How can you pass the chilly days of winter? You have lots of options! Of course, staying huddled under a blanket with a steaming beverage and a good book has its perks, too. But if you’re getting stir crazy this winter or just want to have some fun visiting places that are typically packed in the summer, then head to southeast Michigan and around the city of Detroit.
Celebrate with a Winter Festival
When you live in Michigan, you need to celebrate every season. Although many festivals occur during the warm months, winter contains many opportunities for fun and mirth. Rochester hosts the Fire & Ice Festival every January, where the downtown is transformed into a winter playground, including dog sledding. The Winter Blast in Campus Martius has a slide, skiing, crafts, and a zipline. The renowned Plymouth Ice Festival and the Winter Blast Royal Oak both feature spectacular ice sculptures, live entertainment, and warm food. Beer lovers flock to Jackson for the Southern Michigan Winter Festival come March, and music aficionados enjoy the Hamtramck Music Festival, which features some of Detroit’s favorite local bands. You’ve gotta have a little fun when it’s cold outside.
When it comes to history, the options in southeast Michigan run the gamut. You can spend an hour or two or even a couple of days at one venue alone. The Henry Ford Museum and the associated Greenfield Village has a plethora of exhibits and attractions. Likewise, the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills gives naturalists and budding explorers a chance to learn about the natural world, inventions, and scientific achievements. There are many museums to mention, but also at the top of the list are the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville (“A great place to touch, feel, and interact with some of the most amazing aircraft throughout aviation history”); Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit (“Located on Strand Drive on Belle Isle… dedicated to showcasing the story of the Great Lakes, with a special emphasis on Detroit’s role in regional and national maritime history”; and the Charles H Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit (“Founded in 1965, The Wright museum holds the world’s largest permanent collection of African-American culture”.
Say Hi to the Animals
From wild adventures to simple farms, you can view both native and exotic creatures across Michigan. SEALIFE in Auburn Hills is a favorite spot for budding marine biologists and anyone who fancies sea creatures. Bowers School Farm in nearby Bloomfield Hills is a small-scale working farm that encourages education and cultivates community in an engaging way. Their annual Winter Park – January and February – allows visitors to meet the animals, sample farm-made treats, and go tubing or ice skating or both! Heritage Park Petting Farm in Taylor, southern Detroit area, is a low-cost, hands-on experience with a heated barn in which to interact with the traditional chorus of farm animals during the winter months. If reptiles are more your style, you can head to the Reptarium in Utica. From snakes to chameleons, to alligators, to turtles, you can get up close and personal, depending on your comfort level. There are also arachnids and amphibians on site for viewing. Then of course, there is the Detroit Zoo!
Strap on Snowshoes
Generally speaking, you can snowshoe practically any trail that is walkable in the other seasons when conditions allow. However, we feature a few spots in southwest Michigan that are best known for snowshoeing. Some of these spots have rental equipment available on-site. For-Mar Nature Preserve in Burton, just east of Flint, has rental equipment so that you can go out and enjoy its network of trails, whether you want to travel a mile or a 5K. Harris Nature Center in Okemos also has rentals available in the center – also worth a viewing – Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10-2. Trails are multiuse, just as they are in the warmer months. Some other good snowshoeing destinations to check out in southeast Michigan, but that do not come ready with rentals, are Rolling Hills in Ypsilanti, Independence Lake County Park in Whitmore Lake, Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, Belle Isle, and Maybury State Park.
Ideally, you want eight inches or more of snow when it comes to snowshoeing, so later in the winter season or just after a fresh snow is a better time for this activity. As far as trail etiquette, try to stay off groomed trails, choosing instead to walk on the sides of the trail. The reason being that groomed trails need to be kept smooth for cross-country skiers. If you want a better workout, use ski poles, however, they aren’t necessary. You can read more snowshoeing tips here.