Three Ways to Save on Lessons and Lift Tickets in Pure Michigan

The official start of winter is still a few weeks away, but Michigan ski areas are already open for the season! If you or someone you know is a first-time skier or snowboarder, Mickey MacWilliams from the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association shares some tips for saving on lessons and lift tickets in Pure Michigan this winter. 

Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Resort

Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Resort

You may not know this but Michigan is steeped in skiing history. Michigan is home to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and some of the first and largest ski jumping competitions originated here back in the early 1900s.  While you may not want to hurl yourself off an Olympic regulation ski jump, getting out on Michigan’s 900+ slopes and trails is something everyone can enjoy.

Kids in fourth and fifth grades can ski for free all across Michigan this year with the Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport.  Twenty-seven ski areas have each contributed up to three lift tickets for this passport booklet, so students can ski all winter long, all over Michigan for free!  Applications are available online at goskimichigan.com.  There is a $15 printing fee for the passport booklet.

Photo courtesy of MSIA

Photo courtesy of MSIA

For those who don’t know how to ski or snowboard and want to learn, January is the month.  That’s when ski facilities all across Michigan offer an exciting and affordable learn-to-ski or snowboard program called Discover Michigan Skiing.  Beginners receive a lesson, equipment rental and a lift ticket or trail pass for just $20 for cross-country skiing or $35 for downhill skiing or snowboarding.  To get started, a Discover Michigan Skiing voucher is needed.  They are available at participating Michigan McDonald’s restaurants or online at goskimichigan.com.

Ski areas across the state offer packages, special events and discounts that can be a lot of fun while helping to reduce the costs of getting out onto the slopes and trails.

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Photo courtesy of Marquette Mountain

A page on the goskimichigan.com website called Events & Discounts is updated frequently and offers a wide assortment of options. Plus, the Ski Areas and Conditions page provides up-to-date snow conditions and direct links to ski areas all across the state.

So whether you are an experienced skier or rider or just want to give it a try, there is something for everyone on the ski slopes and trails of Pure Michigan.

Do you remember your first time skiing or snowboarding? Tell us about it!

Screen-Shot-2013-11-25-at-4.57.24-PM-150x150Mickey MacWilliams is the Executive Director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, which represents the ski and snowboard industry in our state.  She is an avid downhill and cross-country skier and a very timid but enthusiastic snowboarder.  You can reach her at info@goskimichigan.com.

Cross These Seven Traverse City Activities Off Your Snow Day Bucket List

Winter is on its way, and Traverse City is ready for snow! Today, guest blogger Mike Norton from Traverse City Tourism shares some suggestions for your next Traverse City snow day. 

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

I know there are people who aren’t big fans of winter. But personally, I can’t wait to see those first fat flakes of snow come spiraling out of the sky.

Maybe it’s because I live in a place where there’s so much to do in the wintertime – especially in the Great Outdoors. I like to be outside as much as possible, and Traverse City is full of opportunities for outdoor winter fun. Each winter, this region’s gently sculpted landscape (carved 15,000 years ago by the last retreating glaciers of the Ice Age) becomes a playground for skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoe hikers. Like me, they consider it one of the country’s most beautiful winter destinations.

Skiing, Snowboarding and “Silent Snow Sports”

For skiers and snowboarders, our premiere winter destination is undoubtedly Shanty Creek Resorts, a 4,500-acre recreational complex in the beautiful Chain of Lakes region, about 30 miles northeast of town. Shanty’s two ski areas, Schuss Mountain and Summit Mountain, provide 53 downhill slopes, six terrain parks, 30km of cross country Nordic trails, and a multi-lane alpine tubing park. (Ski Magazine rated it the Midwest’s number-one destination in value, dining, lodging, weather and après ski activities.)

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

But lots of other skiers and snowboarders have discovered the fun of staying closer to town, taking advantage of low lodging rates and a broad choice of shopping, dining and entertainment options while skiing at TC’s two day ski areas, Mt. Holiday and Hickory Hills.

Still, for me (and for many others) this area is loved mostly for the quality of its winter “silent sports” — snowshoeing and cross-country skiing — thanks to its vast acreage of forest and parkland. Just one example – and one of my favorites: the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has eight marked trails, some leading up to panoramic overlooks high above Lake Michigan.

And there are so many other marked trail systems that you couldn’t explore them all if you stayed here all winter. There’s the Lost Lake Pathway near Interlochen and the Vasa Pathway, one of the finest cross-country ski trails in the nation. Within the city, the 300-acre Grand Traverse Commons features superb snowshoeing among century-old, castle-style buildings and stands of old-growth pines.

Snowmobiling

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Snowmobilers tend to head south and east of town to more than 200 miles of the country’s finest and most diverse snowmobiling. The Boardman Valley Trail, just minutes from downtown, is an 81-mile trail system in the Pere Marquette State Forest, where sightings of turkeys, eagles, deer and other wildlife are commonplace. The Jordan Valley Trail, about a half-hour to the northeast, is a network featuring over 130 miles of spectacular trails not far from Shanty Creek and the picturesque village of Bellaire.

Snow Biking and Snow Tubing

Traverse City is also becoming a hub for one of the newest winter sports: fat biking. Fat bikes are specially-adapted mountain bikes with large tires that can actually allow you to ride over the snow, and over the past two years they’ve become part of the local winter landscape. We’ve always been a favorite year-round destination for all kinds of outdoor sports enthusiasts; given the opportunity to add cycling to their repertoire of winter sports, they’ve wasted no time embracing the Fat Bike phenomenon.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

But you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy winter recreation in Traverse City. Lots of us have discovered that there are plenty of thrills to be had in snow-tubing. Tubing has all the thrilling speed of a toboggan or sled – but you get to sit in the middle of a big soft inner tube and ride down a groomed hill where there are people keeping an eye on you. And when you get to the bottom, there’s a towline waiting to take you back to the top so you can do it all over again.

As it happens, the largest tubing hill in Michigan is at TimberLee Hills, a former ski resort in the hills just northwest of town. (On clear days, it has breathtaking views of Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Leelanau.) Lots of local ski resorts also have tubing hills; Shanty Creek Resorts, for instance, has a sophisticated tubing park just above their Cedar River lodge. Mt. Holiday Ski Area also has a dedicated tubing park. All three have mechanical lifts, which helps you make the most of your allotted time. These things are popular, especially on weekends and school snow days, so they can get busy!

Winter Ziplining

Mt. Holiday has yet another winter activity available for winter fun: a new zipline system that lets you soar through the air above the ski slopes. Its “Green Zipper” is a two-station zipline (the first leg is 288 feet and then second is 306 feet) and its new 10-station zipline has a total of over 4,000 feet of cable. You have to make advance reservations for both of them, and you need to be part of a group of at least four people.

Sound like fun? Of course it does!

Mike on SbnowshoesMike Norton spent 25 years as newspaper writer and columnist before starting a second career as media relations manager at Traverse City Tourism. An avid cyclist, kayaker and snowshoer, he lives in the village of Old Mission.

Lions and Tigers and Wings, Oh MI!: Detroit Sports Hot Spots Roundup

10Best_Sports_FB_Share_v3[1]Detroit was recently named #1 among USA TODAY Travel’s 10 Best Cities for Sports! With four professional sports team centered in Detroit, we asked Visit Detroit to share some suggestions for pre-game excitement around the city.

Detroit’s roar is loud enough to be named the 2014 USA Today 10Best Sports City. We don’t take sports lightly in this town.

The Detroit Red Wings have reached the post season 23 consecutive years – the only professional sports organization in history ever to do so, while the Detroit Tigers have achieved four consecutive AL Championships.

Throw in a couple champion seasons from the Pistons and Red Wings in the last decade and a Winter Classic outdoor hockey game and you have the equation for sports city success!

Spirt of Detroit TigersPre-Game Tailgating
Eastern Market is the official home to Detroit Lions Tailgating. There are 750 tailgate spaces and it’s just a 10-minute walk to Ford Field or if you prefer to ride, hop on a shuttle to the game. Costs run $45 for a car, $75 for a camper or bus, $130 for RVs and $160 for Motor Coaches. General parking is also available for $15. Eastern Market also operates round-trip shuttle service to Ford Field for $5 per person.

Bar Food/Post-Game Celebrations
Having tickets to a game is the ultimate fan experience, but when you can’t snag some game seats, let your rump rest in a booth with some bar food and a stellar experience, bar none.

ComericaParkTiger_5395_BillBowenThe diner burger at Firebird Tavern is a house specialty. Two patties are smashed together and topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and special sauce. Kick up the flavor by adding bacon.

There’s a reason this bar bears the name of the man with the team plan. Coaches Corner Bar & Grill is loaded with HDTVs and an outdoor patio, perfect for pre-game hype and post-game celebrations.

Irish pubs are always great and The Old Shillelagh is no exception. Add 25 TVs and a free shuttle to the game and you have a downtown game day experience, with or without tickets!

FordfieldAnother popular burger joint just outside downtown (located near old Tiger Stadium) is Nemo’s Bar and Grill. Nemo’s has been featured on many “best burgers” lists because of their sizeable burgers and mustard sauce. Be sure to take advantage of the free parking and $3 shuttles to Tigers and Red Wings games.

Stadium Tours
If you can’t attend the game, check out a Ford Field stadium tour for a behind-the-scenes look at the guest suites and team locker rooms and a chance to run through the tunnel and onto the field.

Sports are serious business in Pure Michigan. Do you follow any unique tailgating traditions to support your favorite Michigan team?

Dan Fuoco is the Interactive Marketing Manager for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (VisitDetroit) and is responsible for building and engaging with VisitDetroit’s social media and blog communities.  You can find him geeking out over: social media infographics, muscle cars and Detroit. Follow him on TwitterInstagram and periodically on Pinterest.