8 Must See Places to Visit in Michigan this Winter

Michigan is one of the most beautiful states in America. With its miles and miles of forests, lakes, beaches, and the Great Lakes it’s hard to resist exploring some of these places to visit in Michigan for a relaxing getaway. 

Winter is approaching quickly, and it is a perfect reminder to reflect on all that we are thankful for in our lives, especially after the year we have all had.

This summer, I am focusing on the how thankful I am for my home state of Michigan.

I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a state that is filled with natural beauty all year long.

The changing seasons continually transform our great state offering new views and plenty to do. 

fall in michigan

I am thankful that my state embraces our seasonal changes and strives to create unique activities that showcase the wonder of the Mitten State, regardless of the temperature outside.

What are some nice places to visit in Michigan?

From the tip top of the upper peninsula to the very bottom of the lower peninsula, there are places to see and things to do that will inspire you to take a Michigan road trip.

The only state in the U.S. to border Canada and one of seven states that borders at least two other states, it’s a great destination for travelers who want to explore multiple places in one trip.

Michigan has a multitude of landscapes from the lush forests to the flat farm lands and over 3,000 miles of freshwater coastline (more fresh water coastline than any other state!).

map of places to visit in michigan

With such a variety, Michigan is an incredible vacation spot whether it is summer or winter and is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts as well as those looking for urban adventures.

This year, as the cold approaches, I’ll share with you a few reasons why you should consider taking a road trip to the Great Lakes State. 

Born and raised in Michigan, here are my favorite road trip destinations in the Mitten during the holiday season.  

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the upper peninsula is open year round.

While the guided boat tours end in Mid-October, the park has so much more to offer. 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Michigan

Hike along the 100 miles of trail and take in the brilliant colors of the changing leaves. 

In the snowy months visitors can partake in cross country skiing, winter camping, ice climbing, snowshoeing, and one of Michigan’s most popular winter activities – snowmobiling!   

Crystal Mountain

A visit to Crystal Mountain Michigan in the northern part of the state is a great way to enjoy the snowfall.

Located in Thompsonville, there are 58 downhill slopes for skiing and snowboarding as well as miles of cross country trails.

The Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa also offers lessons for those unfamiliar with the slopes.

fat tire snow biking michigan

If zipping down a mountainside isn’t your thing, you can enjoy ice skating or fat tire snow biking.

You can also try the adventure course, outdoor laser tag, and even a build-a-buddy workshop for the kids.

Then, spend the evening on a horse drawn carriage ride complete with hot cocoa and a bon fire after the ride.

It is the perfect getaway for a cozy winter weekend.

Saugatuck

Perched along Lake Michigan, the views in Saugatuck will make you almost think that you are ocean side…almost.

In the winter, you can take your sweetie to the Saugatuk-Douglass Winterfest on Valentine’s weekend.

winter Saugatuck dunes places to visit in Michigan

Partake in the Stew and Brew Contests, tour the local wineries, and check out the ice sculpture competitions.

Step out of the cold and into one of the many incredible galleries and restaurants or grab something sweet from the local shops.

If you are looking for a thrill, head to Oval Beach where visitors can sled down the sand dunes. 

Traverse City 

Traverse City is buzzing year round. In the winter you can take the family sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, and even try a game of ice hockey.

Shanty Creek Resorts offers amazing lodging for all your winter adventures.

traverse city michigan

The resort also has plenty of events for their guests including the Ice Man Cometh, a 30 mile mountain bike rice with over $52,000 in cash prizes!

In Traverse City you can even watch as the yacht club participates in ice boating across the frozen lake.

In the evening take a tour of the local wineries and enjoy Michigan made wines.

Frankenmuth

Home to Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store, this city has fun for the whole family.

There is a plethora of unique shops with one of a kind gifts and Michigan made products.

There are delicious foods including the world famous Zehnder’s where over 3,000 chicken dinners are served up everyday.

Zehnder’s Snowfest Michigan

Take a cozy carriage ride through the historic city and check out the Zehnder’s Snowfest where people compete for the best snow sculptures.

Marquette 

With long difficult winters and plenty of terrain surrounded by nothing but solitude, Michiganders must find ways to keep themselves sane and in peak physical condition during those months of sub-zero temperatures.

Way up in the Upper Peninsula, you will find the city of Marquette where the population won’t let a little snowfall (current average is 117 inches) stop them from having fun.

marquette michigan

In Marquette, you will find the Noquemanon Cross Country Ski Marathon. Those competing will be met with breathtaking views along the challenging course. 

Marquette also hosts the Grand Marais UP 200 Sled Dog Race which is a qualifier for the famous Iditarod in Alaska.  

Detroit 

Home to the MGM Grand and Greektown Casino, the city is a great destination when you need a night out on the town.

Enjoy gambling, great shows, and incredible hotels for a much deserved relaxing weekend.

detroit michigan winter

You can also visit the Detroit Institute of Art and the Detroit Historical Museum to view the latest exhibits.

Catch a game at Comerica Park and Ford Field or visit the Fox Theatre and the Detroit Opera House for some entertainment.

There is a lot of history in the city with a variety of attractions.

Mackinaw City

At the top of the lower peninsula is the beautiful city of Mackinaw.

In the winter months, you will find a nice slow paced atmosphere perfect for getting away from the stress of the holidays.

While many of the summer attractions are closed, the city still embraces the long winter months and encourages visitors.

Mackinaw City michigan

Most roads are open to snowmobiles so you can zip around town exploring the city and eating at great restaurants like the Dixie Saloon.

Take a trip to the Winterfest or watch the Mackinaw Mush Sled Dog Race. You can also visit historic Mackinac Island just across the Straits of Mackinac.

The ferries run until they can no longer push through the ice, but when the ferries stop running, you can take a round trip flight for $48 to the island to get stunning aerial views of the Straits of Mackinac. 

The nearby Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs has great lodging, a spa, and skiing. The resort even offers a Dog Sled Tour. 

What are your favorite road trip memories in your own state?

12 thoughts on “8 Must See Places to Visit in Michigan this Winter”

  1. Bookmarking this! I didn’t know there was so much to see in Michigan. I’ve only been to Frankenmuth and love it.

    Reply
  2. Such lovely places! I would enjoy going to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore the most, and then Detroit would be fun too! I would love to go here someday soon!

    Reply
  3. The only place I have ever been in Michigan was Detroit and it was to watch a hockey playoff game. It was awesome that it was right by the water. I was a little nervous driving around though!

    Reply

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