Winter Activities and Events in Michigan

We asked Jordan Morgan and KT Maviglia-Morgan, the founders of travel platform On Arrival, to create an itinerary for winter activities statewide — here’s what they came up with.
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Photograph courtesy of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland

University of Michigan Alumni Jordan Morgan and KT Maviglia Morgan turned their love of travel into a successful business. Their travel platform On Arrival makes trip planning more efficient, and even offers custom-made itineraries.

We asked the pair where they’d go, and what they’d do, in Michigan during the winter. Here are their top picks.

Frankenmuth

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

Top of the list is the world’s largest Christmas store. Go shopping for gifts, decorations, and anything else you need for the holiday season. If you go during the holidays, we suggest leaving metro Detroit at the crack of dawn to avoid lines.

Smart shoppers wait until after New Year’s to shop in peace. Either way, don’t leave without a personalized ornament! bronners.com.

Zehnder’s Snowfest

This event has been taking place for more than 30 years at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. Enjoy live snow and ice sculpting as well as music, drinks, and shopping from Jan. 25 to 29. After a day of fun, stop in the restaurant for a family-style fried chicken dinner. zehnders.com/snowfest.

Thompsonville

Iron Fish Distillery

This hidden gem 20 miles southeast of Frankfort took home three medals at this year’s prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It’s also the perfect base camp for wood-fired pizza and cocktails.

Stop by during your stay at Crystal Mountain ski resort, and if you have time, make the 30-minute drive to the famous frozen lighthouse Point Betsie. ironfishdistillery.com.

Boyne Falls

Boyne Mountain Resort

Undoubtedly Michigan’s best skiing destination. Explore 60 trails and 415 skiable acres. The annual Holiday Week at Boyne Mountain runs from Dec. 20 to Jan. 1 and is filled with Yuletide cheer and activities (perfect for children)! boynemountain.com.

Traverse City

CherryT Ball Drop

Head to downtown Traverse City for the annual cherry ball drop. As many as 12,000 people attend this event each Dec. 31, and proceeds go to local charities. Be sure to stick around for the fireworks! cherrytballdrop.org.

Grand Rapids

World of Winter Festival

Grand Rapids’ biggest holiday event runs from Jan. 6 to March 5. Check out the long list of free attractions, which includes interactive outdoor art installations, light displays, and live performances. Stop by Lyon Street Café to enjoy a hot cocoa in a frame cabin before heading home! worldofwintergr.com.

St. Joseph

Light Up the Bluff

For a top-notch light display, head to St. Joseph’s Lake Bluff Park during Light Up the Bluff. The show, which features more than 1 million holiday lights set up throughout the park, remains aglow through February. It’s a must-see! For dates, go to stjoetoday.com.

Marquette

Winter sports

Calling all adventure seekers! Marquette offers ample opportunities to get outside and get active, from skiing and fat-tire biking to snowshoeing and beyond. Check out scenic sites like the Black Rocks, Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, and the nearby Eben Ice Caves and Tahquamenon Falls.

Did you know you can even see the Northern Lights in Marquette? Its particularly long, dark winter nights create perfect conditions for viewing the aurora borealis from the Lake Superior shoreline. travelmarquette.com.


This story is from the November 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.

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