One Tank Trip - East Central Region

Mt. Pleasant, the heart of the Lower Peninsula, is home to Central Michigan University. The Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways honors the heritage of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan through exhibits, programs and events. Downtown offers specialty shops, art galleries, bars and eclectic dining. While visiting, try to find the 15 strategically-placed Lost & Found Bronze Art Sculptures. The area also borders the Chippewa River where you can rent canoes, kayaks and tubes. Grab your binoculars and search for more than 110 different species of birds at Florence Maxwell Sanctuary, a 40-acre preserve.

In nearby Midland the philanthropy of the Dow family is reflected in its abundance of cultural attractions. Midland is home to Dow Gardens, 110-acres of massed plantings, ponds and flowering trees. The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, designated a National Historic Landmark, is the epitome of mid-century design. The Alden B. Dow Museum of Art & Science’s 14,000-square feet of gallery space allows for ever-changing, world-class exhibits. Continue to the 1,200-acre multi-dimensional Chippewa Nature Center, which includes walking trails along the Pine and Chippewa Rivers. Take the trail to The Tridge and walk across to Midland Farmers Market and Pere Marquette Rail Trail

Bay City lies at the base of Saginaw Bay where Lake Huron wraps around Michigan’s “Thumb.” Explore the Bay under the billowing sails of the Appledore tall ships. Stroll along the Saginaw River on Riverwalk Pier. Tour the Navy destroyer USSEdson at Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Musuem. Awaken the kid in you at Dobson Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum. Take a trip to the stars at Delta College Planetarium. Find a treasure to take home at one of the many waterfront boutiques and antique shops. And don’t forget to grab some freshly roasted peanuts and home-made candies from St. Laurent Brothers

Saginaw offers both indoor and outdoor adventures. Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State holds more than 200 of the artist’s works. The Japanese Cultural Center and its Tea House are revered as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America. Castle Museum features numerous displays on the area's history including archaeology, lumbering and automotive manufacturing. Take the kids to Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum or The Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square, which includes animal exhibits, gardens, train rides and a hand-carved carousel. Ready for some outdoor fun? Cool off at Frank N. Anderson Celebration Park’s free splash pad or picnic on Ojibiway Island, downtown’s own island park along the Saginaw River. 

Frankenmuth is Michigan’s “Little Bavaria.” The German-themed town celebrates its heritage and is known for locally-brewed beer and family-style chicken dinners at Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s restaurants. Tour the Frankenmuth Brewery and raise a pint on the outdoor patio. Spend the afternoon in the world’s largest holiday decor store, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Browse the downtown shops for souvenirs and authentic Bavarian wares. Cruise down the Cass River as a passenger aboard a paddlewheel riverboat. Take in the town’s ambience during a horse-drawn carriage ride. 

Flint is a hidden cultural treasure. Its Flint Cultural Center campus includes Sloan Museum, Buick Automotive Gallery, Longway Planetarium, The Whiting, Flint Youth Theatre, Flint Institute of Arts and Flint Institute of Music. The Flint Children’s Museum offers 40 hands-on educational exhibits. There’s time for outdoor adventures too. Relive 19th century daily life at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad. Flint Farmers Market is open year-round featuring more than 65 vendors of produce, meats, dairy, baked goods, spices and restaurants. Known as the “Everglades of Michigan,” the 18,000-acre Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is accessible by flat bottom boat. At the end of the day go “old-school” by taking in a movie at the US-23 Drive-in Theater

Port Huron stretches seven miles along the shore of the St. Clair River and the base of Lake Huron. Climb to the top of Fort Gratiot Lighthouse for an awesome view of the Lake and majestic Blue Water Bridge. Watch the freighters pass at Maritime Center at Vantage Point. Walk along the St. Clair River shoreline on the Blue Water River Walk. Conduct interactive experiments at Thomas Edison Depot Museum, which depicts the great inventor’s life when in lived in the area. Hop aboard the Blue Water Trolley for a one-hour tour of the Blue Water area—and it’s only 10 cents! 

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