100+ Unique Michigan Winter Things to Do in 2023
Have you ever wondered: “What is there to do in Michigan in winter?” No matter the season, you’ll always find enjoyable things to do in Michigan. However, nothing compares to the state’s transformation into a winter wonderland. The frozen Great Lakes and snow-covered hills and mountains are good things about Michigan winters.
Just because it gets cold during Michigan winters doesn’t mean that you have to stay at home. Why not bundle up to explore a new city? While many cities throughout the state have outdoor activities — skiing, ice skating, and igloo dining — they offer a ton of indoor experiences too — museums, performing arts, and shopping.
People in Michigan prepare for winter in many ways: firing up the fireplace, stocking up on hot chocolate, and pulling out snow gear. Some of us anxiously await the opportunity to enjoy activities that only winter offers. If you’re wondering what you can do for fun, check out some of our favorite things to do in Michigan in winter.
Our Winter Bucket List features a little bit of everything, offering you the best winter things to do in Michigan!
Experience the Magic of the Holidays at Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad
Visitors to this Flint mainstay have described it as taking a trip back in time. Crossroads Village contains more than 20 structures, some dating back to the 1800s. Because some of the buildings are so old, the village is traveled on foot with no vehicles allowed.
Spend the day marveling at a one-room schoolhouse or take a ride on a genuine 1900s steam locomotive. You can even watch a vaudeville show at the Colwell Opera House. Once you’ve checked out all the structures, come back for some of the village’s special events.
There’s so much to see and do in Flint, including several family-friendly places you can visit to unplug.
The Flint Children’s Museum has tons of activities for kids of all ages, even toddlers. Many organizations contribute money to allow for free admission days, allowing visitors to enjoy this treasure.
The Longway Planetarium is quite impressive and recent renovations have given it the biggest dome in Michigan and one-of-a-kind projectors. Different shows highlight the vastness of space, the human body, robots, and even Pink Floyd’s classic Dark Side of the Moon album with cool visuals.
The For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum in Burton is a marvelous oasis of nature with so much to see. Grab one of the preserve’s discovery backpacks and encounter wildlife, trees, and much more on a peaceful nature walk.
Explore additional Michigan winter train rides.
Tour the Best Holiday Light Displays in Jackson
The most wonderful time of the year means sipping hot cocoa, sledding, and of course, holiday lights. There’s nothing better than piling into the family car, snacking on treats, and looking at the lights around you.
Some of the best free displays you can find during Christmastime can be found in Jackson County, including the iconic Nite Lites at MIS.
If you really love looking at Christmas lights, there are so many magnificent holiday light displays you can see all around the state.
Head to N. Vandenboom Ave in Marquette in the UP to the Carter’s Christmas Lights. This house is ridiculously decked out in lights and covered with everything from the Grinch to Santa Claus.
The Herman family creates holiday magic at their home on E. Murray Ct in Suttons Bay. They open their property to the public and allow visitors of all ages to see their wonderful light displays.
The Croton Township Campground in Newaygo puts on an annual Colors of Christmas display that visitors can take a slow drive through or even hike through. The display is open from around Thanksgiving to the beginning of January, so you’ve plenty of time to see it.
Cut Your Own Christmas Tree at Dutchman Tree Farms
There’s something fun and exhilarating about going out and cutting down your own Christmas tree to have in your home for the holidays. If having a real tree is part of your holiday tradition, Dutchman Tree Farms is the perfect place to get it.
Here you’ll get a high-quality tree directly from the source and it will be one you’ll be proud to have in your home. You can even request a product catalog to see all their amazing products.
In addition to Dutchman Tree Farms, there are many other spots to cut your own trees around the state.
Huron View Tree Farms in Black River is another family-owned tree farm where you can pick from several different species of tree and then cut the one you want.
Pinecrest U Cut Christmas Tree Farm in Galien has both U-cut and pre-cut options available. The farm even has colored trees available to take your Christmas tree to a new and exciting level.
Hill Top Nursery in Bad Axe offers a real slice of Americana and, of course, the chance to cut your own Christmas tree. Visitors can choose from Norway Spruce, White Spruce, and Colorado Blue Spruce, among other options.
Explore other Michigan Christmas tree farms.
Visit the Santa House in Midland
Located right in the heart of Midland, the Santa House sees nearly 300 Santas come to town to learn the fine art of being the man in the red suit. In fact, this is the best and oldest Santa school in the world!
When Christmastime comes, Santa takes up residence at the Santa House and is visited by scores of children wanting to share their Christmas wishes.
In addition to visiting the Santa House, there are many great holiday activities in Midland and the Great Lakes Bay Area to get into the holiday spirit.
Holly Jolly Days offers visitors a chance to get some holiday shopping done with some great deals in downtown Midland.
Midland’s Holiday Parade takes place the Saturday before Thanksgiving and has been going strong with a different theme every year since its inception in 1985.
The Jingle Bell Fun Run in downtown Midland is the perfect excuse to don your Christmas apparel and take part in a mile-long fun run.
Experience the New Immersive Light Show at Meijer Gardens
Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids is one of the jewels of Michigan that’s fun to visit all year long. But December is a great time to visit for the Immersive Light Experience.
This awe-inspiring show is inspired by the natural world and takes place at the Frederick Meijer Gardens Amphitheater.
The one-of-a-kind experience adds a new dimension to the holidays and is fun for the whole family. Shows last 20 minutes and play every half hour on select dates.
Frederik Meijer Gardens has several other winter events that are fun for the whole family.
Christmas Cabaret is making a return after several years and is a great way to celebrate the holiday season. Cocktails and a gourmet dinner are followed by a choral performance and a musical featured entertainer.
Wintertime Walks are another great activity at the Gardens. Even on chilly days, you can bundle up and take the whole family for a stroll in the popular Children’s Garden to discover the wonders it holds.
Spend the Day Browsing Bronners CHRISTmas Wonderland
If you love Christmas and Christmas decor, you’ll be in heaven when you visit this famous Frankenmuth store. Stopping at Bronners is an absolute must and it’s little wonder that more than 2 million people make a trip here every year.
Here you’ll find just about anything Christmas related you could dream of — ornaments, sweet treats, trees, lawn decorations, stockings, and so much more. And it’s spread out over more than 1.5 football fields worth of space, so there’s plenty to see.
Take your time and fill your basket with Christmas goodies, because you’ll definitely be in the holiday spirit by the time you’re done.
Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region has lots of shopping options and you can find numerous gifts for friends and family.
River Place Shops in Frankenmuth has many quaint little shops including Bead Haven, a jerky outlet, a comic and gaming store, and much more.
My Secret Garden in Downtown Bay City is a great spot to find the perfect gift. You can find sweatshirts, bags, footwear, kitchen gadgets, and lots of other surprises.
Christmastide in Traverse City is open year-round and is a great place to get into the holiday spirit. The store, along with a sister store, Country Christmas, specializes in beautiful handmade, hand-painted items.
Explore more holiday shopping in the Great Lakes Bay Area.
Celebrate Michigan’s Birthday with an A to Z Scavenger Hunt
January is Michigan’s birthday month! Michigan was admitted to the Union as the 26th state on January 26, 1837.
Celebrate Michigan’s birthday with a fun Michigan ABCs Scavenger Hunt. See how many of these 26 Michigan-themed activities you can check off!
Catch a Fish While Ice Fishing on Fletchers Pond in Alpena
Ice fishing is a great wintertime activity in Michigan. If you love ice fishing, you won’t find many spots better than Fletcher Pond. Located in Hillman, just east of Alpena, this pond is filled with plenty of pan fish and bass, and pike.
Hunker down in your shanty and spend a great day on the water hooking into all kinds of fish.
If you want to make the most of the ice fishing season, you can go to numerous spots around the state.
Head to the Upper Peninsula and go fishing in Keweenaw Bay in the heart of Lake Superior. The UP’s cold winters mean the ice is strong and solid for fishing and anglers can try their luck fishing for lake trout, brown trout, and whitefish among other species.
In Barry County, Gun Lake is a great place for ice fishing and anglers can hook into walleye, northern pike, and bluegill.
Lake St. Clair in the Southeast Lower Peninsula is an awesome fishing destination any time of the year. But in winter, Lake St. Clair is dotted with anglers, shanties, and ice fishing gear as anglers fish for perch and pan fish.
Plan an ice fishing getaway in Alpena this winter!
Stay Warm and Have Fun Inside
Winter is a magical time to be outside, but sometimes you just need a warm (or dry) break from the elements. Flint and Genesee County are brimming with indoor attractions ideal for winter family fun.
No matter how old your kids are, you’ll be able to find fun indoor things to do throughout Flint and Genesee County during the winter season.
Head to one of the Bowl Flint Bowling Centers – B’s Bowling and Richfield Bowl – for some friendly family competition. These independently owned, modern bowling alleys even have bumper bowling lanes for children. Cosmic Bowling also has black lights, disco lights, laser lights, and runway lights.
At the Flint Children’s Museum, kids between 2 and 10 years will love all of the hands-on learning experiences, such as the Magnet Wall, Raceways, Augmented Reality Sandbox, and Simple Circuits.
All winter long, you have the opportunity to watch the Flint Firebirds fly across the ice in energetic matches at Dort Financial Center. Since 2015, dozens of the players on this junior ice hockey team have been drafted and signed into the National Hockey League.
Shop, Sip, and Stroll Snow-Free on Downtown Holland’s Heated Sidewalks
If you love winter shopping, you’ll love shopping in the West Michigan town of Holland, which has the largest municipal snowmelt system in the nation. A network of plastic tubing heats the sidewalks, so there’s no snow to walk through.
After you’ve had your fill of shopping, head to Pigeon Creek Park, where there are plenty of trails to explore by hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
If you’re looking for more outdoor winter, head to the local sledding hills of Holland. Throughout the city, you can find hills of all different sizes and lengths that appeal to sledders of all ages. So bundle up and grab your sled!
Explore more things to do in Holland.
Sip a Hot Mug of Tea at Tabby’s Tea at Tea Bee
If you’re looking for a way to take the chill out of a cold winter day, there’s no better place to warm up than Tabby’s Tea at Tea Bee in Grand Blanc. Run by a husband and wife team, this quaint shop prides itself on offering customers delicious, organic, fair-trade tea.
Tea enthusiasts can pull up a seat and sample some of their favorite flavors in the tea room with 4 and 6 tea flights available. There’s also wi-fi, delicious welsh cakes, and even mugs available for purchase — all the ingredients you need for a fun visit!
If you’re a lover of coffee and tea, pay a visit to some of the other amazing coffee shops & tea houses in the Mitten State.
Java Jones in Elk Rapids has numerous coffee specialties, including an Elk Rapids Cherry Mocha and great gourmet sandwiches.
Water Street Coffee Joint in Kalamazoo aims to give customers the perfect cup of coffee every time and offers visitors numerous coffee and tea options. You can even pick up all you need for brewing coffee and tea at home.
Foster Coffee Company in Owosso is located right in Owosso’s historic downtown and aims to “foster community through coffee.” To that end, you’ll find everything from hot chocolate to tea to espresso-based drinks and everything in between.
See Frozen Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a popular destination for Michiganders and out-of-state visitors alike. It’s not hard to see why. And winter at Tahquamenon Falls is not to be missed.
The Upper Falls are 50 feet high and 200 feet wide and the Lower Falls, located four miles below, are just as fun to see. At both spots, you can catch excellent views of some of the best frozen waterfalls the state can offer in winter.
Michigan has a lot of frozen waterfalls worth seeing if you’re up for an adventure this winter.
In the Northern Lower Peninsula, be sure to stop by Ocqueoc Falls. It’s the biggest and only natural waterfall in the Lower Peninsula and has universal accessibility.
Bridalveil Falls, along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, is a fantastic spot if you’re yearning to climb a frozen waterfall. It’s about a half-mile from Miner’s Beach and the water plunges right into the mighty Lake Superior.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park near Ontonagon has beautiful hemlock forests, but it’s also home to several frozen waterfalls worth seeing, especially along the Presque Isle River.
Take a Winter Road Trip in the Upper Peninsula
The Upper Peninsula may not seem like a great place to visit, but winter is actually the perfect time to explore the wonders of the U.P.
There are so many places you can go on a UP winter road trip: the photo possibilities are endless, there are tons of scenic views, and lots of great local restaurants.
Here are a few of our favorite spots:
Head west of the Mackinac Bridge to Epoufette. You can enjoy incredible views from a bluff along Lake Michigan and then head into the local diner for a great meal and a cup of coffee.
Sugarloaf Mountain, which overlooks Marquette is a road trip you’ll want to take. In the winter months, you can hike up the mountain for a 360-degree look at the mighty Lake Superior.
Munising Falls is a great spot to see a frozen waterfall up close. The frozen falls are completely frozen and visitors have reported being able to walk directly up to the huge column of ice and touch it.
Experience “The Market” in St. Joe
St. Joesph is one of Southwest Michigan’s most scenic towns and one of the best things to do there is pay a visit to The Market. Opened in September 2021, this place has become a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike.
If you love all-in-one shopping, the Market is the spot to go. The indoor market has (to name a few stores), the Wine Shoppe, Wild Ginger Flowers, Dad’s Cafe, Dad’s Farm, and the Cheese Lady. So grab yourself a cup of coffee and start shopping!
If you love shopping, there are numerous markets and malls in Michigan to shop at.
Detroit’s Eastern Market is a great place to shop, whether you’re looking to stock up on fresh produce or some specialty foods. Not only can you buy fresh flowers and produce from the market’s sheds, but you can also visit Al’s Fish Seafood and Chicken, City Girls Soap, Corridor Sausage Co, Cheech’s Chicken, and the famous Rocky Mountain Peanut Co.
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is one of Traverse City’s premier shopping destinations with plenty of options for shopping and dining. Stop into unique boutiques and local shops and grab a tasty bite to eat. If you want to stretch your legs after shopping, the Commons is surrounded by hiking and biking trails to explore.
Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills is a perennial favorite shopping spot among Michiganders. Shoppers can find a number of brand-name stores, tasty eateries, and even a few play areas for kids.
Explore more Southwest Michigan winter fun.
Experience Algonquin Cross-Country Ski Trail in Sault Ste. Marie
Located in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, this trail is always beautifully groomed and maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The trail opens in November and is last groomed in late February. The pathway stretches for nine miles and has lighting so visitors can go for a nighttime ski.
There are numerous cross-country ski trails in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and when snow hits the ground, there’s no shortage of places to go.
The ABR Ski Area in Ironwood is a full-service ski touring center, but also offers miles of trails for scenic cross-country skiing. It is traditionally open from November to early April.
The Keweenaw Peninsula offers skiers about 100 kilometers of groomed trails that are perfect for skate skiing as well as classic Nordic skiing.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park has lots to see, but in the winter it offers more than 20 miles of groomed cross-country trails across 60,000 acres of wilderness right next to Lake Superior.
Explore more Michigan cross-country ski trails.
Attend the Plymouth Ice Festival
Michigan has lots of great winter festivals and events, including the annual Plymouth Ice Festival. This world-class event takes place each February and is packed with fun events, including ice craving displays, ice festival bingo, and plenty of opportunities to explore Downtown Plymouth’s eateries and shops.
If you love winter festivals, you’re in luck because Michigan has a lot of them.
The Michigan Ice Fest in Munising is one of the nation’s longest-running ice festivals and is a welcome break from the chill of winter every February.
The festival’s schedule of events includes courses on climbing, presentations from climbing equipment manufacturer sales reps, and lots of after-parties and socials.
Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival in Houghton is an annual February celebration of everything people love about winter and has been going strong for 100 years. There’s a snow statue-building competition, sleigh rides, comedy skits, outdoor activities like broomball, and so much more.
Head to West Michigan for Grand Haven Winterfest, which has activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy. There’s a famous cardboard sled race, bonfires, glow bowling, a family dog pull, and even snow volleyball.
Experience the Sloan Museum
The Sloan Museum is part of the Flint Cultural Center and is home to fun hands-on science exhibits that visitors of all ages can enjoy. In all, it holds more than 400,000 artifacts that relate Flint’s rich history, including a collection of historic autos.
No matter what your interests are, Michigan has dozens of delightful museums that you’ll want to make plans to explore.
The Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St. Ignace celebrates Native American culture with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as videos. There’s also a gift shop with numerous handmade native crafts.
The Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience in Portage brings air and space exploration to life with a multitude of experiences. Visitors can enjoy a flight simulation, hands-on exhibits, and even airborne amusement park rides.
The Saginaw Railway Museum is one of the state’s smaller museums, but it’s impressive nonetheless. It’s located at the former Pere Marquette Rail Depot and features a cool collection of old train cars.
Explore more winter things to do in Flint & Genesee County.
Sled Down City Forest Sledding Hill
One of the best parts of winter is all the fun activities you can do. If you love sledding and tobogganing, Midland’s City Forest is one of the premier spots in Michigan to go.
City Forest has four hand-packed toboggan runs, each measuring a tenth of a mile long. There are also 7.5 miles of groomed trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and 13 miles of year-round mountain biking trails too.
As if that wasn’t enough, City Forest also has a large ice rink available to skaters of all levels, a groomed sledding hill that allows for night sledding, and a chalet to warm up with a hot drink.
If you’re a sledding junkie, here are a few more of our favorite spots to go sledding and snow tubing in Michigan:
Kensington Metro Park in Milford is the perfect metro Detroit spot to go for a fun sledding experience and tobogganing. Make sure to bring your own sleds and dress warm.
Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township becomes a wonderland in winter spread out over 5,000 acres. If you’re looking for downhill adventure, you’ll find it here with opportunities to sled and tube.
Binder Park Golf Course in Battle Creek is popular in warmer months, but it’s also popular in winter when it transforms into a winter sports park with places to sled, toboggan, and tube. Equipment rentals are also available.
See Blue Ice in the Straits of Mackinac
If you ever needed a good excuse to see the Mackinac Bridge in winter or to see Mackinac Island in the distance, the blue ice that forms in the Straits of Mackinac is the perfect reason.
Ice shards with their pretty blue hue line the water, attracting local, tourists, and so many others. When the sun hits the ice just right, it’s enough to make your jaw drop in wonder.
For the record, the ice isn’t really blue, but it seems that way because it doesn’t have bubbles in it so it’s easily able to reflect the blue part of white light.
If you’re not able to make it to Northern Michigan to see the blue ice, you can find it in the Upper Peninsula as well on the shores of Lake Superior in Munising. If you want to travel even further, north you can see it in Houghton near Michigan Tech University.
Explore more frozen lakes in Michigan.
Go for a Dog Sled Ride at Shanty Creek
There are lots of fun activities to enjoy at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire and dogsledding is one of the most unique.
Visitors can travel along the landscape of Schuss Mountain and enjoy incredible views as they enjoy a dogsledding experience that lasts about 20 minutes.
The ride is about a mile long and visitors can also have a meet and greet with the sled dog team and take photos. Ride options include one adult, one adult and one child, or two children.
If dogsledding isn’t quite your thing, you can enjoy alpine tubing at Summit Mountain’s Alpine Tubing Park. It allows all the thrills of sledding without having to climb all the way back up.
Shanty Creek Resort also has 25km of groomed, track-set trails that are perfect for cross-country skiing . Visitors can enjoy a village-to-village experience as they see the winter wonderland around them.
Visitors can also slip on a pair of snowshoes and start trekking. You can make your own trail or traverse a 3km multipurpose trail.
Explore more Michigan ski resorts.
Experience Winter Camping at Clear Lake State Park
Winter camping isn’t for everyone, but a handful of Michigan State Parks offer winter camping, including Clear Lake State Park in Atlanta.
Clear Lake State Park offers visitors a quiet spot to retreat to, especially as the weather turns colder and the leaves change color. Remember to pack plenty of winter gear and weather clothing.
If you’re camping around Clear Lake State Park, you have many recreation options right at your fingertips.
Travel to Hillman, where you can go ice fishing at Fletchers Pond, or head to Thunder Bay Resort, where you can board a horse-drawn carriage and see majestic elk up close.
If you want to travel a little further, head further east to Alpena and visit the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. You won’t be able to see any of Thunder Bay’s famous shipwrecks in winter, but you can learn all about them at the visitor’s center.
Attend the Alpena Ice Festival
The Alpena Ice Fest made a triumphant return in 2022 and was well-received despite bone-chilling temperatures.
The festival has plans to return in 2023 and should be chockful of activities, including ice sculptures, a huge bonfire, demonstrations, kids’ activities, and plenty of warm drinks and yummy food.
There are so many fun activities we can recommend in Alpena.
If you’re in Alpena during wintertime, you can head to local lakes for some ice fishing, explore downtown Alpena for some excellent shopping and dining, and even head to Northern Lights Arena for some ice skating.
Experience Night Tubing at Bowers Farm
If you live in Metro Detroit, then you’ve likely heard about Bowers Farm and all the fun you can have there. This one-of-a-kind farm is a cold-weather destination that draws thousands of visitors each year.
One of the most popular activities here is snow tubing and Bowers Farm has a huge course. But Bowers takes things to the next level by offering nighttime tubing where the hill is lit up for glow tubing. It’s a truly unique experience you need to try for yourself!
Bowers Farm offers so much more than tubing and there are plenty of winter activities worth visiting for.
Every year, Bowers creates an outdoor ice skating rink, allowing visitors of all ages to create some wonderful winter memories. Get here while you can because skating is available when the temperatures are cold enough to maintain the rink.
Bowers also has a farm kitchen/farm store that allows visitors to buy farm-fresh goods and hot concessions. This is the perfect way to warm up after tubing, especially with a hot slice of pizza and some hot chocolate.
Celebrate Black History Month at the Charles H. Wright Museum
Black History Month in February is a time to highlight the impact that Black people have made in their rich history. If you’re looking to learn more about Black history, there’s no better place than the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit.
With immersive exhibits and well-crafted displays, the museum takes visitors on a journey to learn the rich history of Black people, their struggles during colonial times, and their contributions to so many aspects of world and American society.
Michigan has many great museums, especially in Detroit and we have several we recommend if you’re in the Motor City.
The Motown Museum in Detroit is home of Hitsville USA, where so many great singers like Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, and the Temptations made their mark.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is arguably one of the finest art museums in the nation. Visitors will be blown away by nearly 70,000 pieces and more than 100 galleries, covering everything from African American art, European art, and even baseball cards.
Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village could be considered one of the best Michigan museums that no one knows about. Its phenomenal collection of historic items, including the Rosa Parks bus, a chair Abe Lincoln once sat in, and even a historic carousel are a sight to behold.
Cheer On the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena
If you’re a sports fanatic, wintertime is one of the best times of the year to cheer on Michigan’s pro and college teams.
As of the National Hockey League’s Original Six Teams, the Detroit Red Wings have a storied history and lots of up-and-coming talent that make a winter trip to Little Caesars Arena a must during the colder months.
Michigan sports nuts are in luck because there are lots of places you go to watch live sports in the winter.
If you’re more of a basketball fan, that’s ok too. You can still head to Little Caesars Arena to watch the Detroit Pistons play.
Not to be forgotten, but a trip to Ford Field to watch the Detroit Lions play. The Lions may infuriate fans one week and excite them the next, but a trip to Ford Field always makes for a fun time.
If you’re looking for other options besides pro sports, head to Ann Arbor or East Lansing. The University of Michigan has highly-ranked men’s basketball and hockey programs.
The same is true in East Lansing where Michigan State University’s men’s basketball and hockey programs are always a tough matchup for opponents. If you’re lucky, you may see Michigan and Michigan State go head-to-head.
Explore more winter things to do in Metro Detroit.
Go Curling in Kalamazoo
If you’ve ever wanted to try an Olympic sport without actually competing in the Olympics, the Kalamazoo Curling Club is the perfect spot to have a unique winter adventure.
Curling may look difficult, but anyone of any age can learn and you’ll find that curlers and curling clubs tend to support one another. Review some curling basics, bundle up and come with an open mind as you prepare to learn curling in Southwest Michigan.
There are many places you can learn Olympic sports in Michigan and plenty of cities in Michigan with curling clubs. You can head to Alpena, Traverse City, and Lansing among other cities.
If you’re looking to experience thrills (sort of) like an Olympian, you can try speed skating at the Wolverine Sports Club in Ann Arbor.
You can also hit the slopes, not for skiing, but for snowboarding, which is one of the more popular winter Olympic sports. Muskegon is actually said to be one of the birthplaces of snowboarding and you can visit Boyne Highlands or Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac to bust out a few moves.
Explore Frozen Lighthouses
There are dozens of lighthouses across Michigan that are fun to visit any time of year. But you’ll gain a new appreciation for all of Michigan’s lighthouses by visiting in the winter. You may even argue that Michigan’s lighthouses look better in winter.
Head just north of Frankfort to Point Betsie on the shores of Lake Michigan, where you can this majestic lighthouse amid the frozen waters.
Head north toward the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City to Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. This is a great place to see the Straits of Mackinac and you can even see the Mackinac Bridge during the colder months.
Hug the Lake Michigan coastline and visit Muskegon to see the South Breakwater Lighthouse where you can see the iconic red tower mixed with the frigid cold of winter.
Throw Ice Balls onto Lake Michigan
During the winter, ice balls of all sizes have been known to form on Lake Michigan, just to the south of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Some are smaller, but the bigger ones can grow as big as softballs and beach balls.
The phenomenon happens in several places in Europe as well, including in Germany and Scandinavia.
According to experts, the balls form when weather conditions are just below freezing along Lake Michigan’s shallow beaches. When that happens, frozen slush collects into rounded shapes and waves polish the chucks into their orb shape.
So if you’re around Lake Michigan when it happens, take a minute to marvel at the collection of ice around you and take another minute to grab a couple of these icy balls and chuck them into Lake Michigan.
Play in the Snow at Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park
The luge is one of the most exhilarating and iconic Winter Olympic sports and if you’re a fan of luge in Michigan, you’re in luck. You can become a luger yourself by visiting Muskegon Luge Sports Park.
You read that right! The luge track in Muskegon is only one of four in the nation and is considered by some to be a hidden gem.
The track is a kunstbahn track (German for artificial track) and is made from natural ice. The track measures 850 feet and was designed by a former Olympian. There are six curves and two starting areas. Once visitors are on the track, it’s possible to reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
If you love outdoor recreating in the winter, Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park offers much more than luging and is a fun year-round spot.
Visitors have a chance to go cross-country skiing on immaculately groomed trails in the state park. These trails are gentle and lighted, so they’re perfect for night skiing and for visitors of all ages to hit the slopes.
Those looking for something a little slower-paced can strap on a pair of skates and go ice skating. The park actually has more than two acres of natural ice and even offers lighted skating trails. For both of those reasons, it’s known as one of the best places to learn to ski.
The natural ice isn’t just good for skating, it’s also good for pond hockey. Native Michiganders know hockey is a popular wintertime activity and the park offers space for pond hockey as well as equipment rentals, so you can bring your friends and family for a fun pickup game.
Go Snowshoeing at Fumee Lake
Fumee Lake Natural Area in Quinnesec is one of the Upper Peninsula’s most popular destinations for outdoor recreation in cold weather months. For skiing, it’s an easy place for beginners to gain confidence and build their skills.
The area has many multi-use trails, including the Little Fumee Lake Loop and the Big Fumee Lake Loop. Both trails encompass almost seven miles, so it’s perfect for strapping on some snowshoes and exploring the UP’s natural beauty.
If you love snowshoeing, there are dozens of spots to go snowshoeing in Michigan for the perfect winter adventure.
Mount Ripley Ski Area offers excellent snowshoeing and ski trails overlooking the Keweenaw Peninsula. The area is perfect for snowshoers and skiers of all ages and has nearly two dozen trails and plenty of scenic overlooks.
Believe it or not, the east side of Mackinac Island is also a great place for snowshoeing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. There are two pathways for snowshoers and 10 miles of trails for cross-country skiing.
The Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids has more than 250 acres for snowshoeing and also has an education. If you come back in February, you can participate in the Snowshoe With Your Sweetie event, which includes some candlelit snowshoeing.
Plan a Ski-Cation at Ski Brule
Michigan has so many excellent ski resorts and areas and Ski Brule resort in Iron River is one of our absolute favorites.
Located just a few miles from the Wisconsin border, this is a great place for some family fun. It has everything from skiing to snow tubing, and kids programs too.
Ski Brule is a family-owned operation that has offered quality skiing since 1977 across 150 acres of gorgeous terrain. In all, there are 17 trails suited for skiers of all skill levels.
Because Michigan has so many top-notch ski resorts, there are so many places we recommend checking out.
Mount Bohemia at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula gets dozens of inches of snow every year and has nearly 600 acres of skiable terrain and a 900-foot vertical drop.
Boyne Resorts in Harbor Springs is not just one of the biggest resorts in Michigan, but it’s also perfect for beginners. Boyne Highlands has more than 50 runs, 20 easy green trails and so much more.
Boyne Mountain Resort packs plenty of fun for families too, offering 60 runs as well as ice skating, snow tubing, and snowboarding among other activities.
Go Winter Yurt Camping at Craig Lake State Park
Craig Lake State Park is billed as the most remote in Michigan, but if you’re looking for a slice of solitude, the Park’s Teddy Lake Yurt is the place to go.
If you’re wondering what a yurt is, it’s essentially a fancy tent resting on a wooden platform with some essentials inside. It allows people to indulge in a bit of glamourous camping, or glamping.
The Teddy Lake Yurt is about seven miles from US-41 and is the only structure on the lake. You’ll find two sets of bunk beds, a dining table, and a few basic needs for a rustic camping experience.
If you’re looking for other glamping experiences in Michigan, you’re in luck because there are several spots you can go to.
Head to Northwest Michigan into the middle of the Leelanau Peninsula to Wild Cherry Resort. You’ll be able to glamp in the middle of wine country and you can even pay for an upgrade of wine, cheese, and flowers. This is a perfect experience if you’re a camper and a wine lover.
In Alanson, you can go glamping at RGarges Farm Vintage Airstream. You’ll be tucked into a secluded corner about 40 miles from Lake Michigan and you can even get your hands dirty with some farming or fun activities like barnyard yoga.
Mount Bohemia Adventure Resort’s Mountaintop Yurt morphs into an all-inclusive resort in the wintertime. Visitors can book a yurt in a hostel, inn, or log cabin and many of these packages also include meals, lodging, and guides for outdoor activities.
Places to Visit in Michigan in Winter: Michigan Summer Vacation Destinations
Knowing where you should go in the winter in Michigan is as easy as considering popular Michigan summer vacation destinations. For example, there’s no shortage of Michigan winter things to do in Traverse City, Petoskey, and Grand Haven.
The best part is that, by comparison, these cities look like ghost towns during the cold season. Go off the beaten path and enjoy a winter vacation in Michigan’s summer towns.
Crowded summer beaches are a part of Michigan life, but the feeling of having your favorite lakeshore town completely to yourself is a truly satisfying experience. Not to mention, the small businesses in these towns depend on summer traffic to survive the winter, which is why they will greatly appreciate your winter visit.
Don’t miss our favorite off-season beaches in Michigan to explore during the winter months!
You’re not just curing yourself of the winter blues, you’re helping the local economy, making it one of the best winter things to do in Michigan!
Plan a Nordic Skiing Adventure in Marquette
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.
Noquemanon Trail Network
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.
Blueberry Ridge Pathway
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.
Take a Winter Road Trip in Michigan
One of the best road trips I’ve ever been on is to Munising in late February. The temperature was twenty below zero, the snow was falling at a rapid pace, and the emergency services shut down all roads in and out of the town. Was it a little nerve-wracking? Yeah. Was it an insanely fun experience? Absolutely.
Here’s my recommendation: Wait for the moment a winter storm is approaching, head “Up North” before it hits, then spend the day snowshoeing, driving freshly-plowed roads lined with pine trees blanketed in snow, and talking long walks that leave your eyelashes crusted in snow.
It’s one of the best winter getaways in Michigan!
For more winter Michigan road trip fun, explore the ultimate Upper Peninsula winter road trip, must-stops on an Eastern UP winter road trip, and these winter scenic drives in Michigan!
Discover Indoor Attractions, Food, & Shops in Downtown Flint
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.
Entertainment & Hangout Spots
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.
Delectable Dishes of All Kinds
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.
Boutiques & Specialty Stores
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.
Take a Winter Hike Along the Great Lakes
To take in the breathtaking beauty of the Great Lakes during the winter months, go hiking or backpacking along the shorelines.
Think the coast is just for the sun? No way! Frozen beaches and ice-crusted lighthouses are some of the most beautiful sites to visit. On a cold weekend, drive up the coast to do a winter Michigan lighthouse tour. You’d be surprised how different they look in January or February.
Check out these off-season Michigan beaches to visit in the winter. On the frozen beaches, you’re likely to find rocks and stones that the freshwater waves have polished over the years. You might even come across pieces of sunken ships that have washed ashore.
Here are some winter hiking trails in Michigan that we recommend…
Isle Royale National Park
The Greenstone Ridge Trail in Isle Royale National Park stretches for 43 miles from Rock Harbor in the east to Windigo in the west in the Upper Peninsula. This national park gets the least number of visitors in the area, mainly because it’s remote and has crude camping conditions.
Through the granite outcroppings and pine forests, you’re rewarded with amazing vistas of Lake Superior.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, you can walk the Lakeshore-North Country Trail, which is a combination of the Lakeshore Trail and the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Extending for 42 miles, there are multiple access points: Munising, Minders Castle Point, Twelvemile Beach, and Grand Marais. Because of that, you can go on a winter hike for as little as an hour or as long as a few days.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
With miles of hiking trails, exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the top things to do in Michigan in winter if you’re near Maple City. You can choose from easy nature trails to hard dunes trails.
If you’re in it for the scenery, though, Pyramid Point Trail is just 3 miles and offers a serene view of Lake Michigan. The moderate trek passes through paper birch trees and wildflower meadows and over sand dunes.
Negwegon State Park
In Harrisville, Negwegon State Park is a rustic area with a few easy loop trails. The Algonquin, Chippewa, and Potawatomi Trails are named after Native American tribes. They link together and take you on a journey deep into the park.
The 5-mile walk is easy and offers the chance to spot some hidden sandy beaches and bays. Since the park is so remote, you may not even see other people.
Port Crescent State Park
Home to 3 miles of shoreline, a boardwalk, a dark sky preserve, and a modern campground, Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin has some excellent trails. The park borders Lake Huron and is located in a once-thriving fishing and lumbering town.
In addition to views of the lake, the 2.5 miles of trails overlook Pinnebog River and Saginaw Bay. While there, you have the opportunity to go birding, fishing, skiing, and more.
Warren Dunes State Park
Near the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan, you can get exceptional views of the water from a 260-foot-high dune in Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer. Along with camping, there are 6 miles of trails for walking and hiking.
In particular, the 4-mile Great Warren Dune Trail is of moderate difficulty and immerses you in Michigan’s natural beauty as you traverse hardwood forests and towering dunes.
Go Ice Climbing & Skating in Fenton Michigan
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.
Peabody Ice Climbing
Have you never been ice climbing? Do you want to brush up on your climbing skills before heading to the mountains? 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.
The Barn Hockey Ice Rink
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.
Capture the Best Snowy Winter Views in Michigan
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.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
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.
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.
Look for Blue Ice and Frozen Waterfalls in Michigan
Blue Ice on the Great Lakes
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever travel to the North Pole or Antarctica, but you still have a good chance of seeing blue ice on the Great Lakes. In fact, you won’t find anything more intriguing than this gorgeous phenomenon if you’re looking for unique things to do in Michigan in winter.
The ice itself isn’t blue, but it looks blue because of how sunlight bounces around within the mounds of cracked ice.
Frozen Waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula
For more natural beauty during winter in Michigan, visit some of the frozen waterfalls across the Upper Peninsula.
Have you ever hugged a waterfall? Thought it wasn’t possible? You just didn’t visit at the right time.
A frozen waterfall is one of the most unique, beautiful sights I’ve witnessed. Our cold weather might not be the best thing for our cars, pipes, or fingers, but it is perfect for stopping a waterfall completely in its tracks.
The flowing water freezes into giant icicles, creating a stunning formation that beckons you to admire and climb.
Munising Falls is a great example of a must-see frozen waterfall. On hot summer days, visitors might stand under the falls to cool off. In the winter, you can use the frozen falls as a backrest as you sit and take in the surrounding beauty.
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:
- Munising Falls and Miners Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Laughing Whitefish Falls at Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park in Rock River Township
- Munising Falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising
- Wagner Falls at the Wagner Falls Scenic Site in Munising
- Tahquamenon Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise
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 Lower Peninsula, 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 can explore the trails in the 102-acre park too.
Don’t miss out on winter camping in the Upper Peninsula!
Explore the Eben Ice Caves in the UP
Harsh weather and cold temperature also help create a phenomenon known as the “Michigan Ice Caves.”
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to travel to the UP in winter to check out some marvelous ice formations? As long as you’ve got some ice cleats on, you can ease your way into the cave openings for some seriously cool views you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re brave enough to attempt it, you can get some awesome pictures.
As you’ve read, there are some seriously cool natural phenomena that happen during Michigan winters. If you love seeing these wonders up closer, then may we suggest a visit to the Eben Ice Caves in the Upper Peninsula?
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.
Getting to the Eben Ice Caves
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.
Taking Photos & Ice Climbing
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.
The best time to visit these caves is in mid-February. By this time, the ice has had plenty of cold weather to be safe enough to visit.
If you think those ice caves are cool, there are other spots in Michigan where you can see more of them.
In Munising, the Grand Island Ice Caves can be seen from the Sand Point beaches. Take care though, because walking on the lake is not recommended due to undetermined ice thickness.
Michigan also has numerous caves you can visit during warmer months too. Greenland’s Adventure Mine is a great showcase of Michigan’s mining history and offers different seasonal tours that take you inside a mine.
Spider Cave, located near Fayette, is perhaps one of the most unique caves in Michigan and has two distinct features that make it a place worth visiting. It’s been the site of a lot of artifact collecting and it’s the site of different cave drawings, including a spider-man.
Spend the Day Fat Tire Biking in Alpena
If you’re a Michigan biking fan, the biking season doesn’t 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.
North Eastern State Trail
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.
Chippewa Hills Pathway
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.
Rockport State Recreation Area
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.
Norway Ridge Pathway
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.
Experience the Michigan Winter Snow-Glow
The night after a winter storm, head out for a midnight stroll in the woods. The thick white snow reflects light, making the entire sky lighter than normal. Even with no moon, you can see perfectly in the middle of the night.
The best places to experience an authentic Michigan snow-glow are the Manistee National Forest or deep in the Upper Peninsula. The further from city life, the better and more peaceful the walk becomes.
Experience Outdoor Things to Do in Michigan in Winter
When you’re looking for what to do for fun in the winter in Michigan, strap on your snow gear and hit the slopes.
The state has 47 areas with skiing, snowboarding, fat biking, dog-sledding, snow tubing, and many other outdoor winter sports for all ages. Below are several Michigan winter attractions that we love.
With dozens of ski hills across the state, one is never too far to carve their way down a mountain (or a really big hill). Winter skiing is an activity for all ages, and it is the perfect way to incorporate a winter family getaway filled with fun.
Many of the ski resorts also offer heated pools, hot tubs, and saunas to guests. After a long day on the slopes, there is truly nothing better than letting your muscles soak in a hot tub under the stars.
For those not fond of skiing or snowboarding, try winter tubing. It is common to find sledding hills at ski resorts. It offers a fun and thrilling alternative for those not keen on catching the fresh powder.
Zip Through the Snow While Downhill Skiing in Petoskey
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.
The Highlands at Harbor Springs
Offering accommodations and everything that you need for winter skiing, The Highlands at Harbor Springs 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.
Boyne Mountain Resort
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.
Other Michigan Ski Resorts
Northwest of Detroit, Alpine Valley in White Lake has a variety of terrain for all ages and skill levels. The Mini Park is set up for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
The Big Park is designed for high-speed rail tricks and catching big air, while The Rope Park has a high-speed tow rope jib and lines for everyone. Furthermore, Alpine Valley has the best snowcross track in the region.
Shanty Creek Resort
Located in Bellaire, Shanty Creek Resort provides a combination of terrain and variety across well-maintained slopes.
You can enjoy Nordic cross-country skiing on nearly 17.5 miles of trails, or check out The Monster Park, The Natty, and Low Rider slopes. You can even test your speed against the best National Standard Race ski times in the country.
Additionally, the resort features alpine tubing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, fat biking, and snowmobiling.
Hickory Hills Ski Area
If you’re in Traverse City or decide to visit, enjoying snow sports at Hickory Hills Ski Area is one of the best things to do in Michigan in winter.
It has eight ski runs, including one for beginners, five for intermediate skiers, and two for advanced skiers. Seven of the runs offer night skiing. Other activities available include snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
In Iron River, Ski Brule is the No. 1 ski resort in the Midwest, and it’s perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. It has winter activities for the whole family, including skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and fat biking.
You can even hit the snowshoe trails and snow tubing park as well as ride snowmobiles and sleighs. Nearly everything that you want to do in the snow can be done here.
Try an Olympic Sport at the Kalamazoo Curling Club
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.
About the Kalamazoo Curling Club
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.
Club Member Leagues
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.
Experience a Variety of Michigan Winter Festivals
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.
Gobles Snowman Festival
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.
Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth
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 in Houghton Lake
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.
Grand Haven Winterfest
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.
Plymouth Ice Festival
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 in Downtown Petoskey
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.
Sault Ste Marie Downtown Winter Ice Festival
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.
MTU Winter Carnival
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.
Melt Away the Winter Blues at The Schvitz Authentic Banya
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.
About The Schvitz
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.
Bath Times & Admission
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.
Register for the Polar Plunge to Freeze for a Cause
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.
Polar Plunge Dates & Venues
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 list of the most popular Michigan Polar Plunge locations and event dates:
- Super Plunge — Jan. 21 & 22 at the Unified Sports and Inclusion Center in Grand Rapids
- Monroe — Jan. 23 at Brass Monkey & Quatro’s
- Jackson — Jan. 29 at the Eagle’s Nest Bar & Grill
- Muskegon — Jan. 29 at Fricano’s Muskegon Lake
- Lansing — Jan. 30 at Jackson Field
- Southwest Michigan Plunge — Feb. 5 at Watermark Brewing in Stevensville
- Fenton — Feb. 5 at the Fenton Moose Lodge
- Turk Lake — Feb. 5 at the Turk Lake Restaurant & Bar
- Holland — Feb. 5 at the Holland Elks Lodge
- Lake City — Feb. 12 at the Town Pump Saloon
- Harrison Township — Feb. 12 at MacRay Harbor
- Mt. Pleasant — Feb. 12 at O’Kelly/Wayside
- Munising — Feb. 12 at East Channel Brewing Company
- Walled Lake — Feb. 12 at The Beach Tiki Bar & Boil
- Otsego — Feb. 13 at the Bittersweet Ski Resort
- Grand Rapids — Feb. 19 at LMCU Ball Park
- Grand Traverse Bay — Feb. 19 at the Centerpointe Marina / Visions Banquet Center
- Great Lakes Bay — Feb. 19 at the Dow Diamond
- Wayne County — Feb. 19 at The Belleville Yacht Club
- Alpena — Feb. 19 at The Sand Bar & Grill
- Big Rapids — Feb. 26 at the Big Rapids Elks Lodge
- Ann Arbor — Feb. 26 at The Circ Bar
- Detroit — March 4 at Atwater Brewery & Milliken State Park/Harbor
- Lapeer — March 5 at the Lapeer Center Building
- Marquette — March 19 at the Up North Lodge
- Manistee — TBD
In addition to the plunge, many of the events include afterparties with warm food, beverages, and music. Some of them may feature creative costume contests as well.
The Ongoing Virtual Frozen 5K
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, while deluxe registration is $100 and adds a logo crewneck sweatshirt to the incentives. Like the Polar Plunge, other incentives are available based on how much you raise.
Grab Your Ice Skates for Indoor & Outdoor Fun in Metro Detroit
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.
Campus Martius Park Rink
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.
Adams Butzel Complex
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.
Patterson Park’s Hutton Ice Rink
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.
St Clair Shores Civic Ice Arena
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!
Viking Ice Arena
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.
Southfield Sports Arena
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.
Riley Park Ice Rink
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.
Barnum Park & Ice Rink
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.
Speed Down the Icy Upper Peninsula & Muskegon Luge Tracks
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 a specific track. 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.
Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park
At Muskegon Winter Sports Complex in North Muskegon, the name says it all. This venue offers quality recreational winter activities and programs for locals and visitors alike.
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.
The 850-foot winter luge track is one of only four in the country and has six curves, and the almost 9.5-mile cross-country ski trail is the longest in the Midwest that’s lighted. Sledding, snowshoeing, and ice skating are available too.
Upper Peninsula Luge Club
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!
Additional Unique Michigan Winter Things to Do
Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Adventures
For a true winter adventure, book a package with Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Adventures in McMillan. Everyone in the family can hop on a dog sled, and children ages 10 and older can drive one.
The kennel has several adventure packages, including 10-mile and 20-mile options, an overnight option, and an option that includes a stay at Chamberlin’s Old Forest Inn in Curtis. You can even combine your dog-sledding excursion with ice climbing.
U.P. Ice Golf Scramble
Whether or not you’re a Michigander, you can experience a truly one-of-a-kind winter golf event in St. Ignace. Every early March, the city sets up a golfing range on the frozen East Moran Bay. The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble is a marvelous opportunity to work on your golf swing.
Although, there’s no way to anticipate where the ball will bounce when it hits the icy surface. Also, the event includes the Glow Ball Challenge, which is a shuffleboard-like game using a glow-in-the-dark ball.
Get a Taste of the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail
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.
Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery
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.
Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn
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.
Dash Through the Snow on a Snowmobile Trail
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.
Alger County Snowmobile Trail System
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.
Sault Ste Marie Snowmobile Trails
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.
Alcona County Snowmobile Trails
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.
Snowmobiling From Gaylord to Mackinaw City
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.
Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park
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.
William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail State Park
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.
Immerse Yourself in the Kalamazoo Air Zoo
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.
Indoor Amusement Park Rides
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.
DeNooyer Winter Break Family Fun Days
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.
Start Your Day or Warm Up at the Best Michigan Coffee Shops
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.
Moose Jackson Cafe
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.
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.
Drip Drop Drink
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.
Foster Coffee Company
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.
Bundle Up for Stargazing in These Dark Sky Places
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.
Isle Royale National Park
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. During the day, you can tour the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and lighthouse to learn about the Fitzgerald and other shipwrecks.
Wilderness State Park
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.
Port Crescent State Park
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.
Lake Hudson Recreation Area
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.
Dr. Lawless International Dark Sky Park
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.
Strap on Your Snowshoes for a Walk Over the Snow
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.
Marquette Snowshoeing Paths
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.
Snowshoeing in Alpena
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.
Petoskey Snowshoeing Trails
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, The Highlands at Harbor Springs has a magical, 1-mile Enchanted Trail.
Hanson Hills Recreation Area
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.
Snowshoeing in Genesee County
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.
Fort Custer Recreation Area
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!
Eat & Drink With Friends in an Igloo
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.
Bird’s Eye Outfitters
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.
Hop Lot Brewing
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.
Harvey’s Grill & Bar
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.
Enjoy Exhilarating Snow Tubing & Sledding All Over Michigan
Did you know that sledding is an ancient form of transportation and has been a recreational activity for centuries? Similar to sledding, snow tubing is rumored to have started much later in the 1820s. Regardless, 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.
John & Melissa Besse Sports Park
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.
Snow Snake Ski & Golf
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.
Hawk Island Park
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.
Play or Spectate the Labatt Blue UP Pond Hockey Championship in St. Ignace
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.
Savor the Flavors of the Best Michigan Pasties
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 the best places to get pasties in Michigan 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.
Lawry’s Pasty Shop
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.
Cousin Jenny’s Cornish Pasties
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
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. Additionally, the Clarkston and Orion locations have partnered with other companies for local deliveries.
Support Your Local Farmers Markets
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.
Holland Farmers Market
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.
Fulton Street Farmers Market
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.
Flint Farmers’ Market
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.
Ann Arbor Farmers Market
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.
Gather With Friends for Afternoon Tea, Bonfires, & Swimming
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, The Highlands at Habor Springs 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.
More Things to Do This Winter in Michigan
There are tons of other fun things to do in Michigan in the winter, including romantic winter things to do in Michigan and winter date ideas!
For instance, you could go take a scenic Michigan winter drive to a winter train ride in Michigan or visit many other winter weekend getaways Michigan destinations offer including winter camping.
More Michigan Winter Fun By Region
- Upper Peninsula Winter Things to Do
- Northern Michigan Winter Things to Do (Lower Peninsula)
- West Michigan Winter Things to Do
- Mid-Michigan Winter Things to Do
- Thumb/East Michigan Winter Things to Do
- Southwest Michigan Winter Things to Do
- Southcentral Michigan Winter Things to Do
- Southwest Michigan/Metro Detroit Winter Things to Do
Do you do something different during Michigan winters? Share your Michigan winter wonderland experiences with us in the comments below!