Editor’s note: This is part four of a five-part series on Michigan winter activities. Read the introduction to the series here.
With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing families indoors, finding ways to beat cabin fever can be challenging. Fortunately, if you’re looking for a fun and safe trip this winter season, northern Michigan offers an array of activities the entire family can enjoy. From the most adventurous skiers to those wanting to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate around the bonfire, these resorts offer some of the best outdoor activities for families Michigan has to offer.
Crystal Mountain, located in Thompsonville, is known for some of the best family-friendly skiing in Northern Michigan; however, it also offers a wide range of activities that everyone in the family can enjoy.
“If you’ve never taken a ski vacation, Crystal Mountain is a great place to visit. We have 58 downhill ski slopes for all types of skiers and snowboarders, and 25 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. We offer ski and snowboard lessons for all abilities and skill levels,” said Sammie Lukaskiewicz, director of public relations for Crystal Mountain.
Ski vacation packages include nightly lodging along with free skiing on arrival day and all-day lift tickets through your departure day. Families can save with deals for children under 17 who sleep free at any time and ski free Sunday through Thursday.
For the nonskiers in the family, Crystal has a variety of events including fat tire bike riding, hiking, snowshoeing and family arts and crafts. A horse-drawn surrey ride is a perfect way to end a long day of skiing and fun.
Crystal Mountain is situated perfectly for those looking to adventure off resort grounds as well. Destinations such as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Traverse City, the Betsie and Platte rivers, and the city of Frankfort all are just a short trip from the resort and offer great retail shopping, restaurants and scenic views.
The Porcupine Ski Area in Ontonagon County, Upper Peninsula, is worth the drive for the beautiful views overlooking Lake Superior.
The “Porkies,” as the resort is nicknamed, offers ski runs for all ages and abilities of skiers including a bunny hill for beginners and glade runs for experienced backcountry skiers. Families can take advantage of ski lessons for both children and adults. For those looking to take their ski experience a step further, an all-natural terrain park is available for guests.
The nearby Porcupine Mountain State Park offers a unique opportunity to stay alongside the shores of Lake Superior in a cabin or yurt. The state park offers cross-country and snowmobiling trails on over 50,000 acres.
As some of the premier ski resorts in Northern Michigan, both Boyne Mountain, in Boyne Falls, and its sister resort Boyne Highlands, in Harbor Springs, offer a multitude of outdoor winter activities for families.
From ice skating rinks and horseback riding to fat tire snow biking and tubing, there’s always something fun to find at both resorts. Boyne Mountain also offers a winter zipline adventure that sits 50 feet high and stretches across 780 feet, perfect for those looking for a thrill.
“Boyne Mountain is very high energy and always has a lot going on. Typically, in a normal season, there is a lot of nightlife and evening activities for the adults to go off and do, whereas Boyne Highlands is really laid back, it is very casual and comfortable. Everyone does the apres-ski scene and relaxes in big comfy chairs and fireplaces,” said Erin Ernst, director of communications for Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands.
The skiing experience varies between the resorts. Boyne Mountain is laid out with beginner hills on one side and gradually gets more difficult across the mountain. Boyne Highlands offers 10 lifts — eight chairlifts and two Magic Carpet conveyors — allowing multiple options for skiers choosing between an easy or difficult path.