Get Ready to Explore with 17 Adventures in Michigan’s Winter Wonderland
It’s winter, and we are right there with you: it can be so hard to get out in Michigan Winter when Netflix is just so easy.
Maybe common winter hurdles are keeping you in: I don’t own snowpants. That one lost glove. The ice stubbornly clinging to your windshield where no ice scraper can ever reach.
I’ve been there. Costco snowpants are cheap and do the trick, by the way, and now I buy extra gloves because I know I will inevitably leave one behind somewhere. Another option: layer. I’ve managed Michigan hikes with layers of long underwear under leggings with a decent hat and gloves if we’re talking 20’s and not much wind.
Anyhow, I promise that, once that car is warmed up and you’ve got decent gear, there’s a whole winter world to discover.
BONUS: It’s within easy driving distance to adventures like Ice Climbing, Dog Sledding, & Sliding down a Luge – and that’s just for starters!
07 – Don’t Want to Ride? Become a Musher!
If riding in a dog sled isn’t enough, you can actually learn how to drive it!
Learn to Mush (the word for dog-sled driver) and become a certified Musher by the end of the day.
Shemhader Kennels in Cadillac offers an experience that includes time in the kennel to learn how to sled and hook up the dogs. After that, it’s time to drive with a trainer! By the end, you’ll get your own team to enjoy driving your own dog sled team for two rides on beautiful and adventurous trails.
This is the only guide service in lower Michigan that allows the musher to drive the sled. The rides are about 3 miles long – and don’t worry – there’s always a guide behind you to coach you through the ride. Talk about unforgettable!
For anyone wanting to see the dogs up and close but aren’t quite ready to drive, they also offer kennel tours.
Location: 6925 S. 27 ½ Road, Cadillac, Michigan 49601. Due to the ½ address, GPS and map programs sometimes have difficulty, so see the website for specific written directions.
Become a Musher- $350 per person ($350 each or $700) – only 2-4 people are allowed per day. For only 1 Person, the cost is $600, so it’s most cost-effective for a couple, two friends or two family members.
Kennel Tours- $75/ hour for an entire group.
Drive Time from GR: 1.5 hours
09 – Cross-Country Ski Around the State
Cross-country skiing is another fun and easy way to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the winter.
Fitzgerald Park has xc-ski rentals by the hour, day, or weekend, so you can ski anywhere on Eaton County’s 15 miles of trails, and then afterward take the skis along with you if you decide to set out for a longer weekend trip.
Fitzgerald Park has cross-country ski clinics and “By the Light of the Moon” ski and snowshoe nights from 6-9 pm. These are a blast for all ages, with torch-lighted trails, a sledding hill, and hot chocolate at the nature center.
Many other area parks and nature centers have beautiful trails that are maintained for cross-country skiers too. These offer rentals for those just wanting to give it a try, and offer both kid and adult sizes. Some of these parks also offer ice skating, sledding, and more.
Location: Fitzgerald Park 133 Fitzgerald Park Drive, Grand Ledge, MI
Rentals are $5 per hour, $15 per day and $50 for the weekend
Cross-country ski clinic is $10 per person, $15 including rentals.
“By the Light of the Moon” night is $2 per person, $5 with rentals.
Drive Time from GR: 45 minutes
For some incredible trails up north, don’t miss ABR Trails, which has the most miles of groomed cross-country ski trails (45.3) in the state. And did you know that in the winter the entire east side of Mackinac Island is shut off not only to cars but even to snowmobiles?
It’s open solely to cross-country skiers, hikers and snowshoers – it’s quite an experience to explore the winter in a wonderland of uninterrupted beauty!
17 – Warm-up at Winter Festivals All Winter Long
There are so many winter festivals in Michigan to explore! There’s nothing better than a weekend full of festivity and fun to warm you up from the inside out and give you a reason to get out to new towns to explore something new. A few winter favorites to note:
The Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech started in 1922 and has grown into one of the biggest annual winter celebrations in the nation. Known for huge, intricate snow statues, there are also broomball competitions, comedy skits, human ice bowling, and a queen coronation.
The Michigan Ice Fest in Munising, MI is Feb 12-16. This festival is for ice climbers to gather together for a week and climb around Pictured Rocks. For non-athletes, this is a fun time to visit the area, see the beauty of the waterfalls, and watch athletes in action.
The Meridian Winter Blast is held in February in downtown Detroit. With exciting live entertainment and culinary cuisine for the foodies, Winter Blast is a favorite of locals and brings in visitors from all over the state.
A popular ice fishing event is Tip-Up Town U.S.A, held in January in Houghton Lake. Thousands of people go to the annual winter festival that has children’s activities, a parade and chili cook-off, and an ice fishing contest weigh-in with fireworks.
Step Outside to Experience Michigan in Its Winter Glory
When the snow falls in Michigan, some days you don’t have to go anywhere! Simply stepping out of your back door can usher you into a winter wonderland. Bundle up and go out with the kids for some snow angels, neighborhood snowball fights, or to build a snowman.
The fresh air is rejuvenating, and nothing beats the beauty of newly laid snow.
Check out more winter adventures here, or comment below with anything we missed!