The Port of Bay City is undergoing a Saginaw River renaissance, but it is also proud of its history. The Historical Museum of Bay County offers many exhibits and programs that tell the story of the Port of Bay City from the era of glaciers through the indigenous peoples, the trappers, lumbermen, and shipbuilders.
There are three historic districts in the Port of Bay City that contain wonderful examples of 19th Century architecture. There are over 250 structures on the National Register of Historic Places in the Center Avenue Historic District. Many of them are mansions built by the earlier lumber barons in the Port of Bay City.
The City Hall in the Port of Bay City is listed in the Smithsonian Institution's Archives. The Port of Bay City's historic downtown has been awarded the "Great American Main Street" award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The city's main entertainment area is in the Midland Street Historic District.
The Port of Bay City has a humid continental climate with large differences in temperatures between seasons. Summers are warm and can be hot and humid. (Humidity ranges from 80% to 90% throughout the year.) Winters can be severely cold. Snow is more common than rain in the winter, and most summer rain comes with thunderstorms. Rainfall is greatest in September. Temperatures in the Port of Bay City range from an average high of about 21°C (70°F) in July and August to an average low of -6°C (20°F) in January.
About seven kilometers (five miles) northwest of the Port of Bay City, the Bay City State Recreation Area contains a wide range of habitats from the Tobico Marsh to brush shrub areas to upland hardwood forest. Along the Frank N. Anderson Trail, a boardwalk with two 40-foot observation towers and a floating marsh dock offer wonderful views of wildlife.
The visitor's center at this Port of Bay City attraction offers dioramas, displays, and a great slide show, while the Field Observation Room offers a feed area for wildlife. Waterfowl and shorebirds use the recreation area throughout the year. White-tail deer, otter, beaver, red and gray fox, and coyote also populate the area.
The Port of Bay City State Recreation Area has eight restrooms, seven miles of self-guided trails, picnic areas with playgrounds and drinking water, and 194 camping sites. There are six miles of un-groomed but easy cross-country skiing trails, a boat ramp for jet skis and kayaks, 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) of mountain bike trails, and an equal amount of multi-use trails. Anglers can go for warm water fishing for bowfin, pike, bass, and sunfish. Hunting is allowed in limited areas, so hunters should check at the visitor's center.
The Port of Bay City is home to Appledore Tall Ships Day Cruises operating from Wenonah Park. Visitor's should check with Appledore for specific cruise schedules. The Legends of the Saginaw Sails cruise includes information about the history of the Saginaw River and a hearty lunch. Adults pay $37, and students pay $27 for this popular cruise. The BBQ Dinner Sails evening sailing cruises include a casual barbecue meal and a family-friendly adventure. Tickets are $45 for adults, $35 for students, and $20 for children 12 and under. Appledore's Dinner Sails take adults ($60 and $70) for a wonderful dinner and evening sail from the Port of Bay City into Saginaw Bay.
Appledore also offers a great cruise to watch the Port of Bay City Fireworks Festival from the deck of a tall ship. This three-hour sail includes dinner and the fireworks. Tickets cost $50 for adults, $40 for students, and $25 for children 12 and under. The Stargazer Dinner Sails include a presentation by astronomers from the Delta College Planetarium and a great dinner. The cruise is for adults ($80 each). During Moonlight Dinner Sails out of the Port of Bay City, astronomers talk about moon phases and moon legends. Passengers can enjoy a great dinner while they view the beautiful moon.
Windjamming Day Sails take advantage of the autumn's blustery conditions in the Port of Bay City. They schooner flies as passengers enjoy the adventure and help the crew on this wild ride. The cost is $45 for adults and $35 for students. The Autumn Color Tour River Sails in October are a two-hour sail with chili and cornbread and hot cider while passengers enjoy the lovely fall colors and sights of bald eagles and snowy egrets.