Plan the Perfect Pure Michigan Snow Day with these Deals

Last week, we hosted a Twitter chat with our fans, and many partners, to discuss the perfect Pure Michigan Snow Day. You all gave us amazing ideas for staycations, winter sports to try, and where to go for our next vacation! In addition to this, we received an abundance of  information on fantastic deals happening around Pure Michigan. Read below to find out where to get money-saving deals for your travel this winter!

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Boyne Mountain, Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @emkotwick

Boyne Highlands/Boyne Mountain

Boyne Highlands is one of Michigan’s premiere all-season resorts with a variety of activities ranging from zip line adventures to golf ranges. During the winter, though, one of the most popular activities is skiing and they have great deals for everyone. From first-timers to seasoned veterans, you can find great deals at Boyne Highlands.

Boyne Mountain is another premiere resort that offers 60 downhill trails, 12 lifts, and ski-in/ski-out accommodations. They also have Zipline Adventures, snowshoeing and so much more! It is a great place to learn how to ski for your Pure Michigan Snow Day!

If you love skiing and will be going regularly this winter, you can buy a frequent skier/rider card for the season to save money on every purchase. Accepted at both Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain, the card has no blackout dates and there are even a couple of weeks where you can ski/ride free. Check out the savings here.

In addition to that deal, check out all the deals and packages each resort has going on right now. You can get a $20 gift card if you stay midweek and enjoy shorter lines! Seniors can also ski free midweek. For Boyne Highlands, if you are looking for a fun vacation President’s Day weekend, look no further than the ski and stay package! If you have young children age 8 or under and stay with Boyne Highlands, they can ski and stay for free!

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Photo Courtesy of Facebook fan Scott Maginnis

Holland

Holland, known for its Dutch history, is a fantastic place to visit on your Pure Michigan Snow Day! There are several fun activities such as concerts, theatrical performances and visiting the boutiques and galleries.

There are several discounts and promotions on lodging and travel to Holland. You can save 20% with Amtrak on the Pere Marquette, making it even easier and cheaper to take a trip. Many packages are available at Country Inn & Suites or CityFlats Hotel, including a Romance or Hanky Panky (ha!) package perfect for Valentine’s Day or even celebrating an anniversary!  Be sure to check out the other lodging options that will help you have the perfect trip.

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Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek

Shanty Creek

Shanty Creek is a four-season resort featuring 72 holes of championship golf on four different courses, 53 ski runs on two mountains, and 30 km of cross-country skiing. There is a ton of lodging choices that fit everyone’s budget. With Valentine’s Day coming up, they also have special romance ski packages!

Shanty Creek also has a bunch of great deals this season. For example, to support “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month”, children ages 8 and under will receive a complimentary season pass after taking a lesson from their Ski School.  If you’re in college, Shanty Creek provides a discounted College Student Season pass as well as College Week Specials!

Be sure to speak to a Shanty Creek reservation specialist while booking your trip, so they can work with you to try and save even more money!

Ski Free with Shell Gas

Last, but not least, one of the best deals this season comes from something you probably already do: buying gas! If you buy 10 gallons of fuel from a participating Shell gas station, you will have the opportunity to purchase one full price adult lift ticket and receive one free. Be sure to check out the website and find a participating Shell station. There is an extensive list of Michigan locations as well as over 20 ski resort participants including Crystal Mountain, Mt. Zion, Treetops Resort and many more!

For more great deals and packages, check out the packages and deals page on Michigan.org 

Do you know of any other money-saving deals helpful planning for a Pure Michigan Snow Day? Comment and let us know!

Six Unbelievable Close-Up Snowflakes That Reveal the Magic of Winter

When the first flakes start to fall, we look forward to hitting the slopes, making snow angels and revving the engines of our snowmobiles. Fresh snow gives us the chance to head outside and take in the magic of winter. And while this year’s winter has started out mild, we’re anxiously awaiting the next big snowfall.

So, the next time you’re out enjoying a snow day, grab your camera and get up-close with what makes Pure Michigan a winter wonderland – snowflakes! Photographer Joshua Nowicki shares his tips for photographing these one-of-a-kind beauties. 

dsc_2412 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

As the snow accumulates over the winter months, it is easy to lose appreciation for the beauty of winter.  As the snow builds layer after layer, I find it therapeutic to take a closer look and enjoy the wonders of a single snowflake.

A little over a year ago, I received gift of a +1, +2, +4 set of close-up macro filters to use on a lens for my camera.  It was snowing that day, and almost immediately, I was outside trying to take photos of snowflakes.  I searched for snowflakes lying on leaves, pine needles, windshields anywhere I could find them isolated or on a dark background.  I was spending a lot of time searching for individual snowflakes and not much time taking photos.  So, I decided that I needed to find a better way to capture my subject.  I tried a variety of different materials to catch snowflakes on, and found that I had the best luck using an old blue stocking cap.  The snowflakes land at angles propped up by the frayed fibers of the stocking cap, and this provides a little separation from the rest of the material.

The macro filters gave me a closer view of the snow than I had ever seen before; but I wanted to get closer.  I was using the macro filters on an 18-55mm lens, and then, I switched to trying them on a 55-200mm lens.  This worked reasonably well, but I felt like I was getting too much distortion in the images that I took.  So, I kept searching for another way.  I could not justify the cost of a macro lens, therefore I kept experimenting.  I finally decided upon using electrical tape to attach one lens backward in front of another lens.  My favorite combination is currently a 55-200mm lens with a 50mm lens.  For lighting the snowflakes, I use an external camera flash and flashlight.  It is not a beautiful set up, but it is an effective one.

The level of magnification that this has allowed me has been astounding.  Details that I never thought I would be able to see in person, I could now photograph.  I have been amazed by the variety of shapes of snowflakes and dazzled by the intricate and delicate detail of each individual snowflake.  As the weather and temperature change, the shapes and sizes of the snowflakes also change.  Two of my favorite snowflake shapes are sectored plates and stellar dendrites.

Every time it snows, I find myself running outside to see what the snowflakes look like. Frequently, I have had to explain to neighbors and people passing by why I am sitting in the snow taking close up photos of my stocking cap.  Many of them chuckled until I showed them the photos I was taking. The next time it snows, before you grab your shovel, take a moment to sit in the snow with a camera or magnifying glass and enjoy one of the true marvels of winter. See their beauty below.

dsc_3080 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

dsc_3063 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

dsc_2820 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

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What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day? Share your photos enjoying the snow using #PureMichiganSnowDay on Twitter and Instagram or visit michigan.org/snowday.

Joshua_NowickiJoshua Nowicki is a St. Joseph, Michigan based photographer specializing in landscape, nature, architecture, and food photography.  His photos can be viewed online on Facebook or his website

Five Frame-Worthy Instagram Photos From Our Fans in February 2015

February in Pure Michigan brought snow-capped trees, sweet celebrations and striking scenery. Set against a backdrop of shimmering snow and ice, the winter photos we receive from our Pure Michigan Instagram community never cease to amaze us! Here are just a few of our favorites from February. 

 Turnip Rock in Port Austin. This unique view comes from @kbernock.

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Snowmobiling on the tree-lined trails in Boon, MI near Cadillac. Photo by @andypeninger.

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Simple winter splendor. Great shot of the majestic Mackinac Bridge from @tbulman01.

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A front row seat to a fiery winter sunset near Saugatuck courtesy of @papafinny.

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Credit goes to @pottspics71 for snapping this incredible shot of frozen Munising Falls while exploring the Upper Peninsula.

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For more fan photography, follow us on Instagram. Be sure to tag your photos with #PureMichigan to give us permission to re-gram!