Winter Adventure Day Trips in Michigan

Get into the seasonal spirit with these destinations near Detroit.

Photo courtesy of Echo Valley Winter Sports Park
Photo courtesy of Echo Valley Winter Sports Park
Written by Christopher Reilly

Michiganders, never ones to sit at home with cabin fever, have instead learned to embrace the cold. Whether you're talking about ice-fishing, skating, skiing or any other outdoor activity, few states have more varied opportunities for cold weather fun than the land of 10,000 lakes. Here are day trips tailor-made for winter adventurers. The best part? You'll only need a tank of gas (or less) to get there.

Caseville Shanty Days
County Park
Caseville, MI
(989) 856-3818

Why Go? The 22st Annual Caseville Shanty Days gets underway Feb. 14 for three days of outrageous fun. Last year featured Human Bowling, Chick on a Stick—where one girl hangs from a stick that her two teammates carry in a race—and the Potty Trotty, where contestants race while pushing outhouses. And the fun goes on—ice fishing, snowmobiling, a cardboard sled race, loads of kids events and more.  

Must Do: Get to the Caseville Beach (the best beach in the county) and take in a world class sunset. As you watch from the eastern shore of Saginaw Bay, the sun sets behind Charity Island and the bay for a truly inspiring experience.

Insider Tip: Don't miss the Caseville Polar Bear Dip, with brave polar plungers coming from around the world to jump into the frigid bay.

Fine Print: Caseville Shanty Days runs from Feb. 14 to 16. Check the Shanty Days website for announcements and updates, including costs, although almost everything is free.

Stoney Creek Metro Park
4300 Main Park Rd.
Washington, MI

Why Go? Stoney Creek Metro Park offers excellent snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The park, 4,461 beautiful acres, features hilly terrain offset by the natural beauty of the 500-acre Stoney Creek Lake. There are 33 miles of non-groomed trails throughout the park, perfect for an exhilarating hike through the snow-blanketed woods. 

Must Do: Plan on stopping by the 6,000 square-foot Nature Center while you're visiting, which “features several permanent exhibits as well as temporary special presentations,” said Mark Szabo of the Stoney Creek Nature Center. “We also run special educational programs and events.” 

Insider Tip: The snowshoe rentals for Stoney Creek are done at the Nature Center, which is open Monday through Sunday. But Szabo warned, “they're the old-fashioned wooden kind of snowshoe.” Cross-country skis may be rented from the Golf Course so the park can keep the groomed cross-country trails separate from the snowshoe trails, which are left in their natural snow-blanketed condition.

Fine Print: On weekdays, the Nature Center is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m, and on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The snowshoe rentals are good for three hours, and you have to have them returned by 4 p.m. Snowshoe rental costs $5. The park also has a $5 parking fee. 

Motown Winter Blast
Campus Martius Park
Detroit, MI

Why Go? Come for free ice-skating, professional and amateur skating demonstrations, snowshoeing, marshmallow roasting, unique ice sculptures, three stages featuring more than 50 acts, and heated tents and warming buildings every 150 feet. 

Must Do: If you have kids, take them to the “Kids Zone,” featuring a family entertainment stage with magicians, jugglers and comedians. 

Insider Tip: It's worth going to the Winter Blast just to enjoy Taste of Detroit, where foodies sample from a large array of local restaurant offerings, including many of the city's most treasured eateries. 

Fine Print: The 2014 Winter Blast takes place Feb. 7 to 9. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 9 p.m. Sunday. 

Echo Valley Winter Sports Park 
8495 East H Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI  

(269) 349-3291 

Why Go? Race down the toboggan track or go for the 500-foot tubing hill. Ice skating enthusiasts are in luck with the 43,000 square-foot outdoor ice skating rink. And when you've finally had enough, relax in the newly-remodeled warming lodge next to the large circular fireplace. Food is available at the snack bar, or enjoy a hot chocolate on the expansive observation deck. 

Must Do: Go on a toboggan run—all feature an Everslide all-season sledding surface, which is used around the world to max out your sledding experience. At Echo Valley, tobogganers race down a quarter-mile track reaching speeds of 60 mph. 

Insider Tip: Echo Valley only accepts cash and checks; no credit or debit cards are accepted. 

Fine Print: Tubing and Tobogganing are $14 each, or pay $18 total to do both. Ice Skating is $5, with skates available at the lodge at no additional charge. Fees are the same for adults and children and there are no group discounts. Open through March.


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