Northeastern Michigan: Bay City and Presque Isle County

Text: D. Brent Miller • Photography: D. Brent Miller

The opposite ends of this tour take in two different worlds connected by great scenic roads. In Bay City, you can stay busy sightseeing, shopping or sampling the night life. And over in Presque Isle County where the simplest pleasures hold sway, you can stroll in settings of undeveloped serenity along the Lake Huron shoreline or sit beside an inland lake and listen to the loons.

Bay City
Geography made the location a natural place for settlement. Fulfilling the needs of lumber barons and shipbuilders, Bay City was built on the Saginaw River, at the mouth of Saginaw Bay, more than 170 years ago. Today the diverse community of Bay City venerates its heritage and thrives in a strong economy.

There are three historic districts in or near downtown, including an architectural dream street of baronial homes in the Central Avenue Historic District. Current tenants in the Midland Street Historic District, once the business center of West Bay City, have filled the old buildings with specialty shops, restaurants and pubs. The Bay City Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB) describes this district, situated on the river's western shore near Veteran's Memorial Park, as the "Entertainment Capital of Mid-Michigan."

The Downtown Bay City Historic District features great architecture, specialty shops, antique stores, restaurants and coffee houses. City Hall, the County Building, U.S. Post Office, the police and bus stations are all located on the east side of the river in the downtown. There are two hotels there, the Holiday Inn and Doubletree, which put the downtown historic districts within walking distance. Leslie Thompson, the sales manager of the Doubletree, says she and Shirley Roberts of the CVB are happy to organize pub-crawls for groups. "From the downtown hotels, there are 30 pubs and eateries within walking distance," she adds.

Another highly recommended lodging choice is the Bay Valley Hotel & Resort located in the southwest corner of the city. Although it is a few minutes from downtown, it offers numerous amenities, including a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, an indoor-outdoor pool, whirlpool, free wireless Internet access, and a restaurant and lounge.

And appealing to those seeking a unique sightseeing experience, Bay City comes through with cruises aboard its two schooners, the Appledore IV and V. The Appledore line of schooners, built in Maine, are named after an island. Ships I, II and III, are somewhere sailing the globe. The tall ships are docked downtown and routinely set sail for three-hour cruises on Saginaw Bay, with dinner and extended trips available from May through September.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2006 back issue.