5 Winter Things to Do in Michigan

Jake Newby

| 4 min read

Finding fun things to do in the summer doesn’t really require you to put your thinking cap on. But when the temperature plummets in Michigan, fun activities can feel few and far between.
They’re out there, though! It’s time to start penciling plans onto your winter calendar. Start with some of these ideas. 

Attend a winter festival.

You can’t beat a good family-friendly winter festival. Dozens of event organizers across the state have already released details for upcoming 2024 winter festivals. Here’s a short list to get you started:
  • Fire & Ice Festival –Jan. 6-8 – Valade Park, Detroit.
  • Winter Fest –Jan. 14 – Adams Butzel Recreation Center in Detroit.
  • Ice Sculpture Festival – Jan. 21-22 – Downtown Tecumseh.
  • Dexter Ice Festival – Jan. 21 – Downtown Dexter.
  • Warren Cold Rush – Jan. 21 – Warren City Square in Warren.
  • #StrongerTogether Ice Fest – every Thursday in February – Downtown Lake Orion & Oxford.
  • Winter Carnival – Feb. 4 – Bear Creek Nature Park in Rochester.
  • Alpena Ice Festival – Feb. 11 – Downtown Alpena.
  • Winter Wonderland Weekend – Feb. 16-19 – Downtown Petoskey.
  • Winter Blast Weekend – Feb. 17-19 – Downtown Royal Oak.

Pick up a new sport.

Michigan is a great place to be if you’re the type that likes to marry activities with exercise. This winter could be the time for you to learn a new winter sport. How about these options?
Fat tire biking: Fat-tire bikes – which look exactly how they sound – are permittable on all Michigan trails that allow bicycles and mountain bikes. Many trails in Michigan are groomed specifically for winter fat-tire biking.
Ice skating: A classic, family-friendly winter sport, ice skating is a fun and challenging activity that can be an underrated workout if you add a little speed to your stride. Campus Martius in downtown Detroit is one of the better-known public ice-skating rinks in the state. Be sure to always wear a helmet and well-fitting skates with sharp blades; dull skates can lead to more falls.
Snowshoeing: This activity requires wider strides than normal so you’re not stepping on the frame of the snowshoes. Ski poles are optional while snowshoeing, but they do tend to give you a better full-body workout since you’re getting your arms involved.
Winter disc golfing: Winter disc golf combines snowshoeing and frisbee with golf rules. Bald Mountain, Brighton, Holly, Ionia, Newaygo, Sleepy Hollow and Waterloo all have disc golf courses, with multiple distance options available in the winter.
Learn more about these sports, where you can play them in Michigan, and more, at this link.

Visit an outdoor museum or sculpture gallery.

Michigan Legacy Art Parkin Thompsonville combines light physical exercise with cultural stimulation. The park is open-year round and is exceptionally beautiful in the winter, which is when guests can snowshoe through some or all of the park’s breathtaking two-mile stretch of more than 50 contemporary sculptures inspired by Michigan’s history and culture. It’s dog-friendly, too!
Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids has been touted as one of Michigan’s biggest cultural attractions for close to 30 years now, and for good reason. Bringing art and nature together, Meijer Gardens is home to one of the country’s premier horticultural display gardens and sculpture parks. And in December, it’s even better! Each holiday season, the Immersive Light Experience takes over the Frederick Meijer Gardens Amphitheater. The awe-inspiring experience adds a new dimension to the holidays that everyone can enjoy! Shows last 20 minutes and play every half hour on select dates. Keep tabs on the park’s website for more details.

Go cold-weather camping.

There is no shortage of remote campsites and cozy cabins across Michigan to cold-weather camp near. Winter camping is available in select campgrounds across the state, and you can also rent cabins, yurts, geodesic domes and lodges.
Michigan.gov has an extensive list of winter camping, winter lodging and state forest campground information on its website. Click here to learn more and find about availability, so you can book your reservation in advance.
If you do decide to cold-weather camp this winter, it’s important to pack appropriately and to bring everything you need to have a fun and safe experience.

Swim at indoor parks.

It might be a haul depending on where you live, but Michigan is home to some fantastic indoor water parks. Traverse City’s Great Wolf Lodge boasts water slides and wave pools. Then you have other award-winning indoor water parks like Avalanche Bay at Boyne Mountain, the Gold Rush Water Park at Double JJ Resort and Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark.
Of course, you can’t forget about classic indoor activities like watching movies at your local movie theater, going bowling and visiting indoor museums this winter. Keep an eye out for continued winter activity content from A Healthier Michigan. And check out these blogs in the meantime:
Photo credit: Getty Images

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