Michigan Winter Getaways 

Shandra Martinez

| 5 min read

When the temperature drops and the snow starts to pile up across Michigan, there is no need to hibernate. Winter can be a season of adventure. From old-fashioned activities like sledding and ice-skating to more high-flying pursuits like downhill skiing and snow tubing, there are plenty of things to do outside when the weather turns cold.
Winter is always a season that’s good for trying something new. This could be a cold-weather hike along a beach, snowshoeing on your favorite wooded trail, or bundling up for a dog sled ride. So, pick an adventure built around an activity you already love or something new you want to learn. Then pencil in a daytrip or book an overnight stay nearby. Here are some ideas to get your winter getaway planning started.
Downtown strolling: Some towns are just made for winter strolling. Here are a couple to consider:
Holland: With its snowmelt system keeping the downtown shopping district’s sidewalks snow and ice-free, this small but vibrant Eighth Street stretch is perfect for an afternoon of window shopping or even some serious retail therapy.
Petoskey: Quaint stores stocked with unique items, coffee and cheese shops all make for a great, walkable urban adventure. Plus, Petoskey’s downtown comes with a fantastic view of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. A downtown stairway leads to the waterfront and connects to a path that takes you all the way to Petoskey State Park.
Snow Tubing: Any place you can sled downhill, you can bring an inflatable tube for a smoother ride. But some places are known for dedicated tubing runs featuring slick, long lanes and even some built-in bumps for “getting air.” Michigan has some good tubing destinations, including:
Treetops Resort in Gaylord: An expanded tubing park located near the ski hill features the popular Sidewinder tubing run.
Bowers School Farm in Bloomfield Hills: Lights along the runs make this a “glow tubing” experience that is fun for all ages.
Dog Sledding: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is known for hosting dog sledding races each winter, but you don’t have to be a professional musher to know the thrill of being pulled down a snowy trail by a well-trained pack of sled dogs. A few spots offer dog lovers this experience, including:
Nature’s Kennel in McMillan: Home of Iditarod and Yukon Quest race teams, you can book a dog sled adventure that lasts a few hours, or check out their overnight packages at Musher’s Village. You can ride with a guide driving, or learn to drive your own sled.
Learn to Luge: If you’ve ever marveled at those Olympic lugers who flatten themselves on a wheeled sled before barreling down a chute-like track, Michigan has some winter adventure options designed around this sport. Muskegon’s Luge Adventure Sports Park will get you comfortable with this zippy sport before trying out its 650-foot luge track that was designed by an Olympic luger. While you’re there, be sure to check out the lighted ice skating path through the woods. It’s a quarter mile of sweet winter fun.
Snowshoe Adventures. Snowshoe adventures are a winter treat. There are just some places packed with winter charm that really make snowshoeing a special winter activity. First, if you’re a snowshoe novice, pick someplace you can rent them by the hour, just to see if you really enjoy walking with these. And use the poles. They offer great balance help on uphill or uneven terrain. Some suggestions:
Check your favorite ski resorts. Lots of these rent cross-country skis as well as snowshoes and poles, and have trails marked for snowshoers. Just remember if it’s a shared trail with cross-country skiing, stay out of the ski-run trails with your big snowshoes. Walk to the side.
Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling: This is a great snowshoe destination for any forest lover. Nearly 50 acres of old-growth pine forest can be found here, with 21 miles of marked trails.
Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor: This historic U.P. gem is a four-season spot for outdoor fun, with mapped snowshoe trails and a 2-mile snowshoe loop around the lodge property.
Winter Hiking. Any winter walk can easily be a pretty winter hike. Just pick a destination that has some great atmosphere, a bit of woods, or is a little more out-of-the-way than your typical neighborhood walk. State, county and local parks all make for great daytrips. Here are some of our favorites:
Detroit’s Belle Isle: This state park is an island in the middle of the Detroit River. It offers shoreline trails with views of downtown Detroit, and quieter interior trails.
Petoskey State Park: This shoreline spot hugs Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. It has open waterfront walking options as well as more protected trails in the woods and campground areas. It also has a connector to the Little Traverse Wheelway trail that goes along the water and leads into Petoskey’s downtown marina area, then south to Charlevoix.
Kal-Haven Trail: This 33-mile former railway corridor connecting Kalamazoo and South Haven makes for a great winter hike. It travels by a couple small towns and has nice wooded stretches. Be aware, the trail is open to snowmobiles after Dec. 1 so if you’re on foot, you’ll want to watch for sleds on the trail.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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