Michigan Bucket List: Winter Edition

Shandra Martinez

| 5 min read

Day trips, vacations and afternoon adventures don’t take a backseat just because it’s winter in Michigan. In fact, the snowy season is the perfect time to craft your next bucket-list worthy trip to a new-to-you destination. To get you started on your winter travel list, A Healthier Michigan podcast hosted Nick Nerbonne from Travel Michigan, who came loaded with a Mitten’s worth of ideas that will have you crisscrossing our peninsulas in search of fun and outdoor beauty.
Some adventures for your winter bucket list:
Slip on some snowshoes. This silent sport draws a bigger group of enthusiasts every year. Yes, you can snowshoe at your local park or any trail that gets winter foot traffic. But you can also do it at lots of ski resorts. You can bring your own snowshoes or rent them from an outdoor gear shop. Another perk of being the Great Lake State: We’ve even seen people snowshoeing along the walkways at some of our favorite beaches.
“It gets people into the outdoors to do an activity that is fun, that you can do with friends, you can do with families, and it removes the barrier of the learning curve,” Nerbonne said. “When you want to be a downhill skier, that takes some practice. We recommend getting professional instruction, going out and doing it safely, and learning how to do it. But with snowshoeing, you can rent a pair, or borrow a pair, or even buy a pair relatively inexpensively, click your boots into them, and get out there and enjoy a beautiful setting, like a trail.”
Snow tubing: There’s no skill needed for this fun activity, just be ready for a little wind in your face as you’re flying down the tubing hill. Lots of ski resorts have separate tubing areas, including Cannonsburg near Rockford, Shanty Creek in Bellaire, Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls. “The family can do that together, friends can do it. And again, there's not the barrier of learning how to do this skilled activity. You can go out and enjoy those fun activities,” Nerbonne said.
Tahquamenon Falls: This huge waterfall and state park area in Paradise in the Upper Peninsula draws a big crowd in summer, but it’s just as majestic in the winter. Maybe more so, with the ice and snow creating stunning scenery. “We just spoke with a park ranger at Tahquamenon Falls, and I tell you, the way that they described what the falls looks like in the wintertime, I'm planning a visit, honestly,” Nerbonne said. “When you have the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi by volume, second to Niagara Falls in the upper Tahquamenon Falls, and then you combine that with the temperatures in the U.P., and the fresh snow on the trees, this is a visual that anyone can really enjoy. It is absolutely beautiful, and I can't wait to go explore that on foot, or snowshoes, depending on what the snow is like at that time.”
Mount Bohemia: This extreme ski destination on the edge of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula has been a favorite of the technical, expert and backcountry ski crowd for years. Its steep slopes, 900-foot vertical drop and exposed rock means it’s not a spot for beginners, but for the advanced skier crowd who love the adrenaline rush, this is a winner. And for Nerbonne, the scenery and location itself is a fantastic draw: “We're talking like the northernmost point in the state, north of a lot of Canada, and it's bordered on three sides by Lake Superior. This narrow peninsula, the Keweenaw, comes out into Lake Superior, and it's stunningly beautiful 365 days a year. But because of that location, no matter which direction the wind blows, the lake-effect snow falls.”
Indoor adventures. Not an outdoorsy person once the snow falls? No problem. Michigan has plenty of destinations that will give you fun things to see and do - and keep you out of the cold. Some ideas:
  • Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn
  • Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum in Portage
  • Avalanche Bay indoor waterpark at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls
  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids Township
Ski resort activities for non-skiers. If there’s one thing most of Michigan’s big ski resorts have in common, it’s that they’ve diversified their activities to the point where you can book a winter vacation there and try all kinds of fun stuff without ever hitting the slopes. Otsego Resort in Gaylord has winter hiking trails that lead down to its unique River Cabin gathering spot with its cozy fireplace. Just down the road from there, Treetops Resort has two extreme snow tubing runs, offers dogsled rides and guided winter hikes. Boyne Mountain has an indoor waterpark, a huge spa, and outdoor activities like electric moon bikes tours, Sno-Go bikes and ice skating.
Find your next adventure on the Michigan.org website. “Well, we always say your trip begins at michigan.org. That is truly what we recommend, michigan.org/winter takes you directly to articles about different activities. It connects you with our partners across the state, that have their own tourism websites,” Nerbonne said. “Like if you wanted to learn about Escanaba, or Sault Ste. Marie, or Gaylord, you can find links to those tourism partners to find out what's happening. If there's unique events … or snowshoeing, or skiing, or whatever the activities are in the areas. Go to michigan.org/winter, and that's a great place to start.”
Listen to the podcast, Michigan Bucket List: Winter Edition, to hear the entire conversation, with Nick Nerbonne of Travel Michigan.
A Healthier Michigan Podcast is brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. To hear more episodes on your smartphone or tablet, subscribe on Apple Podcast or Spotify or your favorite podcast app.
Photo credit: Getty Images
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association