5 Things to Do in This Winter in Traverse City

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Traverse City is a popular destination during the winter, with opportunities for outdoor activities from skiing to fat tire biking. The waterfront community is nestled at the head of the East and West arms of Grand Traverse Bay, a 32-mile-long bay of Lake Michigan. The biggest city in Northern Michigan is also one of the state's most popular tourist destinations, attracting those who want to explore the Old Mission Peninsula or experience the sweeping views of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Along with the abundance of surrounding natural beauty, the city's downtown is filled with one-of-kind shops and restaurants.
This family-friendly recreational resort area with a view of the bay features wintertime skiing and tubing. Originally part of the Fife Lake State Forest, Mt. Holiday was created in 1949 when a group of local businessmen obtained permission to construct a ski run on state-owned land. When the property went up for sale more than two decades ago, community volunteers created a nonprofit corporation to purchase it and keep it as a recreation destination for the community. The ski area now has 16 runs, from beginner to advanced.
This historic 1884 hospital complex, which has been turned into a sprawling shopping and dining spot surrounded by acres of beautiful wooded grounds, is a popular winter destination. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is home to a unique collection of shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants in a cluster of Victorian-Italianate buildings known for their creamy brick exterior. Visitors can shop, dine, take a guided underground tour, walk through the arboretum, or hike the trails.
If you are looking for a fun indoor experience on a frigid day, consider Traverse City’s historic downtown movie house. You’ll be treated to a world-class, state-of-the-art presentation and a classic movie palace experience in what has been listed as the No. 1 movie theater in the world by the Motion Picture Association of America. Owned and operated by the Traverse City Film Festival under the leadership of acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore, the facility was renovated and reborn as a year-round, community-based, volunteer-run arthouse theater in 2007. Be sure to look up to see the twinkling stars in the State Theatre’s atmospheric ceiling, which were mapped to match the stars and constellations of the August night sky of Northern Michigan.
Whether you want to walk or hop on a fat tire bike, the Leelanau Trail offers miles of fun during the winter. Part of U.S. Bicycle Route 35, this all-paved, non-motorized recreational rail trail extends 17 miles from the west side of Traverse City to Suttons Bay. Most of the trail follows early 20th-century railbeds. The Leelanau Scenic Railway was the last to use the rails, and the Leelanau Trails Association purchased most of the trail’s right-of-way in 1995. The Leelanau Trail is connected to the TART Trail at the junction of M-22 and M-72 on the northwest edge of Traverse City. One long-term vision for the Leelanau Trail is to make it part of the Grand Traverse Edible Trails project so that eventually those who use the trail will be able to pick fruit from vines and orchards.
The Traverse City region is known for its vineyards. Chateau Chantal is a second-generation, family-owned winery that offers events year around. The 65-acre estate sits atop one of the highest points on the Old Mission Peninsula and offers views of both East and West arms of Grand Traverse Bay. The European-style chateau features a tasting room, an 11-room bed and breakfast, and a hospitality room that hosts cooking classes and Jazz at Sunset shows. Chateau Chantal is open daily all year. Pets are welcome on the West Patio.
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There’s lots to see and do in Traverse City this winter. Check out the highlights in this video.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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