Hit the slopes, see a show, or enjoy Michigan’s natural beauty at these locales.
MICHIGAN—Whether you’re heading out for winter break or using up those last vacation days of the year, there’s still plenty to do in a Michigan winter.
The majority of Michigan’s tourism may happen in the summer months but that’s not all there is to us. If anything, we’re experts at adapting to the winter and the snow. There’s no need to migrate south for your vacation when Michigan has great destinations for a staycation.
Here are five cities to consider for your next vacation.
The second-largest city in Michigan and crown jewel of the western side of the state, Grand Rapids has a wide variety of things to do for a winter getaway. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s plenty to do in Grand Rapids year-round.
What To Do: See the Gerald R. Ford Museum, Public Museum, Children’s Museum, or Art Museum. Cannonsburg Ski Area is popular among skiers, snowboarders, and fat tire bikers. Check out a show at Van Andel Arena or the DeVos Performance Hall. Frederick Meijer Gardens hosts the University of Michigan Health—West Christmas & Holiday Traditions annual horticulture exhibition from late November to early January. The World of Winter Festival provides free entertainment, art, and winter activities. It runs from Jan. 7, 2022, to March 6, 2022.
Where To Eat: As one of WalletHub’s 2021 Best Foodie Cities in America, there’s plenty of culinary variety in Grand Rapids. Expand your palette at The Old Goat, San Chez Bistro, or Maru Sushi. Or try one of Grand Rapids’ many breweries like Founders Brewing Co., Brewery Vivant, or City Built Brewing.
Traverse City and the Old Mission Peninsula
Grand Traverse County
Though most popular in the summer, especially for the National Cherry Festival, Traverse City makes for a winter wonderland in the colder months.
What To Do: The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a popular natural attraction even in the winter. The Traverse City area is famous for its wineries, most still available in the winter for touring and tasting. Plenty of shopping opportunities abound in downtown Traverse City. Try snow tubing at the runs at Timberlee Hills and Mt. Holiday.
Where To Eat: Several restaurants are located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, such as Trattoria Stella. The Cook’s House is an award-winning professional culinary institution. Get back to the basics with offerings at Mama Lu’s Tacos or Bubba’s. Food truck lovers will be quick fans of The Little Fleet. Enjoy the best desserts at Moomers Ice Cream or Grand Traverse Pie Company.
Where To Stay: Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is a top-rated hotel year-round. Chateau Chantal is perfect for both couples and wine aficionados. The Great Wolf Lodge is great for families with children.
This historic small town is just a stone’s throw away from Flint and Detroit. The quaint downtown of Holly has the aesthetic of a Dickens novel or a Hallmark movie during the holidays, making it perfect for a winter getaway.
What To Do: Main Street Holly is perfect for a winter stroll and shopping trip. Get involved in winter sports at Mt. Holly Ski & Snowboard Resort and the Holly Recreation Area. Get even closer to nature at Seven Lakes State Park and Sorensen Park. From Nov. 26 through Dec. 31, check out HollyDazzle at the Michigan Renaissance Festival grounds. The Holly Dickens Festival, the oldest and longest-running Charles Dickens festival in the United States, runs Nov. 27 and 28, Dec. 4 and 5, and Dec. 11 and 12 for 2021.
Where To Eat: The Holly Hotel serves great meals along with live music. The Bittersweet Cafe is an old style diner with delectable offerings. Jacq n Diane’s Juice Box is a refreshing locale for smoothies, juice, and vegan food. The Blackthorn Pub is a classic Irish pub with a full range of pub food.
Home to Northern Michigan University and the coastal heart of the iron industry, Marquette is an underrated vacation gem. For those that don’t want to drive through the snow, check out flights to the nearby Sawyer International Airport.
What To Do: Marquette offers many opportunities for winter recreation. Marquette Mountain offers ski runs and lessons for all skill levels. Presque Isle Park is a great location to snowshoe and doubles as an optimal location to see the Aurora Borealis. There are also many events related to winter recreation. Races in fat-biking and cross country skiing take place at The Fat-ish in Ishpeming on Jan. 15 and 16, 2022. The Ishpeming Ski Jumping Tournament is on Jan. 18, 2022. The Noquemanon Ski Marathon is on Jan. 21-23, 2022. The fat-biking event Polar Roll is on Feb. 12, 2022. The U.P. 200 sled dog races happen Feb. 17-22, 2022. For those who prefer fine arts, the Devos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University is worth a look. Check out Lake Superior Theatre and Marquette Symphony Orchestra for live performances.
Where To Eat: Get your Yooper on with pasties from Jean Kay’s Pasties & Subs. Then go in the opposite culinary direction with some Cajun food from Lagniappe. Or go German at Steinhaus. Eat like locals at Cafe Bodega and be sure to grab some sweets from Donckers.
Bellaire is a watery paradise known for its Rubber Ducky Festival. The small town in northern Michigan is a great place to explore outdoor winter recreation without going too far north.
What To Do: Even if you don’t stay there, Shanty Creek Resorts offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Watch for their discounted Sardine Special. The trails at Glacial Hills Pathway are perfect for snowshoeing and fat tire biking. Try ice-fishing on Bellaire’s chain of lakes.
Where To Eat: Short’s Brewing Company Pub is a well-known gastropub attraction, even for those who don’t partake of their many beer offerings. Other offerings include The Lunch Box, The Corner Bistro, or Terrain.
Where To Stay: Stay right on the slopes at Shanty Creek’s four villages. Also, try the Grand Victorian B&B or pet-friendly Stone Waters Inn. The Chain-O-Lakes Campground is open year-round.