10 Things To Do in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Bay City’s Tall Ship Celebration begins in just over a week! If you’re planning a trip to the area for the event, take advantage of your time there by seeing what else the Great Lakes Bay Region has to offer. Lindsay Gilbert of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau fills us in on her top 10 must-sees in the area.

Will you be at the Tall Ship Celebration? Check out the blog post we featured last week on the event to learn more!

The Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City will bring thousands to the Great Lakes Bay Region July 11th-14th.  And what a great time to visit other places in the region as well! There is so much to see and experience. Below are just some of the highlights that the region has to offer.  More can be found at visitgreatlakesbay.org.

1. Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum USS Edson DD-946, Bay City

Welcome Aboard! Learn about life on the destroyer named after Major General Merritt “Red Mike” Edson USMC as you walk through the 418-foot historic memorial to those who have protected our nation’s freedom and independence. Tours are conducted daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

2. Delta College Planetarium, Bay City

Delta College’s planetarium is your passport to the stars in downtown Bay City!  Travel on a spectacular journey through space and time.  On the 360°, 50’ diameter dome shaped projection screen, you will see stars, planets and other celestial bodies as they appear from your backyard or from the window of a spaceship.  Experience 3-D starfield projection with audience interaction.  Call (989) 667-2260 or go to delta.edu/planet to begin your trip.

3. Dow Gardens, Midland

Open all year, Midland’s Dow Gardens is truly a garden for all seasons developed by Herbert H. Dow, founder of The Dow Chemical Company.  Discover a 110-acre botanical garden, a system of ponds, a maze, Children’s Garden and Conservatory.  Enjoy outdoor movies and a tour of the estate home.  Times and events can be found at dowgardens.org or call (800) 362-4874.

4. Great Lakes Loons, Midland

Dow Diamond, in downtown Midland, is the home of the Great Lakes Loons, a Single-A Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and member of the Midwest League. Scheduled home games can be found at their website: loons.com.  Call 1-888-678-2255 for tickets.

5. Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth

The world’s largest Christmas store the size of 1 ½ football fields, Bronner’s in Frankenmuth is a shopper’s dream with over 50,000 trims and gifts.  Open 361 days a year.  Visit their website at bronners.com for directions.

6. Chesaning Showboat Music Festival

The annual variety show occurs the second full week in July. The Showboat serves as a backdrop to the stage for an audience of 6,000. Join in the fun with the Charlie Daniels Band and Bret Michaels.  You won’t want to miss this unique experience. The complete schedule can be found at www.chesaningshowboat.org. Call (989) 845-3056 for tickets.

7. Birch Run Premium Outlets

Stroll through this outdoor center and discover savings every day at 145 designer and name brand outlet stores.  Located in Section F, the Information Center offers a VIP Coupon Book worth hundreds of dollars in additional savings.  Directions and a list of stores can be found at premiumoutlets.com.

8. Celebration Square, Saginaw

There is something for all ages when you visit The Children’s Zoo, Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, Celebration Skate Park, Hoyt Park, The Dow Event Center, Saginaw Art Museum, Castle Museum, Anderson Enrichment Center, Old Town Saginaw and Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House, all part of Saginaw’s Celebration Square.

The Temple Theatre stage. Photo courtesy of Ryan Collier.

9. Temple Theatre, Saginaw

Celebration Square in downtown Saginaw is the home of the beautiful restored Temple Theatre known as “The Showplace of Northeastern Michigan”.  It has seating for 1,750 and houses the only Barton Butterfield Special organ in original condition.  Events are found on their webpage, as well as tour information, at templetheatre.com or call (877) 754-SHOW (7469).

10. Wilderness Trails Zoo, Birch Run

This unique zoo experience with a mile long trail that winds past trees, ponds and over 50 species of exotic and native animals will be one that you won’t soon forget.  Open daily from May through October, the hours and admission prices can be found at www.wildernesstrailszoo.org.

Lindsay Gilbert became the Digital & Print Marketing Manager for the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau following her internship with the bureau in the summer of 2011.  As a graduate of Western Michigan University with degrees in both Graphic Design and Business marketing, she utilizes her education and experience to promote the region through digital, print, and social media platforms.  With her hometown also being located in the Great Lakes Bay Region, there’s no better place to live, work, and play!

For more things to do in Bay City and the Great Lakes Bay Region, visit michigan.org.

Pure Michigan Holiday Tree Lightings

Photo by Valerie Hoffman

Today, nothing evokes the holiday spirit quite like a brightly-lit tree, but light wasn’t part of the original concept.  The celebratory tree tradition traces all the way back to decidedly low-tech 15th century Germany.  The first instance of decorative light – in the form of wax candles – wasn’t recorded for another 300 years.

Candle-lit holiday trees took off as an American tradition after 1850, when a drawing of Queen Victoria’s “Christmas Tree” appeared in Philadelphia’s “Godey’s Lady’s Book.”  Electric lights became a popular trimming after President Coolidge flipped the switch on the first “National Christmas Tree” in 1923.

If you can’t make it to Washington for the lighting of the 89th National Christmas Tree this December 1, there are plenty of towns across Michigan hosting their own tree lighting ceremonies this month and next.  The list below likely includes a celebration near you.

Grand Haven Light Night
November 18, Grand Haven
Enjoy downtown Grand Haven as the lights begin to turn on in the trees for the first time in the holiday season. Participating stores will be holding their holiday open houses with excellent ideas for everyone on your holiday list.

Silver Bells in the City
November 18, Lansing
Celebrate the season with 80,000 attendees of downtown Lansing’s annual electric light parade, including the lighting of Michigan’s official Christmas tree and a beautiful fireworks display cascading over the capitol dome.

Christmas in the Village
November 18 – 19, Manchester
This Manchester event features horse-drawn wagon rides, a parade, Santa greetings, a bake sale, and the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk
November 25, Frankenmuth
The perfect way to start the Christmas season. Hot chocolate and cookies at 6pm. Candlewalk from the River Place to the Chamber Platz for the lighting of the Tannenbaum. Santa will be in the Pavilion from 6:30-8:30pm on Friday, November 25.

Santa’s Arrival & Tree Lighting
November 25, Plymouth
Santa arrives in Kellogg Park, November 25 at 5:40pm with a Christmas carol sing-a-long and tree lighting to follow. After caroling, Santa will be escorted to his house.

Au Gres Chamber of Commerce Annual Christmas Parade
November 26, Au Gres
The tree lighting starts at 5:45 pm, followed by Christmas Parade at 6.  The parade ends at Au Gres City Pavilion, on North Main Street with hot chocolate and Santa visits!

Family Christmas – Muskegon
November 26, Muskegon
Hackley Park hosts the Muskegon tree lighting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Santa will be there, and hot chocolate and hot dogs available for purchase.

Festival of Lights
November 26, Pentwater
Pentwater is decorated for the season with shopping, dining, carolers, music, chestnuts roasting, horse drawn carriage rides and other fun scheduled throughout the day.  The Pentwater tree lighting and Santa’s arrival takes place on the Village Green at 5 pm.

Santa’s Arrival and Courthouse Lighting
November 29, Midland
Santa’s arrival parade starts at the Tridge at 7:00 pm, followed by the Courthouse lighting ceremony and the opening of Santa’s magical house on Main Street.

Les Cheneaux Old Fashion Christmas
November 25 – December 4, Les Cheneaux
Tree lightings take place on the 25th and 26th, with the Les Cheneaux Holiday Arts and Crafts Bazaar on November 26.

Goodrich’s Downtown Christmas
December 1, Goodrich
The Goodrich tree lighting ceremony includes Santa, choirs, carol singing and the reading of the Christmas story. Throughout the downtown area there will be street vendors, music and more.

Santa’s Arrival in Traverse City
December 2, Traverse City
Santa will join the carols, receive the key to his house from the Traverse City Mayor and then help light the tree at 6 pm, before spending the rest of the evening (6-8 pm) visiting the little ones at his holiday house across at Cass and Front Streets.

Cadillac’s Downtown Storybook Christmas
December 2 – 3, Cadillac
Downtown Cadillac will bustle with activity all weekend. Enjoy store specials, holiday menus and Santa’s arrival before Christmas trees are lit around the lake front.

Victorian Sleigh Bell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend – Manistee
December 1 – 4, Manistee
The Festival of Trees follows an authentic Victorian parade complete with period costumes and horse-drawn units.

Lexington Christmas Tree Lighting & Merchant Candle Walk
December 3, Lexington
Join in the Lexington Christmas Tree Lighting and merchant Candle Walk. Santa arrives at 7 pm, followed by a sing along, trolley rides and more.

Circle of Trees – North Muskegon
December 4, Muskegon
Walker Park in North Muskegon hosts the annual Circle of Trees, including a lighting ceremony, dog parade and community carol sing-a-long.

The Big, Bright Light Show – Rochester
November 28, 2011 – January 1, 2012, Rochester
All the buildings on Main Street from the south bridge to Romeo Rd. will be covered in over a million points of light, along with East and West Fourth Street. Also, there will be large, lighted displays on Walnut from Third to University, The Dazzling Tree of Lights at the Depot Plaza (E. University & Water), and The Snowflake Spectacular on the Western Knitting Mill on Water Street.

Fall for a Pure Michigan Road Trip

The leaves are changing in the Great Lakes State, which can mean only one thing: Fall is here in Pure Michigan!

Now is the perfect time to hit the road and marvel at Michigan second-to-none annual color show of reds, golds, oranges and yellows splashed across the state. No matter where you are in Michigan you’re never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake, and with so many other natural and man-made wonders, from waterfalls to museums, it’s easy to plan a fun-filled road trip that is Pure Michigan.

Take a cruise down these fall color driving routes that follow winding, two-lane roads to scenic spots, historic sites, small towns and recreation areas around the state. Bring the binoculars to wildlife viewing areas along the way, like Pigeon River Country State Forest – home to the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Mississippi – or venture to the Upper Peninsula to catch a glimpse of free-ranging moose.
For those a little less adventures, there are numerous historic covered bridges throughout the state, including White’s Covered Bridge over the Flat River in Ionia County that dates back to 1867. Don’t forget to plan a shoreline tour to see some of Michigan’s 115 Great Lakes lights and lighthouses; you can even stay at a choice of lighthouse Bed & Breakfast inns overlooking Lake Superior.

While you’re on the road, make sure to stop along the way and taste the many flavors that Pure Michigan has to offer. From cider mills, wineries, artisan breweries, and foodie tours, Michigan has something to please every palate. Microbrew enthusiasts will want to be sure to check out the Detroit Fall Beer Festival at the city’s Eastern Market on Oct. 22, and wine lovers won’t want to miss The Round Barn Winery’s Jammin’ in the Vineyard each Saturday and Sunday through October.

For more events and activities, visit michigan.org and sign up for the free Pure Michigan eNewsletter for updates on fall colors, festivals and events, special promotions, and more.