#MIAwesomeList is the ultimate winter bucket list in Michigan where you can experience Michigan to its fullest – from unique twists on the classics to the hidden gems and haunts known only to the locals.
We believe ALL of Michigan is great and we want to help you experience it to the fullest this season. And, now is the perfect time to explore in your own big, backyard – Michigan all while supporting local businesses and attractions!
The bucket list includes over 25 ways to explore Michigan with links off to more detailed guides to help you plan your experience.
#MIAwesomeList is brought to you by the Awesome Mitten and our partners; Flint & Genessee Tourism, Alpena Tourism, Travel Marquette, and Visit Petoskey.
We can’t wait to see what memories you create this winter!
Click on an item below to zip right down to that adventure!
#MIAwesomeList wouldn’t be possible without the generous support from our dedicated partners. These organizations truly investing into all that is uniquely Michigan. Learn more about them below and give them your support!
Whether you want to do an adventurous or a classic winter activity, Fenton and Genesee County have you covered. One day you could be ice skating, and the next … you could be ice climbing! It’s one reason Fenton is such a fantastic winter bucket list destination.
Have you never been ice climbing? No matter your level of experience, Peabody Ice Climbing offers a safe environment where you can climb 45-foot and 72-foot ice towers. A certified instructor is available for anyone who needs instruction, and ice climbing gear is available for rent.
Also, Peabody has a cutting-edge altitude gym that can simulate environments of up to 19,000 feet. It features a range of workout equipment and programming for sleep training. On top of that, the property has a heated clubhouse with a 10-person sauna and a bunkhouse.
At The Barn, you can spend some time ice skating on the hockey rink. The open skate schedule is usually set for two hours on Friday through Sunday. The rest of those days are booked for local hockey league games and tournaments. Anyone who wants to can sign up.
However, The Barn is much more than a hockey rink with ice skating. It’s a bar and grill that serves gourmet dishes, local craft beer, and delicious cocktails in a laid-back atmosphere. During the winter, the outdoor patio features rentable curling lanes for leisure and league play.
If you’re a Michigan biking fan, the biking season have to end when snow starts to fall. All you need is a fat tire bike to ride Nordic trails, and we think that Alpena is a prime spot. Consider adding these thrilling Alpena Michigan fat tire biking trails to your winter list of activities.
The North Eastern State Trail is a rail trail that follows the former Detroit and Mackinac Railway from Alpena to Cheboygan for 71 miles. The portion between Alpena and Cathro is roughly 6.5 miles and gives you a solitary ride through farmland, fields, and woods.
The Chippewa Hills Pathway has 9 miles of trails that offer some of the most varied terrain for biking adventures. Some of them are demanding for experienced riders. With four possible loops, the paths wind through dense forest and over hilly landscape.
The Rockport State Recreation Area has about 8 miles of trails for fat tire biking. The challenging terrain leads you around an old limestone quarry, dedicated Natural Area, and a protected harbor. The 4,000-plus acres feature another 15 miles of trails if you want to do some hiking. Not all of the trails are marked well, so we recommend taking a map.
The Norway Ridge Pathway is a 7-mile trail that passes through sandy ridges and tall red pine trees. The scenery is just beautiful as you ride. The well-marked trails are designed in three loops and are maintained by volunteers.
The Upper Peninsula is a hot spot for outdoor recreation all year round. And when Marquette turns white in the winter, Nordic skiers from all over Michigan and the country can’t wait to plan their next adventure. Find out why the Noquemanon Trail Network and Blueberry Ridge Pathway are two of our winter bucket list destinations.
The Noquemanon Trail Network has more than 78 miles of Nordic ski trails, and a good chunk of those are located in the Marquette area. The Fit Strip within the city offers miles of snow paths — some for beginners and advanced skiers, as well as dog-friendly loops.
The North Trails include more than 30 miles of non-motorized single tracks that stretch west-northwest from Tourist Park to the Forestville Trailhead and Campground. Most of the trails are easy to intermediate in difficulty and feature flowy terrain with awesome views. When you get to Forestville, you’ll find an additional 31 miles of Nordic ski loop and point-to-point trails.
For more moderately difficult Nordic skiing, the Blueberry Ridge Pathway is a favorite in the UP. It’s named after the jack pine forest blueberry patches that litter the area. In the winter, it’s home to more than 13.5 miles of groomed ski trails and seven trail loops.
The Blueberry Ridge Pathway has two trailheads. Only classic cross-country Nordic skiing is allowed from the north trailhead, where two classic, groomed tracks run side by side. It’s the only trail like it in Marquette County, letting you ski alongside family and friends. Classic and skate skiing are permitted from the south trailhead, which has a short, lighted loop for night skiing and a warming shelter.
While Michigan gets an average of about 64 inches of snow every year, Petoskey gets a whopping 111 inches! Because of that, it’s no surprise that the area has several ski resorts and lodges that facilitate downhill skiing and other winter recreation. If you’re a skiing enthusiast, add at least one of these Petoskey ski resorts to your winter itinerary.
Offering accommodations and everything that you need for winter skiing, Boyne Highlands is a four-season resort just north of Petoskey in Harbor Springs. It features 55 ski runs that range from beginner to expert in difficulty, and the longest run is just over 1 mile. Although the resort is busy during the winter, the 10 ski lifts keep wait times to a minimum. There’s a winter zip line too.
For a more intimate skiing experience, check out Nub’s Nob. This ski area and resort is exceptional at grooming the runs and offers private ski lessons. From beginner to master skiers, there are trails for all skill levels. It even has Nordic trails, and ski equipment is available for rent as well.
Another large resort, Boyne Mountain is just south of Petoskey in Boyne Falls. The 60 runs offer plenty of thrilling opportunities for all skiers. Since the resort can be busy during winter, the 12 lifts really keep the lines moving. Ski equipment and lessons are available, and there’s a winter zip line in addition to an alpine village full of shops and dining options.
Photos: @whatkatefinds, Brandi O’Granning, Boyne Highlands
With a rich history, Flint, Michigan is a center for arts and culture. Sprinkled around downtown are several murals on the sides of city buildings, an effort of the Flint Public Art Project that is spread throughout the city. Downtown Flint is known for its attractions, restaurants, and boutique shops too. Here are some places on our winter travel plan this year.
A popular place for entertainment in downtown Flint, the Capitol Theatre features more than just movie screenings. It hosts classic and popular music concerts, comedy acts, contemporary and modern dance performances, spoken word acts, and theatrical plays.
The Flint Farmers’ Market is a favorite hangout with more than 50 indoor vendors during the winter. They sell a variety of locally grown and made products — such as art, baked goods, and unique gifts. Also, it has several community spaces, including a 70-foot Atrium and Market Tap rooftop bar.
Serving excellent food all day, Sauce Italian American Kitchen makes dishes with Italian roots and influences from kitchens across Michigan. With a 1920s-style dining room, Flint Crepe Company makes a wide assortment of sweet and savory crepes with dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. Flint-roasted coffee is featured on the menu too.
Shopping is nothing short of a pleasure in downtown Flint, and we favor a couple of stores for their specialties. The Comma Bookstore aims to empower the community through literacy and culture-centered events and programs. Reclaimed by Whaley sells new and pre-owned men’s and women’s clothes, small furniture, and home decor — the sales from which directly benefit the Whaley Children’s Center.
A lot of Michigan cities love to celebrate the snow and ice that cold weather brings with winter festivals. No matter in which corner of the state you live or visit, an event is being planned closed by. Here are a few of our favorite Michigan winter festivals.
In January, the family-friendly Snowman Festival sees artists inventing their ideal snowpeople. There’s no designated area for competitors, so you’ll see snowpeople standing around all over the city.
For 30 years, Zehnder’s has been hosting the Zehnder’s Snowfest in January. The event is one of the most iconic ice and snow sculpting competitions in the nation. The sculptures are huge and feature intricate details. Family entertainment, a petting zoo, children’s activities, and a fireworks display are included.
Tip-Up Town USA is the longest running winter festival in Michigan. Held in late January, it features a polar bear dip, live entertainment, races, and winter games. There are even ice fishing and Tip-Up Town queen contests.
Toward the end of January, Grand Haven Winterfest will feature a range of outdoor events with fun for the whole family. You can participate in or spectate the world-famous cardboard sled race, snow volleyball, ski and snowboard competition, family dog pull, glowbowl, or sleepwalker run. There’s a bonfire bash too.
Just outside of Detroit, the Plymouth Ice Festival is a world-class event that involves exploring more than 65 ice carvings in downtown Plymouth. Held in mid-February, the event includes interactive activities as well.
Winter Weekend is a mid-February celebration of the season with more than 30 ice sculptures. It’s a fun atmosphere for grabbing dinner or a drink in the social district. Also, many of the shops offer discounts.
The mid-February Downtown Winter Ice Festival is an exciting event where you get to watch as more than 50 award-winning sculptures are made using blowtorches, chainsaws, and chisels. The event usually includes a penguin parade too.
Michigan Technological University in Houghton has hosted the Winter Carnival since 1922. This annual winter event has become one of the biggest in the country. Numerous elaborate snow statues stand around the campus and community, and attendees enjoy broomball, a queen coronation, sleigh rides, and more.
Michigan is full of unique destinations and the Eben Ice Caves, within the Rock River Canyon Wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, is one of them. The ice formations that develop over the caves are amazing to see, that’s why we’ve included them on our winter Michigan bucket list.
The Eben Ice Caves are the result of water that seeps through the sandstone of the Rock River and Silver Creek canyons. The water freezes as it flows over the cliff edges, creating remarkable stalactites and ice curtains over the bedrock undercuts. Standing up to 50 feet high, the ice has a yellow hue against the nearby cedar trees and sandstone.
The caves are in close proximity to Eben Junction, which lies between Marquette and Munising via M-94. Although GPS and internet service are spotty, it’s easy to find the trailhead that leads to the caves with directions written down beforehand.
From the giant trailhead sign, it’s a moderate 1.4-mile, 25-minute hike that starts out flat and eventually involves ups and downs through the forest. At one point, the trail splits into two directions — the right split leads to the base of the caves, while the left split leads to the top.
You can easily spend half an hour looking around the Eben Ice Caves. It’s possible to take pictures from in front of and behind the icy stalactites. As long as you visit at the height of the freeze — January and February — you could climb the ice curtains and follow the top trail back to the trailhead.
Photos: @thomaschasephoto, Jacqueline S
In addition to hockey and ice skating, curling is a fun sport that can be played on any ice rink — indoor or outdoor. If you’re interested in learning more about this winter activity, put Kalamazoo on your Michigan winter bucket list.
Since 2008, the Kalamazoo Curling Club has been providing a place for locals and visitors to participate in this Olympic sport. It was established by a group of people who simply like curling and wanted a place to do it with more people. The five-sheet club is located in “The ZOO” section of the Wings Event Center and hosted the 2010, 2017, and 2019 U.S. Curling National Championships.
The Kalamazoo Curling Club offers experiences for all skill levels, including rookies. Instructional sessions are available for various ages. Players in their 20s to 50s most commonly join. However, players as young as 12 can join if they can push a 42-pound piece of granite 150 feet down the ice. While planning your Kalamazoo winter getaway, register for one of the classes.
If you’re a Kalamazoo local or live within comfortable driving distance, you’re welcome to become a club member and join one of the leagues. The various leagues are available for beginner to experienced players. The club member leagues have even made their mark in the U.S. Curling National Championships, winning four medals in the first two years of participation.
Do you love saunas during the winter? We find it difficult to survive the cold winters without them, which is why The Schvitz Detroit is one of our top places to visit. It has an authentic banya, which is a Russian steam bath that’s heated with a wood stove.
Established in 1930, The Schvitz was the original urban health club in Detroit and is the only historic bathhouse still remaining. As such, it’s more than a bathhouse: It’s a cultural institution and storied landmark that helps you unwind in an ancient environment. Over the years, it has continued to offer old-world holistic healing and heat therapies.
On Sundays, The Schvitz is open to men, women, and both during different time slots. Each day from Monday through Friday, the bathhouse restricts entry to certain groups. You don’t need a reservation to visit during public hours, and only private bookings are allowed on Saturdays.
Admission into the steam bath is $40 and includes access to the saunas and pool, towels, and a locker. You can bring a robe, sandals, and lock for your locker. If you forget, you can rent and purchase these items. The Schvitz doesn’t take memberships and doesn’t allow outside food, but delicious food is part of the restorative experience.
Every year, the Law Enforcement Torch Run raises awareness and more than $1.2 million for Special Olympics Michigan athletes through a series of Polar Plunge events across the state. It’s the largest fundraiser for the organization.
Anyone can get involved to support nearly 23,000 kids and adults with intellectual disabilities who want to compete in year-round sports. The funds go toward supporting anti-bullying and health/wellness programs too.
You can start raising money for the cause as soon as you register for an event. It’s free when you plan to take the plunge into the icy water on event day. On the other hand, you always have the option to participate in the fundraiser from home or another location. Just choose to be a virtual plunger. If you’re “too chicken” to jump into freezing water, you can register for $20 and receive a special “Too Chicken to Plunge” shirt.
Here’s a few of the Michigan Polar Plunge locations and event dates:
In addition to the plunge, many of the events include after parties with warm food, beverages, and music. Some of them may feature creative costume contests as well.
Do you want to raise money for Special Olympics Michigan at any time? Register for the Virtual Frozen 5K. You can walk, run, ski, or sled for the cause. Standard registration is $35 and includes a logo medal and long-sleeved shirt. Like the Polar Plunge, other incentives are available based on how much you raise.
If you love sledding but want more speed, you have to try lugeing. This type of tobogganing involves racing down an icy track on a small sled at up to 35 mph. Professional lugers — like those you see in the Olympics — can reach speeds of up to 90 mph.
You can only go lugeing on specifically made tracks. There are only four luge tracks in the United States, and Michigan is fortunate to have two of them! Pencil these spots into your winter getaway plans this year.
With the only kunstbahn track (or artificial track) that’s made from natural ice, the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park offers 850 feet of exhilaration. Frank Masley, a three-time Olympian, had first-timers in mind when he designed the track. It has two starting points and six curves, and you can reach up to 30 mph. You receive training beforehand, and equipment is provided. On weekends, the park hosts a 2.5-hour Learn to Luge session with free sliding time.
Like at the Muskegon luge, all ages are welcome to fly down Lucy Hill at the Upper Peninsula Luge Club in Negaunee (near Ishpeming). Longer than 2,650 feet, it’s the only full-length naturbahn (or natural track) in the country. Because of that, it’s where many U.S. Olympians train before competitions. Only the bottom portion of the track is open for public lugeing, and the club shares all of the equipment needed. Just bundle up for the ride!
Photos: Josh Super, @usnaturaltrackluge
Just because winter brings cold weather and snow doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy wine at a Michigan vineyard. With its location along the 45th parallel, the Greater Traverse City area has dozens of wineries and vineyards. For our winter bucket list, we favor the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail because you can visit them all in a single day, or spread out your visits. Three of the 10 properties really stand out to us during winter.
Only minutes from downtown Traverse City, Mari Vineyards makes red and white wines from experimental Italian grapes and traditional varieties. You can reserve a classic tasting with five wine samples. Other options include wine by the glass, flights, and food; a tasting on the mezzanine with a view of the production facility; and a founders room tasting. You can tour the building as well.
The 111-acre estate at Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery is like a step back in time and offers an old-world tasting experience with five samples. The property features 1.5 miles of trail for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The winery stokes the fire pits and prepares spiked hot cider to warm you up after the trail.
Since 1986, when the grapes started growing, Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn has been producing some of the best wines in the area. You can get caddy flights (three wine samples) and wine by the glass. Wine dinners are an experience that includes perfectly paired wines and foods. While you’re here, walk the 0.75-mile Founder’s Trail around the property.
Other wineries and vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Tour include:
While dashing through the snow can be fun in a horse-drawn sleigh, it doesn’t compare to snowmobiling. Hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails cut through most of Michigan. Find out why these Michigan snowmobile trails are our favorites.
Every winter, Alger County gets almost 233 inches of snow, making the more than 300-mile snowmobile trail system ideal for enthusiasts. The county grooms 10 trails that offer a wealth of activities and sights, including forests, lakes, streams, and waterfalls. From the Munising system, you can reach Grand Marais, Manistique, and Marquette.
In Sault Ste Marie are more than 100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that take you to St. Ignace and Mackinac Bridge in the south and to Paradise and Tahquamenon Falls State Park to the west. Be sure to slide down the stairs, since they are unshoveled, to get a good view of the Tahquamenon Falls during the winter. You might even be able to watch ice climbers on the frozen falls. There are also many great dive bars to stop at along these trails to fill up on food and gas. The city also hosts The Soo International-500, an iconic snowmobile race.
On the Huron side of the Huron-Manistee National Forests are about 267 miles of snowmobile trails. Part of that is a 45-mile trail in Alcona County that has one Forest Service-operated trailhead. You can ride the trail to the connected snowmobile trails in Iosco and Oscoda Counties.
If you’re visiting Gaylord during the winter, you can ride your snowmobile on more than 500 miles of groomed trails to Mackinaw City. The best part is that the trails are accessible for all skill levels. For instance, Trail 4 is ideal for a gentle glide across the snow, while Trail 7 is infamous among thrill-seekers. You could even start your snowmobiling journey from Mackinaw City.
The trail within Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park might be the most used in Mid-Michigan. On this 92-mile linear trail, you can travel between Comstock Park and Cadillac. There are three trailheads — to Cadillac, to Big Rapids, and to Rogue River Park in Belmont. The trail is open to snowmobiling from December through March.
Between Ludington and Muskegon is William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail State Park, a 22-mile trail that passes through forested and hilly landscapes. From the Hart trailhead off US-31, you’ll pass New Era, the Clear Spring Nature Preserve, and Christmas tree farms on the way to the White Lake campground in Montague.
For indoor amusement and learning opportunities in one place, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Air Zoo. It actually has two facilities in Portage/Kalamazoo — the Flight Innovation Center and Flight Discovery Center — and you can easily travel between them to see and do everything. The Kalamazoo Air Zoo is home to more than 100 air and space artifacts, about a dozen exhibits, aerospace-related shows, and indoor amusement rides.
The Missions Theatre is a Quonset hut (lightweight prefabricated metal structure) that features several experiences per day. While some of the films are suitable for all ages, others may not be suitable for young children. You can see the show details and schedule here.
All aerospace museums have exhibits, but the Air Zoo has amusement park rides in its Flight Innovation Center. Try your hand at steering a circus biplane, or just enjoy the ride on the Century of Flight Ferris Wheel and Montgolfier Balloon Race. Daredevils will like the Paratrooper Jump, which gives you the sensation of weightlessness by dropping at various intervals from two stories high.
Sponsored by DeNooyer Chevrolet and other West Michigan Chevy dealers, Family Fun Days at the Air Zoo feature special family-focused programs. In December, the museum will host themed crafts and games, interactive demonstrations, and special guest visitors. The Countdown to Noon includes festivities for families who don’t plan to stay up until midnight to celebrate the new year.
Photos: Rebecca Calkins
There’s nothing like grabbing a hot cup of coffee (or other hot beverage) to start a winter day or warm up after playing in the snow. Michigan has an abundance of coffee shops, but below are several of our favorite Michigan coffee shops.
Our pick for the UP is Moose Jackson Cafe in Iron Mountain. This downtown cafe has more than 15 custom coffee blends and a full espresso bar. You can pair a selection of European-style bakery items with your drink, or order homemade soup, a sandwich, or a fresh salad.
Located in Atlanta (between Gaylord and Alpena), North Woods Coffee Guys serves made-to-order specialty coffees and traditional brewed coffee in the North Woods Gallery. Dairy-free options are available, and fresh baked goods are provided by a local bakery, The Baklava Shop.
A combo coffee shop and bar, Brew is a Traverse City hangout spot that serves a wide variety of beverages — organic espresso and coffee, tea, microbrews, wine, and cocktails. You can order pastries and sandwiches with your drinks. Sunday morning is one of the best times to go because the shop serves French toast with mimosas.
In West Michigan, Drip Drop Drink is a popular spot for an award-winning craft coffee experience. The Muskegon shop uses a drip-style, pour-over process to make its coffees. Compared to other shops, it might take longer to prepare your cup, but the wait is worth it.
One of the hottest coffee destinations in Michigan, Foster Coffee Company has three locations — Owosso, Flint, and East Lansing. No matter what, you can always expect superior flavor from its in-house roasted beans and pour-over process.
If you want quality coffee, consider stopping at RoosRoast Coffee in Ann Arbor. The throwback, quirky-style cafe is located downtown, and its signature roast is Lobster Butter Love. You can grab a bite from the small breakfast menu too.
Did you know that winter is an exciting time for stargazers? Being so far north, Michiganders have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. Clear nights during winter offer the best viewing experience, and the farther north you go, the better your experience will be.
Plus, you’ll have the chance to see the Quadrantid meteor shower between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12. The peak period for meteors — 40 to 120 per hour — will be in the wee hours of Jan. 3. Let’s check out some of the best places to see these phenomena.
Located in Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park is the northernmost spot where you can stargaze in Michigan. It’s also the most remote national park in the country, so it has the darkest skies for viewing the Aurora Borealis and meteor showers.
Near the infamous SS Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck, Whitefish Point in Paradise offers a clearly defined view of the Milky Way.
Near the northern tip of the LP, Wilderness State Park in Carp Lake is a designated dark sky preserve. Also, it has unique camping opportunities and more than 20 miles of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Near the tip of the Michigan Thumb, Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin features a modern campground and 10 overnight lodging options. This designated dark sky preserve is home to a viewing platform at Parking Lot D, and it has cross-country skiing trails.
Southwest of Detroit in Clayton, the Lake Hudson Recreation Area was the first designated dark sky preserve in the U.S. and has awesome viewpoints of the stars. Consider staying at the rustic campground for a night or two.
In Vandalia (the southwest corner of the LP) is the 820-acre Dr. Lawless International Dark Sky Park. The nature park earned the designation in 2019 and remains open through the winter for cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and stargazing.
Snowshoes have been around for thousands of years and used by numerous cultures as a tool for traversing snowy terrain. Now, snowshoeing is an enjoyable winter activity for people who love to be in nature. If that describes you, learn about some of the best Michigan destinations for snowshoeing.
Across the contiguous U.S., Marquette gets the third most snow because of the lake effect from Lake Superior. Combined with a system of trails that stretch for miles, the city is a prime destination in the UP for snowshoeing. Every part of the Noquemanon Trail Network in Marquette offers a fantastic experience.
In Alpena, you’ll find miles of trails for snowshoeing. One of our top picks is the 17-acre Island Park. You have to cross a concrete bridge to reach this hidden gem, which is located within the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary. As a result, it’s a peaceful and relaxing place for a winter walk.
The Little Traverse Conservancy works hard to preserve land in Northern Michigan, including land in Petoskey. With 6 miles of trails, the Tanton Family Working Forest Reserve is a wonderful place for snowshoeing as a couple, family, or group of friends. North of Petoskey, Boyne Highlands Resort has a magical, 1-mile Enchanted Trail.
In the middle of Northern Michigan, Hanson Hills Recreation is an affordable place for family winter activities of all kinds — downhill and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Snowshoeing is allowed across the whole property except the ski trails, and snowshoe rentals are $15 a day.
Genesee County is full of places to go snowshoeing. In Burton, you can walk the 7 miles of snowy trails in the For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum. The 2-mile Bluegill Bike Trail and 8-mile Flint River Bike Path at Bluebell Beach are incredible snowshoeing options in Flint.
In West Michigan, the Fort Custer Recreation Area in Augusta is a more than 3,000-acre park with more than 40 miles of trails. We recommend snowshoeing on the 5-mile Yellow Trail, 7-mile Green Trail, or 8.6-mile Red Trail. That’s a total of 20.6 miles!
Photos: @thechelseagrin, Brandi O’Granning
Did you know that sledding is an ancient form of transportation and has been a recreational activity for centuries? These activities have become classic ways to have fun with family and friends in the snow. Here are some great places for snow tubing and sledding around the state.
Formerly known as the Gladstone Sports Park, the John & Melissa Besse Sports Park in Gladstone is one of the best spots in the UP for tubing. It’s home to the Gladstone City Ski Hill where tubing is available on the weekends during certain times of day. Outside of those times, the hill is open to skiing and snowboarding.
Traverse City has the biggest no-lane sledding and tubing hill in Michigan — Timberlee Hills. It has a simple tow system, and anyone can snow tube or sled (no age or height restrictions). The snow tubing season usually starts the day after Christmas and continues through early March. Tubing equipment is available, and the lodge serves hot food and drinks.
Located in Harrison, Snow Snake Ski & Golf is kind of a hidden gem. Snow tubing is available on a first-come, first-served basis, as are the tubes. Since it’s a popular attraction here, you want to check in as soon as you arrive. There’s an $18 fee for one hour of tubing.
Snow tubing at Hawk Island Park near downtown Lansing is definitely an invigorating experience. The park grooms designated 16-foot-wide lanes that drop you 50-60 feet over a total distance of 500-600 feet. A carpet lift takes you back to the top for another ride down. Please note that the park has a vehicle entrance fee in addition to tubing fees.
Giving you a place to make memories in Kalamazoo, Echo Valley is a top place for downhill fun in Michigan. Over the years, it has expanded the tubing hill, making it steeper and longer. It has increased its supply of tubes as well. While you’re here, challenge yourself to speed down the ¼-mile-long toboggan run at up to 60 mph.
Photos: @d_1c3, @jeneesbreakwaterco
For the 15th year, the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau and Labatt Brewing Company are sponsoring the Labatt Blue UP Pond Hockey Championship in St. Ignace. It’s the largest pond hockey tournament in Michigan and one of the biggest in North America. Additionally, it’s one of only a few events where a Great Lake serves as a pond.
About 200 teams have participated, some of them coming from as far away as Prague. Like the years before, this Michigan Amateur Hockey Association-sanctioned event will be held on Moran Bay on Lake Huron from Feb. 17-20, 2022. The location overlooks downtown and Mackinac Island, so it’s a fun event to watch.
Even non-hockey fans enjoy the entertaining Best Uniforms Contests and meet-n-greet.
If you have a team of four or seven that wants to participate, you can register here. Just enter your team member information and finalize it by Feb. 2, 2022. The fee for 4-on-4 tournaments is $250, and the 7-player team fee is $450 with a guarantee that you’ll play 3 games. A gift from Labatt Brewing Company and free shuttle service are included. Hotels are available in St. Ignace and just 5 minutes away in Mackinaw City.
Have you seen breathtaking Michigan winter photos in your social media timeline? Yours could appear in other people’s timelines as well. Here are a plethora of places in Michigan where you can capture similar (or better) views.
In the western corner of the UP, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is home to hemlock hardwood forests, streams, and rivers that glisten in the snow and ice of winter. We love the views of Lake of the Clouds from the accessible viewing area and of the natural area from the Summit Peak observation tower. The park is home to cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and winter camping.
The moderately difficult climb to the top of Hogback Mountain in Marquette is well worth it for the stunning view that you get. You can see the Huron Mountains and Lake Superior from the peak. The nearly 3-mile trek takes at least 1.5 hours without snow on the ground, so we recommend starting your trip early.
The UP is home to hundreds of waterfalls. Although not all of them have been discovered or named, there are a wealth of frozen Michigan waterfalls to keep you busy during the winter:
If you want to climb a waterfall in the UP, Bridalveil Falls in Pictured Rocks offers a 140-foot epic climb. It’s about ½-mile from Miners Beach.
In the LP, Ocqueoc Falls is the largest and only natural waterfall, and there’s a great loop trail to explore. Although the Barton Nature Area doesn’t have a natural waterfall, it has a dam fall that looks majestic during winter.
You only have to take a few steps from your front or back door to take amazing photos of winter in Michigan. In fact, some of the best pictures are those of families having a great time playing in the snow. Or, you could capture the undisturbed snow and icicles hanging from the plants in your garden or your gutters.
Spread to Michigan’s UP by miners from Cornwall in the U.K., pasties have become a delicacy. They make delicious meals on their own, or you can get sweet varieties for dessert. Our winter bucket list includes a handful of places to get pasties whether you dine in or order delivery.
On the Keweenaw Peninsula in downtown Hancock, Kaleva Cafe has been a dining spot (on and off again) for more than a century. In 2006, the dine-in cafe started serving simple and delicious pasties that taste like original Cornish ones. The golden crust is stuffed with carrots, onions, potatoes, rutabaga, and beef.
Another UP favorite pasty place is the award-winning Lawry’s Pasty Shop in Marquette. This shop has been making pasties since 1946 and continues to use Madelyne Lawry’s original recipe. You can stop by the laid-back shop to get freshly made pasties, or order online to have them shipped to your door.
For more than 30 years, Cousin Jenny’s Cornish Pasties has been serving hot breakfasts and lunches in Traverse City. You can get traditional pasties, or try the German and Italian varieties. Dine in if you’re in the area, or have gourmet pasties delivered to you.
In Cadillac, Mr. Foisie’s makes fresh pasties with some interesting meat and vegetarian options. You can have the traditional crust filled with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, onion, rutabaga, and sharp cheddar. The shop serves apple dumplings, cinnamon rolls, and pies too.
Uncle Peter’s Pasties is unique in that it wasn’t intended to be a pasty shop. Pasties were an afterthought for what was supposed to be a deli. Since then, it has pumped out some of the best pasties in Michigan and has three locations — Clarkston, Orion, and Shelby. The restaurant serves coconut oil and gluten-free alternatives, as well as sandwiches, soups, and other baked goods.
While most farmers markets are only open from spring through fall, several in Michigan are open all year long. The next time you want Michigan-grown produce and locally made products, head to one of these farmers markets or a winter market near you.
Located in downtown Holland, the Holland Farmers Market is home to about 100 vendors. During the winter, they sell a wide variety of baked goods, farm-fresh items, meats, and other gourmet specialty foods. Also, there’s a food court with a range of breakfast and lunch options.
Since 1922, the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids has welcomed visitors to share in the seasonal offerings of its vendors. It has grown to more than 100 indoor and outdoor booths, connecting artists, bakers, farmers, and more with the local community. The winter market season runs from early November through April.
With more than 50 indoor vendors, the Flint Farmers’ Market is located in downtown Flint. It’s something of a hangout spot with a more than 70-foot-high Atrium serving as a town square. You can purchase an assortment of baked goods, meat, wine, cheese, art, unique gifts, and more.
Eastern Market is actually a six-block public market with more than 250 independent merchants and vendors in Detroit. On Saturdays, the whole area turns into a lively marketplace with open-air stalls that sell locally produced and specialty-made products. On Tuesdays in December, holiday markets are the perfect place to find gifts and ingredients for festive meals.
At the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, you can expect baked goods, farm-fresh products, homemade apparel, home decor, pottery, toys, and more. It’s located in the Kerrytown District and is open on Saturdays in December. From January through April, it’s open on Wednesday evenings.
Photos: Krissy Schwab, @barriebeauherbfarm
Especially through the holidays, winter is a wonderful time to get together with friends, whether it’s for an afternoon or weekend getaway. These are some things that we like to do with our friends throughout the season.
Meeting your besties for some afternoon tea is a relaxing way to spend a winter day. In Houghton, on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the Four Seasons Tea Room has more than 75 types of tea to choose from, and each of you gets a teapot. If you plan a weekend getaway on Mackinac Island, reserve an afternoon tea time at the Grand Hotel with fresh-baked scones, finger sandwiches, and other pastries.
In Ferndale (metro Detroit), the Purple Door Tearoom features an elegant tea room with fine china and soft music that transport you to another time. At Chocolatea in Portage, you can enjoy an array of teas alongside fresh desserts and French macarons.
On a cold winter day, nothing compares to feeling the warmth of a bonfire. And, it’s a great place to sit around while drinking hot cocoa and eating smores. If you want to create your own bonfire, make sure that you have the proper permit first.
If you don’t want to risk making your own bonfire, consider going to a festival for one. The Suicide Hill Ski Jump Tournament in Ishpeming is held around mid to late January, and Beulah Winterfest is held on the second Saturday of February.
Additionally, some resorts make bonfires throughout the winter. For instance, Boyne Highlands stokes the flames on its back lawn.
Do you have an itch for summer activities? You can scratch that by going to an indoor water park with friends. Michigan is home to several, such as the over 38,000-square-foot facility at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. North of Muskegon in Rothbury, the Gold Rush Indoor Waterpark is a 60,000-square-foot splash zone within the Double JJ Resort.
For a more festive water park destination, check out the three whirlpools, four pools, and slides at Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth. The resort has a Family Fun Center with games and indoor miniature golf too.
You don’t have to forgo eating and drinking outdoors with friends just because it’s cold outside. More and more igloos are popping up at restaurants, breweries, and wineries across Michigan. Add these igloo dining experiences to your winter bucket list.
You may not expect to dine at Bird’s Eye Outfitters in Sault Ste Marie, but this business is a jack-of-all-trades. During the day, you can shop for outdoor adventure gear or plan a kayak tour. In the mornings, the business offers well-made coffee and pastries. In the evenings, you can enjoy homemade soup, sandwiches, and more in an igloo.
In Suttons Bay, Hop Lot Brewing has been crafting beer since 2015. Just three years later, it became one of the first adopters of igloo dining in the state. The outdoor setup has been expanded and upgraded over the years, while you dine on creative dishes and handcrafted beers.
Serving seasonal dishes all year, Harvey’s Grill & Bar offers an elevated experience with igloo dining in Saginaw. Even if an igloo isn’t available, you can still dine on the heated patio. We recommend taking a blanket either way.
For a more upscale experience, head to Lumen Detroit. You can enjoy a winter wonderland experience in an igloo or chalet. Each has its own camping-themed decor, blankets, and a view of Beacon Park. The restaurant is known for having a wide-ranging wine list and serves specialty cocktails and beer.
With a focus on food and hospitality, Donkey Taqueria in Grand Rapids is a unique Mexican street food experience. It serves finely crafted cocktails, eclectic dishes, and has mastered the taco. It’s only $10 per hour to reserve an igloo, and each is decorated and has a dedicated heat source.
In Baroda, Dablon Vineyards welcomes winter visitors with three greenhouses, five igloos, and a heated outdoor wine bar. There’s a fee for reserving one of these spots, but it goes toward your wine tasting and purchase. You also get an awesome view of the vineyard.
If ice skating in Michigan is more your speed during the winter, Metro Detroit has plenty of options. We’ve added 8 Metro Detroit ice rinks to our winter bucket list because they each offer public skating.
One of the most popular outdoor ice rinks is at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. It’s so popular that you might want to make a reservation. The rink is open from late November until March. This magical spot offers one of the most iconic skating experiences in the U.S., even ‘Hockey Day in America’ was hosted there in 2019, and is magical during the holidays with the Detroit Christmas tree in the background.
Formerly called the Jack Adams Memorial Arena, the Adams Butzel Complex is a huge complex with tons of recreational activities, including ice skating in Detroit. It’s open every day except Sunday, and annual memberships are reasonably priced so that you and your family can skate as much as you want.
In Grosse Pointe Park, the Hutton Ice Rink at Patterson Park stays open from around Thanksgiving until March. Public skaters are asked to split the rink in half with active skating classes. No hockey, rough play, speed skating, or tag games are allowed on the ice for safety. Otherwise, the Zamboni keeps the ice groomed all winter.
Home to the SCS Hockey Association and SCS Figure Skating Club, the SCS Civic Ice Arena offers lots of public skating opportunities. Adult skates, drop-in hockey, open skates, parents and tots, and ‘pucks and parents’ are scheduled at various times each week. Admission doesn’t exceed $10 per person!
Offering the opportunity for private and public skating, the Viking Ice Arena is located in Hazel Park. You can call to reserve a one-hour time slot for skating or hockey, which guarantees access to half of the ice surface. Skate, stick, and puck rentals are available.
Located within the Southfield Municipal Complex is the Southfield Sports Arena. This multi-use complex features an NHL regulation ice surface. The schedule includes lunchtime skating before noon on weekdays and general skating in the afternoons on the weekends.
Picture a small-town ice skating scene in a holiday movie, and that’s exactly what you should expect from Riley Park Ice Rink in downtown Farmington. You just need to bring your own skates to glide around this 4,800-square-foot refrigerated outdoor rink. It’s open seven days a week (weather permitting) starting in mid-December.
The city of Birmingham installs an outdoor ice rink at Barnum Park every winter, creating the feeling of skating on a lake or pond. It’s open as long as the weather allows for safe ice skating, and signage indicates the ice condition. Hockey is allowed during certain times of the day.