Skiing, snowboarding and tubing at Treetops Resort in beautiful Gaylord — Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula’s snowbelt — are all super fun family activities and well worth the visit to the winter getaway that’s just three easy hours up I-75 from metro Detroit. Families with kids of all ages could take to the slopes and have all the fun these outdoor winter activities provide.
But Treetops Resort offers extra experiences to make the trip all the more memorable. We connected with Treetops Resort General Manager Barry Owens to find out more about how to maximize your family fun with unique outdoor winter activities.
Spud-Tacular Family Potato Snowshoe event
“This is the bomb!” says Owens. “We really wanted to do something the whole family could do together, and this is it.”
Along the famous “Potato Railroad,” named for its former purpose of hauling potatoes by railroad to neighboring counties, Treetops Resort has set up a guided snowshoe hike with multiple food stations featuring everyone’s favorite potato dishes and soft drinks. History and agriculture buffs will love this adventure trail and it’s great for families and couples or friends, too. “The Gaylord area has a rich potato-farming history,” Owens says.
Hit the trail and stop at stations to enjoy grilled cheese on potato bread, four-cheese potato gnocchi, warming ham and leek potato soup and, of course, Lay’s potato chips, which shares an interesting claim to fame for this particular area in northern Michigan.
“There’s a facility 12 miles east of Gaylord called the Sklarczyk Seed Farm and they have the unique business of developing tubers for potatoes and they are a massive supplier for Frito Lay,” Owens says. “A large number of Lay’s potato chips start as seed buds in Johannesburg, Michigan, and there’s also an amazing amount of countries they provide seed buds to.”
Dog sledding for all
Owens marvels at the really special experiences families can have during a dog sled ride at Treetops Resort.
“You can have opportunities to meet the dogs and watch them being fed,” Owens says, adding this is a must for dog lovers. “The mushers will share interesting information about the dogs and what they eat and how they are cared for.”
Sharing one of his own memories on a dog sled ride, Owens remarks that in most all situations, the dogs are trained in a foreign language. “It might be so they can’t be distracted while in a race,” he says. “We went out once and got off the trail and instantly we were in powder that was 3 feet deep. I was worried, but the musher yelled allons-y! And we were off! It was so much fun.”
Skiable Feast for Mom and Dad
While your kids are enjoying themselves on their skis and snowboards, grab a partner and participate in the Treetops Resort Skiable Feast. This is something you can enjoy all day long, as you ski from one station to the next, building up an appetite as you go, says Owens.
“The Skiable Feast starts with breakfast of granola and oatmeal and gradually becomes more hearty, until you finish in one of our lodges where you can take off some layers and relax as you enjoy the last station,” he says.
In its eighth season, the Skiable Feast features four progressive stations and one fueling station for snacks, and some offer true Bavarian fare like beef tenderloin stroganoff and spaetzle, all prepared by the Treetops Resort expert culinary team.
“There’s nothing like expending some energy on the slopes, and off in the distance you can smell a warming fire — and you get closer and see people congregating and eating, having a glass of wine or beer,” Owens describes. “There’s something special about standing around an outdoor fire where a cast iron kettle filled with chili hangs. It’s so much fun to ski around to these locations because you really work up an appetite, and then you satisfy it. It’s like wash-rinse-repeat.”
Outdoor winter activities you can’t top
“We always used to say that you couldn’t lose your kids here if you wanted to, and that’s still true,” Owens says. Even when you’re ready to take a rest and warm up with a hot toddy, your kids might still want more-more-more. “Give them $5 for a hotdog at the Halfway Cafe and you can watch them come and go,” he says.
Metro Parent is giving away two nights of lodging and lift passes to Treetops. Enter by Jan. 31, 2022, for your chance to win.
There’s so much more to know about Treetops Resort. Get ready to book your own family getaway by visiting treetops.com.