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Winter Fun from January to March in Southeast Michigan

Whether your family loves stage shows, LEGO exhibits and laser tag or skiing, hiking and looking at ice sculptures outdoors, kick off 2013 right with these 13 cool activities

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The number 13 gives some people the chills. But, the way Metro Parent sees it, 13 is the perfect way to beat the chill in southeast Michigan – or, for adventurous types, outright bask in it. Bundle up the kids to glide across the ice, zip down a ski hill, scope out snow monkeys, get crafty in nature or watch chainsaws transform hunks of ice into glistening masterpieces. Then, warm up to some Motor City automotive marvels, jaw-dropping LEGO architecture, the smells (and tastes) of an honest-to-gosh chocolate factory and even Elmo kicking out the jams.

In fact, whether metro Detroit gets hit with snow squalls or unseasonable thaws, there's so much to do, the next three months are scarcely enough time to contain it all. So, even if you suffer a touch of ophiophobia (2013 is the Year of the Snake in the Chinese zodiac), there's no excuse not to brave the elements!

1. Skiing and snowboarding

Consider this your chance to conquer a bunny hill. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and Discover Michigan Skiing makes it an affordable gamble at $20 for cross-country skiing, $30 for downhill skiing and $40 for snowboarding. Locally, this program, which spans Jan. 2-31, 2013 and is open to ages 7-plus, is at Mount Holly, Pine Knob Ski & Snowboard Resort in Clarkston and nearby Mount Brighton. While not hosting the promo, Alpine Valley in White Lake is another spot to learn the ropes. Snow guaranteed. Check out the Metro Parent roundup for even more ski and snowboard destinations near southeast Michigan.

2. Play centers and fun spots 

Cabin fever setting in? Time to let the rug rats blow off some steam – at local indoor fun centers. For tykes, check out pint-sized play nooks, like trailblazer Jungle Java, now with locales in Canton, Clinton Township and Farmington Hills. Other nifty picks for small fries include Rochester Play!, Tiny Town Play Lounge in Northville and Detroit Kid City in Southfield, offering a scaled-down Motown. Got older kids? A day at C.J. Barrymore's in Clinton Township gives 'em a golf range, bowling, arcade and laser tag. For even more, check out the Metro Parent roundup of best family fun play centers in southeast Michigan.

3. Detroit auto show and AutoRama

Salty roads and black ice are the seasonal enemies of our vehicular arsenal. However, gearheads know there are two safe winter havens when it comes to wheeled wonders. The first, of course, is the almighty North American International Auto Show, returning to Detroit's Cobo Center Jan. 19-27, 2013. Browse 500 cutting-edge vehicles – and swing by for the Jan. 25 WXYZ TV Family Day for music, giveaways and fun. Prefer kicking it old school? AutoRama, the quintessential hot-rod show, roars into Cobo March 8-10, 2013. See customs, trucks, 'cycles and more; plus there's Disney and WWE celebs, Toy-A-Rama and Spongebob Squarepants for kids.

4. Check out a museum exhibit

Imagine Ford Field, home to the Detroit Lions, in the same room as the Empire State Building and St. Louis Arch. It's reality at the LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition exhibit, in Dearborn's Henry Ford Museum till Feb. 24. 2013. There's a Duplo play area for tykes, too, and Double Dare-style challenge Saturdays Jan. 5-26. Other hot picks: Try Bodies: Human Anatomy in Motion at the just-opened Michigan Science Center in Detroit, Kid Rock Music Lab and three other new exhibits at the Detroit Historical Museum – or explore the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum for $5 after 5 p.m. Thursdays.

5. Factory tours all over town

Have you ever seen a brand-new truck, stuffed animal or sea of sweets roll off the assembly tracks? Take a tour! The Ford Rouge Factory Tour gives an inside view of the iconic Detroit auto plant that's still churning out F-150s (9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed Jan. 28; $15/adults, $11/kids). Chelsea offers two free tours: Chelsea Teddy Bear Company (11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday) and Jiffy Mix Plant (by reservation, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday starting Jan. 3). And don't miss the Morley Candy Makers and Sanders Candy Factory in Clinton Township, home of Pecan Torties and cream puffs (9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, free).

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