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Winter in Northern Michigan

Winter is a glorious season in Northern Michigan. The first snow of the season brings whoops of delight as snow lovers get ready for a variety of outdoor activities.

Up North winters are truly spectacular. This is not the place for mushy, gray winter days. Instead our days are crisp with freshly fallen snow. We love our winters and you will, too.

Winter Fun Up North!

With the snow comes wonderful winter fun. We have it all in Northern Michigan. Three of the best ski resorts in the Midwest right in our back yard, Nub’s Nob, Boyne Highlands, and Boyne Mountain. Skiing is a big part of winter fun in Northern Michigan. With two ski resorts located between Harbor Springs and Petoskey, and another south of Petoskey in Boyne Falls, there is no excuse not to enjoy skiing and with night skiing available at all the resorts, skiing under the stars is indeed an option. Snow tubing? Zip line adventures? Ski racing? Check out our ski resorts for these winter fun activities.

What else is there to do Up North in the winter? Sledding is a great family activity. Bring along your sled or toboggan and zip down the hills. And ice skating? Each of the parks in our Northern Michigan area have both sledding hills and ice rinks so sled for awhile and then put on the blades to glide along the ice. You can sled and skate at Petoskey’s Winter Sports Park, Harbor Springs’ Kiwanis Park, Charlevoix’s Mount McSauba and Boyne City’s Avalanche Park. Yes, all of our Northern Michigan sledding and ice skating parks have warming huts.

Cross country skiing? Yes, we do! All three of our ski resorts have groomed cross country ski trails. In addition, there are many other trails open to cross country skiers and snowshoers such as our state parks. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing in Northern Michigan is excellent.

Snowmobiling? We have miles and miles of trails that bring snowmobilers from around the Midwest to enjoy the terrain and snow. Yes, Northern Michigan is the place for snowmobiling. Yes, we have it all in Northern Michigan just waiting for you to outdoors in the snow and play.

Cross Country Skiing

If you enjoy the vigorous exercise of cross country skiing, Northern Michigan is for you. More than a dozen trails attract a skiers. The Petoskey State Park, Wildwood, Nub’s Nob, and Birchwood Country Club are just a few great places to cross country ski. Each February, the Loppet takes place, a cross country ski trek from Harbor Springs to Cross Village.

Downhill Skiing

Downhill skiing is Northern Michigan. We boast of downhill skiing because we have it all: three spectacular resorts with a variety of terrain. Nub’s Nob and Boyne Highlands, both outside Harbor Springs, and Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls, provide a ski experience that will bring you back for more. Ski schools, racing, demonstrations, snowboarding, night skiing, apres ski… what more can you ask for?

Snowmobiling

If snowmobiling is your passion, then you have come to the right place. Miles and miles of trails can take you from the woods to the water’s edge, from the countryside to a spot for a warm drink. The annual Moose Jaw Safari attracts hundreds of snowmobilers each February as they sled from Harbor Springs to Lark’s Lake where the famous bean pot awaits.

Snowshoeing

It may be the old fashioned way to get around in the snow, but it works and is gaining in popularity every year. And one hour of moderate snowshoeing burns 700 calories. Try any of the area cross country ski trails or take part in guided snowshoe walks by the Little Traverse Conservancy.

Skating & Sledding

Iceskating on a beautiful winter evening with the stars overhead just can’t be beat. Outdoor rinks in Petoskey, Boyne City, Charlevoix, Boyne Falls, Harbor Springs, and Boyne Highlands; along with indoor skating in Harbor Springs, provide wonderful opportunities to glide across the ice. Sledding hills are perfect for a fast trip down the hill on a sled followed by hot chocolate in the warming house.

Winter's Ice Brings Out Skates & Sail Boats

Ice? Northern Michigan loves it! No, not the slippery stuff on the sidewalk but the smooth, glass like ice that covers our lakes.

When the lakes freeze over and the ice is thick, it is time to bring out the fishing shanties, ice skates, and ice boats. Ice boating is a great winter sport and in the Harbor Springs area, up to 20 boats at a time can be seen skimming across the ice.

When the ice is just perfect, so clear that you can see the bottom, the action on the ice is like a party: ice boaters, skaters, parents pulling sleds, fishermen (and women) in their shanties. It’s a glorious scene.

Along the beaches, the ice forms sculptures that shine in the sun. A walk on the beach in the winter can be exhilarating–the beauty is stunning.

Ice Sculptures & Caves On the Beach

Ice sculptures on the beach? Yes, and these are not made by ice carvers but by Mother Nature herself. In the winter when the ice begins to coat the lakes, it shifts with the wind. As it blows up on the shore and freezes again, sculptures and caves form. And they are gorgeous.


A walk on the beach in the winter after the ice has settled in is a glorious experience. You can walk on the beach and on the ice. Bring your camera to preserve these special winter memories.

On some days in February and March, the parking lots at the beaches can be as busy as a day in July. Everyone is walking on the beach or is out on the ice. On the inland lakes, the ice season can last three months. On Lake Michigan, it can be a few weeks or in some unlucky winters, not at all. So put on your walking shoes, hats and gloves and hit the beach–in the winter!

There are so many outdoor activities in Northern Michigan during the winter--don't miss any of them!

Winter Events

Downtown Petoskey Winter Carnival

Indian River’s Winterfest

Indian River’s Winterfest is packed with fun things to do including a poker run, bonfires, music, food, kid’s events, and more.

Looking for more events in Northern Michigan?

Discover More of Northern Michigan's Seasons

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Explore Activities and Attractions of Northern Michigan

Charlevoix's Historical Museums

Charlevoix’s History Museums

The Harsha House and the Charlevoix Depot Museum, run by the Charlevoix Historical Society, preserve much of Charlevoix’s rich history.

Harbor Springs History Museum

Museums in Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan is home to several different museums for people of all ages which highlight the area’s businesses, history, and culture!