17 Ways To Use The Year’s First Vacation Days On A Pure Michigan Snow Day

New year, new you, right? Except it still feels the same. More Mondays, more meetings, more gazing out the window thinking, “I wish I was out there skiing right now. Have we even taken the kids sledding this season? Maybe they’ll cancel work tomorrow, like a snow day …”  Ha! Work is never cancelled (ever). 

But, psst! You’ve got vacation time, and you’ve worked hard to earn it! Don’t waste it waiting around.  Get out there and make those memories before the fluffy stuff is gone! Now’s the time to make your own #PureMichiganSnowDay happen when you Go Great Lakes Bay!

You + Yours

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

“Honey, let’s get away together, just you and me.”

Say these magical words to your significant other, and watch how fast this #PureMichiganSnowDay can snowball! Live it up and cozy up, too – opportunities for snow day smiles and snuggles are just around the corner:

Let Nature Soothe You: The soft crunch of snow underfoot will put you and yours in sync on a free, guided snowshoe hike at Midland’s Chippewa Nature Center.

Feel Exhilarated: Ski or snowboard down the The Ski Slopes At Apple Mountain Resort together in Freeland, and yell it out together: “B’bye work meetings, hello snow day!”  Afterward, cozy up for a cup of hot cocoa and a bite to eat at Kathleen’s Apple Mountain, while you watch other skiiers hit the slopes!

Enjoy the Warmth: Stare into each other’s eyes while wine tasting at Frankenmuth’s St. Julian Winery, share good times during a free tour at Frankenmuth Brewery, or lounge in overstuffed leather chairs and play footsie by the roaring fire at Whine in Midland. You and yours will be rested and ready … for another #PureMichiganSnowDay!

Family Q Time 

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

“School, work, dinner, baths, bed, repeat. There’s got to be more to family life than this!”

Oh, there’s more-so much more! Break the routine, and declare a #PureMichiganSnowDay! Then grab your phone to forever capture the look on the kids’ faces when you say: We’re going to …

Splash Village! Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark is 50,000 square-feet of “we needed this”! With a six-story, family raft ride and super loop, lazy river, indoor arcade, two spacious hot tubs (and, ahem, memorable Bloody Marys for the oh-so-deserving parents), and much more, the whole family is sure to have the BEST SNOW DAY EVER!

Toboggan together! Sled until little hearts are content at City Forest in Midland, rent a toboggan ($6/hour) for a whole new experience, or maybe even cross-country ski the .6 mile groomed trail. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa, and simply enjoy!

Aftershock! When you go to Midland’s new indoor trampoline extravaganza, please let us know one thing: Who had more fun, the kids or the adults?! (Psst! Aftershock runs daily specials, including Dollar Jump Night on the first Tuesday of each month.)

Go mini-golfing! The Family Fun Center at Bavarian Inn Lodge has an indoor, 18-hole miniature golf course, four indoor pools, two waterslides, and a 15-foot waterfall to play in! Family fun center, indeed!

See the stars! Winter stargazing sounds cool … like burr! But you can beat the winter chill at Delta College Planetarium and still discover astronomical fun on your snow day! Check out “Led Zeppelin”, January 23 – April 30, for rock sounds and laser lights.

Adventure Bound

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

“The walls are closing in! Must. Get. Outside.”

Feeling suffocated, adventure enthusiasts? Outdoor-induced adrenaline and blood-pumping experiences await – just take a #PureMichiganSnowDay, and they’re all yours!

Hit The Trails: The rail trails, that is! Plans are in action to eventually connect the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, Midland County Pere Marquette Rail Trail and Bay County Riverwalk and Rail Trail into The Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, but each are currently multi-use meccas for walking, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and even fat tire biking! (Want to know more about fat tire winter biking? Go to the gurus at Jack’s Bicycle Shop in Bay City, and ask about their guided bike tours!)

Drop a Line: In the Saginaw Bay, of course! Local ice fisherman know that our freshwaters are full of hot spots for good eats of the walleye, perch, bass and catfish-kind! (Need gear? Little Forks Outfitters in Midland; staff might even have hints about lucky spots …) Before you get here, brush up on our recent Saginaw Bay Icefishing post from local guest blogger Tom Bennett for even more insider tips on uncovering those high-yield icefishing honeyholes.

Shred it Up: Strap on a set of skis or a snowboard, and hit The Ski Slopes at Apple Mountain! Check for their Cool Deals before you go!

Now that you’re well-versed in all the ways to sled, ski, snowshoe (and, yes, even swim!) your way past the winter blues with the perfect Pure Michigan Snow Day, be sure to share your adventures out into the fluffy white beyond using #PureMichiganSnowDay and #GoGreatLakesBay on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!  You can even enter Pure Michigan’s Show Us Your Snow Day Dance contest on Instagram using #MISnowDayDance!

Guest Blogger - Wainwright O'Deay

Guest Blogger: Jen Wainwright O’Deay

Jen is a freelance writer in Bridgeport, Mich. She specializes in creating effective connection through marketing communications copy, feature articles and content/blog posts. You can find her camping with her family or reading Thoreau.

5 Indoor Staycation Destinations Around Michigan

Going on vacation is an incredible way to recharge. Studies suggest that taking a vacation is good for your health and can help boost your happiness, particularly when it’s cold outside.  While weeklong getaways to far-away destinations are popular, Michigan offers incredible staycation destinations that aren’t too far from home. If you need some ideas to get started, we’ve put together a few suggestions for your own Pure Michigan staycation. Waterslide at Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth has a ton of attractions that are appealing to all ages. Bring your family and stay at the Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark. It offers great accommodations and suites perfect for larger groups. The waterpark  is mid-Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark and has over 50,000 sq. ft. of aquatic fun. There is no shortage of activities for everyone to enjoy. In addition to the pool area, Mushroom Grille concession area and locker rooms, the new Atrium Waterpark includes: A six story family raft ride, action river, The Super Loop – a thrilling 6-story speed slide, zero entry pool with water geysers, water basketball, private family cabanas and large family hot tub. Even if you don’t enjoy the water, there are still  activities to partake in such as the expanded arcade with games that will keep you and your family entertained for hours.  If you’re more concerned about what food is available, fret not. Eat your fill with traditional All You Can Eat Family Style Chicken dinners at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth or visit the Marketplace for delectable goodies. Z Chef’s Café, located in the Marketplace, offers a unique dining experience as well. outside view of MGM Grand Detroit MGM Grand Detroit For the adults looking to get away, step inside MGM Grand Detroit for a whole new world of gaming and luxurious accommodations. There are over 90 table games and 4,500 of the latest slots and video poker to choose from. It’s easy to get recharged by staying in one of the 400 luxury rooms and suites. For restaurant fare, there is no shortage of options. Three signature restaurants from Wolfgang Puck and Michael Mina provide an upscale experience. Add to that their creative new tapas concept, Palette Dining Studio, and a quick serve area, Breeze, and you’ll never be tired of the food. For those who want to relax and rejuvenate, IMMERSE Spa is a great way to unwind after a long day of fun. There is even a personal spa concierge who can help you design a custom body treatment! If you decide to stay at MGM Grand, don’t forget to go out and explore Detroit! There are many must-see destinations such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, Campus Martius and the Charles H. Wright Museum. Waterslide at Indoor Waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City Take a trip to Traverse City with your family and have blast at Great Wolf Lodge! There are many accommodation options including suites with whirlpools or even a KidKamp suite, which includes a private tent for your children to enjoy. Of course, you can’t visit Great Wolf Lodge without splashing in the waterpark! With over 38,000 square feet of splash-loaded rides, slides and pools you’re sure to find a favorite. It features eight waterslides, five unique pools, a multi-story interactive tree house, and a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket. However, there are even more fun activities on land. Grab a wand and battle a dragon in MagiQuest or get an ice cream-themed manicure at Scooops Kid Spa before gathering your family in the Grand Lobby for nightly fireside Story Time. There’s plenty for the adults too with a full-service Spa, fitness room, and plenty of shopping and dining options like Camp Critter Bar & Grille or indulge in pizza at Hungry As A Wolf. Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark on Boyne Mountain Rip Zone surf simulator at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark on Boyne Mountain Your trip wouldn’t be complete without playing in the arcade with over 50 games and a redemption counter providing awesome prizes. After you’ve worked up an appetite grab a quick bite at the Snack Shack or fill up with a full menu at the Apres Ski Pub, both located inside the park.  And if you don’t mind the cold, Boyne Mountain is an excellent skiing location.Even further north is Avalanche Bay!It is the largest indoor waterpark in Michigan offering huge amounts of water fun no matter your age. Centrally located at the heart of Boyne Mountain Resort, this waterpark is always 84 degrees and open all year ’round, making it the perfect vacation destination. Avalanche Bay features six exciting water slides, including the park’s newest thrill, The Big Couloir – a ProSlide SuperLOOP with the steepest drop in the industry, as well as a Rip Zone surf simulator, Splasherhorn Mountain interactive play structure, lazy river, children’s pool, relaxing hot tubs, and many other unique waterpark attractions. Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire Shanty Creek Resort has activities all year for any season. During the spring and summer, you can play 72 holes of championship golf on four different courses. Right now in winter though, it’s the time to ski! Shanty Creek has 53 ski runs on two mountains, Schuss Mountain and Summit Mountain, along with 30km of cross-country skiing, a 6-lane alpine tubing park, winter sleigh rides, and Michigan’s most awarded terrain parks. You can also bike or hike in the resort’s 4,500 acres or explore the single track of nearby Glacial Hills trail system. There are over 400 lodging choices including hotel guest rooms, suites, condos and private rental homes so you are sure to find the right fit! There are other amenities available for the whole family to enjoy including indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center and wellness spa, tennis courts, and now FootGolf, a combination of soccer and golf. What staycation destinations did we miss? Tell us below!

7 Must-See Michigan Destinations for 2016

A new year brings with it a chance to visit places your feet have never taken you before. Guest blogger Aaron Cruz from The Awesome Mitten suggests seven Michigan towns that are worth a look in the New Year.

Downtown Plymouth

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Plymouth. If your plans this year are taking you to southeastern Michigan, visit this town that, while in the heart of suburbia, gives off the feeling of being in a small town far, far away. With a hand-crafted Espresso Elevado coffee in-hand, walk the downtown streets at the Plymouth Ice Festival in winter and Art in the Park in summer.  Hold hands with a loved one as you stroll through Kellogg Park in the center of town. In the summer road trip, hike or bike the 17-mile continuous park that is Hines Drive. Winter brings with it the chance to sled with the kids at Plymouth Township Park. For food, enjoy some pizza and smoked barbeque at Ironwood Grill, go for a more upscale feel and cocktails at Fiamma Grille or grab the gang and enjoy family-style dining along the railroad tracks at Station 885.

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Frankenmuth. No town epitomizes Christmas and the holidays in Michigan more than Frankenmuth. Visit the world’s largest Christmas Store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Shop the stores with German themed names like Cheese Haus along the one-street downtown also known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Experience a specialty coffee at The Harvest Coffeehouse & Beanery. Grab a flight of beer at Frankenmuth Brewery to wash down their delicious lobster mac ‘n cheese. Looking for romance? Contact the Frankenmuth Carriage Company about a horse & carriage ride. Those looking for family fun, make a weekend out of it with the kids at the Bavarian Inn of Frankenmuth resort.

Beach in Grand Haven

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Grand Haven. The Lake Michigan coastline in the mitten offers one charming, beautiful resort town after another. The Grand Haven lighthouse and pier is reason enough to choose Grand Haven for a first time visit. Alongside the lighthouse, you will find Grand Haven State Park, which is made up entirely of beach and sand dunes with camping opportunity. As you browse the shops in the cozy downtown, get a freshly-made baked good from the boutique-styled The Bakers Wife. Experience hand-crafted coffee at Aldea Coffee in the Armory, where Grand Armory Brewery Company and Righteous BBQ also await. During summer evenings, watch the synchronized Musical Fountain and all its water, lights and music.

Beach in Oscoda

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Oscoda. The Lake Michigan coastline gets al lot of love, but the Sunrise Coast and Lake Huron showcase their own beauty like in the resort town of Oscoda. Grab a cup of coffee at the colorful Garden View Coffee Mill, then head down the street for a walk on the pier at Oscoda Beach Park.  Time your visit for the summer and you might run into their Annual Art on the Beach fair. Just north of town sits miles of sugar sand beach fun. For nature enthusiasts, head west of town along the River Road National Scenic Byway and you will quickly be in the Huron National Forest. Waterfalls, scenic overlooks, hiking trails, monuments, lumberjacks, 300+ step staircases and plenty of camping options await you. Eagle’s Nest Overlook is a must visit.

Spicer Orchards in Fenton

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Fenton. Just south of Flint and easily accessible from the Detroit area, Fenton’s motto might as well be go big or go home when it comes to its thriving food scene. Grab a peanut butter and jelly donut that is big enough for two from Crust. Head down the street for a Reuben or one of the other endless selection of humongous sandwiches at The Laundry. During the dinner hour order a large of any pasta dish at Fenton House and you’ll have enough for the whole family, with tons to spare. In autumn, mix in some cider, donuts, wine tasting and family fun at Spicer Orchards and enjoy some carnival food, apple pie and entertainment at one of the biggest fall festivals in Michigan, Apple Fest.

Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Sault Ste. Marie. The fun as we turn the calendar does not have to be confined to the Lower Peninsula. Head to the U.P. and Michigan’s oldest city. Go on a boat tour at the famous Soo Locks and/or watch from the three story observation deck as giant ships pass through the locks and canals of the largest waterway crossing in the world. Next head across W. Portage Ave. to walk along and scope out the tourist traps. For eats I recommend grabbing a burger with everything on it and hanging out at Clyde’s Drive-In. Before getting into the car watch the ferries head to-and-from Sugar Island while walking around Rotary Park.

Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Port Huron. A lot of people pass through Port Huron as they go into Canada. In the New Year, as you head towards the Blue Water Bridge, get off the interstate and checkout the international crossing from the south along Thomas Edison Parkway. Just north of the bridge visit the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and Lighthouse Park. You’ll find beachfront where you can watch as Lake Huron flows into the St. Clair River while waving over to Canada. Staying in town, grab a sandwich, a specialty coffee and some tunes at Ravens Café. In the warmer months, walk along Quay Street and the docked boats, as well as visit the Vantage Point Farmers’ Market which sits right along the riverfront.

What other Michigan towns would you like to visit and explore for the first time in the New Year?

aaron cruz

Aaron Cruz is a lover and long time resident of The Mitten. When he is not out on the open road, he’s probably drinking coffee in a random indie coffee shop. He loves taking photos and road trips, along with checking out skylines, the seasons, shorelines and hanging around water which makes Michigan the perfect place to live. You can find him on TwitterInstagram and on his personal travel blog.