Northern Michigan Outdoors: From the Sleeping Bear Dunes to Petoskey, get the family into the Northern Michigan Outdoors over the holidays.
Snowshoe Sleeping Bear Dunes
Gather up the fam from gram to kids and tour the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, (voted Most Beautiful Place in America by Good Morning America viewers!) on snowshoes. Snowshoeing is a breeze to learn, and the ranger-guided treks are leisurely paced so snowshoers have plenty of time to look for signs of wildlife or simply sigh over the beauty of dunes in winter. The National Lakeshore has a limited supply of snowshoes for free, or bring your own. Beginners can expect basic instruction. Participants need to purchase a park entrance pass to join in. Details and reservations, 231.326.5134, ext. 328.
Guided Winter Rafting- Jordan River
This Northwoods experience is great for the entire family or as a romantic outing for two. Float through the peaceful winter landscape, and watch for duck, beaver, mink, deer, coyote and eagles. The Basic Guided Winter Rafting Trip includes a stop along the river’s edge for cocoa and cookies. Time outdoors is about 2 hours. Trips are by reservation only. 231.536.0006.
Get out the muffs (or hockey equipment) and play Currier & Ives at these charming outdoor rinks:
Avalanche Ice Rink: 1129 Wilson Street, Boyne City, 231.582.3641
Harbor Springs Community Park: Main & Hoyt Streets, Harbor Springs, 231.526.2104
Boyne Highlands: Harbor Springs, boyne.com
Boyne Mountain: Boyne Falls, boyne.com
Petoskey Winter Sports Park: Winter Park Lane, Petoskey, 231.347.1252
F & M Park: State and Railroad Streets, Traverse City, 231.922.4910
Fourteenth & Pine: Traverse City, 231.922.4910
The Homestead: Glen Arbor, thehomesteadresort.com
Crystal Mountain Resort: Thompsonville, crystalmountain.com
Snow Tubing at Timberlee Hills
Michigan’s largest snow tubing hill is 10 minutes from Traverse City. Glide down the hill solo or with a pal on a tandem tube, then sit back and enjoy the ride back up on the state-of-the-art tow system. Snow tubing is all the fun of sledding without hiking back up the hill,
making it a great activity for all ages. Après tubing, warm up with hot chocolate and pizza by the fireplace. $12 for one-hour pass. 231.941.4142, timberleehills.com.
Dog Sledding at Boyne Highlands
Call “mush” to the Iditarod sled dogs of Nature’s Kennel on a ride through the snow-covered hills of Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs. Sleds typically accommodate two adults or one adult and two small children. The adventure includes a hot chocolate warm-up and learning fascinating facts about the dogs from their musher. $75 per half-hour. 231.526.3135, boyne.com.
Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up let’s go … to Antler Ridge Farm. Each winter this century-old fruit orchard offers horse-drawn sleigh rides over the snowy hills and through dark cedar forests east of Traverse City. Ride the 12-passenger, Percheron-pulled sleigh out to a clearing in the forest to roast marshmallows, drink hot cocoa and swap tales. The trip takes just under an hour. 231.267.5795. Ranch Rudolf’s Belgian-drawn sleighs traverse the resort’s 195-acres on the Boardman River 12 miles southeast of Traverse City. 231.947.9529. Crystal Mountain’s team of gentle Belgians whisks its bundled up cargo over the hills, through the woods and to a crackling bonfire. 231.378.2000.
Downhill Skiing and Boarding
The Northern Michigan ski slopes are on fire with fun during holiday week. Find out everything you need to get you and your family out there at MyNorth.com/skiguide.
Cherry-T Ball Drop New Year's Eve
Bundle up and join the crowd on Front Street in Traverse City to watch the giant cherry drop at the stroke of midnight, New Year’s Eve, 2012. Bring canned goods for area food pantries. Find out more at cherrytballdrop.com.