16 Things to do in Bay City, MI

Are you looking for fun things to do in Bay City, MI? You’ll find no shortage of activities and attractions. From festivals to historic landmarks, Bay City has something for everyone.

Bay City, Michigan, is a city in the state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Bay County and has a population of around 20,000 people.

John S. Alden founded the city in 1827 as one of the earliest settlements developed on its shoreline. The city has historical significance due to being a major shipping destination for lumber and iron during the mid-19th century.

Bay City became an important seaport during World War II after it was largely devastated by fire in 1943, with more than seven square miles destroyed.

If you’re looking for things to do in Bay City, MI, here are 16 of the best options:

1. Veterans Memorial Stadium

Photo credit: Ernest M

Right in the center of Bay City, this 97-acre park is a one-stop fun visit to several tourist sites. The park is home to the following venues:

  • Veterans Memorial Stadium – home to local sports teams and community events
  • Liberty Harbor Trombley House – a historical home – built in 1000 AD, was once home to Bay City resident Cy Twombley. He was an artist and sculptor who lived in the area.
  • Santa House – founded in 1991 by Bay City resident Nate Doan, who filled in for a Santa at a party, 9and drafted his wife, Mary, to play Mrs. Claus) it is now a picture-filled tribute to the years they played Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Doans have also coached other would-be Santas every year.
  • Fitness Park – a combination children’s playground and marked fitness trail.
  • The Kanzler Arboretum – a landscaped 12-acre walk through beautiful blooms on Bay City’s riverfront banks.

You can also hike the Riverwalk loop trail (see below), a popular boat launch.

The park is the venue for the annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration and community events like River of Time: a three-day historical re-enactment along the riverfront.

The event commemorates historical battles that took place there during the Civil War.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience in Bay City, be sure to add Veterans Memorial Stadium to your bucket list of things to do in Bay City.

2. Bay City Hall

Bay City MI City Hall.JPG
Photo credit: wikipedia.org

This stately grey brick building is one of the “most outstanding buildings in the United States,” According to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Archives.

It was built in the late 1890s and was restored in 1980 after a fire. When it was restored, it was rebuilt in a modern Romanesque style and sat at the inlet of the Bay Pier.

Visitors that make the trek to the tower will be treated to a panoramic view of the city.

3. Center Avenue Historic District

This architectural heritage area was created by the business owners who made their fortunes in this city during the mid-1800s.

These included shipbuilders, lumber magnates, and leaders of other industries. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district includes over 900 buildings; 879 of them are historical.

The homes display various architectural styles, such as Gothic Revival and Chateauesque.

4. Bay Antique Center

This two-story building comprises 60,000 square feet of antique dealers and vendors. There are enough antiques to allow a visit for a day or an entire weekend.

You can find all sorts of things at an antique store, like old dolls, license plates, memorabilia, and glassware.

You might also find Victorian furniture, pottery, bottles, old comics, jewelry, vintage clothing, and trading cards.

The dealers here are pleasant to speak to and knowledgeable about their wares.

You never know what you’ll find at the Bay Antique Center, so it’s always worth adding it to your list of things to do in Bay City, MI.

5. Antique toy and firehouse museum

The museum especially caters to the interests of children aged 1-10. Car enthusiasts will be entranced by the NASCAR room, where they’ll find replicas of almost every car.

Kids will love seeing a display of historical toys. There are also over 70 antique fire engine pumpers. Admission to the museum is free for children under four years old.

6. The Parks Of Bay City

Photo credit: Kristina Sweat

There are several lovely parks in the city, which makes it one of the fun things to do in Bay City. Nature lovers will revel in the scenery and trails in:

  • Carroll Park – the oldest park in the city. You will find a tranquil duck pond and a lovely bridge inside the park. There is a tennis court and picnic areas. Around its perimeters, you can see some lovely old homes.
  • The Riverwalk Pier – This enthralling walkway overlooks the Saginaw River. As you stroll over the bridge, you will see the remains of some 19th Century wooden ships.
  • Roosevelt Park was originally named Roosevelt Park but was renamed in 1907. In the park is a memorial statue of a Native American. The park also has a tennis court and baseball area.
  • Hewitt Park – a lovely park with two tennis courts, a playground, and a baseball field
  • The Ted Putz Nature Area –  this park has a lovely walkway facing the riverfront. It has picnic tables available.
  • Wenonah Park – The park is right in the center of Bay City. You will find an amphitheater used for warm-weather events and the Nickless Family Pavilion – a perfect venue for outdoor weddings. The pavilion can be converted in the wintertime to allow for skating.

7. The Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum

One of the best things to do in Bay City is to visit the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum.

Those who love maritime history and would enjoy touring a 418-foot destroyer ship should visit this museum. The museum is housed inside the battleship. While at the museum, history buffs can view a movie called “Three Guns, No Waiting.”

Visitors will climb up and down the levels of the ship via ladders and explore its rooms. Visitors during October will find themselves in the middle of a Hallowe’en adventure.

8. Bay City State Recreation Area

Photo credit: Rams K

One of the fun things to do in Bay City is to visit the Bay City State Recreation Area. This downtown kids’ play area is fun for the whole family.

The park is home to extensive marsh wetlands – where migratory birds and wetland animals will thrill them with their antics.

Those who enjoy swimming can visit the beach there. If you want to cool off but don’t want to brave the beach, there is a splash park where the kids can cool off.

9. Bay City Farmers Market

In the 1800s and 1900s, this market was a gathering place for the farmers and industrialists of the area.

They met and exchanged or sold goods and socialized as they plied their wares. The market has recently re-opened; its look has been restored to the original market’s appearance.

Today it features 45 stalls selling produce, flowers, and baked goods. The food vendors there sell locally-sourced foods. The food sold here is priced at competitive prices, and food assistance programs are accepted.

10. Bay City Town Center

Shoppers who enjoy bargaining at the Farmers’ Market will get their shopping fix at this downtown shopping area.

It used to be called the Bay City Mall and features stores selling clothing, pet supplies, jewelry, and kids’ stuff. You will also find a variety of upscale restaurants in the same area.

11. Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center

One of the top things to do in Bay City is to visit the Delta College Planetarium.

The Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center is an astronomy education center in downtown Bay City. It offers indoor stargazing, moon shows, and a gift shop.

It was designed by William Kessler and Associates of Michigan and constructed by Gregory Construction. The building is extremely unique and stands out among the other buildings in downtown Bay City.

The Delta College Planetarium was built around the metaphors of space exploration and is located within walking distance of Wenonah Park.

Delta College received a NASA grant of $8.75million in 1993 to help fund the construction and design of the facility.

If you’re interested in learning more about astronomy or just want to see some beautiful stars, this is the place for you.

12. The Historical Museum of Bay County

Photo credit: Jeffery Singleton

The Historical Museum of Bay County is a fascinating place to visit. It is located in an ex-National Guard Armory from 1910 and is listed on both the state and national historic registers.

The museum’s first floor, “Bay County…Trails Through Time”, has exhibits about Bay County’s history from a long time ago until now.

The second floor, “Bay City … Seaport to the World”, has exhibits about the men who built big wooden ships, a famous tugboat captain, life on a ship during WWII, shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, and a boy who made a new way to navigate the Saginaw River.

These exhibits are interesting and give us a look at Bay City’s history and the Great Lakes region.

The museum also offers a large research library to the public. This makes it a great place to learn more about the history of Bay County and its residents.

The Historical Museum should definitely be on your bucket list of things to do in Bay City.

13. Alice & Jack Wirt Public Library

Photo credit: Jeremy Lee Eagle

The Alice & Jack Wirt Public Library is a great place to go to get lost in a good book. They have a wide selection of books to choose from, as well as other resources like DVDs and audiobooks.

The library also offers a variety of programs for all ages, which can be a lot of fun. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and they are always happy to help you find what you need.

So if you’re looking for a place to read, learn or just relax, the Alice & Jack Wirt Public Library is definitely worth checking out.

14. Quanicassee Wildlife Area

Photo credit: Curtis Parker

Amongst the best things to do in Bay City is a visit to Quanicassee Wildlife Area, a hidden gem in the Thumb region of Michigan.

This 1,922-acre area is home to an abundance of wildlife, including deer, turkeys, and a variety of birds.

The lightly trafficked 3.1 miles out and back trail offers hikers, bicyclists, and anglers the opportunity to enjoy nature at its finest.

The Department of Natural Resources manages the area, and fishing (though seasonal) is an option for visitors with various skill levels.

Suckers, carp, walleye, sunfish, bass, pike, perch, and catfish can all be caught in the waters surrounding the trails.

If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy nature or want to try your hand at fishing, Quanicassee Wildlife Area is a must-visit destination.

15. State Theatre

Photo credit: Scott Eggert

One of the fun things to do in Bay City is to go to the State Theatre. The theatre opened in 1998, has a rich history, and was originally a vaudeville theatre. It was renovated in 1998 and now features unique Aztec architecture. 

The State Theatre in Bay City is a great place to go and watch movies. Not only does it have amazing architecture, but it is also one of the few theaters that still show movies on film.

In addition, the theater partners with Wenonah Park to present free movies throughout the summer months, making it a great place for families.

Most events are sponsored by families and businesses. This means you can be part of a community event while also supporting local businesses.

16. Sage Library

Photo credit: Linuxfox00

The Sage Library is a popular tourist destination in Bay City because it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The library was built in 1884 and is a beautiful Victorian architectural style. The library houses over 110,000 books, and visitors are allowed to tour the two floors of the building.

The library also has free WiFi and internet service computers for visitors to use.

Plan a Trip to Bay City

Bay City is a historical city in Michigan with an amazing endowment and excitement to add more flavor.

Bay City is a fun place with lots to do. There are museums, parks, libraries, stores, galleries, theaters, and restaurants. You can find something to do at any time of day or night.

With so much to do and see, it’s hard to believe that this city is often overlooked by tourists. If you’re looking for a fun-filled city to explore, Bay City should definitely be at the top of your list!

Start planning your trip to Bay City. Pin this article so you can easily find it later and use it as a guide while making your checklist of things to do in Bay City, Michigan.

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