When you think of having winter fun in Michigan, you probably think of outdoor activities like skiing, ice skating, or snowshoeing. Those are all great activities for fun during the winter months, but there are plenty of indoor winter things to do in Michigan too.
If you’re looking to have some fun this winter while staying out of the chilly weather, the possibilities are endless. Whether you drive to a local museum or do an activity in your own neck of the woods, there’s indoor fun aplenty in Michigan during the winter.
Catch a Movie at a Historic Theater
No matter what time of year it is, it’s always fun to go to the movies for date night. If you’re looking for something fun to do this winter, skip the chain theaters and take in a movie at one of Michigan’s historic theaters. If you’re an elder, these theaters are almost like time machines, transporting you back to simpler times.
Metro Detroit Historic Theaters
If you’re around Metro Detroit, you can check out the Birmingham 8 Theatre on Old Woodward Ave. It still looks a lot like it did when it opened in 1927.
The Redford Theatre in Detroit features an interior meant to resemble a medieval Japanese motif. It continues to operate as a single-screen theater, the same as when it opened in 1928.
The Farmington Civic Theatre in downtown Farmington is a classic example of an old movie theater. It invites patrons inside with neon signs and bright lights. The building is historic, but the movie-watching experience is updated so that you can watch a current movie you’ve been anxious to see.
A Historic Theater in the Upper Peninsula
If you’re in the Upper Peninsula, consider a visit to the historic The Braumart in Iron Mountain. It opened in 1925 and offers a little bit of everything — from classic movie screenings to live theater and music.
Movie Marathon at Home
Few pleasures are greater than snuggling up with a blanket inside your warm house, some snacks, and the guaranteed satisfaction that comes with no commercials or scheduling conflicts. Plus, uninterrupted, hours-long blocks of your favorite movies and TV shows.
Visit Local Museums for Indoor Winter Things to Do in Michigan
If you’re trying to stay out of the cold weather, there’s no better way to spend a winter day than at a Michigan museum. It’s the perfect place for family fun activities, offering bits of knowledge, interactivity, and family bonding.
Local Museums in the Upper Peninsula
Start in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where you can check out the Michigan Iron Industry Museum. It teaches you all about Michigan’s mining history through exhibits, including interactive ones.
If conditions aren’t right to hit the slopes outside, you can head to Ishpeming. The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame has skiing artifacts and collections.
Northern Michigan Local Museums
Below the Mackinac Bridge, take a drive along the Sunrise Side to Alpena, where you can visit the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan. You’ll find dozens of artifacts along with animal exhibits and spaces dedicated to local art.
You can also drive to the Lake Michigan side to Traverse City’s Dennos Museum Center. It hosts live music and film events throughout the year.
A Local Museum in Grand Rapids
In West Michigan, you can’t go wrong visiting Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. It has continuously been named one of Michigan’s “Must See” museums and features more than 150 sculptures.
Lighthouse Museums Throughout Michigan
While not all lighthouse museums are open in winter, you can see a great deal of Michigan’s maritime history by driving by them. If nothing else, they make for great photo backdrops, especially when they’re covered in snow and ice.
Pass the Time in Relaxing & Creative Ways at Home
Copious amounts of leisure time as a result of 6-foot drifts and gale-force winds? Snow days are the best excuse to curl up with a good book, brush up on current events, or tap into your creative side.
Plus, you won’t feel guilty about not moving for several hours at a time — knowledge is power, people! These are the days made for finishing projects and tying up loose ends: surprise procrastination solutions.
Various Creative Projects
If you want to keep yourself occupied for hours, do a craft or creative project. Draw, paint, or sculpt; listen to, write, or play music; knit, sew, or embroider — the only true limitation you possess is the boundary of your imagination!
Another option is rearranging your furniture. At first, this doesn’t sound very enticing. However, a lot can be said for the fresh feeling and inspiring atmosphere of a newly arranged living room or bedroom.
Aren’t sure how to rearrange your furniture? Try Feng Shui — the Chinese art of movement — because it’s never a bad time to increase the positive energy.
Fun Games of all Kinds
Whether of the board, card, or word variety, games are some of the best remedies for less than agreeable weather or being stuck inside. There’s a reason they’ve continued to be such ubiquitous household companions despite the rise of the digital age.
Victory is even sweeter when wagers are made. For instance, whoever loses a round of Uno has to run barefoot down the frozen tundra that was once your street!
Yoga & Stretching
For relief of stiff legs and back after vast amounts of time spent lounging, yoga is one of the simplest, most beneficial, and calming exercises to do. Yoga poses reduce stress, increase flexibility, and improve endurance.
Hot yoga is a great option if you’re in dire need of a break from the cold and don’t mind sweating an obscene amount.
Experimenting With New & Old Recipes
When you’re trapped at home with other survivors of inclement weather, there’s no better way to pass the time than by subjecting them — I mean, treating them — to your homemade fudge or famous surprise stew!
Try out new recipes, or experiment with new ingredients in an old favorite. Use your loved ones as taste testers — they don’t really have a choice anyway.
Also, gathering a group of friends around a steaming pot of tea or a Mitten-based microbrew is a tried-and-true way to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Stay warm sharing stories with a bottle of Michigan wine or locally roasted espresso.
Good Reading at the Library
If you aren’t snowed in and want a change of scenery, stroll over to your local library and get lost among the shelves. Venture to a section you’ve never perused, set up shop at an empty desk overlooking a snowy landscape and finish some homework, or simply observe and meditate.
Eat Dinner in an Igloo
Believe it or not, igloo dining has become an increasingly popular dining option over the last few years. It promoted social distancing during the pandemic and has become the perfect intimate dining experience.
If you want this experience, plan to make a reservation in advance. Also, be aware that some places have a minimum spending requirement to dine in an igloo.
Restaurants With Igloo Dining
In Dearborn, you can visit Mint 29 for a festive igloo dining scene. You could go to Camp Ticonderoga in Troy to nosh on black Angus steaks and pulled pork sandwiches.
If you’re looking for some different menu items, check out Moose Preserve. It serves dishes such as buffalo burgers, whiskey-glazed BBQ ribs, and fresh fish.
Enjoy a Hot Cup of Coffee at a Local Coffee Shop
If you can gather the courage to brave the elements and a short commute to a local coffee shop or café, you will be welcomed with one of the most singularly rewarding drinkable pleasures on this earthly plane: coffee.
Nothing warms the body on a cold winter day more than a fresh cup of joe. Even if you’re beholden to chains like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, there are many local Michigan coffee shops worth checking out.
While there, you can socialize with others, surf the net, or catch some live music. Of course, that’s not why you trekked through 10 inches of snow and horizontal freezing rain — it’s for the fix!
Mid-Michigan Coffee Shops
At Foster Coffee Company in Owosso, you’ll find favorites like mochas and pumpkin drinks. All of the coffee is roasted in-house, and every drink is made with fresh ingredients.
At Blue Owl Coffee Co in Lansing’s REO Town neighborhood, you’ll delight in craft nonalcoholic coffee cocktails that taste like their alcoholic counterparts. If you really feel daring, you can order one of the signature Nitro brew flights.
Coffee Shops in West Michigan
At Muskegon’s Drip Drop Coffee Bar, you can sip on craft coffee offerings. You’ll be able to taste the care that the employees put into your drink.
If you’re on the go, check out Water Street Coffee Joint in Kalamazoo and Portage, which offers cafe and drive-thru options. You can grab your favorite latte or espresso drink and continue with your day of exploring.
Take the Kids to an Indoor Waterpark
If you’re looking for the perfect family indoor winter things to do in Michigan, head to an indoor water park. It’s a great way to have fun. Plus, while it may be in the single digits outside, it’s nice and balmy in the water park!
Northern Michigan Water Parks
Avalanche Bay in Boyne Falls is a popular spot during the winter season. It has 88,000 square feet of indoor water fun, including water slides, a lazy river, hot tubs, and a climbing wall. The water park is close to the many ski resorts around Petoskey too.
Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City is also another must-stop destination in the north. It has plenty of bells and whistles, including five unique pools, a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket, and eight water slides.
Water Parks in Mid-Michigan Michigan
Consider a stop in Frankenmuth, a city that’s known for its Bavarian-style architecture. Here, you’ll find the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Zehnder’s Splash Village.
The Lodge has five indoor pools and three whirlpools. It has plenty of dining options, an arcade, and a mini-golf course as well.
Splash Village features huge dumping buckets, a lazy river, slides, an area for toddlers, and geysers. All of these features ensure that your family spends a fun day splashing away.
Walk Through a Botanical Garden
If you love nature, there’s no better place to go than a botanical garden. The work of master gardeners livens up the state and offers visitors a chance to see a wide range of beautiful foliage.
The Gardens in Grand Rapids
Again, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is one of the best indoor winter things to do in Michigan. The gardens are considered some of the best in Michigan and are some of the most celebrated.
With three indoor conservatories — which house tropical, arid, and carnivorous gardens — there’s something to see that will delight everyone. You’ll also find a Japanese garden and many impressive works of art.
University of Michigan Botanical Gardens
The Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor are some of the state’s most diverse. You can easily spend a day viewing tidy perennial gardens or exploring mature hardwood forests. It has a Gardens Trail that connects with a network of nature trails in Washtenaw County too.
Michigan State University Botanical Gardens
The W.J. Beal Botanical Garden at Michigan State University are impressive as well. It houses the nation’s oldest continuously-operating botanical garden. Visitors can take note of fruits and vegetables as well as medicinal plants, flowering plants, and rare and endangered plants.
Gardens in Mid-Michigan
If you’re talking about botanical gardens, no winter trip through Mid-Michigan is complete without a stop at Dow Gardens in Midland. This 110-acre spot is breathtaking to behold, whether you’re meandering along the 1,400 foot Canopy Walk, exploring the Whiting Forest, or marveling at the estate gardens.
Traverse City Garden & Park
In Northern Michigan, check out the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City. This 25-acre garden showcases the plant life in Northwest Michigan. You’ll see hardwood trees and many kinds of flowers as you explore on your own or on a guided tour.
Experience More Winter Things to Do in Michigan
Winters in Michigan can be bitterly cold at times, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun. You could learn in a fun way at the cultural center in Flint, find ways to beat the winter blues in Alpena, or hit the ice at an indoor rink.