5 Things to Do This Winter in Rochester

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Rochester is a Southeastern Michigan community located 20 miles north of Detroit. The city’s natural beauty comes from the waterways that surround the city and the abundant green space that three parks and two winding trails offer. During December, the city’s holiday spirit is on display with its annual Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade, a tradition since 1951. Organizers described the beloved tradition as Michigan's largest Christmas parade, with more than a 100 entries. Another holiday favorite is the annual Rochester’s Big Bright Light Show, when businesses are wrapped in holiday lights. Check out our list of 5 things to do in Rochester and neighboring Rochester Hills during the winter.
Buildings in downtown Rochester are covered with more than a million glimmering holiday lights from mid-November to mid-January. The Rochester Big Bright Light Show illuminates downtown with Christmas lights on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The show sets the stage for the community's annual holiday parade held the first Sunday in December.
Nature-focused events, camps and classes are offered at this 16-acre woodland preserve in the heart of Rochester. The nature center sits on forested land adjacent to the Paint Creek Trail in Rochester. The trails and nature center are free and open to the public and are supported through grants and donations. Trails are open dawn to dusk year around, while the nature center is open afternoons Friday through Sunday. The preserve offers a variety of family-friendly events, from Daffodils for Dinosaurs and Heritage Days to a Hike-a-Thon. Many of the classes feature hands-on learning about animals, biology, and nature for a wide age range.
Meadow Brook Hall is a Tudor revival-style mansion built in the 1920s in Rochester Hills by the heiress to the Dodge automaker fortune, Matilda Dodge Wilson, and her second husband, lumber baron Alfred Wilson. The 88,000-square-foot mansion has 110 rooms on a 1,443-acre estate, making it the fourth-largest historic mansion museum in the United States. In 1957, the mansion and the surrounding property and buildings were donated to the state to fund Michigan State University–Oakland, now known as Oakland University. The structure was named a National Historic Landmark in 2012. During the winter holidays, Meadow Brook becomes a dazzling holiday destination with its Holiday Walk and Winter Wonder Lights. The latter transforms the estate at night into a breathtaking light show featuring music, seasonal treats and holiday magic.
This 110-acre park in Rochester Hills features one of the largest playgrounds in Michigan. A 3-acre inclusive playground has five play areas and a sensory garden, so there’s something for all ages, interests and abilities. The play areas include a massive tree house, climbing features, turf hill for box sliding, musical instruments and water features. There's also a 1-mile handicap accessible boardwalk, solar lighting and glow pavement.
This Rochester cider mill is one of the oldest in the country, tracing its roots to 1863 when it was known as Yates Grist Mill. The Yates Mill became the Yates Cider Mill in 1876 when a cider press was installed into the water-powered process and the mill began producing apple cider. Today, the historic mill still does custom apple pressing. In December, the mill has its Christmas cider, holiday pies and famous cider mill donuts on the menu. The grounds include a petting farm with sheep, horses and Lucy the Llama. Guests can also take a walk on numerous riverside trails.
There’s lots to see and do in Rochester this winter. Check out the highlights in this video.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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