Thanks to Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau for partnering with Awesome Mitten for the 2022 Winter Bucket List.
If you’re looking for an adventure with your family this winter, the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan may be exactly the getaway you want. With a trifecta of the best ski resorts this side of the Rockies to choose from and activities for all ages, the Petoskey Area is a winter wonderland for adventure-loving families!
Pick your northern Michigan winter getaway travel dates and browse our recommendations for a wonderful winter weekend getaway to Petoskey, Boyne City, Boyne Falls, Alanson, Bay Harbor, and Harbor Springs – collectively known as the Petoskey Area, Michigan’s Winter Funland™.
For an Adrenaline Rush, Soar & Ski at These Petoskey Area Ski Resorts
With an average of more than 110 inches of snow a year in the area and unsurpassed snowmaking at Boyne Mountain and The Highlands at Harbor Springs, it’s no surprise that downhill skiing is a favorite winter thing to do in the Petoskey Area.
And if flying down the slopes on two skis or a snowboard isn’t enough, Boyne Mountain and The Highlands at Harbor Springs offer winter ziplining as well. For adrenaline addicts, it is hard to imagine something more exciting than soaring 50 feet over the snow!
Here are some of our favorite Petoskey Area destinations to consider adding to your northern Michigan getaway itinerary this winter.
The Highlands of Harbor Springs
If you are an adrenaline junkie, The Highlands of Harbor Springs is a four-season resort that will give you all the excitement you need. There’s a buffet of winter activities that includes everything from skiing, to Sno-go biking, to a sleigh ride to take you to the experiential Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner. You can opt to lodge at the resort, or drive 30 minutes or less to stay in just the perfect place to fit your style in one of the surrounding communities.
Your lift ticket to The Highlands at Harbor Springs is also good at Boyne Mountain. It’s a twofer. Buy your tickets in advance to guarantee you have access to the slopes on the days you need them.
You don’t have to have your own equipment, you can rent and if the kids need ski lessons, those are available too. You can ski all day or opt for under the lights at night on certain evenings.
Skiers have access to 55 ski runs, the longest being 1.25 miles. Ten lifts keep wait times as short as possible and the runs are almost equally divided between beginner, intermediate, and expert.
If you want the thrill of a winter zipline adventure, it’s here. As with nearly everything, we recommend booking ahead. Kids need to weigh at least 60 lbs and be three feet tall.
Boyne Mountain has it all when it comes to exciting winter activities.
On the ski slopes, 60 runs give you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the thrill of downhill skiing. Twelve lifts help keep the lines to a minimum. The runs offer all levels of skiing opportunity but favor the intermediate skier. Lessons are available as well as equipment rental.
Imagine flying through the air at between 20 and 25 miles per hour, 50 feet in the air. What a rush zipping provides!! Just know that the kids need to weigh at least 60 pounds to use the zipline adventure. Tubing, fat tire biking, ice skating, snowshoeing, and Sno-Go biking are all offered, too.
Your lift tickets are good at The Highlands at Harbor Springs as well as Boyne Mountain.
If you are looking for a smaller, more intimate experience, Nub’s Nob is the place to go. Private ski lessons are available, and you can rent your equipment.
Eight lifts and a tow rope are available to get up to the top of the runs. Nub’s Nob is known for the exceptional quality of its grooming.
From the bunny hill to the double-black diamond runs, you will have plenty of options for every level of skiing expertise. Nub’s Cubs daycare is available for any little ones you may have. Enjoy the lodge where food, drink, and a warmup are available.
Enjoy More Outdoor Winter Activities Around Petoskey
No matter how much fun you have downhill skiing and winter ziplining, you may want to try some other adventures and the Petoskey Area has those in abundance. If you don’t have time for them during one visit, we hope you will come back soon to give them a try.
If you have ever thought you might like to try rafting, you may be surprised you can do it in the winter. Winter Rafting on the Jordan River near Boyne City and Boyne Falls is a guided adventure that you don’t want to miss.
Your guide will take care of controlling the raft, allowing you and your family to enjoy the scenery, take pictures and observe the wildlife. At the halfway point, you will stop for a hot drink and a snack.
This is not a wild ride, it is more of a gentle float, but it will leave you and the entire family with lasting memories.
Trails and Nature Preserves
Conservation is a big part of life in northern Michigan, and the Little Traverse Conservancy is working every day to make sure that the many different habitats are preserved for future generations.
At the same time, the sites can be used in ways that don’t damage them. This means you can snowshoe, cross country ski, and fat-tire bike on many of them.
The reserves and preserves are dotted through the Petoskey Area and several surrounding communities. A couple of favorites:
- With 106 acres there’s plenty of room to roam at The Hill Nature Preserve in Boyne City. An awesome volunteer grooms a couple of miles here and as the name implies, The Hill is a great place to give yourself a blood-pumping workout.
- For a family-friendly place to enjoy the trails, try the Allan & Virginia McCune Preserve. Quite a bit of the three-mile heavily-used trail is flat, but there are a couple of good hills for you to conquer and the views along the Minnehaha Creek are gorgeous.
The Enchanted Trail
Walking or snowshoeing the Enchanted Trail at The Highlands of Harbor Springs is a popular new winter amenity in Harbor Springs.
The walk is one mile each way from the Cross Country Center at The Highlands of Harbor Springs to a rustic yurt in the woods and back. It is a fairyland with lights. Enchanting doesn’t begin to describe how amazing it is.
Crisp winter air, towering forest, and being rewarded with a bonfire, s’mores, and a hot drink. It’s an evening you won’t soon forget and will want to repeat.
Note: If you want to add this magical experience to your winter weekend getaway in the Petoskey Area, be sure to book as far in advance as possible as it fills up quickly.
Fat Tire Biking
If you love mountain biking and winter, fat tire biking is an exhilarating way to combine the two.
This popular activity is offered at the Boyne resorts and both of them have rentals right on site. The Highlands at Harbor Springs has 5.75 km of dedicated fat tire bike trails and Boyne Mountain has 5 km.
If you prefer not to pay a trail fee, head to Offield Family Viewlands in Harbor Springs. This former golf course offers 4.5 miles of trails and enough steep elevations to keep you challenged.
Warm Up with These Indoor Things to Do in Petoskey
With so many wonderful outdoor activities to enjoy, it may be a little difficult to find the time for anything else. But at some point, you’ll want an opportunity to catch your breath and warm up your fingers and toes.
Here are some of the best indoor things to do in the Petoskey Area this winter – add a few to your weekend winter getaway itinerary!
Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark
Located at Boyne Mountain Resort, Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark is the perfect place for families to make a splash.
Expect a lot of gleeful shouting as you and your children enjoy all the thrilling options that this waterpark has to offer. Plummeting down the steepest tunnel in the industry is a huge adrenaline rush!
If you want to calmly enjoy the water, the lazy river ride is the perfect way to float through the day.
Note: If your kids are three and over, you can purchase a spectator pass which allows you to access all the dry areas while your kids have passes for the water. If you have a child, two or younger, you will need to be with them in the water.
Built as a model dairy farm in 1918, Castle Farms feels as if you’re walking into a French Chateau.
Taking a Castle Tour provides a glimpse of the past but also all the activities in the present. Start your tour by watching the video. It offers a glimpse at the four owners of the property and how each of them changed the farm.
You have options when it comes to tours. You can take a self-guided tour or you can opt for a guided tour. In the winter, the tour will concentrate more on the indoor areas and less on the gardens. If you are coming during the holidays, there will be lots of decorations and events.
Winter Winery Tours
If you don’t think of wine when you think of the Petoskey region, we hope you’ll think again. The intimate wineries that comprise the Petoskey Wine Region are one of the fun places that should be included in a weekend getaway in northern Michigan.
Maple Moon Sugarbush & Winery
Add the twist of maple syrup to the entire winery experience at Maple Moon Sugarbush & Winery.
Not only can you sample their unique wines, but you can learn about tree tapping and all that goes into making maple syrup (there’s more than you may think)!
Don’t leave without checking all the goodies in their shop. Non-alcoholic tasting options are available for the kiddos.
Mackinaw Trail Winery and Brewery
Mackinaw Trail Winery and Brewery offers a unique experience for visitors. Enjoy some tasty nibbles at their bistro while sipping one of their delicious wines or beers.
The actual brewery and 15 acres of grapes are located right with the tasting room in Petoskey. The wine flavors are unique and include their ice wine, strawberry rhubarb, and blueberry, as well as more traditional Riesling.
Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery
Why not include an afternoon wine tasting at Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery in your weekend in Petoskey?
Indulge in one of the delectable wines like Romance, First Crush, and Joy – maybe try a flight and sample three or five. This is a good way to find your favorite which you can then pick up in their store.
Add a scrumptious local cheese and meat board or chips and dip to complete the experience.
Fuel Your Fun at These Petoskey Area Restaurants
Adventure-loving families do not live on exhilarating activities alone. Eventually, they need to find some fuel and these are a few of our local favorite Petoskey Area restaurants.
Owned and operated by two locals, Beards Brewery has been growing since it was founded in 2012. The beer is still brewed on-site and an interesting pub menu has been added to complement the beer menu and occasional live entertainment schedule.
The indoor space can seat 24 and includes a kid-friendly menu, so the entire family feels welcome. The menu is not super expansive but does include appetizers, salad, sandwiches, and pizza. For dessert, try an Ice Box hand-crafted gourmet ice cream sandwich in flavors Fancy Pants Raspberry and Summertime S’Mores.
Petoskey Pretzel Co
If you are in the mood for something different to snack on, Petoskey Pretzel Co is what you are looking for.
As soon as you enter this small corner cafe, the smell of freshly baked pretzels will bring you back to your childhood. Whether it is a traditional soft salty pretzel, cinnamon sugar, or one of the other unique flavors, you will be a believer for life.
This is the perfect snack to feast on while window shopping and checking out the shops in the Petoskey’s Gaslight District, or you can sit and indulge in some dipping sauces with your pretzel.
Stigg’s Brewery & Kitchen
Boyne City has only one brewery, Stigg’s Brewery & Kitchen, and it’s a must-include destination on your winter getaway itinerary. Their menu was created to meld well with beer and taste great. Food is locally sourced whenever possible and used in scratch recipes and hand-crafted cuisine.
The menu has some typical brewery-type foods, such as fish and chips and steak dinner. Vegetarians can dine on the pinecone, panko-crusted avocado with sweet chili aioli, and roasted vegetable sandwich with roasted seasonal vegetables, sprouts, & basil-feta spread on toasted sourdough. Chicken, brisket, and pork shoulder and done to perfection in Stigg’s smoker.
In the winter, they have “Stiggloos” for dining outside, which is a fun thing to do in northern Michigan. Don’t miss the opportunity to try one of the 30 brews they have on tap.
Maple & Batter
Located in downtown Bay Harbor, this adorable bistro takes brunch to a whole new level. The name Maple & Batter says it all. Well, not quite – there is more than just pancakes and real maple syrup.
Eggs are offered in traditional preparations with nontraditional ingredients, like the Bay Harbor Benedict and the spicy chorizo omelet.
Healthy breakfast lovers will enjoy the overnight oats, but if you are more into decadence, strawberry shortcake pancakes are a winner.
Stafford’s Pier Restaurant
Stafford’s Pier in Harbor Springs has an enviable location overlooking Little Traverse Bay. They specialize in fresh seafood and Great Lakes fish. With starters like the daily oyster option and the escargot with feta, prosciutto, and garlic butter, the quality of food is obvious.
Diners can opt for Great Lakes Oak Planked Whitefish, Flash Fried Perch, or Seared Scallops. For the smaller appetite, they have a sandwich, soup, and salad menu. Take the time to study their extensive wine menu by the glass and by the bottle.
Shop Until You Drop at Our Favorite Petoskey Area Stores
When you need to get inside to warm up, why not take a stroll through some of the delightful shops in the Petoskey Area.
If you are a cheesehead or just a cheese lover, Petoskey Cheese is a must-stop when you are in town. With a wide array of cheeses, crackers, and accouterments, you can always find something to nibble on.
Grandpa Shorter’s Gifts
Pick up unique mementos to remember your Petoskey visit at Grandpa Shorter’s Gifts. It is the original souvenir store in the area and offers a wide array of interesting items (including the biggest selection of Petoskey stones in the area) in a price range to fit any budget.
No matter what you are looking for as a souvenir, chances are you will find it here at this family-owned store that has been around for 75 years.
Sturgeon River Pottery
You may not think you need to buy anything, but odds are if you walk into Sturgeon River Pottery, you’ll walk out with a beautifully crafted coffee mug, bakeware, or other piece of artistic pottery. This is a family business that has been in operation since 1980.
While the pottery alone is worth the visit, there are so many other appealing things like wooden cribbage boards shaped like the upper and lower peninsulas of the state. You will find that here, along with an extensive collection of jewelry and bird supplies.
Make a Reservation for Fun
Where you choose to stay is almost as important as what you decide to do on a weekend getaway. It is hard to enjoy your daytime activities if you aren’t well-rested.
Where you like to stay depends on who you’re with. If you have the kids in tow, maybe you’ll check into a condo where you can really spread out or a hotel with an indoor pool.
Couples weekends or girls’ weekends can mean a full-service resort, a house rental, or sometimes just an inexpensive place to lay your heads, since you will be out and about most of the time.
And if it’s a romantic escape, a cozy inn, a small condo with a fireplace, or a hotel with an in-room hot tub may be perfect. The great thing about the Petoskey Area is that there are all of those types of places to stay. A room for every mood and every situation. Find your Petoskey Area lodging options and start planning your good times in Michigan’s Winter Funland™.