Embracing cold-weather fun is a surefire way to enjoy the winter season more in Michigan! And the #MIAwesomeList: Ultimate Michigan Winter Bucket List has tons of inspiration for winter destinations like Petoskey.
While the Petoskey area in Northern Michigan is a beautiful place to explore all year round, visiting Petoskey in the winter offers plenty of unique adventures – from downhill skiing and winter hiking to dining outdoors in an igloo and more!
To experience some of the best winter activities in Michigan, my husband and I enjoyed an adventure-filled weekend getaway to the Petoskey area. Here’s what we squeezed in on our trip…
Petoskey Area Winter Weekend Highlights
What We Did
- Walked the Enchanted Trail at The Highlands at Harbor Springs
- Hit the ski slopes at Nub’s Nob
- Went wine tasting at Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery
- Explored & shopped in downtown Petoskey
- Hiked Old Baldy Trail at Petoskey State Park
Where We Stayed
- The Terrace Inn
Where We Ate
- 1911 Restaurant in the Terrace Inn
- Petoskey Pretzel Co.
- Stigg’s Brewery
What Souvenirs We Bought
- Handmade Michigan mug from Sturgeon River Pottery
- Wine from Petoskey Farms
- Cherry Republic licorice from Grandpa Shorter’s
A Charming, Historical Stay at the Terrace Inn
To start our winter weekend getaway, my husband and I checked into the charming Terrace Inn on Friday evening. Brimming with history, the Terrace Inn has operated for over a hundred years providing cozy, local lodging. Each room sleeps a maximum of 2 people, which is perfect for a couples’ weekend.
While the Terrace Inn is known for its historical charm, it still includes modern conveniences. Each room has an updated bathroom, WiFi access, and cable TV. In the upstairs hallways by the guest rooms, there are also a couple of mini-fridges and microwaves for guests to use.
One of the best parts of staying at the Terrace Inn is the complimentary hot breakfast served in the beautiful 1911 Restaurant on the main floor of the inn. More details on that delicious breakfast in a bit!
5 Interesting Facts About the Terrace Inn
- The Terrace Inn is nestled within the Bay View Association neighborhood, an historic, summer community.
- It was founded in 1911, which inspired the name of the 1911 Restaurant.
- During World War I, the inn was temporarily closed to serve as a hospital for soldiers.
- Throughout the inn are antique photographs and paintings and vintage items like a record player, camera, and piano.
- The beautiful terrace on the back of the inn is open for dining during the warmer months.
Walking the Enchanted Trail at The Highlands
If you love holiday lights, you can enjoy them all winter long at The Highlands at Harbor Springs! The Enchanted Trail has the perfect combination of holiday lights along a wooded path and a cozy yurt and outdoor campfires to warm up halfway through your hike.
Since we arrived later in the evening on Friday, walking the Enchanted Trail was the perfect night activity to start our weekend. Tickets are required and are limited to provide space between guests. Order ahead of time online to reserve your tickets before they sell out and save money by booking in advance.
We had a cold, clear night for our 7:40 pm ticket time. A crescent moon hung in the sky and the temperature was a frigid 5 degrees out (according to the temperature gauge in our vehicle) as we arrived to check-in.
Snowshoes are available to rent when you check in at the Cross Country Center, which doubles as the Golf Center in the summer. We decided to hike the two mile trail – one mile out to the yurt and one mile back.
The path was well groomed with mostly flat terrain, making it an easy hike for all skill levels. In a couple of places, the path does cross over the road, which is marked by pedestrian signs. At this time of night, traffic was very light.
Pro Tip: If you are hiking the Enchanted Trail with kids, bring a sled! We saw a couple of genius parents with happy kids in tow along the trail.
After wandering through the magically lit forest, you are in for a special treat. The pinnacle of the Enchanted Trail is a cozy yurt area complete with hot chocolate and campfires.
Inside the yurt you’ll find comfy leather chairs, a fireplace, and free hot chocolate and s’more kits. Adult beverages are also available to purchase.
Behind the yurt are outdoor campfires surrounded by festive lights. Sipping hot chocolate by the fire was the perfect way to warm up before making the journey back through the lighted trail.
All in all, we spent an hour and a half total on the trail, including walking and relaxing at the yurt. Once we got back to our vehicle after 9 pm, the temperature had dropped to -1 degree. Time to cozy up at the Terrace Inn!
Breakfast at the Terrace Inn’s 1911 Restaurant
Back to that delicious breakfast I promised to tell you about at the Terrace Inn…
We started our Saturday morning with a scrumptious hot breakfast in the elegant dining room of the 1911 Restaurant on the main floor of the inn. Softly lit with chandeliers and sconces, the dining room is 2,000 square feet, leaving plenty of room for inn guests to spread out during breakfast.
Breakfast included orange juice, fresh fruit, cheesy eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, and chocolate brioche French toast with a cherry syrup. Everything was freshly made and delicious. A wonderful way to start a day of exploring the Petoskey area!
Hiking Old Baldy Trail at Petoskey State Park
Anytime we travel, checking out the local Michigan State Park is always on our agenda and Petoskey State Park is one of our favorites.
In the winter, the drive down to the beach is closed off, but the trailheads are open for winter hiking and cross country skiing.
For a short stair climb to a bird’s eye view of Little Traverse Bay, we started our Saturday adventures hiking Old Baldy Trail. This beautiful 0.44 mile trail climbs up staircases and winds through pine forests. We took our time hiking as it is slippery going up and down snowy trails. Depending on your skill level, ice cleats or hiking poles could come in handy too.
All those stairs are definitely worth it for the view from the top!
Wine Tasting at Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery
Perched on a hilltop over their vineyards, Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery is a lovely spot for some wine tasting. And winter wine tasting makes a great option for warming up after some outdoor adventures.
If you prefer a quieter wine tasting experience, go earlier in the day. We arrived right when the winery opened at 11 am on Saturday and had plenty of space to ourselves. Our friendly server shared that the winery tends to be the busiest later in the afternoon and evening.
At Petoskey Farms, the wine flights are displayed in an adorable 3 or 5 tiered wine tree. We ordered a 3 tiered wine tree of Love Sangria, Sweet Riesling, and Marquette Piquette.
Pro Tip: Order the Asiago cheese dip and crackers along with your wine tree. The cheese dip itself was almost as good as the wine.
On to the wine tasting! Personally, I prefer sweeter wines. The Sweet Riesling is one of the smoothest, sweetest wines I’ve ever tasted. And the Love Sangria is a fruity delight. In contrast, the Marquette Piquette, a red wine seltzer made from the cold-weather resistant Marquette grape, had a crisp, refreshing finish.
After our tasting, we bought bottles of Love Sangria and Sweet Riesling. Perfect thank you gifts for Grandma (who likes the sweet wines too) for watching our kids while we enjoyed our Petoskey weekend!
Exploring & Shopping in Downtown Petoskey
Petoskey has a lovely downtown shopping district right by the waterfront. As with most small towns, especially during the winter off-season, many businesses have limited weekday hours and may be closed on Sundays. If you want to check out the local shops, Saturday afternoon is one of the best times to do so.
If you are looking to do some souvenir shopping, Grandpa Shorter’s is a great local spot in the heart of downtown Petoskey to find unique gifts. The store is full of gift options from polished Petoskey stones, toys, locally made food gifts, and Michigan decor.
Picking up some tasty Cherry Republic licorice from Grandpa Shorter’s made an excellent gift to bring home for our kids!
Petoskey Pretzel Co.
Another local downtown gem, Petoskey Pretzel Co. features freshly made artisan soft pretzels. After a large buffet breakfast and wine tasting, Petoskey Pretzels were the perfect snack to tide us over until our igloo dinner reservations.
We ordered cinnamon sugar and Parmesan garlic pretzels. The cinnamon sugar variety was full of sweet and salty goodness. Made fresh to order, the Parmesan garlic was like a warm cheesy breadstick pretzel. Savory and delicious!
Sturgeon River Pottery
Just a short drive from the main downtown area is Sturgeon River Pottery, a mecca full of hand-crafted items for the home and garden. Inside are generous displays of unique pottery dishes, wooden cutting boards, Petoskey stone jewelry, bird feeders, and more.
All the pottery items are made by local artists in the on-site studio. While we were there, we were even able to catch a glimpse of an artist at work on the pottery wheel in the studio upstairs.
Out of so many beautiful, handmade items, I settled on purchasing a cheery blue Michigan mug. A lovely treasure for anyone who is smitten with the mitten state.
After doing some shopping, we explored the downtown park area. Situated on Little Traverse Bay, Bayfront Park has a wonderful view of the Petoskey Pierhead Light. It’s a great spot to sit in your vehicle and watch stormy waves on a windy day.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, go exploring and walk to the waterfall area. The frozen water looks beautiful in the winter!
Dining Outdoors in a Stiggloo
Dining outdoors in an igloo is another unique winter experience you have to try when visiting the Petoskey area. Stigg’s Brewery in nearby Boyne City has affectionately nicknamed “Stiggloos” for enjoying your meal outside.
Book your igloo online ahead of time to ensure you’ll have one available at your preferred time. There is a separate fee for reserving the igloo, which accommodates up to 6 people for 1 hour and 50 minutes.
This was my first time eating in an igloo and it was such a fun experience to eat outdoors in the winter. With strings of light overhead, our snow-dusted dome was a festive setting to enjoy our beer flights and dinner.
For drinks, we ordered a flight of Screaming Tree, Irish I Was Irish, Lemon Lime Seltzer, and Weak Sahti. My husband’s top choice was Irish I Was Irish, a smooth red ale and my favorite was the Lemon Lime Seltzer, a light and fizzy option with a hint of citrus.
For dinner, our helpful server recommended the newly added Tomahawk Pork Chop as the best item on the menu, which my husband ordered. I chose the roasted vegetable sandwich with fries. Both meals were divinely tasty.
Pro Tip: Dress warmly! While there is a small space heater in the igloo, I wore my coat and hat to stay comfortable throughout dinner.
Downhill Skiing at Nub’s Nob
After another tasty breakfast at the Terrace Inn’s 1911 Restaurant on Sunday, we were ready for a morning of skiing.
And I’ll let you in on Michigan’s best-kept ski resort secret… If you are looking for a family-friendly ski destination with well-groomed runs for all skill levels, check out Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs. It’s the perfect place for high-quality skiing without all the extra bells and whistles.
Pro Tip: Check Nub’s Nob’s ski conditions before you go, to know which areas will be open that day.
If you are renting skis or snowboards, fill out your request form beforehand to save time picking up your rentals. The ski rental area opens early at 8:30 am, if you want to get settled before the slopes open at 9 am.
Nub’s Nob is known for its great service. The staff who helped us with our rentals and lift tickets were so incredibly friendly and helpful.
Nub’s Nob is an awesome ski resort for beginners. In fact, the beginner area with a covered magic carpet and the short purple ski lift is free to use for practice. Lift tickets are required to ski on the rest of the hill beyond the purple lift.
Personally, I learned to ski as an adult and am most comfortable on the easy green runs. We warmed up in the beginner section for a bit before checking out some of the other runs.
The north side of the hill by the beginner area was very windy that morning. Once we got to the south side more nestled with trees, it was much less windy and more comfortable skiing.
Out of all the ski runs, the Ramblewood trail on the orange lift was my favorite. It’s a long, easy trail that gently winds through the woods. The whole orange lift area has several excellent green run options for beginners.
For Advanced Skiers
If you like more of a challenge, there are lots of blue, black, and diamond trails at Nub’s Nob too. Pintail Peak on the south side of the hill is entirely made up of blue and black runs. Plus, there are even two terrain parks with rails, boxes, and step-up jumps to take your ski game to a whole new level.
Plenty of amazing trails for all skill levels!
If you are looking to embrace cold-weather fun, the Petoskey area is truly a magical place to visit in the winter.
A special thank you to the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau for partnering with Awesome Mitten to feature this amazing weekend getaway.