Saginaw - Bay City - Bad Axe - Frankenmuth

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The breathtaking splendor of Lake Huron awaits you on this "thumb" area color tour! Other highlights include: Frankenmuth, Saginaw, state parks, farm markets and antique shops.

Best Enjoyed: Early to Mid-October
Approximate Length: 230 miles

Before leaving Bay City, spend time at the Bay City Recreation Area, home to one of the largest remaining freshwater, coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes. The park has long been known for its outstanding variety of bird life and is an ideal staging area for migratory birds. Other activities include biking, hiking and an interactive visitor center.

Follow M-25 east out of Bay City to Sebewaing. At this point M-25 will run along the edge of the thumb along the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. Be sure to "get lost" at the corn maze and pick up a pumpkin at Depner Farmsnear Caseville. Sleeper State Park is another opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a half mile of sandy beach along Saginaw Bay and four miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.

Continue east on M-25 to Port Austin at the tip of the "thumb". Port Crescent State Park includes three miles of sandy shoreline of Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay and additional opportunities to hike and bike. Continuing on M-25 you will find the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse and Museum, one of the few remaining operational lighthouses on the Great Lakes.

Follow M-25 into Harbor Beach, the site of the Harbor Beach Breakwater Light. Take M-142 west out of Harbor Beach to Bad Axe, then M-81 south to Cass City and Caro. At Caro, follow M-24 south to County Road 39. Take a right heading east to M-15.

Turn right on M-15, north to Millington. Browse the Millington Antique Co-op Mall featuring over 40 dealers of antiques and collectables. Continue north on M-15 to Vassar. Follow Frankenmuth Road SW out of Vasser to Frankenmuth, Michigan's Little Bavaria. Suggested stops in Frankenmuth include:
·          Frankenmuth River Place 
·         Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland 
·         Bavarian Inn Restaurant 
·         Zehnder's of Frankenmuth 

Follow M-83 north out of Frankenmuth to M-81. Turn left, heading east into Saginaw. Saginaw highlights include:
·         Johnson's Giant Pumpkins 
·         Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge 
·         Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House 

To complete your tour, take M-13 north back to Bay City.
Bay City State Recreation Area
3582 State Park Drive
Bay City, MI 48706
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (989) 684-3020,4570,7-153-10369_46675_57974---,00.html
The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, located in the Bay City State Recreation Area, helps visitors discover Tobico Marsh, one of the largest coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes. Nestled under a canopy of sheltering hardwoods on the edge of the marsh, the modern visitor center stands on the site of the historic Jennison Nature Center, built in 1940 and named for George B. Jennison, a prominent local conservationist. Fifty-five years later in 1995, the aging nature center was given a $1 million makeover. A 10,000-square-foot building, which more than doubled the size of the original facility, reopened in 1996 with a 100-seat auditorium and new exhibit hall.
Depner Farms
5945 Griggs Rd.
Caseville, MI 48725
Phone: (989) 856-4688
"Cut-your-own" Christmas Tree at Depner Farms this year! Visit for info!
Albert E. Sleeper State Park
6573 State Park Road
Caseville, MI 48725-9799
Toll Free: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (989) 856-4411
Sleeper State Park is 723 acres of forest, wetlands, sandy beach and dunes located on the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. Visitors can watch both sunrises and sunsets on the bay, relax in the shade and seclusion of the campground or roam the trails of the ancient dune forests. Camping April through October.
Port Crescent State Park
1775 Port Austin Road
Port Austin, MI 48467
Toll Free: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (989) 738-8663
Located at the tip of Michigan's "thumb" along three miles of sandy shoreline of the Saginaw Bay. 565 acres of woods, offer excellent hunting opportunities, wet lands and the best sand dunes and beaches on the eastern side of the state. An accessible fishing deck, and seven miles of trails through various areas of the park for cross-country skiing. Some of the 137 modern campsites offer a waterfront view, either of Lake Huron or the Pinnebog River. A 900-foot boardwalk and five picnic decks offer scenic vistas from the top of sand dunes in the day-use area. One camper cabin available. Rustic organization camp for youth. Recreation Passport required for entry. Pet friendly shoreline.
Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse and Museum
7320 Lighthouse Road
PO Box 97
Port Hope, MI 48468
Phone: (989) 428-4749
One of the few lighthouses that are still in operation today on the Great Lakes. It was built in 1857 under President Polk's orders to guard ships from some of the most treacherous shoals in the Great Lakes. The lighthouse is 89 feet tall with 103 cast iron steps to the top. It is owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and was automated in 1957. The lighthouse has a flashing white light that shines 18 miles out over Lake Huron. It is a warning that the area contains shallow waters that can be a hazard, and it also marks the entrance into Saginaw Bay. The keeper's residence is now a museum. Tours are available Memorial Day until end of September. Call to set up your tour.
Harbor Beach Light
View from Waterworks Park & Harbor Beach
Harbor Beach, MI 48441
Phone: (989) 479-3321
The Harbor Beach Lighthouse is located at the end of the north breakwater entrance to the harbor of refuge, created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, protecting the harbor of Harbor Beach. Located on the Thumb on Lake Huron, the Harbor Beach lighthouse has been guiding mariners along the shore and into the former "world''s greatest man made harbor" for over 125 years. The lighthouse has been completely restored, and offers tours every Saturday during the summer. Tour reservations recommended, not always available.
Millington Antiques, Inc.
8517 State Street
Millington, MI 48746
Phone: (989) 871-4597
Best little "Antique Village" in the "Thumb". Open Monday - Sunday 10 am - 5 pm with over 40 dealers of antiques and collectibles. Find everything you need in one huge, unique mall.
Frankenmuth River Place Shops
925 S. Main Street
Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Toll Free: (800) 600-0105
Frankenmuth River Place Shops features over 40 specialty shops, attractions and fun activities. This unique collection of shops is nestled along the Cass River in downtown Frankenmuth, in a unique Bavarian Village theme. Heated sidewalks make for safe winter strolls. In the summer, catch a ride on the Bavarian Belle Riverboat to take a cruise on the Cass River. See our store listing for the collection of women's fashion and very unique specialty stores. Frankenmuth River Place Shops is known for its FREE FAMILY FUN events. Every Memorial Day Weekend is Dog Bowl, The World's Largest Olympic Style Event for Dogs! At this event, over 2,000 dogs can compete in over 25 events including your dog. That same weekend is Balloons Over Bavarian Inn - a Hot Air Balloon flight event with over 30 balloons flying and glowing. In addition, Frankenmuth River Place Shops celebrates our heritage and FUN with the Cass River Colonial Encampment, a historical reenactment of various Revolutionary and other war encampments. Check the website for other family focused and FREE events all year round!
Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland
25 Christmas Lane
Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Toll Free: (800) 255-9327
Phone: (989) 652-9931
The world's largest Christmas store with over 90,000 square ft of newly expanded shopper's dream! Bigger than 1 1/2 football fields in size featuring over 50,000 trims, gifts, and collectibles. Fun for all ages, outdoor decorations illuminated nightly. Open 361 days a year.
Bavarian Inn Restaurant
713 S. Main Street
Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Toll Free: (800) 228-2742
Phone: (989) 652-9941
Full service family dining established in 1888 with it's 12 unique dining rooms, seating 1200. World famous chicken dinners plus German entrees, steaks, lighter fare, sandwiches, desserts, specialty shopping, lower level Castle Shops.
Zehnder's of Frankenmuth
730 South Main Street
Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Toll Free: (844) 789-2972
Phone: (844) 789-2972
America's largest family restaurant serves approximately one million guests per year with old world hospitality. Nine dining rooms that seat more than 1,500 guests, Zehnder's offers a full service menu that features all-you-can-eat family style chicken dinners, seafood, steaks, fresh baked goods and European desserts. Play a round of golf at The Fortress, our 18-hole championship golf course and stay at Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark. Stop by Zehnder's Marketplace featuring Z Bakery, Z Gift Shop and Z Chefs cafe.
Johnson's Giant Pumpkins
4715 N. Portsmouth Road
Saginaw, MI 48601
Phone: (989) 752-3133
See over 250 pumpkins on display, enjoy a 3-acre corn maze, wood carvers, gift, face painting, fall displays while munching on fresh farm donuts. Pick your own pumpkin during our fall season (open September 12-October 31). We also offer several seasonal events-great for "kids" of all ages! Visit our gift shop which offers crafts, delicious food items and decorations.
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
6975 Mower Road
Saginaw, MI 48601
Phone: (989) 777-5930
Over 9,400 acres of bottomland-hardwood forests, marshes, pools, grasslands and croplands attract a variety of wildlife, migratory fowl, shorebirds and songbirds. 12 miles of trails popular with mountain bikers, hikers and cross-country skiers. Hunting, fishing and boating. Environmental education and photography. Wildlife observation tower and platforms with spotting scopes, give you close-up views of bald eagles and white-tail deer.
Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House
527 Ezra Rust Drive
Saginaw, MI 48601
Phone: (989) 759-1648
One of a very few authentic Japanese teahouses in the United States. The Tea House was built in 1985-86 as as a symbol of friendship and cultural exchange with Saginaw's Sister City, Tokushima, Japan. Tea ceremony is the 2nd Saturday of each month. Groups of 10 or more by reservations for a private tour w/ tea, sweets or the Tea Ceremony.