Explore Bay City Michigan: Top Things To Do, Pedal Trolley, Birthplace of Madonna, Fireworks, Tour the USS Edson (Naval Ship Museum), State Park | Top Hotels and Restaurants
Bay City Michigan | By Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Updated July 9, 2023
This beautiful river side city is located in the heart of the Great Lakes Bay Region. You will discover so many exciting things to do and see in Bay City Michigan!
Plus, did you know Bay City is the Birthplace of Madonna? The incredible mural shown above is located on the wall of City Market.
Interactive Map of Things to do in Bay City Michigan
Click here for a live Google Map of things to do in Bay City.
How to use the interactive map
- Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
- Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
- Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
- In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header.
- In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing.
Wandering the Bay City Riverwalk is So Scenic!
Downtown Bay City is a great location for fantastic coffee houses, antique shops, boutique shops, sailing, boating and restaurants.
Plus, every summer the city hosts a variety of festivals along the water front that you won't want to miss!
We love parking near St. Laurents and walk all the way to the Real Seafood restaurant on the paved walkway. This path offers awesome views of the river.
Bring a drink and grab a seat in the beautiful Adirondack chairs along the route!
Is Bay City Michigan safe? It is definitely safe in the downtown area as I used to work there and I walked 2 miles every day along the river and throughout the downtown by myself at lunch. As with any city, keep your eyes open and if something seems shady, avoid it.
What is Bay City known for?
In my opinion, Bay City is known for their antiques, lovely river walk and scenic downtown area. Bay City's downtown has really grown in the past three years and there are fantastic restaurants (Check out MI Table!), boutique shops (We love Half Mile Handmade) and coffee shops galore.
The Bay City State Park is also worth visiting as there are several bike/hiking trails and scenic ponds. See below for other great things to do and see in Bay City!
Tour the USS Edson DD-946 Destroyer
When visiting Bay City, you absolutely MUST tour the Tour the USS Edson DD-946 Destroyer. It is one bad-ass (and very possibly haunted) naval ship!
Bay City State Park: Swim, Bike, Walk or Bask in the Sun!
We love heading to the Bay City State Park for an afternoon of relaxing on the beach! There's something about crashing waves of Lake Huron that relaxes my mind, body and soul.
Chris and I always bring our bikes as there are several biking trails and boardwalks to explore. We love riding to Tobico Marsh (mentioned below).
Know Before You Go: As with all Michigan state parks, Bay City State Park requires a recreational pass to enter the park.
There is a great circular biking and walking trail around the ponds. Lovely views and fresh air galore!
If you like small shells, the beach has tons to choose from as you walk the shoreline.
See Bay City Fireworks Over the 4th of July Weekend!
Grab our Bay City Fireworks Festival Schedule to celebrate a fun Independence Day!
Ice Fishing in Great Lakes Bay Region on Lake Huron
Have you ever wondered how Michigan ice fisherman managed to get their tent and all of their ice fishing gear out to their fishing spot on a frozen lake? Watch as ice fisherman drive onto frozen Lake Huron in Bay City.
Tobico Marsh: Great Hiking and Biking Trails
Tobico Marsh - Bay City, Michigan
- We created this hand drawn map of the Tabico Trail to help you find it's location.
We absolutely love biking and walking the Tabico Marsh trail at the Bay City State Park. This photo above is me relaxing at my favorite overlook spot before reaching the Big Loop Trail. You will see ducks, geese and fish.
How to get to the Tabico Marsh Big Loop Trail: Park in the Bay City State Park closest to the Visitors Center. Follow the paved trail to the west past the Visitors Center. You will cross Euclid and continue along the paved trail until you reach a junction and turn left.
The Big Loop is a dirt trail with 2 tall overlooks that are fun to climb.
Madonna's Connection with Bay City
"I was born in Bay City," Madonna said, according to Vanity Fair. "In fact, I went to the University of Michigan."
Madonna also said, "I have great affection for Bay City." So there you go! If the Material Girl loves this city, come for a visit!
Shop Downtown Bay City
Downtown Bay City, starting on 3rd street, offers great boutique shops, candy stores, coffee shops, antiques and so much more! Take a few hours to explore the downtown area and snap a few photos of the colorful historic buildings.
3rd Street Star Bridge
The 3rd Street Star Bridge doesn't involve real stars....or bridges for that matter. The shops on 3rd street wanted to create an environment of beauty and wonder, a place people wish to meet and shop as the sun goes down.
The twinkling lights draped across the street is so mesmerizing and happy!
Sip 'n Swirl in Bay City!
Do you love to paint AND sip wine? Oh my gosh so do I! I mean, what a great combination!
Studio 23/The Arts Center located at 901 N Water St, Bay City has fun evenings in which you do just that!! They provide the art materials (canvas, paints, brushes, etc.) and you just bring a bottle of wine, a snack, and get ready to paint!
A big group of us decided to give it a try! I'm bent over a canvas above helping a friend with her tree! We had a blast and it wasn't stressful! What a fun evening filled with laughs! Plus, at the end of the night we all had a piece of art. YEY!
Bay City Antiques Center
Bay City Michigan is known for it's antique center. If you love antiques, you can shop for hours! The entire block is dedicated to fantastic things from the past.
Relax in Bay City's Wenonah Park
Wenonah Park is a scenic park located along the bank of the Saginaw River in downtown Bay City. The park has an amphitheater, plenty of benches and tables near the river with umbrellas.
Take a stroll along the paved river walk for a relaxing afternoon.
Discover the Stars at the Delta College Planetarium!
Delta College Planetarium Address: 100 Center Ave, Bay City, MI 48708
Do you love learning about astronomy and everything space? You too?! (We love it!) The Delta College Planetarium has a Dome360 where yoiu can learn more about the stars, moon and space!
The $8.75 million facility was funded by NASA and has a Planetarium Digital 360 theater, several classrooms and a two story room called "The Space Explorer’s Hall," rooftop observation deck, gift shop and lots of illustrations to teach you all about the star constellations.
Plus, the digital theater has a Digistar full dome video projection system housed with over 100 comfortable seats. The entire building is designed as a metaphor of astronomy and space exploration.
You gotta check it out!
Love Chocolate, Candy, Nuts and Ice Cream? You'll Love St. Laurent Brothers
Address: 1101 N Water St, Bay City, MI
If you want freakin' amazing chocolate goodies, pop into St. Laurent Brothers! I love their chocolate covered nuts and fresh almonds. I have made several gift baskets for loved ones from this quaint shop!
St. Laurent Brothers also has a great assortment of nostalgic candy and treats.
Plus, it's rumored that Madonna shops there!
Sail Away on the Appledore Tall Ship!!
Appledore, Bay City Michigan
The Appledore Tall Ships offer a huge variety of super fun sailing opportunities including evening, festival and afternoon sails.
They deport from several ports around the east side of Michigan so check out their schedule!
Pedal to Heart's Content on the Sunrise Pedal Trolley in Bay City Michigan
If you are looking for a fun party on wheels, book an afternoon with the Sunrise Pedal Trolley! We grabbed a group of friends and tried it out!! It's a blast!
Why walk around downtown Bay City when you can pedal! Learn more about Bay City's history while pedaling to the antique shops, riverfront and local bars!
- Oh, and your pedaling adventure doesn't have to involve bars or alcohol! Grab the family and enjoy Bay City's great coffee shops, candy shops and scenic views including the Star Bridge!
Catch a Show at the State Theatre of Bay City
See movies, film series, comedy and shows at the State Theatre of Bay City. The building was originally constructed in 1908 and was known as the Bijou Theatre. It's definitely a neat place to visit!
Bay City Tall Ships Festival!
Bay City Tall Ships is an outrageous family friendly festival that is not to be missed! Our July Events page lists the dates of when the Tall Ships will be in Bay City. They arrive in the Great Lakes Bay Region every three years.
Bay City Michigan's Greenhouses, Nursery and Garden Centers
Every spring, I am positively giddy to start visiting local greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers in Michigan. I love planting a garden with green onions, tomatoes, basil, red peppers, lettuce and cilantro. These Bay City greenhouses are all top notch!
Keit's Greenhouses and Floral Center in Bay City Michigan
Keit's Greenhouses and Floral Center in Bay City Michigan have fantastic prices for their petunias and vegetable garden needs. They are my go-to each spring in Michigan!
My friend swears by their potted urns with sprays of flowers that she uses to decorate her back yard.
Warmbier Farms Garden Center in Bay City Michigan
Warmbier Farms, located in nearby Auburn, Michigan, has every garden sculpture you could ever need! They also have phenomenal hanging baskets, herbs, flowers, pots and a huge shop with super cute home décor. Come check it out!
Address: 5300 Garfield Rd, Auburn, MI 48611
Begick Nursery & Garden Center
Begick Nursery & Garden Center in Bay City Michigan is another great garden center, nursery and shop. You will be amazed at the amazing selection of furniture and home decor in their shop!
Begick's also has hanging plants, shrubbery, trees and everything for your garden or backyard.
Best Bay City Restaurants!
Bay City Michigan has in the past few years added quite few fantastic restaurants that you just have to check out for yourself!
MI Table in Downtown Bay City (This Super Cool Restaurant Used to Be a Bank! See Inside the Vault!)
So I'm gonna have to gush a bit about this incredible Michigan restaurant.
From the moment that you walk in, the restaurant is a "WOW FACTOR" for your senses. I love the modern décor mixed with the rustic stone bar and wood countertops. The super high ceilings give the restaurant a great open "big city" feel.
Chris ordered this balsamic pizza and he really enjoyed it. Heck, he ate it all. I ordered the salmon, peas and mashed potatoes.
How was it? Mine was freakin' amazing. The salmon wasn't overcooked and the potatoes were super creamy. And let's talk about fresh peas for a moment....yum...(I guess that sums it up, actually.)
Plus there is a second level if you like to have the birds eye view of the restaurant.
I got a little saucy and decided to order the craft beer flight (and I saw it was served on a Michigan shaped board so how can you resist that?) The Rubaeus by Founders Brewing Co. (bright red on the left) was by far my favorite.
What's Cool? MI Table used to be a bank! We got to go inside the vault to see the safety deposit boxes. I love stuff like that! See our video below.
Real Seafood Company in Bay City Michigan
Real Seafood Company (the best thing EVER is sitting outside in the summer overlooking the river!!)
Real-Seafood Bay City Michigan
H2O Waterfront Dining in Bay City! Inside and Outside Seating, Perfect for a Warm Summer Day!
Check out this view in downtown Bay City! It's incredible! Enjoy your meal while enjoying the passing boats, flying seagulls and rippling river!
Chris and I LOVE H2O! They are affiliated with O's Restaurant in Auburn, Michigan. H2O's menu is quite diverse, with yummy menu items like fish tacos, pizzas, burgers, perch and salads. Their outside seating is divine on a nice warm summer afternoon or evening.
Other favorite Bay City restaurants include:
- Old City Hall - We love having lunch here as their atmosphere is very old world and the food is delicious!
- Gino's Pizza - Great place for lunch as they have great garlic bread, salads and pizza's! Check out our HUGE list of the Best Michigan Pizza!
- Fusion 1 Cafe - Freakin' awesome sushi, I've had take out here at least 10 times and it's been very high quality.
Our Favorite Bay City Hotels
There are so many things to do in Bay City Michigan, so why not spend the night? Check out our favorite Bay City Hotels below!
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bay City - Riverfront
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bay City - Riverfront Address: 1 Wenonah Park Place, Bay City, MI
We love the DoubleTree hotel in Bay City as it overlooks the Saginaw River and is right on the paved downtown walking trail that stretches from St. Laurent's candy shop to the Real Seafood restaurant.
The hotel is only a couple minutes walk to downtown Bay City shopping (boutique and antique shops) and restaurants. The State Theatre and Delta College Planetarium is also within walking distance.
Oh, and the hotel offers free shuttle service to and from MBS International Airport! How cool is that?
Plus, there's no need to drive to dinner, the DoubleTree hotel has an in-house restaurant called the Riverfront Grille. We love eating by the expansive windows overlooking the Saginaw river.
- During the summer, you can grab a drink and small plate to enjoy on their scenic outside patio. It's one heck of a way to enjoy a getaway with your loved ones!
We had a delicious breakfast at the DoubleTree Hotel's Riverfront Grille. The prices were very affordable and the food was great.
Chris and I are both simple breakfast eaters, so we choose our meals from the ala carte menu. So don't worry, you can order pancakes, omelets and the works! By the way, the toast was very hearty!
The lobby at the Double Tree hotel is very beautiful!
Parking at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bay City is FREE! We thought it was important to list this as sometimes hotel parking is very expensive!
Courtyard by Marriott-Bay City, Michigan
Courtyard by Marriott - Bay City Address: 2 East Main Street, Bay City, Michigan
Be sure to pack your swim suit as you will want to take a dip in the Courtyard's large pool! There's also a great fitness center if treadmills and pushups are more your thing.
Grab a sandwich or a bowl of delicious pasta at the on-site restaurant, The Bistro. Fresh cocktails and coffee are also available.
Oh, and who doesn't need a drink or snack for their room? Stop by The Market to satisfy those 10 pm hunger pangs (that always happens to us!!)
While staying at the Courtyard Marriot, be sure to check out their numerous hang out areas both inside and outside of the hotel. Comfy couches and chairs are just waiting for you to settle in with a book or glass of wine!
The business center also has several computers available for your use.
Bay City Blue Ice
Bay City Blue Ice is such a cool phenomenon! The photo above doesn't really represent it due to the time of day but I have more photos and info here!
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