Winter. The one season that seems to drag on for freakin’ ever. (At least in Michigan… if you’re in Florida and complaining because it’s only 60 degrees, I can’t even.) In Michigan, we see the sun about once every two weeks the entire months of January, February and March. It feels like the snow and the cold will never go away, and cabin fever sets in really, really, really quickly.
But, I found a long time ago that the only way to make it through a Michigan winter unscathed, is by embracing the snow, braving the cold, and finding something fun to do. Once you do this, I pinky promise, winter won’t seem so terrible! But what can you possibly do in the snow that’s fun? Don’t worry. I’m already one step ahead of you. Here’s my Michigan Winter Bucket list that will have you wishing winter lasted just a little bit longer! Let’s get started with some outdoor activities…
- Take a hike. Or a walk. I know… this might seem like the very last thing you want to do when the wind chill is below zero and your face instantly freezes when you step out your door. But seriously, winter walks are some of the prettiest walks you can take in Michigan! (In fact, they are only second to Sunset Beach Walks in my opinion!) So bundle up, grab your camera, and get moving! Because you’ll get beautiful views like this…
- Enjoy a festival. Michiganders love their festivals, and winter doesn’t stop them from happening. All over the state, you’ll find fun festivals you can enjoy. Do you like snow/ ice sculptures? Head to Frakenmuth for Zehnder’s Snowfest. (Check out my Frankenmuth guide before you go!) Maybe you really, really really like beer. The Michigan Winter Beer Festival just so happens to be a thing. Lucky you! Or check out any Winterfest across the state. (There’s one in Mackinaw City, Grand Haven, Benzie, Boyne City, Indian River… you get the picture.)
- Hit the Slopes. Michigan has some pretty incredible ski hills! In fact, it’s the best in all of the Midwest. It may not come with mountain views like you find in Wyoming, but you’ll like the price tag on a trip to Northern Michigan so much more. And don’t think if you’re used to skiing out west that you’ll be board on our ski hills. You won’t. There is no shortage of Double Black Diamond runs across the 51 ski areas of Michigan. In the lower peninsula, check out Boyne Highlands and Crystal Mountain. And if you’re super hard core, and not afraid to cross the Mackinac Bridge when it’s icy and swaying in the wind, head up to Big Powderhorn or Pine Mountain. I grew up snowboarding at Crystal, and loved it! Check out a map of their awesome trails below.
- Go Snow Shoeing. Maybe flying down hills isn’t your cup of tea. This is where snow shoeing comes in. You’re still outside, you’re still enjoying the snow, and you’re still probably freezing your butt off. You’re just doing it all at a slower pace. Most of the state parks in Michigan offer snow shoe equipment rentals, however, if you’re looking for a specific location, check out this list.
- Hit the Hills. Okay. So you don’t want to ski and you don’t want to snow shoe? Then you have to go sledding! (See, I’m forcing you to get your booty outside!) There are SO MANY great places to go sledding in Michigan! However, I think you should head to the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear and sled there. Because it’s literally the best. Anddd since I can’t seem to find any of my photos from sledding last year, so instead, here’s a picture of the Lake Michigan shoreline in the winter.
- Build a Snowman. It’s not winter without building Frosty.
- Have a snowball fight. Again. It’s not winter unless you get to hit your husband/wife/significant other/best friend with a snowball at least once… am I right?
- Hop on a snowmobile. 6,500. There’s a number to remember. That’s how many groomed snowmobile trails you’re going to find throughout Michigan. Y’all. That’s over 300 miles of trails! Not to mention all the frozen lakes you’ll get to drive over, and the rugged terrain that make it that much more fun. If you love to snowmobile, you’re gong to want to check out the trails near Cadillac. Plus, they have a TON of snowmobile related activities that you’ll love too!
- Hit the Beach. No. I’m not crazy, and that’s for sure not a typo. The beaches of Lake Michigan are stunning in the winter. Grab your camera and head to the shore line. There’s nothing quite like snow drifts with sand patterns, icy light houses with the stunningly blue backdrop of Lake Michigan.
- Go Ice Fishing. Okay. I’m not going to pretend to know ANYTHING on this topic, but I do know, that fresh fish is the best fish. And it tastes even better when caught in the icy waters of Northern Michigan. Just promise me this.. you won’t go ice fishing unless you’re with someone who knows what they’re doing. Every year, there are new stories of tourists that fall through the ice because they assumed it was thick enough. And I don’t want to be reading about you this February. So grab a friend, or a guide, and get out there and catch your family some dinner!
And if you and snow don’t mix, there is still a bunch of indoor things you can do too!
- Cheer on your Wings. Or your Wolverines. Or your Griffins. Or you know, any hockey team in Michigan. There are plenty to choose from! Hockey is such a fun sport to watch. Even if you don’t know anything about it, you’ll have the best time at the games. I promise! I would highly recommend getting to The Joe if you can (it’s the farewell season), or heading to Van Andel to see the Grand Rapids Griffins. Go on a night when they have Dollar Beers and Dollar Dogs. This was a favorite winter pastime of my friends and I in college!
- Check out a Museum. Add a little culture to your winter weekend by heading to a museum.
- Head to the Auto Show. One of my favorite winter activities is heading to the North American International Auto Show every January at Cobo Center. It’s all too fitting that The Motor City becomes the world’s stage for the newest in everything automotive. From the future of cars, to the newest models ready to drive off the floor, you can wander through the hundreds of displays at Cobo. And guess what else? You know that Bentley you’ve always wanted but could probably never afford? You can sit in it if you want. Think of any automotive brand in the world.. it’s there. And they’ll have cars on display for you to enjoy. PS… We’re heading to the Auto Show this Saturday, and next Monday, I’ll be sharing all the cool stuff we find with you, and how me make the auto show an awesome date day!
- Take a weekend getaway. Plan a weekend Up North where you can get away from it all. Nothing says relaxation like hot tubs, fireplaces and snow falling outside your window. Plus all those towns that are packed with tourists in the summer are empty in the winter. So kick back with locals, and enjoy the beauty of Northern Michigan.
- Find a cozy cabin. Speaking of getting away from it all, there is no better place to do it than in a cozy cabin or lodge. There is literally nothing more picturesque than a perfect little cabin in the middle of the woods, surrounded by snow. If seclusion is what you’re looking for, check out fun cabin rentals here. But if you’re looking for a resort, I’m going to tell you (like always) to head to The Homestead. Book a room at The Stony Brook Lodge and you can thank me later. Also, be sure to check out all their fun winter packages!
- Find the world’s greatest Hot Cocoa. Nothing makes me happier on a cold day than a giant mug of hot cocoa. Find one that speaks to your soul after a long day of enjoying the snow. (And no. Starbucks doesn’t count.) My favorite hot chocolate is ALWAYS changing, but right now, it is without a doubt the hot cocoa from Sweetie-Licious at the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids.
- Get Touristy. Michigan is A LOT less crowded in the winter. Like deserted. The Fudgies all pack up and head home the second the last colorful leaf falls to the ground. Which means, the locals get their space back. But the smartest tourists know that Northern Michigan is gorgeous when winter rolls around. Get into the best restaurants without waiting in line, stroll the cute little shops and get everything at super discounted prices, and mix with the locals because really, they’re the only people around.
- Grab a drink. There is no better way to warm up than with a drink, am I right? Head to that winery you wanted to visit last summer but was too crowded to get into, or to that awesome tap room that you didn’t feel like waiting two hours to sit at. Like I said, everything is less busy in the Northern Michigan winters. And the biggest plus of that is never having to wait too long to get a drink in your hand!
- Pretend it’s Summer. Of course, there is always the option of completely ignoring the fact that it’s winter out, and hitting up a water park. Places like The Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City and Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankemuth will allow you to escape the cold, throw on your bikini and pretend it’s sweet summertime.But no matter what you do this Michigan in the winter, you’ve got to do one thing.
- Bask in the Snow Glow. Ahhh snow glow. It’s one of the coolest phenomenas in the winter. Snow Glow happens just after a fresh fallen snow on a crip, clear night. You can be in the absolute middle of the woods, and be able to see everything perfectly around you. The snow catches the moon’s like, and reflects making everything have a magical, other worldly glow that you have to experience at least once in your life. Just remember, in order to see it, you need to be far away from any cities or man-made lights.
Okay. Now I’m getting excited to get out there and play in the snow! What are you looking most forward to this winter?
I’m back tomorrow with a another travel post and I’m SOOOO excited to share it! Be sure to come back for a visit tomorrow evening!
It’s time to clean up the kitchen and get settled in for the night. The Bachelor is on!