Mt. Pleasant Winter Weekend
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My Top Picks for 48 Hours of Winter Family Fun in Mt. Pleasant

We all know that the winters in Michigan can be long. Often, they start at the beginning of November and last through March. While some winters may be mild, the itch to get away after the holidays and experience a different backdrop from the routine still was calling out, and that is why we found ourselves planning a perfect winter weekend in Mt. Pleasant

When we had first made our arrangements, there wasn’t a snowflake on the ground for practically the whole month of December. Just before we left for our weekend getaway, a winter storm started to make its appearance. Finally, snow was coming to Michigan!

A big thank you to the Mt. Pleasant Area Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for sponsoring our trip! My family had an amazing time making a weekend visit to the heart of Michigan and we plan to return again soon.

Sledding At Mission Creek Woodland Park In Mt. Pleasant
Sledding at Mission Creek Woodland Park photo by Amanda Shaffer

What We Did:

  • Played in the water at Soaring Eagle Waterpark
  • Ice skated at Martin Ice Arena
  • Sledded at Mission Creek Woodland Park
  • Cheered at the CMU Men’s Basketball game at McGuirk Arena
  • Snowshoed at Deerfield Nature Park

Where We Ate:

  • Pixie Restaurant
  • Freddie’s Tavern 
  • Toast to Toast 
  • Max and Emily’s Eatery
  • El Jinete Mexican Restaurant
  • Wood Shop Social 

Where We Stayed: 

  • Holiday Inn and Suites
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Pixie Restaurant photo by Amanda Shaffer

Lunch at Pixie Restaurant 

We planned our trip to where we had breakfast as a family at home, and then we packed up to head out early in the morning. We wanted to miss any storm coming through and this travel trick has also seemed to work well for our family for the last couple of years of traveling.

A full belly and packed backpack of books, pencils, coloring books, and crayons seem to keep both my young children happy for at least a couple of hours. 

When we arrived in Mt. Pleasant, our first activity planned was the waterpark, so I wanted to make sure the kids had lunch so we could focus on just water and fun when we arrived. This is where Pixie Restaurant entered.

Delightful 1950’s Retro Decor

When we pulled up the kids could not get over a car exiting the restaurant’s side wall, and the bright colors pulled them in and had them excited about trying this new spot for lunch.

Pixie Restaurant has been providing food and fun for 75 years. Whether you are young or just young at heart, you will love viewing every inch of the covered walls decorated in 1950’s memorabilia. My children especially got a kick out of the diner table and chairs that were fixed upside down from the ceiling.

You’ll also find the walls absolutely covered in name plaques from the diner’s eating challenge. We had fun checking out the wall of fame while we ate, with food challengers from all over the United States, and you can even still participate in the challenge yourself to this day. 

Pixie Restaurant Mt. Pleasant
Lunch at Pixie Restaurant photo by Amanda Shaffer

Tasty Classic Diner Foods

Never having visited before, we each tried something different from the menu. My chicken Caesar grinder was toasted to perfection, and my husband said his double cheeseburger was one of the best he’s had.

You’ll find a variety of classic diner foods across the board. First, order when you enter at the neon-lit service counter and then take your seat to be served at the table. We loved that there was a kids’ menu with a good variety, and we definitely plan to revisit it when we return to Mt. Pleasant. 

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Soaring Eagle Waterpark and Hotel photo by Amanda Shaffer

Fun at Soaring Eagle Waterpark 

After having our fill at Pixie’s, we made our way to Soaring Eagle Waterpark and Hotel. We had purchased our tickets beforehand for their buy-one-get-one special that is running through March 15th, 2024, for day passes Monday through Friday.

Snow Day Special

My son had ended up having a snow day, so I would be remiss, not to mention their snow day special. If you have a snow day this winter and the road conditions allow you to safely make your way to the waterpark, you can snag tickets for a special rate of $12.

You’ll want to call ahead to check availability and make sure to mention the snow pass rate when making your reservation. 

Soaring Eagle Waterpark Mt. Pleasant
Fun at Soaring Eagle Waterpark photo by Amanda Shaffer

Water Fun for the Whole Family

While we have visited the Soaring Eagle Waterpark a few times, this was our first time enjoying the park as a whole family. I was finally able to try the three-story drop slides with my son, who meets the 48-inch or over requirement.

We loved the lazy river and that there were slides and spray pad features perfect for my three-year-old. Your family can also enjoy a rock climbing wall, flow rider, and more.

There is also a food court in the waterpark where you can grab a snack without having to even change out of your suit!

Winter In Mt. Pleasant
Winter in Mt. Pleasant photo by Amanda Shaffer

A Cozy Stay at Holiday Inn and Suites

After we had spent the majority of the day at the waterpark, it was time to check in to our hotel room at the Holiday Inn and Suites of Mt. Pleasant. I was struck by the friendliness of the staff at check-in and the bright, modern lobby as we entered.

Our standard double queen room was the perfect size for our family of four, with room to spare. While we had just spent our day in the water, the kids were enamored with the pool, and I loved that there was a hotel gym available for guests, too. 

A Southwest Burger At Freddie's Tavern
A southwest burger at Freddie’s Tavern photo by Amanda Shaffer

Dinner at Freddie’s Tavern

After some relaxation at the hotel and a nice reset, our stomachs began to growl from all of that energy burned at the waterpark. We had heard great things about a local neighborhood bar and grill in town and braved the frigid temps to try it out.

This is a perfect opportunity to mention how impressed I was with how clear the Mt. Pleasant roads were for our weekend getaway. The Isabella County Road Commission must have been working tirelessly during the snowstorm, and I am extremely grateful for all of their efforts. 

At Freddie’s Tavern, you’ll find billiards, darts, and other bar games, and it is the perfect spot for watching the game. Our family of four found a corner booth and enjoyed watching some football while trying out their famous burgers.

I had tried the southwest burger and was impressed by the amount of flavor packed between the two buns. Our waitress was a delight, and the service was quick and friendly. 

Ice Skating At Martin Arena In Mt. Pleasant
Public skate at Martin Arena photo by Amanda Shaffer

Public Skate at Martin Arena

After dinner, we wanted to get moving again. What has been great about traveling through Michigan as a family is finding things that both our children and we will enjoy.

Traveling with young children is often a give and take. You want to try a new hike at a new park, so you pair it with a brand new playground for them to enjoy after. 

A New-to-Us Winter Activity

But every once in a while, we find an activity that we are all pretty inexperienced with. This is where trying out ice skating as a family enters.

As a child, I had made trips to Chicago to ice skate with family friends at Millennium Park, but other than that, I could only count on my hands how many times I had been on the ice with a pair of skates, and that was years and years ago. 

Ice Skating At Martin Arena In Mt. Pleasant
Getting the hang of it at public skate photo by Amanda Shaffer

Ice Skating for All Skill Levels

So we all laced up to give this new-to-us winter activity a try together for the public skate at Martin Arena. My children (and even myself with my short stature) used the available skating helpers.

While we weren’t winning any awards for our speed or grace (we may have looked like four baby deer encountering ice for the first time), it was truly rewarding watching my children delight and persevere as they kept giving it a go. 

When quizzed at the end of the trip about what their favorite part was, my children both answered ice skating, so I see us visiting another ice skating rink in the near future this winter. 

Toast To Toast Mt. Pleasant
Breakfast at Toast to Toast photo by Amanda Shaffer

Breakfast at Toast to Toast

After having experienced a full day packed with fun, we all slept in the following morning. This made our choice for breakfast an easy one. We just headed downstairs to enjoy the restaurant Toast to Toast, which was available right in our hotel. The breakfast had a great variety, and we loved that both our kids ate free. 

Sledding At Mission Creek Woodland Park Mt. Pleasant
Sledding at Mission Creek Woodland Park photo by Amanda Shaffer

The Perfect Sledding Hill at Mission Creek Woodland Park

With sleds and hot cocoa in tow, we then made our way to Mission Creek Woodland Park to hit the hills. There was a perfect hill just adjacent to the parking lot that was being cleared as we entered the park. 

What we loved about this sledding hill was that it was just a short walk from the parking lot, and there were perfect spots for my older child to try a more thrilling ride down the slope and my three-year-old to try out sledding by herself for the first time as well.

Everyone enjoying the hill was kind and courteous, and we enjoyed the powder all morning. 

That One Sandwich At Max And Emily's
That one sandwich at Max and Emily’s photo by Amanda Shaffer

Lunch at Max and Emily’s

After spending the morning on the hill, we wanted a quick and hearty meal to warm up with. Max and Emily’s was the perfect spot to grab lunch.

For lunch, nothing beats a toasted sandwich for me. While it sounds simple, sometimes the execution can be difficult, as anyone who has had a disappointed sandwich can attest to.

When I say that Max and Emily’s served one of the best toasted sandwiches I have had, it’s no exaggeration. It just came together magically. I ordered a That One Sandwich for any other toasted turkey sandwich lovers.

You’ll spend your time gazing at the wall of the handwritten sandwich items, or you can choose a make-your-own option. There was a kids’ menu available as well. If you are looking for a tasty lunch option, look no further. 

The Rubber Duck Game At Cmu
The Rubber Duck Game at CMU photo by Amanda Shaffer

Great Seats at a CMU Men’s Basketball Game

After lunch, it was time to take the kids to their first college basketball game. The game we chose happened to fall on National Rubber Ducky Day. With our rubber ducks in tow, we headed to the central fan table to trade them for our very own t-shirt.

CMU is collecting rubber duckies to try to beat the Guinness World Record in 2025

Cmu Men's Basketball Game Mt. Pleasant
CMU vs. Kent State photo by Amanda Shaffer

Our general admission ticket provided great seats to watch the action play out, and the kids loved all of the media time-out activities that were on the court.

If you are looking for more inside options to enjoy in mid-Michigan this winter and spring, I would suggest giving a CMU sporting event a try! 

El Jinete Mexican Restaurant
An Acapulco dinner at El Jinete Mexican Restaurant photo by Amanda Shaffer

Dinner at El Jinete Mexican Bar & Grill

After the game, it was time to get dinner. El Jinete Mexican Bar & Grill is new to the area and worth a visit if you are looking for a tasty meal. The staff was friendly, and the service was quick. With plenty of seating, the restaurant can accommodate large groups. Give the Acapulco a try if you visit; it’s my favorite. 

Snowshoeing At Deerfield Nature Park
Snowshoeing at Deerfield Nature Park photo by Amanda Shaffer

A Snowshoe Adventure at Deerfield Nature Park

On the last day of our trip, we knew we wanted to explore nature a bit more. I had packed the kids’ snowshoes, and with fresh powder from overnight, Deerfield Nature Park was calling our name. With a sledding hill, different hiking trails, and more, you will want to add this park to your visit list for every season.

The trail had not been groomed yet, but as a reminder, when hiking a multi-use trail, stay to the left and off the tracks of cross-country skiers so that all can enjoy the path. 

French Toast At Wood Shop Social In Mt. Pleasant
French Toast at Wood Shop Social photo by Amanda Shaffer

Brunch at Wood Shop Social

After snowshoeing, it was time for brunch, and no one does brunch quite like Wood Shop Social.

When I walked in, I was greeted by their bloody mary and mimosa bar. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill brunch drink bar; you will find an array of fixings and treats to make and adorn your drinks, and the ingredients are top-tier.

I hadn’t had a French toast meal in years, so it was an easy pick for me to try, and I was so glad I did. If you are looking for a restaurant to do brunch or a new spot to add in for date night, Wood Shop Social would be my top pick. 

Sledding At Mission Creek Woodland Park Mt. Pleasant
Winter fun at the sledding hill photo by Amanda Shaffer

Winter Fun in Mt. Pleasant

When making travel plans for the winter in Michigan, flexibility is key. The weather can be unpredictable, but we are so glad that we were able to make a safe trip to Mt. Pleasant to visit.

While some of our itinerary did end up changing because of the forecast, this winter retreat to the heart of Michigan was just perfect for our little family. We are already planning our next visit to include a snow tubing excursion at Snow Snake Ski and Golf and a treat at The Golden Churro.

Thank you again, Mt. Pleasant. We will be back!

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