Family Places to Vacation in Michigan During the Winter

By Sarah Cairoli
Michigan is packed with ski resorts and indoor water parks.
Michigan is packed with ski resorts and indoor water parks.

An icy wind blows off the lake. Snow piles up against the windows. Darkness closes in before dinner. This is winter in Michigan, and the snow raging outside beckons some to come play while encouraging others to snuggle under a warm blanket. For many, months of winter weather cause cabin fever and an almost insatiable desire to get away for a while. Michiganders don’t have to go far because the state has a number of places to vacation during the winter.

Boyne Ski Resorts

If the snow blowing outside seems to be begging your family to strap on skis or snowboards, Michigan has over 50 ski areas with hundreds of lifts for all skill levels. Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands offer two mountains only 27 miles apart; Boyne Mountain is in Boyne Falls and Boyne Highlands is in Harbor Springs. One lift ticket gives skiers access to both resorts. Boyne Mountain’s Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark is perfect for those who would rather swim. It is Michigan’s largest indoor water park with five fun waterslides, kiddie pools, hot tubs and many other attractions.


More than 6,000 groomed snowmobile trails wind through Michigan’s forests. The state’s Department of Natural Resources provides detailed trail maps for all areas of the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The city of Cadillac boasts a trail system that includes more than 200 miles of beautiful terrain and connects to a number of other trail systems. Snowmobilers in the Cadillac area can take advantage of the ice fishing on Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell, where walleye, northern pike, perch and bass lurk under thousands of acres of ice. Cadillac visitors can also hit the slopes at Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort. Warm snowsuits and dry boots will help the whole family have fun in Michigan’s snow.

Great Wolf Lodge

This sprawling resort in Traverse City is so packed with kids' activities that yours are almost guaranteed to collapse into bed every night. The indoor water park is kept at a balmy 84 degrees Fahrenheit, so winter becomes easy to forget. Numerous waterslides, including one the whole family can ride together, provide thrilling excitement, while a lazy river winds through the park for those with a less adventurous spirit. A four-story treehouse sits in the middle of the park and offers endless opportunities to get drenched. In addition to the water park, a live-action interactive game, MagiQuest, invites kids to use their magic wands to solve problems and befriend fairies. The whole family will enjoy the bowling area, and spa services for all ages will help everyone relax after a long day.


Also known as Michigan’s little Bavaria, Frankenmuth is a city rich with German heritage. The Christmas celebration never stops at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store. This sprawling shop will put anyone in the holiday spirit. The Frankenmuth Chees Haus and Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant delight the taste buds and tummies with true German flavors. Burn off some extra energy on the waterslides at the Bavarian Inn or Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Water Park.

About the Author

Sarah Cairoli began her writing career in 2002, as a reporter for the "High Country Independent Press" in Belgrade, Mont. She then spent two years writing and editing for an online publishing company, and earned her master's degree in English from Northern Arizona University. Cairoli also writes for "Bozeman Magazine."