Winter Getaways for Southeast Michigan Families

Banish cabin fever with these winter weekend getaways your family will love.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but don’t let that keep you hibernating all winter. Invigorate your family fun with winter travel. Try different activities to shake up chilly days and keep the kids (and you!) from going stir crazy with cabin fever. Here are six weekend getaways to get your plans started.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Families interested in unique indoor activities will relish a visit to the Circle City, Indianapolis. Stay at the stunning Bottleworks Hotel and splurge on a suite. Two bathrooms, including a soaking tub and rain shower, plus a dining area, offer extra room to spread out. Across the street, The Garage Food Hall offers delicious eats from lobster rolls to tacos and pizza, with local shops, drinks, a DJ and more.

Check out the redone Dinosphere exhibit at the world’s largest children’s museum and be inspired by real scientists at work in the Paleo Lab. Tackle an interesting sport at the Fowling Warehouse. Invented during the Indy 500, this combination of football, bowling and cornhole is sure to spark some excitement. Take a bouldering class at North Mass Boulder.

SoChatti offers a Kids Chocolate Class that includes tasting and finger painting. Plus, the artisanal chocolate is vegan and allergy-free. Customize your own candle at Penn & Beach and cozy up for winter nights surrounded by your uniquely created scent.

Take a spin around Holliday Park’s new ice skating rink, open until January 29th. Find your groove at the world’s only interactive drum and percussion museum, Rhythm Discovery Center. Find juice, baked goods, dog treats and more at the Indy Winters Farmers Market. Train lovers will savor sleeping in a real Pullman train car at the Crowne Plaza at Union Station. 

Muskegon, Michigan 

Families apt for outdoor adventure best head to Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park. Not only can you luge like an Olympian on a natural ice track, but you can also ice skate through a wooded trail, snowshoe across Lake Michigan sand dunes and cross-country ski around a lighted and groomed trail. Kids will love the weekend luge clinic, where a coach teaches them how to luge, conducts a fun competition and holds an awards ceremony afterwards. You can also zipline in the winter (weather permitting).

Indoor fun can be had, too. SociBowl just opened in downtown Muskegon with duckpin bowling, Skee-ball, darts, pinball and oversized yard games. Older kids might enjoy USS Silversides Submarine Museum, where you can walk into a decorated World War II submarine. Muskegon Museum of History and Science offers hands-on, interactive exhibits and free crafts on Saturdays. Check out the Carr-Fles Planetarium, a free public planetarium with complimentary shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

The Delta by Marriott Muskegon Convention Center is a newly renovated hotel in downtown Muskegon. Within walking distance you’ll find tasty, locally-owned restaurants such as RAD DAD’s for tacos, Dr. Rolf’s Barbecue and Burl & Sprig for Asian-inspired eats 

Boyne Falls, Michigan

Boyne Mountain Resort offers an excellent Midwest winter vacation with its Swiss-inspired resort village featuring ski-in, ski-out privileges, Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark and the state’s largest spa facility (perfect for parent pampering). 

Spend your days hitting the slopes or gliding down the water slides. Evenings can be enjoyed in warm outdoor pools, bubbling hot tubs or around crackling bonfires with gooey s’mores. Kids will love the 84-degree Avalanche Bay, with steep slides, mat racers, a lazy river and surf simulators. The Adventure Center offers horseback riding through the snow, ice skating, tubing, fat tire biking and sno-go biking, which is downhill biking (and an excellent option to help hesitant skiers shred with the rest of the family).

Skiers and snowboarders can let loose on 60 downhill runs and seven terrain parks. New this winter, enjoy the Midwest’s first high-speed, eight-person chair lift and get stoked for expanded night skiing terrain. Or zoom in the air on a Zipline Adventure. Savor heated igloo dining with a menu that includes corned beef sandwiches, stroganoff and bananas Foster.

Opened in fall 2022, SkyBridge Michigan is the world’s longest timber-towered suspension bridge at 1,200 feet long. Walk 118-feet high in the air surrounded by panoramic views, weather dependent.

Angola, Indiana

Tobogganing is the name of the game at Pokagon State Park. The dual- track refrigerated toboggan run is open for thrills through Feb. 23. Climb the 30-foot tower and get ready for a 20-30 second thrill ride. Rent toboggans by the hour and slide down the quarter mile course at speeds up to 40 mph. A warming center with restrooms and concessions is available.

Stay at neighboring Potawatomi Inn, which features a game room, indoor pool, two on-site restaurants and family-friendly activities. If you’re able to overnight Sunday-Thursday through March 2, take advantage of a two-nights-for-the-price-of-one deal. (Must stay two consecutive nights. Blackout dates are December 25 – January 5.)

Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve in nearby Fremont gets wonderful reviews for up-close tours of wild bison herds roaming across the 400-acre preserve. Winter tours are majestic in freshly fallen snow and are held on Saturdays.

Clay’s Family Restaurant is a country diner known for out-of-this-world pies. Eat pizza, pasta and breadsticks at family-run Caruso’s Restaurant. 6 Autumns Food & Spirits offers steaks and seafood with live music.

Hocking Hills, Ohio

Walk amongst gorgeous winter scenery in Hocking Hills, Ohio, where frozen waterfalls and snow-covered trees surround Hocking Hills State Park paths. Open year-round, seven different hiking areas, including Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow, delight icicle enthusiasts, then trickle into spectacular waterfalls come spring. Just be careful on icy areas, wear boots and dress the kids in snow pants so they can slide around. Sledding, ice skating and ice fishing are options at Lake Logan State Park

Snuggle up in a cozy cabin or some of the area’s unique accommodations where you can stargaze and soak in the natural landscapes. Hocking Hills Lodges offer a bevy of beautiful homes with amenities like hot tubs and fire pits. Sleep in a heated  yurt for a glamping getaway to remember. Railroad enthusiasts will enjoy The Hocking Hills Caboose, a 1950s red train car parked in the woods. With five sleeping berths, it’s a fun tiny escape, but probably best enjoyed when the weather isn’t super cold. 

New this winter, make it a BAKEcation by reserving a kit with all the tools you need to bake up delightful cookies and treats in your Hocking Hills cabin. Sink your teeth into a famous, fresh donut at The Ridge Inn. Feast on smoked Southern barbecue and addictive cornbread muffins at Millstone BBQ

Local artisans abound for shopping and artsy activities. View a glass blowing demonstration at Jack Pine Studios. Those over age 16 can participate in workshops where you can make your own glass pumpkin or colorful ornament.

Crystal Mountain, Michigan

Southwest of Traverse City near Sleeping Bear Dunes, you’ll find the skiing and snowboarding haven of Crystal Mountain. Home to 59 downhill runs, 3 terrain areas and 7 glade areas for alpine skiing, families can revel in exhilaration and rejuvenation. Certified snow sports instructors are on hand to teach children as young as 3-years-old to those over age 55 in the Retired Not Tired program. 

Fat tire biking, skate skiing, snowshoeing Michigan Legacy Art Park with 20 viewable sculptures, or ice skating in the heart of Crystal’s village are popular off-slope activities. You can also partake in a horse-drawn surrey ride pulled by beautiful Belgian horses or snowmobiling on nearby groomed trails. Families get a kick out of outdoor laser tag and archery, even in winter. Or stay inside and create a puffy pillow or puppet. The outdoor hot tub or Crystal Spa are tranquil ways to focus on your well-being. 

A range of accommodations allow you to choose if you’d like to hole up at the top of the mountain, be tucked away in a house in the woods or stay in a hotel room within walking distance of shops and restaurants. 

January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month for those looking to start the new year with some exciting adventures. Celebrate World Snow Day at Crystal Mountain on January 15th with presentations and activities aimed at introducing first-timers to the wonderful world of winter sports.  It’ll be snow much fun! 

Harbor Springs, Michigan

If a ski trip is calling you, The Highlands in Harbor Springs is opening the first and fastest six-person bubble chairlift in the Midwest, called Camelot 6. So get ready to shred even more powder while staying at the resort, which turns 60 this year! 

The new Slopes After Sundown skiing under the lights on Wednesday and Thursday evenings provides access to 326 acres in the moonlight. All Day Kids Camp can build skills from pizza slice and French fry moves up to perfecting skiing and snowboarding performance. You can snowshoe, cross-country ski or ride fat tire bikes, then take a dip in the resort’s heated outdoor pool and hot tub. 

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Visit Michigan’s Little Bavaria for The Christmas Experience, a magical time full of twinkly lights and jolly moments. Shop a huge selection of ornaments, décor at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store. Clip-clop around the garland-adorned town in horse-drawn carriages and see the 40-foot tree with 23,000 synchronized lights. Kids can take pics on Santa’s lap or write him a letter listing their holiday wishes. 

Indulge in Frankenmuth’s world-famous fried chicken dinners with so many sides that it’s impossible to go hungry. Stay at the Bavarian Inn Lodge where the whole family can splash in pools, whirlpools and water slides, play at the arcade and indoor mini golf, then shop for gifts and toys. German food like schnitzel and giant Bavarian pretzels will fill your bellies before you happily nod off to sleep.

Chicago, Illinois

Stay amid the Wrigleyville holiday magic by spending your nights at Hotel Zachary, a boutique hotel located across the street from Wrigley Field. Winterland at Gallagher Way and Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville fill the season with holiday cheer Nov. 21-Jan. 7 with ice skating, international food and beverage options, rides and games. 

Hotel Zachary’s Ballpark Loft and Marquee suites offer ample room for families, plus are pet-friendly so Fido can come along. Ivy-green headboards, pinstripe carpets, historic photographs and rare Wrigley Field memorabilia give all the baseball feels even in the off-season. Winter comes to life with see-through private snow globes, where you can warm up with seasonal beverages and tasty bites while enjoying views of a beautiful holiday tree and the bustling Christkindlmarket. Seasonal Hotel Zachery special events include Breakfast with Santa, Teddy Bear Tea and Storytime with Chris Fascione, a nationally known story-performer.

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.


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