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A Natural Escape in the Great Lakes Bay Region of Michigan

Featuring: Annette Rummel

CEO + Travel Trailblazer , Great Lake Bay Regional CVB

See the Great Lakes Bay region in a whole new light: from a friendly local’s perspective.

Looking to get out of the house and escape this summer? Hop in the car and head to the Great Lakes Bay region in Michigan. Comprised of Midland, Saginaw, and Bay counties, this area has tons of outdoor recreation, sparkling waterfront views, and unique (think quirky!) culture to offer.

Rediscover America recently spoke with Annette Rummel, the CEO of Great Lake Bay Regional CVB and proud Frankenmuth, MI local. Annie shares her favorite ways to get off-the-beaten path and explore the many treasured outdoor spaces and local attractions right in her backyard. Come along for the ride!

#1 Escape to Nature

Where do you go to escape the everyday?

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

I go to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge because it is so outdoorsy. The refuge has a lot of wonderful driving trails, so people can get out and enjoy that right now. I also love sitting on my own front porch in Frankenmuth and looking out on the absolutely stunning community. (Don’t worry Annette! We won’t put your front porch on the map).

#2 Backyard Bucket List

Which activity is right in your backyard but also on your bucket list?

Fishing for Walleye

We are one of the world's top walleye fisheries on the Saginaw river or the Saginaw Bay. It’s a wonderful outdoor activity that's wholesome, family-friendly and allows you to interact with nature.

"We have five rivers that flow into the Saginaw Bay. That water is life, and Michigan is water. Our water is what brings us together." Annette Rummel, Great Lake Bay Regional CVB

#3 Seek Authenticity

Where can you show a visitor the authentic side of Michigan?

The Tridge, in Midland

I take them to The Tridge, a beautiful pedestrian bridge in Midland where you can observe the architectural beauty of the community that renowned architect Alden B. Dow helped establish. It’s a good spot for mid century architecture. You can even visit Dow's home and studio nearby.

#4 Dazzle Your Eyes

Where do you go to get inspired?

Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

In Saginaw, I take people to Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. He is a globally-recognized sculptor who made the Spirit of Detroit. All the sculptor's positives (white sculptures that they bronze cast to create the final piece) are housed here and it's really quite beautiful.

Follow Go Great Lakes Bay on Instagram for inspiring photos and things to do.

#5 Get Quirky

What is the quirkiest thing to see in your area?

Santa Claus School

The Santa Claus School in Midland. It’s the oldest Santa school and students come from all over the world to learn how to be Santa Claus. This ties in with Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, which is the largest Christmas store in the US. There are also Santa houses sprinkled through our community - Christmas is really important here!

#6 Meet A Local

Who is the coolest character to meet in your destination?

Tony Diana, Local Entrepeneur

Tony Diana is a community-minded Frankenmuth entrepreneur who owns several McDonald's restaurants. He grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where cars play such an important role in people's lives. He is very into 1950s cars and drag racing, and he started one of the most fun festivals called AutoFest in Frankenmuth.

More Local Tips

Getting Here

Driving Distances

Driving distances from nearby cities:

  • Detroit 106 miles
  • Cleveland 254 miles
  • Columbus 277 miles
  • Chicago 297 miles
  • See more . . .

Victorian-Era Charm

See Chesaning

Chesaning is small-town America at its best. Stop here to see Victorian-era architecture in a rural setting.

Gorgeous Sunsets

Wind Down on the Bay

For a beautiful way to wind down the day, head to Bay City to watch the sunset over Saginaw Bay.

Rediscover Great Lakes Bay, MI Map
Learn More About Rediscover America

What Is A Destination Organization?

A destination organization is responsible for promoting a community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work.

Get Involved

We are looking for destination marketers who want to share the hidden gems and off-the-beaten path things to do in their hometowns.

About the Contributor

Annette Rummel

CEO + Travel Trailblazer

About The Contributor

Annette Rummel has served the Michigan travel and tourism industry for more than 30 years.