We all reach that point: When will summer be back? We long for the warmer weather, the short-sleeved shirts, and going camping in our RVs. But don’t wish winter away so quickly. Some of the state’s most popular summer spots can be enjoyed in a new and different way when there’s snow on the ground. Plus, you’ll avoid those summer crowds. Here are eight summer spots in Michigan that are worth a visit this winter.
- Mission Point Lighthouse: Thirteen miles up the Old Mission Peninsula from Traverse City is the historic Mission Point Lighthouse. A favorite attraction to drive to in the summer, the area turns quiet when the snow starts to fall, which only adds to the enchantment. There’s usually decent ice build-up, too, that can be fun to explore. If you really want to get a full experience, there’s a lighthouse Keeper program. You can stay at the lighthouse and entertain visitors for a few days. There is also a trail system worth exploring, perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Wouldn’t you like to wake up in the morning to see fresh snow contrasted against the blues of Grand Traverse Bay?
- Mackinac Bridge: Traveling over this five-mile suspension bridge is an adventure any time of the year, but in the winter, you’ll be caught up in the majesty and strength of the ice covering the straits. Freighters still move their cargo, so you can often see paths cutting through the ice, and if the currents are right, to be overlaid once again as though there had never been a boat. The best view is a view from the high above, but Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City and Castle Rock in the UP’s St. Ignace are only open May-November. Still, crossing over the bridge will give you a glimpse of a breathtaking wintry vista.
- Rockport Recreational Area: Located near Alpena on the “Sunrise Side,” some dub this as Michigan’s “oddest park.” Why? It’s the spot of a former gravel quarry, full of mysterious sinkholes (but obvious ones), virgin pine forests, and lots and lots of rocks. There aren’t any marked trails as of yet, so it gives you a real taste of the wild. Still, photos like this one show the area to be quite magnificent in its quirkiness.
- Leelanau Wine Trail: Not to be outdone by neighboring Old Mission Peninsula, the Leelanau Peninsula’s collection of 18 wineries runs the gamut when it comes to choices for vino. There are even some hard cider spots, too. The wine trail offers a winter event, Taste the Passion, where you and your honey, or a group of friends, can sample delicious Leelanau wines with accompanying food pairings.. You can also snowshoe your way between some of the wineries. Explore their events page to see what other exciting things are happening along the trail.
- Detroit Zoo: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean all the animals hibernate. Commonly thought of as a warm weather attraction, the famous Detroit Zoo hosts Wild Winter Weekends and also has a winter rink in front of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center. You can still enjoy many of the exhibits and attractions, just in a down parka and wool gloves. And as you can imagine, the crowds are much more manageable.
- Au Sable River: Have you ever floated downriver when the banks and trees are covered in white? The picturesque Au Sable River, one of the gems of the state, is the ideal spot to take a canoe or kayak for this special experience. Some liveries are open during the winter and can offer rentals and advice. Just don’t fall in!
- Frankenmuth: Known primarily for Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland and a famous chicken dinner at Zehnder’s, quaint Frankenmuth is a charming place to visit after the holiday season. The unique shops with their unique wares offer visitors a taste of Bavarian craft and culture. Since it’s so close to the Birch Run Outlet, and because they have their own collection of shops, it can be very busy during the summer and popular holidays. So if you get a chance, stop in when there isn’t as much hustle and bustle.
- Keweenaw Peninsula: It’s “The Snow Capital of the West” – and for good reason. If you’re into snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding, snowshoeing, or winter photography, it doesn’t get any better than this. After all the activity, warm up at one of three breweries for a Michigan craft beer or cozy family owned restaurants for a home cooked meal. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
Where do you like to go outdoors during a Michigan winter? Please feel free to comment – we’d love to know!