Discover Michigan: Winter weekend adventures
Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls offers skiing and snowboarding, as well as lodging options, including the Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa.
Posted February 8, 2017
Grand Rapids will celebrate the area’s craft beer scene during Beer Month GR Feb. 15-March 15.
Families can fight cabin fever with some of Frankenmuth’s kid-friendly activities, including indoor water parks.
Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville is a popular Michigan ski destination.
When skies are gray and temperatures dip into the teens and 20s, a road trip might be just the thing Michiganders need to fight the urge to hibernate until spring.
“Michigan is prime for cold-weather travel, offering affordable trip ideas and destinations ranging from family-friendly to sports fit for adventure seekers,” said Michelle Grinnell, director of media relations for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which oversees the Pure Michigan campaign and its website, michigan.org.
With northern ski resorts, indoor water parks, bustling cities and more, the mitten state can help travelers of all ages and interests make the most of the season.
For skiers and snowboarders
According to michigan.org, Michigan boasts 49 ski areas — ranking second in the country for ski areas per state — so there’s no shortage of options for skiers, snowboarders and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.
One of Grinnell’s recommendations is Mount Bohemia in Mohawk, at the top of the Upper Peninsula. It has the state’s longest ski runs, with the highest vertical and deepest powder in the Midwest — an average of 273 inches per year. Grinnell added that Mount Bohemia is the only place in the Midwest to experience snowcat skiing, in which skiers and snowboarders are transported by a snowcat machine several miles to a remote mountain location.
Several lodging options, including trailside cabins and yurts, are available at a variety of price levels, and the resort is also debuting a few additional features this year.
“New this year is a slopeside hostel and the opening of the Upper Peninsula’s largest hot tub,” said Grinnell.
Skiers wanting to make a shorter trek from metro Detroit can opt for one of the popular Lower Peninsula hotspots, such Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire, Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls, or Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville. In addition to skiing, all of these locales offer a long list of resort amenities, including spas, restaurants, retail shops and pool facilities.
Visitors can also bundle up and enjoy some of the resorts’ other winter activities. Shanty Creek, for instance, offers a multi-lane alpine tubing park on Summit Mountain, as well as fat tire biking — also known as snow biking — dog sledding and snowshoeing, while Boyne offers ziplining, horseback riding, groomer/snowcat rides and more.
For thrill-seekers seeking an alternative to skiing and snowboarding, Grinnell recommends a trip to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, which is home to one of only four publicly accessible Olympic luge tracks in the country.
“After your luge lesson, you can lace up the skates at one of three different skating venues, including an ice skating trail through the woods, or take the family sledding,” she said.
For craft beer lovers
One of the best things about craft beer is that it can be enjoyed year-round — and there’s no better place to grab a pint or two than Michigan’s own Beer City USA, Grand Rapids.
The greater Grand Rapids area is home to more than 30 breweries — including Founders Brewing Co., Brewery Vivant, Perrin Brewing Co., Grand Rapids Brewing Co., Hideout Brewing Co. and Schmohz Brewery, just to name a few — and winter is a prime time to visit some of them, as Beer Month GR will be celebrated Feb. 15-March 15.
One of the highlights of Beer Month GR will be the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival Feb. 24-26, which offers visitors a chance to sample beer from more than 100 Michigan breweries. The event is sold-out for Saturday, but tickets are still available for Friday. The city’s visitors bureau, Experience Grand Rapids, is working with the Grand Rapids Hopper shuttle to provide expanded festival transportation to and from downtown and suburban hotels for $10.
According to Kate Herron, director of marketing for Experience Grand Rapids, Beer Month GR will also feature Cool Brews Hot Eats, in which more than 50 restaurants will offer special beer-centric dishes, beer flights, and food and beer pairings all month long.
Beer lovers may also want to pick up a Brewsader Passport to keep track of the breweries they’ve visited. The passports are available at the Welcome Center at the Grand Rapids Art Museum or at any one of 32 participating breweries. Once a participant has collected passport stamps from eight of the breweries, they’ll receive an exclusive Brewsader T-shirt.
“That’s been really fun,” said Herron. “We’ve had over 5,000 who have done that since October 2015."
Anyone up for more of a challenge can try to collect a stamp from all 32 breweries to earn the Ultimate Brewsader title, which comes with special deals and discounts. For most, the endeavor will take multiple visits to Grand Rapids to complete, but as Herron noted, many local hotels offer a variety of hotel and beer specials all year long. The JW Marriott's Beer City USA package, for instance, comes with four local beers upon arrival, a beer passport, a western Michigan brewery map and breakfast.
For more information on Grand Rapids, including Beer Month GR, visit www.experiencegr.com.
When it comes to fun for the whole family, you can’t go wrong with Frankenmuth — plus it’s only a 1-1/2 hour drive from metro Detroit.
“While the foot traffic in Frankenmuth slows in the winter months due to the temperature, we're definitely a four-season destination,” said Ashley Smith, spokesperson for the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” is well-known for its competing restaurants — Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn — but besides those famous homestyle chicken dinners, both venues also offer kid-friendly lodging and entertainment.
At Splash Village, hotel guests and non-guests can enjoy two parks in one — the Atrium Waterpark and the Splash Waterpark. The Atrium park includes two water slides, water volleyball and an action river, while the Splash Waterpark — geared more toward younger kids — offers tube slides, a lazy river and a water play area, complete with water geysers and lily pads.
At the nearby Bavarian Inn Lodge indoor water park — open only to hotel guests — visitors can take a dip in four indoor pools, relax in three whirlpools or take a ride down two water slides.
“Both (resorts) are equipped with amazing arcades with a prize redemption center, and Bavarian Inn Lodge features a mini golf course that's open to the public,” Smith added.
While staying in Frankenmuth, families may also want to visit one of the city’s most iconic spots — Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland.
“There, it's Christmastime all year round,” Smith noted. “The store is the size of two football fields and filled with thousands of ornaments, décor and gifts.”
For more information on Frankenmuth attractions, visit www.frankenmuth.org.
Our Discover Michigan series explores Michigan’s most road trip-worthy destinations and events. Where’s your favorite place to travel in the mitten? Leave us a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We may use your suggestion in an upcoming feature.
About the author
Jennifer Sigouin is C & G Newspapers' social media coordinator, as well as a page designer, writer and proofreader. She has previously covered schools in Royal Oak, Clawson and Warren. Jen has worked for C & G Newspapers since 1998 and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
More from C & G Newspapers