Winter Fun from January to March in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor

Whether your family loves shows, exhibits and laser tag or skiing, hiking and looking at ice sculptures outdoors, kick off 2022 with some these ideas for winter fun from January to March.

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, get crafty in nature or watch chainsaws transform hunks of ice into glistening masterpieces. Then, warm up to some Motor City automotive marvels or take in a family movie. 

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. There’s no excuse not to brave the elements!

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some events or locations may be canceled or closed suddenly and without notice. Some may require face masks, proof of vaccination and other COVID-19 safety protocols. Be sure to check ahead before heading out. 

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 $45 for skiing or snowboarding lessons. 

Locally, this program, which spans Jan. 2-31, 2022 and is open to ages 7-plus (10-plus for snowboarding), 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.

Of course, if skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, you can always test your nerve on one of the sledding hills in 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, with locales in Canton, Clinton Township and Farmington Hills. Other nifty picks for small fries include Rochester Play! and Boogie Babies in Rochester Hills.

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. Southeast Michigan Auto Show and AutoRama

Salty roads and black ice are the seasonal enemies of our vehicular arsenal. However, gearheads know there are two winter havens when it comes to wheeled wonders.

While the 2022 Southeast Michigan Auto Show has been canceled due to COVID-19, you can still check out AutoRama, the quintessential hot-rod show, at the TCF Center (formerly known as Cobo Hall) March 4-6, 2022. See customs, trucks, ‘cycles and more.

4. Check out a museum exhibit

Take a look at artwork from ancient Egypt during the King Tutankhamun: “Wonderful Things” from the Pharaoh’s Tomb at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It’s set to open on Jan. 17, 2022. 

Other hot museum picks: Space: A Journey to Our Future at the Cranbrook Institute of Science (open through May 9, 2022), the Kid Rock Music Lab at the Detroit Historical Museum — or explore the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

Note: Advance tickets are required at many local museums. Be sure to check with your chosen location before heading out. 

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 factory tour!

The Ford Rouge Factory Tour gives an inside view of the iconic Detroit auto plant that’s still churning out F-150s (advanced tickets required) and The Jiffy Mix Plant in Chelsea is offering virtual tours this year. 

6. Outdoor ice skating

Whatever your ability, lacing up skates and taking to the ice is essential wintertime fun. Brandish your blades of glory — or rent a pair for just $5 — at Detroit’s dazzling jewel, The Rink at Campus Martius Park, which is open through March 6, 2022 ($11/adults, $9/kids and seniors, $8/military and first-responders). 

If the lakes freeze over, you’ll also find skating at two area Huron-Clinton Metroparks: Lake St. Clair (Harrison Township) and Stony Creek (Shelby Township).

You can find even more places for ice skating fun in Metro Parent’s complete list of indoor and outdoor rinks in southeast Michigan.

7. Theater and stage shows

In case you missed the playbill, we’re in the heart of theater season here — and the line-ups are dandy.

Detroit Opera House hosts a Broadway performance of Disney’s The Lion King Jan. 27-Feb. 20, Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party plays Jan. 20-30 at the Fox Theatre and you can catch Disney on Ice: Mickey’s Search Party at Little Caesar’s Arena Feb. 17-20. 

Check out our list of 2022 stage shows for families for more information. 

8. Animal shows

Love pooches? Mark your calendar for The Michigan Winter Dog Classic at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi Feb. 10-13, 2022. Or, if you’re more of a cat person, check out the Midwest Persian Tabby Fanciers show Jan. 22-23, 2022, in Monroe. 

9. Sports action

There’s plenty to see this year. Pistons basketball is going strong at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit till April and so are the Detroit Red Wings.

You can also see Detroit City Football Club at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck starting March 19 or catch the Tigers’ home opener on March 31. 

10. Unique movie experiences

Soak up cinema the way your parents did: at an old-fashioned neighborhood movie joint. A few are still hoppin’, complete with tasty eats.

The meticulously restored Redford Theatre in Detroit, a 1928 gem with twinkling “stars” in its domed plaster ceiling, is a great one. In Ann Arbor, Michigan Theater hosts family oldies and newer favorites. Plymouth’s Penn Theatre often also offers a monthly kids flick. Or keep the car heater on and catch a budget double-feature at the Ford Drive-In in Dearborn.

11. Nature centers and outdoor activities

Pick a park. Any park. Odds are, especially if it has a nature center, you’ll find crafts, activities and events galore. That includes the 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks.

Madison Heights’ Red Oaks Nature Center and Clarkston’s Independence Oaks County Park also keeps families busy with educational winter events in January, February and March. And bring your sled to Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor for free fun — visit raptors and, on select dates, the frogs, turtles, snakes and rabbits at the Critter House.

12. Wintertime festivals

Elephant ears and dunk tanks give way to winter sports and chilly art at local fairs. The January frosty fun crown goes to the Plymouth Ice Festival, returning Feb. 11-13, 2022 with majestic carved creations, entertainment and more.

Other goodies include the Quicken Loans Winter Blast in Royal Oak (Feb. 18-20, 2022) or the Dearborn Heights Fire and Ice Festival (Feb. 19). There’s plenty of parades to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day this year, too. 

13. Indoor pool and water park fun

Arctic plunges not your thing? The water’s fine (and much warmer) inside! Goldfish Swim School and Aqua-Tots offer swimming lessons for kids on select days. 

At the hotel/water park combo Sterling Inn, pair a staycation with 2,300 square feet of fun, including a three-story waterslide. And don’t forget about your community offerings: Find slides and other fixings at the public pools in Canton, Macomb Township, Warren and more – all under one weather-proof roof.

This post was originally published in 2012 and is updated regularly. 

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