12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Midland, MI
Author Meagan Drillinger visited Midland in the fall of 2022 while on assignment for PlanetWare.
Packed with history, peppered with gardens, and with plenty of things to do outdoors, Midland is one of the prettiest places to visit in Michigan. It was put on the map by the influential Dow family (of Dow Chemical Company), whose philanthropic efforts have shaped much of what Midland is today.
A haven for culture, nature, and history, the Midland Center for the Arts is one of the best in the state for science, technology, and performance. Visitors to Midland can trace the history of the Dow family from their historic home in Dow Gardens to the 20th-century modern design of the Alden B. Dow House.
Nature is a major attraction in Midland, as well. The city has more than 70 parks and is the terminus for the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail Trail, one of the best in the state. You'll also find the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, which is home to more than 1,000 acres of protected land.
Read on to discover the best things to do in Midland, Michigan.
1. Explore Dow Gardens
One of the Dow-funded institutions is Dow Gardens, a 110-are garden that was established in 1899 as a home for Herbert Dow, his wife, and family. Today the gardens welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to explore the walking trails, tour the family's historic Pines Home, experience cultural events, or walk through Whiting Forest, which is the nation's longest canopy walk.
Not to be missed is The Pines of Down Gardens, the home from 1899 that was the first and only home that Herbert and Grace Dow ever owned. It's a National Historic Landmark and offers tours and special events for visitors.
Address: 1809 Eastman Ave, Midland, Michigan
2. Tour the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio
Alden Dow was the son of Herbert and Grace Dow, and continued the Dow legacy throughout his life as he rose to become one of the great 20th-century architects. His modern-style home and studio, which he designed himself, is in Midland and is open for tours.
The Alden B. Dow Home & Studio was completed in the 1940s and is a fascinating piece of architecture. Built around a pond, the home and studio uses reflective light, diverging angles, and color to create a work of art.
If you're thinking his style is evocative of Frank Lloyd Wright, you'd be correct. Dow was an apprentice to Wright in 1933. The home and studio were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
Public tours are available Monday through Saturday at 2pm, with an additional 11am tour on Friday and Saturday.
Address: 315 Post Street, Midland, Michigan
3. Cross The Tridge
One of Midland's most visited attractions is the Tridge. The Tridge is the official name given to the arched, brick-colored three-legged wooden footbridge that crosses the spot where the Chippewa River meets the Tittabawassee River, right in the heart of downtown Midland.
Originally opened in 1981, the Tridge leads to some of the top attractions in Midland, like Chippewassee Park, St. Charles Park, and into downtown Midland. It's particularly popular during the downtown farmers market.
You'll also find the trailhead of the Chippewa Nature Trail begins at the Tridge.
It's also the starting point of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, and is the backdrop for many outdoor concerts that take place during the summer months. Don't miss it during the evenings when strings of lights illuminate the archways, giving it a magical glow.
Address: 111 W Main Street, Midland, Michigan
4. Catch a Game at Dow Diamond
Michigan may be home to the Major League Baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. But Midland in particular is the home city for the minor league team, the Great Lakes Loons, a team affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their home stadium is Dow Diamond, which is right in downtown Midland.
The stadium is relatively new, having opened in 2007 after Dow Chemical Company donated the land. Since its opening, it has become a major attraction for both residents of Midland and visitors from around the world.
The Dow Diamond is one of the top minor league stadiums in the country. The seating bowl can seat more than 3,000 people, with an additional 100 on the Party Deck. The stadium has 12 suites, two fireplaces, two outfield fire pits, and 20,000 square feet of event space.
The facility is open year-round and hosts concerts in addition to summer baseball games.
Address: 825 E Main Street, Midland, Michigan
5. Wander the Chippewa Nature Center
Midland, Michigan, has so many different spots to get out into nature, but one of the best spots is the Chippewa Nature Center. Dating back to the 1960s, the Chippewa Nature Center started with 198 acres where the Pine and Chippewa Rivers converge.
Today the nature center has expanded to include programming, a wildlife viewing area, and classrooms. It is one of the largest private non-profit nature centers in the country and has grown to include more than 1,500 acres.
The park is open every day from dawn to dark and features 19 miles of trails that can be accessed on foot, snowshoes, or cross-country skis.
The Pine and Chippewa Rivers have more than six miles of river frontage within the park, and canoeing or kayaking are both very popular river activities.
The park is also home to wetlands; a 16-acre arboretum; and the Oxbow, formed during a flood of 1912, which changed the course of the river. The oxbow is home to river otters, muskrat, beaver, and fish.
Address: 400 S Badour Road, Midland, Michigan
6. See a Performance at the Midland Center for the Arts
The Midland Center for the Arts is one of the top performance spaces in Michigan. Designed by Alden B. Dow, the venue features a 1,500-seat auditorium, as well as a 400-seat Little Theatre, a 97-seat Lecture-Recital Hall, and the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art.
The multi-purpose performance space is home to the Midland Symphony Orchestra, and puts on numerous concerts throughout the season. In addition to classical music, visitors to the center can see other performances, like international music, holiday performances, country music, magic shows, comedy, educational seminars, and Broadway revivals.
One of the best ways to experience the venue is to experience The Pendulum Lounge, a throwback to mid-century Midland, featuring food and beverage and a rotating calendar of live music, trivia, or visual art.
Address: 1801 W St. Andrews Road, Midland, Michigan
7. Climb Dahlia Hill
The petite, pocket-sized Dahlia Hill is yet another beautiful spot in nature to enjoy in Midland, Michigan. The 1.4-acre terraced garden sits on what Alden Dow described as the only hill in Midland. Thus, Dow said, it should be used for a special purpose.
Today the garden is planted each May and includes more than 250 varieties of dahlias. Three-thousand are planted all together. Gravel paths fan out in semicircles from the top of the hill, showcasing the different types of labeled dahlia varieties. If you are visiting in September, you can experience the garden's celebration for the autumn equinox.
The hill is maintained by the Dahlia Garden Society, whose members must work at least 15 hours at the garden. It is a public garden and is free to access.
What's Nearby?: The garden is close to several other tourist attractions in Midland, like the Alden Dow Home and Studio, the Pere-Marquette Rail Trail, and Emerson Park.
Address: 2809 Orchard Drive, Midland, Michigan
8. Browse Local Goods at the Farmers Market
The Midland Area Farmers Market is one of the most beloved mainstays of Midland. Located in the parking area across from the Tridge in Downtown Midland, this weekly event brings residents and visitors to come experience the best local flavors of Midland and central Michigan.
The purpose of the market is to promote the region's locally grown foods, plants, and flowers, as well as other local businesses. It is open from May through October on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Come early in the day — and come hungry — to fill your basket with baked goods, meat, fish, cheese, eggs, fruit, and much more, all sourced from the local community.
No two markets are ever the same, so you can visit as many times as you wish and experience something different, especially as the seasons change.
Address: 825 E Main Street, Midland, Michigan
9. Explore Emerson Park
One of the main parks in Midland is Emerson Park. This 50-acre green space is one of the most popular places to enjoy the outdoors in Midland. Brimming with amenities, and with a very convenient location, Emerson Park deserves more than just one visit while you're in Midland.
The park dates back to 1925, when the city of Midland was given 36 acres of land that was bound by Snake Creek, the Tittabawassee River, and the Pere Marquette Railroad. The land was donated by Emerson Drug Co., with the instructions that it was to be used for a park. And so it was born.
The park's amenities include a sand volleyball court, as well as Currie Stadium, which is one of Northern Michigan's top amateur softball stadiums. The park also has an inline hockey rink in the summer, which converts to an ice rink in the winter.
The Pere Marquette Rail Trail runs through the park along the Tittabawassee River, which is popular for cyclists and runners. Directly across the park is Dahlia Hill.
Address: 1300 W Main Street, Midland, Michigan
10. Ride the Pere Marquette Rail Trail
Speaking of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, the paved path is certainly something to experience when visiting Midland, especially if you like the outdoors. The 30-mile trail is a paved, scenic trail that runs between Midland and Clare.
In Midland, the rail trail also links up to the 3.5-mile Chippewa trail, which runs from the Chippewa Nature Center to the Tridge.
The rail trail follows the route of the old Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad, which once moved timber to the sawmills in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is considered to be a leading example of a rail to trail course in the United States.
11. Wander Downtown Midland
Midland is all about nature, architecture, design, and history. But you can really feel the community spirit when you stroll the streets of its historic downtown. Constantly buzzing with new restaurants, events, and shops, Downtown Midland is certainly the place to visit when you want to experience the local culture.
East Main Street is the main thoroughfare downtown. This is the best avenue for window shopping, people watching, or sitting in one of the gathering areas that are complete with outdoor fire pits. It's truly a social scene when you hit the streets in downtown Midland.
12. Pause in Stratford Woods City Park
Along the eastern edge of Midland sits the leafy and lovely Stratford Woods Park. The city green space is yet another opportunity for visitors and residents of Midland to get outside and experience the beautiful central Michigan environment.
One of the highlights of the park is Kiwassee Lake, which is a Manama lake with a sandy beach for swimming in the warmer months. The park also has volleyball courts, as well as trails for walking or cycling.
Speaking of cycling, Stratford Woods Park is also home to the Great Lakes Bay BMX bike track.
Address: 3922 E Ashman Street, Midland, Michigan
Read More: Top-Rated Lakes in Michigan
Best Time to Visit Midland, MI - Historical Climate Averages
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