The 15 Best Ideas for Winter Weekend Getaways in Michigan

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The 15 Best Ideas for Winter Weekend Getaways in Michigan

As the winter months roll in across Michigan, bringing a mix of gray skies and chilly winds, it’s the perfect time to think about winter weekend getaways in Michigan. There’s a certain charm to embracing the season, booking a cozy room, and transforming any ordinary winter into an enchanting winter retreat.

Whether snuggling up by a roaring fireplace for a romantic getaway, venturing out for a crisp hike, warming up in the hot tub back in your room, or taking a dip in the indoor pool. Even simply enjoying a change of scenery makes these getaways the perfect antidote to those winter blues. From quiet, snow-covered landscapes to the lively buzz of winter festivals, we’ve gathered 15 best ways to enjoy the beauty of Michigan’s winter. So, let’s bundle up, step out, and rediscover the joys of this frosty season in our beloved mitten state.

Michigan is so pretty in the winter. Perfect for a careful road trip!

Outdoor Fun

Winter weekend getaways in Michigan are an idyllic escape for those who love the crisp outdoor air and snowy landscapes. Picture a weekend filled with cross-country skiing across the serene trails of Sleeping Bear Dunes or enjoying the sparkling, icy beauty of a snowshoe hike in the tranquil forests. These winter adventures offer the perfect combination of exhilaration and picturesque scenery, epitomizing the charm of a Michigan winter.

1 – Snowshoeing

If you haven’t tried snowshoeing in Michigan, you’re in for a treat! It’s an effortless way to enjoy a winter hike with snowshoes that make you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. It’s perfect for anyone looking for a safe and easy outdoor activity, regardless of athletic ability. If you’re wondering where to begin, head to your nearest nature center for rentals and trail recommendations. Snowshoeing could quickly become your go-to winter pastime!

Check out some of these options for snowshoeing trails in the Mitten. Keep in mind that many ski resorts across the state allow snowshoeing, snowboarding, and sledding:

  • Mount Bohemia Ski Resort in Northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a winter gem, boasting the deepest snow in the Midwest on the Keweenaw Peninsula.
  • Mackinac Island transforms into a snowshoeing paradise in winter, offering a unique experience on its east side, the perfect place for a winter weekend getaway.
  • For snowshoeing enthusiasts, Northern Lower Peninsula’s Traverse City, Alpena, and Cadillac are must-visits, with Boyne Mountain Resort offering extensive trails and a relaxing indoor spa.
  • Just north of Holland, Hemlock Crossing offers picturesque snowshoeing trails with stunning views of the Pigeon River, complete with convenient snowshoe rentals.
  • Mt. Brighton Ski Resort is an ideal snowshoeing destination, equipped with snow-making machines to ensure perfect conditions for your winter getaway.

2 – Snowmobiling

Winter in Michigan transforms our landscapes into a snowmobiling wonderland, offering an exhilarating ride through serene beauty. With trails for all skill levels, from leisurely forest rides to more adventurous journeys, it’s a perfect way to enjoy the peaceful side of Michigan’s winters. So, bundle up, grab a warm drink, and rediscover the joy of snowmobiling, whether you’re reliving cherished memories or creating new ones.

Consider one of these snowmobiling experiences this winter:

  • Experience the thrill of snowmobile racing without getting on one by heading to Sault Ste. Marie for the International 500 Snowmobile Race, where you can cheer on the pros in action.
  • Join the Michigan Snowmobile Festival in Gaylord to celebrate snowmobiling. This festival offers an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow enthusiasts or learn the basics as a beginner.

3 – Cross Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing in Michigan offers a serene and active way to explore the state’s winter wonderland, with trails for all skill levels. Glide through quiet, snowy landscapes for a refreshing workout, then unwind with a warm drink, connecting with nature peacefully.

Michigan has too many skiing trails to list individually, so here are some standouts:

  • Porcupine Mountains State Park offers 23 miles of cross-country ski trails along Lake Superior, featuring a ski lift for easy trail access, on-site rentals, and cozy warming shelters.
  • Shanty Creek Resort in the Northern Lower Peninsula boasts nearly 20 miles of scenic trails, with the comfort of a full-service resort for relaxing by the fire with a drink after skiing.
  • The Pere Marquette Rail Trail, stretching 30 miles across three counties between Midland and Clare, provides a smooth and low-impact skiing experience on its paved paths under the snow.
  • “The Big Wild” near Gaylord is a cross-country skiing paradise with over 102 miles of groomed trails in a preserved forest, catering to beginners and advanced skiers.
  • Port Crescent State Park in Michigan’s thumb area features four miles of groomed trails, with additional trails in nearby county parks, ideal for various skiing experiences.
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4 – Fat Tire Biking

Fat-tire biking in Michigan is gaining popularity as a unique way to enjoy the state’s winter trails. With wide, durable tires, these bikes offer a stable ride over snowy paths, suitable for all skill levels and perfect for staying active outdoors in winter. Following a ride through scenic terrains, ranging from flat to adventurous, the pleasure of warming up with a hot drink afterward makes it a delightful winter activity.

  • The Polar Roll is the biggest fat tire bike event in Michigan and perfect for a beginner like me – and maybe you? Don’t worry if you don’t have a fat-tire bike. Rentals are available around the area, giving you a perfect opportunity to try before you buy!

5 – Sledding

Snow sledding in Michigan is a timeless winter joy, suitable for all ages and perfect for reliving childhood memories or creating new ones. With numerous parks and hills offering slopes for every thrill level, it’s a simple, exhilarating activity. After enjoying the rush of a sled ride, the warmth of a hot drink and a cozy blanket completes this quintessential winter experience.

Michigan has countless sledding facilities. Here are a couple of standouts:

  • Mt. Holly Ski Resort near Holly offers a family-friendly sledding experience on its slopes, with a tow rope and a cozy lodge for warming up with hot cocoa after a thrilling 700-foot inner tube ride.
  • Check out local nature centers or public parks for hidden snow hills, perfect for winter fun. In Holland, a local favorite is the snow hill at VanRaalte Farm Park.

6 – Ice Skating

Gliding across the ice at one of Michigan’s scenic outdoor rinks is a serene way to enjoy the winter months, with the crisp air adding an extra sparkle to the experience. It’s a graceful and delightful activity, perfect for those who want a leisurely skate or want to rekindle old passions on the ice.

Here are just two of the many great places to ice skate in Michigan:

  • The Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park offers extensive outdoor ice skating areas, including a beginner-friendly rink with skate trainers for those learning to balance – like having a walker on ice!
  • Bowers School Farm Winter Park in Bloomfield Hills is a comprehensive winter destination, offering snow tubing, ice skating, bonfires, comfort food, animal experiences, and live entertainment, with a general admission fee and additional costs for activities.

7 – Ice Sculptures

Michigan’s charming towns are increasingly hosting ice events, drawing people from their cozy homes to explore unique storefronts and celebrate winter’s beauty. A stroll through these towns, whether local or during a weekend getaway, reveals streets lined with stunning ice sculptures, transforming each location into a frosty open-air art gallery.

Here are a couple of Ice Festivals I recommend:

  • The Plymouth Ice Festival, located just 26 miles west of Detroit in downtown Plymouth, features impressive ice carvings by professional sculptors, complete with a beer tent, food trucks, and lively activities – a must-visit event.
  • In West Michigan, Holland on Ice offers live sculpting, captivating ice displays, interactive sculptures, and a unique 5k Fun Run on heated sidewalks, along with a social district for outdoor enjoyment of alcoholic beverages for those over 21.

8 –Winter Festivals

Ready to elevate your winter experience beyond just admiring ice sculptures? Dive into the heart of the season by exploring one of these vibrant Winter Festivals, where the magic of winter truly comes to life. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in a world of festive joy, dynamic activities, and breathtaking ice art.

Take your pick from one of these annual ice festivals, or find another. Michigan has plenty:

  • Experience the largest winter festival in the US at the World of Winter Festival in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, offering an array of free activities, including art installations, ice sculptures, live performances, and interactive games for a day or two of winter fun.
  • Head for the Tawas Bay Beach Resort in Northeast Michigan to check out Perchville, USA. This winter festival has live music, ATV Races, and even a polar bear plunge! 

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Indoor Fun

If you’re up for something a little toastier, or as I like to say, INDOORS, then Michigan won’t disappoint you. Consider some fun winter weekend getaways in Michigan that will keep you inside and out of the elements while you have a great time.

9 – Take a Wine Tour

February is Michigan Wine Month, the perfect occasion to visit local wineries and cozy up in their tasting rooms, escaping the winter chill while sampling vintages from around the state. Experience the unique ice wine, a winter specialty made from grapes frozen on the vine, by visiting your favorite Michigan wineries to taste this delightful seasonal treat.

  • If you’re in the lower area of Michigan, arrange a wine tour with The Bottle Run. Book a room in the area, and spend your afternoon touring local wineries with your driver before settling in for a cozy evening.

10 – Enjoy a Winter Beer Festival

A Beer Festival in Michigan offers the ideal blend of warmth and cheer for a winter weekend getaway. Amidst the cold weather, it’s a festive gathering where you can explore craft beers, engage with fellow beer enthusiasts, and enjoy lively entertainment. This delightful event provides an escape from the winter cold and a chance to savor the rich flavors and spirited atmosphere for which Michigan breweries are celebrated.

  • Warm up at the Winter Beer Festival in Comstock Park’s LMCU Ballpark, where you can enjoy Michigan’s finest craft beers, from stouts to ales, in a lively atmosphere perfect for escaping the winter cold.

11 – Visit a Museum

If you love museums, winter is the perfect time to explore one or more of Michigan’s many choices. Choose a specialty museum or one that covers a wide range of interests. Make it a short road trip and an overnight to create a perfect winter getaway!

Consider one of these trek-worthy museums:

  • The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts, boasting an extensive collection of American artifacts, including aircraft, presidential vehicles, historic furniture, and pivotal civil rights history like the Rosa Parks bus. You can easily spend an entire day immersed in centuries of history at this destination.
  • Head for Grand Rapids to wander the GR Public Museum for half a day, then head to the Ford Presidential Museum or the GR Art Museum for the second half. Grand Rapids even has a Children’s Museum that is perfect for the kids or grandkids.
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12 – Visit a Botanical Garden

If the dreary winter months have you singing the blues, consider a winter weekend getaway to one of our amazing botanical gardens across the state. 

  • Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids offers a respite from winter with its Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, a rainforest-like environment bursting with greenery and color, perfect for those craving a touch of nature. Keep an eye on their calendar for special winter events like the Orchid display in February.
  • The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor features three conservatories showcasing plants from different global biomes, providing a warm, green sanctuary perfect for a winter visit.

13 – Explore Aerospace & Science

Immersing yourself in the rich history of aviation and the exhilarating concept of soaring through the skies at an airplane museum can be a captivating escape from the winter doldrums, igniting a sense of adventure and wonder. The blend of historical discovery and the thrill of flight offers a unique way to uplift your spirits and break the monotony of the colder months.

  • The Air Zoo in Portage offers an exciting weekend getaway featuring an impressive array of historic aircraft and interactive exhibits that bring the adventure of flight to life. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking a unique blend of education, history, and fun, perfect for aviation enthusiasts and families.

14 – Visit an Auto Show

Attending an auto show in Michigan is a great way to beat the winter blues, offering a warm indoor space to explore the latest in automotive innovation, from shiny new models to classic cars, while enjoying a day of socializing with fellow car enthusiasts.

  • The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, near Kalamazoo, is open year-round for a warm and cozy indoor afternoon, celebrating all things car-related!
  • You will LOVE the Michigan International Auto Show if you want a seasonal auto show that isn’t open year-round. Taking place at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, car enthusiasts will love seeing the hottest new vehicles all in one place! And it’s a perfect wintertime event because it’s inside!

15 – Visit a Camper and RV Show

When the winter blues are too much, and you need an escape, start thinking spring and planning for your summer adventures!

  • The MARVAC Annual RV & Camping Show in Detroit is an exciting event to kickstart your spring and summer planning, featuring a wide array of RVs, motorhomes, and trailers to explore.
  • The Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show at DeVos Place is a large event on the west side of the state, where West Michigan RV dealers showcase over 100 RV lines, along with accessories and travel destinations, making it the largest RV show in Michigan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the prettiest place in Michigan in winter?

The beauty of Michigan in winter can be subjective, but one of the most picturesque places is undoubtedly the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. During winter, the dunes are blanketed in snow, creating a serene and stunning landscape. The contrast of the crisp white snow against the deep blue of Lake Michigan, especially when viewed from the overlooks at Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, is breathtaking. The park’s quiet winter ambiance and unique natural features offer a peaceful yet awe-inspiring winter experience.

What do you do in Michigan when it’s cold?

When it’s cold in Michigan, you can enjoy activities like visiting cozy cafes, exploring museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts, experiencing an indoor water park, or embracing outdoor adventures such as snowshoeing and ice skating on frozen lakes.

Where is the best place to travel during winter?

One of the best places to travel during winter is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where you can immerse yourself in a winter wonderland with activities like skiing, snowmobiling, and viewing the stunning frozen waterfalls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

What is Michigan like in the winter?

In winter, Michigan transforms into a snowy landscape, offering a mix of serene beauty and a bustling array of activities. Cities and towns become picturesque with snow-covered streets, while the countryside and Great Lakes shores offer scenic, tranquil snowscapes ideal for winter sports and quiet retreats.

Wrapping It All Up

As we’ve explored, Michigan offers a treasure trove of activities perfect for transforming any ordinary weekend into an extraordinary getaway. From the thrill of snowshoeing through serene forests to the cozy charm of a night spent in a lakeside cabin, these 15 activities are just a short trip down the road but miles away from the everyday routine.

Spending a night or two away from home in Michigan’s diverse landscapes can rejuvenate the spirit and provide a fresh perspective. So, whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Michigan’s winter getaways are waiting to unfold their magic for you. Embrace the opportunity to discover something new and make lasting memories in your own backyard.

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