The Great Lakes Bay region is a waterfront wonder, comprised of six distinct cities: Frankenmuth, Bay City, Midland, Saginaw, Birch Run, and Chesaning. Across the cities, each with their own flair, the waters glisten, the downtowns bustle, the forests sway, and of course, athletes come to play.  

“Because we represent the three counties, there’s a lot of different options. We are centrally located in the state of Michigan. Ninety minutes from the Canadian border in Port Huron, and only ninety minutes north of Detroit. Even though we cover a large area, everything is within roughly a 30-mile radius of one another,” Drew Compau of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau shares. 

The Greater Midland Tennis Center is the largest indoor/outdoor tennis facility in the Midwest, with 39 indoor and outdoor courts. The facility hosts the Dow Tennis Classic each year, A WTA 125K Series Circuit Event where professional women from around the world come to compete for an entire week.  

The Saginaw Township Soccer Complex is a state-of-the-art outdoor soccer complex with 22 fields. Host of the 2012 and 2019 Midwest Youth Soccer Tournament, the complex hosts a variety of camps and tournaments for all ages. With its number of fields and easy access, the Saginaw Township Soccer Complex is the right choice for your next tournament.  

The Great Lakes Bay region offers many outdoor baseball complexes across each city. The Redcoats Softball Complex in Midland features 5 lighted fields, each with fences at 300’. The complex also offers restrooms, changing facilities, and a playground at the center of the fields, making this the perfect option to bring the whole family together. 

Since 1972, the Dow Event Center has been hosting iconic names in entertainment, including Johnny Cash, Queen, and Elvis. The Dow Event Center has seating available for up to 6,500 spectators. The center is also home to the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit. The Dow Event Center consists of several parts, including The Atrium, The Garden Room, The Red Room, and The Theater. Check out their event schedule to see what headliner is coming next! 

Things to Do 

The Nation’s Largest Canopy Walk, Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens unveils the magic of untouched nature. Open year-round and designed to be accessible for all ages and abilities, this is a “forest like no other” and is perfect for group activities. “It’s really great experience that’s open year-round. If athletes are here for a winter event, they can still enjoy that attraction. In addition to the canopy walk, they also have the Dow Gardens.”

Frankenmuth – A Tiny German Town with Big Bavarian Traditions: Frankenmuth is Michigan’s largest tourist attraction.

In Downtown Bay City, there are lots of little shops, boutiques, and coffee houses worth exploring. Opened this July, Drift Shoreside Beer Garden is a brand-new outdoor beer garden with food trucks along the Saginaw River. “In the summer, we have Princess Wenonah and the Appledore, a tall ship, that do wonderful cruises. We have a lot of neat little things throughout. There is an array of activities for people of different age groups in different budgets.” 

Downtown Bay City, MI
Downtown Bay City

Birch Run Premium Outlets: Located just minutes from Frankenmuth, Birch Run Premium Outlets® is one of the country’s first and most successful outlet centers. Located conveniently off I-75, Birch Run Premium Outlets features over 100 stores and is a bustling family outing. 

Birch Run Premium Outlets
Birch Run Premium Outlets

Places to Stay 

The region has a range of B&Bs as well as larger hotel properties, like Marriotts and Hiltons. The region has 5 full-service hotels, the largest being The Bavarian Inn Lodge of Frankenmuth, which has 360 rooms. There are also over 60 limited-service hotels.

2021 Events 

In 2021, the Great Lakes Bay area had a range of large events on the calendar.

Check them out below: 

Since 2019 on the LPGA tour, The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational has been held at the Midland Country Club. The 2021 tour was held from July 12-17, 2021 and drew ample spectators to see the impressive roster of athletes a part of the tournament.  

Throughout November and December 2021, the Mid-Michigan Regional Silver Stick Tournament was hosted in Midland at the Midland Civic Arena. Under Hockey USA, the Silver Stick Hockey Association has provided hockey opportunities for boys, girls and sled/sledge hockey teams for 64 years. 

The Great Lax Bay Classic Classic has been the top Michigan lacrosse tournament destination for over a decade. In 2021, they returned to Saginaw from June 19-20 at the STSA Athletic Complex. Divisions from 10U up to high school varsity level competed in the weekend event, and a men’s division was added for the first time. Run by Trilogy Lacrosse, the event featured merchandise and local food trucks, and was yet another successful tournament. 

The bowling world successfully held the 2021 Womens State Championship, hosted by the Bay Area USBC across 12 weekends with 300 women per weekend. The event was held at both Monitor Lanes in Bay City and Alert Lanes in Essexville.  

The Bassmaster gives high school and college anglers the opportunity to compete in a catch and release tournament. As the largest freshwater coastal wetland in the US, Saginaw Bay provides the perfect setting for this increasingly popular event. In 2021, the collegiate anglers competed from June 16-17, while the high school and junior series was held on June 19.  

Bassmaster Classic
Bassmaster Classic

It’s clear that there is no shortage of things to do and places to play in the Great Lakes Bay region. For more information on the area, head to their Playeasy profile

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Brenna Collins, Playeasy Content Creation Manager
Written By: Brenna Collins