The Great Lakes area offers some of the most beautiful scenery in Michigan and the surrounding states. In winter, the sun-kissed beach and lush forests give way to a wonderland of snow and ice. If you are visiting the area or are a resident, you can take part in numerous winter activities in Michigan to beat the winter blues and cure cabin fever.
Rest assured, these aren’t just sports for those who have the money and experience to spend a lot of time at ski resorts. There is something great to experience for everyone. Whether you’re looking for adventure or gentle fun for the whole family, the Great Lakes area has a lot to offer.
Let’s take a look at eight activities to consider during your time in the Great Lakes region this winter.
One of the perils of the winter season is that getting outside can be less tempting. Still, nature has significant benefits for your mental and physical health. In fact, doctors are increasingly prescribing time outdoors to counteract conditions like depression and anxiety. The good news is that the fact that the Great Lakes region is freezing cold in winter doesn’t stop you from enjoying hikes that can improve your well-being.
The Great Lakes area has many areas that are great for snowshoeing. The Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers a relatively short hiking trail that takes you through the forest and onto the beach. You can also hike through the Upper Macatawa Natural Area along frozen Dutchman’s Creek and through wetlands. If you don’t want to buy your own new snowshoes, you can often rent them at ski resorts or park nature centers.
What to do in Michigan in winter? – Museums
The Great Lakes area is not only known for its natural beauty. It has a rich history that presents some fascinating stories about the area. As temperatures drop across the region, you may be less interested in visiting the outdoor historical markers. If that’s the case, you can glean glimpses of the area’s past at the local museums.
The National Museum of the Great Lakes is located in Toledo, Ohio. It houses exhibits related to the history of the area, including photographs, artifacts, and interactive displays. For something more niche, there’s the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Michigan. It features over 10,000 square feet of exhibit space, including an interactive display that allows you to feel the power of a Lake Huron storm.
What to do in Michigan in winter? skiing and snowboarding
The combination of frigid weather conditions and diverse landscapes makes the Great Lakes area a mecca for skiers and snowboarders. In Michigan, the Caberfae Peaks at Cadillac offer 34 runs. Both day and night skiing are available at this resort. There is also Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls which has over 60 downhill and cross country trails.
Port Crescent State Park can be an excellent choice if you want breathtaking experiences alongside your winter sports. Not only can you take advantage of beautiful cross-country skiing trails, but it is also one of the best spots to watch the Aurora Borealis.
Where should I go in Michigan in the winter? – Indoor water parks
The Great Lakes region offers great outdoor swimming in the summer. However, the frozen conditions in winter can be a bit off-putting. Luckily, there are many great indoor water parks in the area if you and your family want to spend some time in the water. These include Avalanche Bay in Boyne City, which features water slides, hot tubs and a surf pool. There’s also the Gold Rush Indoor Waterpark in Rothbury, where you can play water basketball or float on the lazy river.
However, it’s important to remember that fun shouldn’t be your only consideration when visiting these parks. Make sure you take the time to educate your kids on some basic pool safety protocols. This includes talking to them about the dangers of swimming, especially in crowded areas. If possible, ensure that your children have sufficient water skills by taking a few swimming courses in advance. By prioritizing safety, your family can fully enjoy the indoor water parks of the Great Lakes region.
Michigan fun fact
Are bears active in Michigan during the winter?
black bears not really hibernate but sleep late. They may exit the burrow for brief periods if disturbed or during brief warming trends. In Michigan, bears typically enter their den in December and emerge in late March or April.
Unique Michigan Winter Activities – Ice Climbing
The Great Lakes certainly have these in abundance if you’re looking for a thrilling experience. During the winter months, ice climbing is one of the most challenging and fascinating activities available. Here you can experience the waterfalls of the region in a particularly intimate way. You will scale them in their frozen state using axes, ropes and crampons.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan is considered one of the best places to experience this unique winter sport. Given the extensive ice coverage in the area, you’ll have access to hundreds of frozen waterfalls that range in height from 20 to 210 feet. You can also explore the beautiful ice caves that form at Pictured Rocks each year.
Fun Winter Activities in Michigan – Fat Tire Biking
Mountain and long-distance cycling has long been a common activity in the Great Lakes region. However, most bikes are not well equipped for the icy conditions and snowfall during the winter months. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the breathtaking views from a bike. Fat tire biking has become a popular winter sport in the region.
As the name suggests, use mountain bikes with extra wide tires. This widens the surface of the wheels, allowing you to ride through the snow in the mountains or on the sand dunes by the lakes. If you’re looking to invest in your bikes, they’ve become more affordable in recent years—however, many bike rental shops in the Great Lakes area stock vehicles with fat tires for rent.
What is Michigan’s number 1 winter attraction? driving a snowmobile
While you may want to enjoy the rugged beauty of the winter landscape, snowboarding, skiing or snowshoeing may not appeal to you. For something less active but still exciting, snowmobiling is an excellent option in the Great Lakes. You’ll travel through breathtaking vistas while still being very close to nature, all from the comfort of your vehicle. For Michigan’s nearly 6,500 miles of designated snowmobile trails, the DNR offers snowmobile maps in a variety of formats.
If you are more independent, you can rent a snowmobile and set your agenda. However, more and more snowmobile tours are aimed at families and individuals. Munising, Michigan is considered the snowmobile capital of the Midwest, with trail systems designed specifically for these vehicles. For something more ambitious, you can take a snowmobile tour around Lake Superior.
Romantic Winter Activities in Michigan – Spa Days
Winter activities in Michigan aren’t just about seeing the frozen landscapes. For many people, it’s also a time to unwind at the end of a hectic year. If so, extreme or strenuous activity may not be high on your schedule. Instead, you can consider visiting one of the many spa resorts in the Great Lakes region.
This is an opportunity to indulge in some well-deserved self-care that can have a positive impact on your physical and mental well-being. The Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville, Michigan offers skin care treatments, massage and rejuvenating body treatments. Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minnesota offers hydrotherapy at their Glacial Waters Spa.
Completion of winter activities in Michigan
The Great Lakes region may be frozen in winter, but this opens up a lot of opportunities. You can hike with your snowshoes or follow a cross-country ski trail. Hop aboard a snowmobile for a tour or relax in the lazy river at an indoor water park. Whatever you want from your winter vacation, the Great Lakes have something to offer, with incredible views to enjoy along the way.