www.bavarianbelle.com) and makes her way up and down the Cass River, offering 150 passengers one-hour summer tours to remember.
9 Get revved up
What could up the ante on already epic evenings at Dixie Motor Speedway (10945 Dixie Hwy, Birch Run, 989-624-9778, www.dixiemotorspeedway.com), where school bus figure-8s roar as the Fillin’ Station flips burgers and the TrackSide Bar pours cold ones? Possibly only Fan Days, where racers sign autographs and delight racecar enthusiasts.
10 Blooms and beauty
In late afternoon, explore uniqueness on every level of eight terraces abloom with more than 3,000 dahlias, and throughout Equiline, Charles Breed’s working studio and museum, at Dahlia Hill (2809 Orchard Dr, Midland, 989-631-0100). Free tours are available Monday – Saturday, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 – 5 p.m.
11 Shout your support
Spend time this summer on the campus of Central Michigan University, June 1 – 3, for the largest Special Olympics event in Michigan, the State Summer Games (1120 S Mission St, Mt Pleasant, 989-774-3911, www.somi.org). Fans cheer on more than 2,600 athletes as they compete in 10 types of competitions, including swimming, weightlifting, and gymnastics.
12 Let’s cook
Learn how to cook from 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Thursdays, June – October, during Let’s Cook demonstrations at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market (Island Park, South Shelter, Mt Pleasant, 989-779-5330, www.mt-pleasant.org). Highlighting a variety of Michigan fresh fruits and vegetables, and consider the learn-how-to-cook class your summer picnic-improver.
13 Movies under the stars
Take a stroll amidst the carefully manicured, bountiful blooms of Dow Gardens (1809 Eastman Ave, Midland, 800-362-4874, www.dowgardens.org), and bring a blanket or chair to enjoy a picnic in the fresh air—or even Outdoor Movies on Friday evenings, June 30, July 28, and August 25.
14 Animals and more
Any time spent at Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square (1703 S Washington Ave, Saginaw, 989-759-1408, www.saginawzoo.com) is sure to include the choo-choo train, carousel rides, and animals. Map your next stop—kangaroos, then monkeys, and then penguins—and plan for bonus activities June 21 at DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) at the Zoo Day.
15 Nice catch
If free family fun is your summer scene, Free Fishing Weekend in June at Bay City State Recreation Area (3582 State Park Dr, Bay City, www.michigan.gov/dnr) is your place to be. All species of fish may be caught, fishing license fees are waived for two days, and catching youth-friendly activities is guaranteed.
16 Fireworks from afloat
All of Bay City Fireworks Festival (www.baycityfireworksfest.net) is worth experiencing each July, with a carnival, live entertainment, car show, and, of course, fireworks. But if getting aboard is what floats your boat, anchor your sights on BaySail’s July 1 Fireworks VIP Dinner Sail (www.baysailbaycity.org) or Bay City Boat Lines’ Fireworks Festival Cruise aboard Princess Wenonah (www.baycityboatlines.com).
17 Cool cars
Step back in time with over 500 cars from past decades at the Cool City Car Show & Cruze, July 14 – 15 (downtown Bay City, www.thecoolcitycarshow.net). Enjoy street parties and live music after the 6 p.m. Friday-night car street cruise, and marvel at the 9 a.m. Saturday Cool City Car Show, too.
18 Down by the river
You’ll do more than take riverboat rides, paddle kayaks, and soar 300 feet on a zip-line trip through Chippewassee Park on July 14 and 15 at River Days Festival (downtown Midland, www.riverdaysmidland.com). You’ll take in artistic demonstrations and live musical entertainment, catch a hot air balloon show, and see fireworks, too.
19 A cultural experience
Learn about Native American culture and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe at the 33rd Annual Saginaw Chippewa Powwow, July 28 – 30, (Saginaw Chippewa Campground, Mt Pleasant, 989-775-4071, www.sagchip.org). Enjoy authentic foods while you participate in art, dancing, music, and storytelling traditions.
20 Nature’s finest
Step off the beaten path into nature-filled hikes and bike rides on the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail (Saginaw, Midland, and Bay counties, www.gogreat.com/things-to-do/trails). Add nearly 100 miles of paved trails into your summer scenery, including Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, Pere-Marquette Rail Trail, and Bay County Riverwalk and Rail Trail.
21 Memorable events
Boogie down and whoop it up at any of the diverse summer events that take place at the outdoor Huntington Bank Event Park (300 Johnson St, Saginaw, www.ticketsupply.com/huntington-event-park) in downtown Saginaw. Spread out a blanket on the grassy area, get up close to main stage, or hang out under the pavilion to hear the tunes.
22 Polka party
As if dancing the polka to live Polish music and savoring delectable Polish foods weren’t reasons enough to put St. Stan’s Athletic Club Polish Fest (2501 John Solinski Dr, Bay City, www.ststansacpolishfest.com) on your short to-do list for June, the fair rides, carnival games, and family fun should seal the deal.
23 Michigan proud
If seeing the United States of America’s largest Medal of Honor collection would make your summer more memorable, head no further than Frankenmuth’s Michigan Military and Space Heroes Museum (1250 Weiss St, Frankenmuth, 989-652-8005, www.michigansmilitarymuseum.com). The past becomes present in this museum devoted solely to wartime experiences of men and women from Michigan.
24 Way of life
Take time to peruse changing exhibits and permanent ones, such as the Plant Walk Exhibit, at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabek Culture and Lifeways (6650 E Broadway, Mt Pleasant, 989-775-4750, www.sagchip.org/ziibiwing). Walk the Ziibiwing Center grounds to learn about plants traditionally used by Anishinabe people, discovering varieties that you could still grow today.
25 Konnichiwa (“Hello!” in Japanese)
With free admission into Japan Festival as summer wraps up at the Japanese Cultural Center & Tea House (527 Ezra Rust Dr, Saginaw, 989-759-1648, www.japaneseculturalcenter.org), you can experience Japanese taiko drummers, martial arts demonstrations, shodo (Japanese calligraphy), ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), sushi rolls, and a traditional Japanese tea ceremony by the shores of Lake Linton off the Saginaw River.
PHOTOS BY DOUG JULIAN