Featured in Michigan Travel Ideas 2011, beginning on page 89.
Plentiful snow brings a fresh new vibe to Michigan getaways. We found perfect places to play in the white stuff, as well as great spots to hole up by the fire and watch it come down.
Southwest: More Things to Do and Places to Eat
JP’s Coffee & Espresso Bar
Pop into JP’s Coffee & Espresso Bar home of the Midwest Barista School – for a steamy cup of coffee, cappuccino or espresso (616/396-5465).
New Holland Brewing Company
Savor a pint of hand-crafted beer at the award-winning New Holland Brewing Company (616/355-NHBC).
North Country Trail
A section of the North Country Trail also passes through southwest Michigan, for those seeking to get out and explore the natural wonders of winter (866/445-3628).
Yankee Springs State Recreational Area
This year-round park offers cross-country skiing on more than 10 acres of Nordic ski trails, as well as snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Unique sites inside Yankee Springs State Recreational Area include the Devil’s Soupbowl, Graves Hill Overlook and The Pines, all accessible from the extensive trail systems (269/795-9081).
Southwest: More Places to Stay
The Belvedere Inn
A restored 1913 mansion, The Belvedere Inn in Saugatuck is now a boutique European-style B&B, boasting 10 elegant guest rooms – each with a warming fireplace. The window seat in the third floor Windsor room is ideal for cozying up with a blanket and a romantic novel, carefully selected from the inn’s library on the main level. Wake to a gourmet breakfast, served each morning in the formal dining room. A full-service restaurant is open on Saturday evenings only during the winter months, but plenty of dining options can be found in downtown Saugatuck. The Belvedere offers a variety of theme weekends in the winter, including a Winemakers Weekend, Culinary Demo Weekend and the popular House Hunter Weekend, with a local realtor ushering guests inside some of the town’s top homes for sale (877/858-5777).
Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast
Plan the picture perfect Lake Michigan vacation with a stay at the exquisite Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Ludington. Built in 1905 by lumber baron Warren Cartier, this neo-classical estate still boasts the original woodwork, fixtures, inlaid flooring and countless antiques. True to the lumber era, the home is an amalgamation of rich, warming wood tones. From the first step inside the red oak foyer to the mahogany of the music room, from the cherry in the parlour and the sycamore furnishings of the dining room to the black walnut in the library and den, the house stretches out its open arms to welcome guests for a winter stay. Up the solid wood staircase, you’ll find five elegant rooms, the most luxurious of which is the La Grande Suite. Opening onto the grand balcony and providing a view out to Ludington Avenue, the room features a king-sized bed (with 600 thread-count sheets and a down comforter), sitting room, period bath and Jacuzzi tub. Saturday nights are especially tasty with “Dinner at Cartier” – a six-course, gourmet “slow food” menu starting with an Amuse Bouche and ending with a slice of tarte. A brisk walk downtown means shopping at unique stores and galleries (231/843-0101).
Glam it up at the CityFlats Hotel in the heart of downtown Holland, with its 56 unique boutique guest rooms. Recognized for its upscale, yet eco-friendly construction and amenities, CityFlats is home to the CityVu Bistro, CitySen Lounge and CityBru Coffee. Room service offerings such as champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, as well as off-site spa treatments and point-to-point transportation in the hotel’s own Rolls Royce, deliver the royal treatment. Just a short walk down the heated cobblestone sidewalks and you’ll find yourself surrounded by quaint shops, eateries and cafés (866/609-CITY).
Double JJ Ranch
Winter dusts the pastures and countrysides of West Michigan’s only authentic dude ranch: Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury. Horseback riding is a year-round activity with trails that travel along snow-covered wooded paths. For those wanting to just sit back and relax, sleigh rides are offered. Or, take a ride on a sled pulled by a team of mushing dogs – many of which have competed in the Iditarod – for a truly unique experience. The tubing hill provides thrills as you rush down the hill over and over again. At the end of the day, rustle up some grub at the Sundance Saloon & Steakhouse or the Rustler’s Roost before settling in at the Lofts Hotel, Homestead Condominiums or the new Thoroughbred Suites. Of course, the wild-west themed indoor waterpark provides hour after hour of family entertainment (800/368-2535).
Set atop the highest hill in Kalamazoo, the century-old Henderson Castle is a local gem with breathtaking views that stretch out for nearly 40 miles. Murder-mystery dinners and other themed get-aways are always on the calendar at this 1895 local landmark. The castle’s six rooms are all unique: the Italian Room features a king size bed, heated green marble bathroom floor and a shower with 13 heads, while the Dutch Room boasts exotic rare woods, an inlaid wood floor with tiny fiber optic lights, with Delft tile and original Dutch paintings. While the brick roads in the neighborhood surrounding Henderson Castle are not yellow, they do lead to the historic campus of Kalamazoo College (269/344-1827).
Southeast: More Places Eat
Common Grill Restaurant
Before or after the show at Chelsea’s Purple Rose Theater, grab a bite at the Common Grill Restaurant. House favorites include seafood chowder, grilled ahi tuna salad nicoise, grilled black angus sirloin steak or oven roasted chicken breast. A copy of either the Common Grill Cookbook or Return to Common Grill Cookbook, written by Chef Craig Common, makes a great souvenir of your trip (734/475-0470).
Le Chat Gourmet
Wake up your inner chef at the Le Chat Gourmet, located near The English Inn in Eaton Rapids. Sitting on three acres, this cooking school offers a full menu of classes – for casual beginners to serious foodies – in its state-of-the-art kitchen and gourmet cookware shop (517/663-7322).
Mind, Body & Spirits
Downtown Rochester is a mix of historic and hip and is home to hundreds of independently owned shops, galleries, salons and restaurants – including Mind, Body & Spirits, Michigan’s first certified organic restaurant. The downtown is enhanced by three community parks, two winding trails and the natural waterways that surround the city (248/651-FOOD).
Red Cedar Grill
For a night out in Williamston, consider the eclectic American menu at the Red Cedar Grill. Housed in a restored 1800s building once used as a stable, they proudly serve a wide selection of Michigan made beers and an impressive wine list to pair with just about any entrée on the menu (517/655-3766).
Just a few blocks away from the National House Inn in Marshall, the historic Schuler’s Restaurant celebrates more than 100 years as a fourth-generation family-run business. Slow roasted prime rib is a long-standing favorite, one that keeps guests coming back. Recognized as one of the top antiquing cities in Michigan, a visit to Marshall isn’t complete without perusing the stores that line the quaint downtown for post holiday shopping (269/781-0600).
For the finest in food and spirits a stone’s throw from Lake Huron in historic Port Sanilac, in Michigan’s “Thumb” region, the VanCamp House fits the bill and is open Thursday through Saturday, for dinner only. With a menu that changes on a weekly basis, and featuring locally-sourced products, you will not be disappointed in the elegant fare and extensive wine list that are served (810/622-0558).
Southeast: More Things to Do
Circle 6 Alpacas
In Williamston, you’ll also find Circle 6 Alpacas a year-round family farm that is home to nearly a dozen alpacas (517/655-9053).
Lexington Music Theatre
Lexington is home to the 400-seat Lexington Music Theatre, which draws regional and national acts of all genres, year-round (877/4LEXMTC or 810/359-2791).
Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum
The 123-acre Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, with 10 acres of restored prairies, more than 500 wood plant species and more than a mile of frontage on the Huron River, is an ideal setting to embrace the overall natural philosophies of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The trails and gardens at both are open to the public seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset. The arboretum is conveniently situated beside the historic Palmer House in Ann Arbor (734/647-7600).
Purple Rose Theater
Come to downtown Chelsea for a live performance at the Purple Rose Theater. This intimate theater, founded in 1991 by acclaimed actor and Chelsea native Jeff Daniels, draws crowds from near and far to witness quality, professional productions featuring a proud Midwestern culture (734/433-ROSE)
Shop Williamston Shop for fiber wearables at The Artisan’s Circle or The Williamston Alpaca Shoppe, both in downtown Williamston. The Artisan’s Circle (517/655-2200). The Williamston Alpaca Shoppe (517/655-9053).
One of the highlights of Lexington is the Smackwater Block, a collection of eight high-end shops, galleries and eateries, including Gallery 7318, Huron Avenue Gourmet Marketplace and Brewmasters Pub, among others (877/4LE-XMTC).
Tibbets Opera House
Exploring historic downtown Coldwater, take time to take in a show at the Tibbets Opera House – it’s a great way to pass the time in true Norman Rockwell style (517/278-6029).
Waterloo Recreation Area
The largest state park in the Lower Peninsula at more than 20,000 acres, Waterloo Recreation Area offers seven miles of ungroomed cross-country ski trails for the intermediate to advanced skier. Throughout the winter months, a variety of ski and snowshoe events – including snowshoe making workshops – are offered (734/475-8307).
Southeast: More Places to Stay
Chelsea House Victorian Inn
Built in 1881 for James Gorman, a lawyer and tobacconist who later became a state representative and eventually a Michigan state senator, the Queen-Anne style Chelsea House Victorian Inn is a highlight of the charming community. The Carriage House, complete with full kitchen, dining area, living room and two person Jacuzzi tub, is perfect for holing up for an extended winter stay. Guests here are also treated to a mouth-watering breakfast, delivered to the room, each morning. Bundle up for the short walk downtown, where you’ll find the Purple Rose Theater and Common Grill Restaurant (877/618-4935).
Chicago Pike Inn
Built in 1903 by Morris G. Clarke – who also built many of the homes on Mackinac Island – the Chicago Pike Inn in Coldwater is one of Michigan’s premier award-winning retreats. The inn’s authentic Victorian furnishings and decor are sure to please anyone looking for a unique historic getaway. With eight guest rooms and cozy common areas, such as the parlor and library with fireplace, the inn also boasts a beautiful original Kokomo Opalescent glass window which casts a colorful glow across gleaming parquet floors. In-house spa services and an on-site restaurant help take the chill off the coldest winter days and nights. Be sure to explore the historic downtown, including the Tibbets Opera House – it’s a great way to pass the time in true Norman Rockwell style (800/471-0501).
Hole-up with your girlfriends for a “Spa-tacular” Slumber Party at the Cobblestone Manor in Auburn Hills, where it’s all about kicking up your feet and relaxing. An early check in allows you to maximize your hours of bliss. The package includes VIP treatment for each guest, such as an hour-long massage; manicure; and a collection of aromatherapy candles, bath salts and cucumber slices to relax your eyes. After a day of well-deserved pampering, gather with the girls for hors d’oeuvres and a light dinner before retiring to your aviary-inspired rooms (or one of two expansive suites) where you’ll drift away in deep slumber. Your stay culminates with a sumptuous, candlelit breakfast the next morning (248/370-8000).
The English Inn
Built in the late 1920s by auto baron Irving Jacob Reuter, The English Inn in Eaton Rapids is an old-world treasure. Situated on a 15-acre estate, the inn offers an award-winning restaurant serving up delicacy appetizers like escargot and caviar, with entrees fit for a king, such as roasted half duckling, lobster stuffed walleye and chateaubriand for two. A nationally-recognized wine cellar and the Dickens’ English pub round-out the culinary offerings. Among the 10 elegant guest rooms is The Ivy Cottage. A conversion of the former estate’s milking house, this quaint cottage is located 100 yards from the main house and features a cozy sitting room with fireplace, opening into a vaulted ceiling bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. Wake up your inner chef at the nearby Le Chat Gourmet (800/858-0598).
National House Inn
Touted as the oldest operating hotel in Michigan, the National House Inn sits on the picturesque Fountain Circle in downtown historic Marshall. The 15-room brick inn was once a halfway haven for rail passengers traveling between Chicago and Detroit. Inside, a grand beam and brick open-hearth fireplace warms the downstairs entryway. Tea and sweets are served each afternoon in the parlor, adjacent to the living room, and the aroma of freshly popped popcorn each evening is enough to make you feel right at home. When choosing rooms, those with views of the Brooks Memorial Fountain seem to be most popular. The two-room, first-floor Ketchum Suite features a master bedroom and full bath that overlook the garden, while the sitting room, with an additional half-bath, faces the fountain. Upstairs, the country-style Pratt & Pierce Suite also offers a master bedroom and a sitting room, with a fountain view (269/781-7374).
Considered one of history’s most noted architects, Frank Lloyd Wright has a following all his own. Now, one of his prized crafted homes is available for rent in Ann Arbor. The 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath Palmer House was built in 1950 – late in Wright’s career. This multilevel brick and cypress home resembles an equilateral triangle and exemplifies Wright’s open, American organic architectural design in which all parts are related to the whole and are linked to the environment in an adaptation of form to nature. In addition to the main home, the two-acre site features a triangular shaped tea house with a working fireplace, small kitchen and a bathroom with a unique shower-over-the-toilet. The entire property is nestled against the north east side of the 123-acre Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum (734/414-0811).
Lexington, a charming harbor village on the shores of Lake Huron, in Michigan’s thumb region, is home to a half dozen quaint bed-and-breakfasts, including the Primrose Manor. This elegantly-appointed brick Victorian-era home was built in 1854 and features three cozy guest rooms. Complimentary five-star amenities include luxurious bathrobes and slippers, a snack basket, chocolates and cognac in each guest room (810/359-2686).
Raymond House Inn
The Raymond House Inn is a cozy Victorian-era bed-and-breakfast located just a stone’s throw from Lake Huron in historic Port Sanilac, in Michigan’s “Thumb” region. Built in 1872 by one of the town’s prestigious founders, the house remained in the Raymond family for 112 consecutive years. Today, the inn's original Victoriana is preserved with the gingerbread facade, steep sloping roofs and white icicle trim. Inside, classic moldings and framed ancestral photographs add to the character of this inn, which is listed on the Michigan Register of Historic Places. Seven spacious bed chambers, each adorned with warm period furnishings, brightly colored bedspreads and lace curtains, are inviting for anyone looking to hibernate for a long winter weekend. The fireplace in the parlor warms the spirit as well as the body, as you tickle the ivories of the house piano or tuck yourself into the corner of the couch with a good book. Wake to the aromas of a home-cooked breakfast, served in generous portions that ward off the winter chill (810/622-8800).
Northwest: More Things to Do and Places to Eat
In Suttons Bay, take in a show at the charming 270-seat Bay Theater, which has welcomed visitors since 1946. From September through April, check out the Beyond the Bay Film Series, on select nights (231/271-3772).
While you’re in Bellaire, satisfy your cravings at Lulu’s Bistro, where Sunday they serve up “Fondue Night” (231/533-5252).
Martha’s Leelanau Table
Grab lunch or dinner at Martha’s Leelanau Table, just one block north of downtown Suttons Bay. Or sign up for one of the many popular cooking classes. Each class includes the recipes, a glass of local wine, and a multicourse dinner prepared that evening. Favorites focus on tapas, fondue and other fun foods. There are even classes specifically geared toward singles and couples (231/271-2344).
Go casual in Bellaire, and belly up to the bar at Short’s Brewing for a pint of Cup A Joe Coffee Crème Stout, Chocolate Wheat or Über Goober Oatmeal Stout (231/533-6622).
One of Michigan’s finest Italian restaurants, Trattoria Stella’s is an anchor for Traverse City’s Building 50, the largest building in The Village at nearly a quarter-mile in length. From there, the winding Mercato leads to eclectic shops, galleries, eateries and even a winery. On Saturdays, throughout the winter, the brick-lined walkways of the Mercato are bustling with visitors and local shopping at the weekly farmers market. The second floor of Building 50 houses offices and service businesses, including spas and fitness facilities. The upper floors showcase studio condos and half-million-dollar units, much grander than the rooms that once housed patients. Scattered throughout the grounds, buildings are being reclaimed and repurposed (231/929-8989).
The Village at Traverse City
At the Village at Traverse City, the former fire house is now Pleasanton Bakery; the laundry facility is now home to Left Foot Charley Winery and Higher Grounds Coffee; the potato barn is now The Underground Cheesecake Co. All support the developer’s philosophy of reinventing and reinvesting in the lost art of community, supporting each other with events and local-focused initiatives. After indulging in all The Village has to offer, walk through the snow covered grounds and gaze up at the majestic brick complex with its regal red spires. The Village is nestled among 480 acres of preserved parkland, and a series of trails meander throughout – as does the Kid’s Creek. Step into a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes and set out for one of the six trailheads that are found on the adjoining property. Considered one of the best kept secrets of Northern Michigan, The Village is sure to become a favorite winter destination. Pleasanton Bakery (231/941-1964). Left Foot Charley Winery (231/995-0500). Higher Grounds Coffee (902/659-2415). The Underground Cheesecake Co. (231/929-4418).
Northwest: More Places to Stay
Black Star Farms Winery B&B
Dubbed a true “Agricultural Destination” in the heart of Leelanau Peninsula’s wine country, Black Star Farms Winery B&B in Suttons Bay is a distinctive inn tucked into the sloping hillside of the vineyard. Every afternoon, guests are treated to a pre-dinner wine and hors d'oeuvre reception in the main-floor library. Each of the eight luxurious guestrooms is outfitted with cozy robes, a complimentary bottle of wine and some of the softest bed sheets around. The two-room Castor & Pollux suite is the perfect setting for a winter get-away. With a king size bed and fireplace, it is more room than one couple will need but not more than they really deserve. Breakfast is a five-star gourmet experience, complete with fresh fruit, homemade baked goods and a mouth-watering hot entrée, along with tea and locally roasted coffee. The 160 acres of orchards, vineyards, and wooded trails are yours to explore by foot, cross country ski, or snowshoe. The snowshoe trail is lighted, for evening enjoyment as well. Even the stables and riding trails are available, for guests who bring their own horse. Of course, a visit to the tasting room means the opportunity to sample some of the finest, award-winning wines in the state. While there, watch the cheesemakers at Leelanau Cheese Company craft their award-winning Raclette. Souvenirs are a must. From January to March, Black Star Farms B&B is open Wednesday through Sunday (231/944-1251).
In Harbor Springs, Boyne Highlands undoubtedly has one of the most unique winter dining experiences available in the Midwest. The Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner is offered on Saturday evenings through March. Beginning at the Slopeslide Lounge, passengers climb aboard a covered sleigh which is pulled by the snow groomer to North Peak – a cozy mountain-top log lodge with wall-to-wall windows and views in every direction. Live acoustic music and dim lighting add ambience to this candlelight dinner which starts with an assortment of bread and kettles of French onion soup, followed by roast tenderloin au poivre with family-style garlic roasted mashed potatoes and a medley of vegetables. Of course, the meal would not be complete without a pairing of Michigan wines. A delicious homemade dessert of Michigan apple and raspberry crisp, topped with vanilla whipped cream, caps the night. After the sleigh returns guests back to the lodge, a relaxing dip in the year-round outdoor heated pool or hot tub is in order. Then, retreat to the Main Lodge, Alpine Village or one of the other condominiums or cottages for a great night’s sleep in a plush cloud-like Boyne Bed – made exclusively for the resort. While visiting one of the state’s top four-season resorts, check out the downhill slopes, cross country and snowshoe trails or take a leisurely ride in a sled pulled by a team of trained dogs over the rolling terrain of the snow-covered golf course. Those seeking more thrills should check out the new Zipline Adventure. Featuring a series of seven lines measuring some 500 feet long and 50 feet off the ground, the line travels through the trees as fast as 25 miles per hour (231/526-3000).
Chateau Chantal Winery
What’s better than being snow-bound inside an elegant winery bed-and-breakfast, where gourmet cooking classes are held on a regular basis? Such is the case at Chateau Chantal Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula, just north of Traverse City. Perched atop a grand slopping hill, with vineyards spreading out on all sides and the Grand Traverse Bays in the distance, this is truly a divine place to escape. Each of the guest rooms and suites displays its own personality, many offering whirlpool tubs for added relaxation. The Executive Apartment accommodates up to six and offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two private balconies, a full kitchen and a living room with a fireplace. As a guest on select weekends, you can learn trade secrets from Chef-Educator Nancy Krcek Allen and Chef Lynne Brach, such as handmade Italian pastas and sauces, winter soups and stews and tapas and Spanish dishes. Once a month, a day-long Wine Immersion Seminar is offered. Hosted by the witty and passionate winemaker, Mark Johnson, the day includes a vineyard walk, peasant’s lunch, cellar tour, wine tasting and gourmet dinner, paired with Chantal’s award-winning wines (800/969-4009).
The Homestead Resort
The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor is the only four-season resort in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. With its fine design and inviting décor, you’re sure to experience a true winter wonderland. Little Belle is the resort’s romantic boutique style hotel, within a short walk to the slopes, shops, restaurants and fitness area. Newly remodeled, these inviting units welcome you with a raised stone fireplace and cozy chairs in the sitting area. A two-person Jacuzzi tub and king-size bed complete the rustic elegance of the suite. Take to the slopes for downhill skiing and snowboarding, with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan in the distance. Take to the woods for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, where guided treks are offered on Friday evenings throughout the season. Take to the frozen water of Fiddler’s Pond for an afternoon of skating, in the heart of the charming resort village. Perched atop a ridge high above Lake Michigan is Spa Amira. This is the only place in Michigan to experience the ancient Indian healing tradition of Ayurvedic, which is said to nourish the entire self – body, mind and spirit – for profound relaxation and wellness. Exotic treatments include the Shirodhara (also known as “Bliss Therapy”) in which oil is poured in a slow steady stream on the forehead, pacifying the nervous system and promoting relaxation and tranquility, while at the same time improving mental clarity and comprehension. Shila Abhyanga involves strategically placing warm stones on the body during a warm oil massage. Also featuring a mini-Shirodhara, the session is meant to promote healing and longevity by releasing tension from the body. After a day of gallivanting around the snowy countryside and relaxing in the tranquility of the spa, satisfy your hunger with a fine Italian meal at the resort’s fine dining restaurant, Nonna’s. The mixed grill entrée includes samplings of lamb, buffalo, flank and game sausage. Or perhaps the linguini with Maine lobster tail, calamari and tomato intingolo sounds more appealing. If time permits, head to Beppi’s in the lower level for a nightcap and live (231/334-5000).
Inn at Bay Harbor
Stretching along the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay, between Charlevoix and Petoskey, is the majestic Inn at Bay Harbor. A variety of guest rooms and suites are elegantly appointed and awaiting winter guests. The Master Suite features a bedroom, separate living room with fireplace and a kitchenette. In the Quarry Suite, guests enjoy a private covered porch and hot tub, in addition to two bedrooms and two baths. The expansive 3,000-square-foot Penthouse Suite is the resort’s most luxurious room. Poised on the fifth floor it features an impressive four bedrooms, five baths, two private covered balconies, den with fireplace, fully-equipped kitchen and spectacular views of the bay. The Spa at The Inn at Bay Harbor is renowned for its luxurious natural treatments and therapies like the “Couples Massage” and “Petoskey Hot Stone Massage.” On Thursday nights, it’s “Happy Hour Redesigned” with treatments like “Martinis and Manicures” and “Cabernet, Cuts & Color.”
Dinner options at the Inn include the fine dining of Sagamores, where the signature dish is the pecan encrusted walleye topped with corn salsa and brown butter, a thyme sauce and served with mashed sweet potatoes. Other highlights include Surf & Turf with petit filet of beef tenderloin and cold water Australian lobster tail. Across the foyer, the casual South American Grille & Wine Bar offers a more intimate setting and lighter, regional fare such as Up North Hunter’s Chili and Northern Michigan Salad, as well as upscale pub cuisine. A winter walk through the neighborhood means a visit to the Bay Harbor Marina District and its boutiques selling resort wear and elegant clothing, jewelry, exquisite treasures from local artists, furnishings, boating and golf gear, gifts, toys and souvenirs (800/462-6963).
Mountain Grand Lodge
From the moment you walk into the lobby of the Mountain Grand Lodge in Boyne Falls, a warmth envelops you. Custom wrought iron gates and accents, chandelier and sconce lighting, hand-painted murals and an abundance of natural wood are inspired by the inns of Switzerland and Austria. The European-style is carried throughout with fresh colors, handmade tiles and custom furniture gracing the 220 luxurious guest rooms and two-level, multi-bedroom suites. Families will be quick to check out Avalanche Bay, the Alpine-inspired indoor waterpark. At 88,000-square-foot, it’s packed with slides, rides, kids pools, climbing walls, a lazy river and a surf simulator. Even the resort’s Solace Spa offers up a package for all members of the family. Once a month, a Family Night is offered – a chance to share healthy lifestyle habits with the children. The package includes a 30-minute family-style yoga class and access to the relaxation lounge, whirlpool, steam room, cedar sauna and the indoor/outdoor pool. Adults looking for a more mature spa experience will enjoy the 80-minute Winter Solstice Body Treatment. An exfoliating body scrub, made of brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, smoothes the skin and awakens the senses. Next, the body is coated with a hydrating mineral mask and wrapped in cocoon fashion to restore the skin’s vitality and moisture. Finally, the skin is drenched with a scent-sational vanilla lotion that rehydrates, while treating the olfactory senses to decadent aromas. A more unique offering is the Tibetan Singing Bowl spa treatment, where 16 antique Tibetan Singing Bowls (ranging between 100 and 500 years old) create bell-like harmonies meant to soothe the mind and body. Mark Handler plays these bowls, creating deep vibrations that balance the chakras and meridians, relieve tension and create relaxation at the cellular level (800/GO-BOYNE).
Northern Escape Lodge
The 700-plus square foot log cabin at Northern Escape Lodge in Branch (Lake County) offers a cabin in the woods experience like no other. With an open kitchen, cathedral ceilings, two bedrooms and gas fireplace, you’ll never want to step foot outside. But doing so is advised. The cabin boats its own Nordic spa hot tub, sitting below towering trees and a sky full of stars. Inside the main lodge, three sleeping rooms are adorned with Amish-crafted cedar log beds, layered with flannel sheets and plush comforters for a cozy Up-North rustic feel. Guests are invited to borrow a pair of snowshoes for a unique hiking adventure through the quiet beauty of the Manistee National Forest. For more heart-pumping excursions, snowmobilers can access 300 miles of groomed trails from the lodge’s driveway (231/898-6745).
Shanty Creek Resort
Nearby Shanty Creek Resort offers a variety of winter activities, including downhill skiing, snowboarding, tubing and cross country skiing. Shanty Creek prides itself on its 30km groomed Nordic trails that wind through snow-blanketed hardwoods and pines, ideal for long-glide or short-stride skiing (800/678-4111).
In Bellaire, Stonewaters Inn blends Victorian flair with Northern Michigan ambience, for an elegant and casual retreat along the Torch River. Ten custom decorated rooms and suites are each uniquely decorated. The riverside suites – The Victorian and The Vineyard – each offer Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces, with a private patio or balcony overlooking the river below. Inn guests are also invited to relax in the outdoor hot tub, located on the river’s edge. Within walking distance from the inn is downtown Bellaire – a quaint town, especially when decked out in its winter white (231/533-6131).
The Terrace Inn
Countless winter packages are available as you step back in time at The Terrace Inn in historic Bay View, just north of downtown Petoskey. This 37-room Victorian hotel looks much like it did when it first opened in 1911 – with the addition of some modern amenities. The King Whirlpool Suite is perfect for a snowy get-away, with its king size bed, two-person Jacuzzi and fireplace. The two-night “Winter Wonderland Package” delivers an elegant dinner – such as Lake Michigan planked whitefish, chicken Hemingway with dried Michigan cherries or flat iron steak with merlot zip sauce – followed by a romantic ride around the neighborhood in a horse-drawn sleigh. Take a ride of a different kind with the “Dog Sledding Adventure Package,” where guests get hands-on dogsled driving lessons and a trek through the village. Thrill-seekers will enjoy the “Winter Rafting Adventure Package,” with a Big Bear Adventure guided rafting trip on the Sturgeon River, along with snowshoe or cross country ski rentals for exploring the woods beyond the river (800/530-9898).
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons
An overnight or two in one of the newly renovated condos in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City is just what the doctor ordered to fight the winter blues. The former home of the Traverse City State Hospital (also known as the Northern Michigan Asylum), this 63-acre complex is undergoing a major facelift. Meant to revive the concept of community, The Village is constantly growing and blossoming in a multitude of ways and is touted as the nation’s largest, historic preservation reclamation project of its kind (231/941-1900).
Mackinac Island: More Places to Shop and Stay
Many people are not aware that Mackinac Island is actually a four-season travel destination. Winter recreationalists actually prefer to keep this tidbit of information a secret, as they don’t want to share their quiet solitude with the world. The east half of the island is designated entirely for cross-country skiing – some of the best in the country, according to some (800/454-5227).
Cottage Inn B&B
While only a handful of lodging properties are open on Mackinac Island during the winter months, the 11-room Victorian-looking Cottage Inn B&B is most inviting dressed in a blanket of snow. The third-floor, three-room Mackinac Suite is charming this time of year. Three stuffed chairs adorn the sitting turret and are the perfect place to sit and relax with a good book and a hot cup of tea, while the queen size bed – boasting a pillow-top mattress and down pillows – invites you to squander the day away (906/847-4000).
Doud’s Market is also open for any provisions you may need during your stay (906/847-3444).
The Loonfeather and The Balsam Shop
The Loonfeather and The Balsam Shop, both on Mackinac Island’s Main Street, are open winter weekends and holidays and offer rentals of cross-country skis and snowshoes (906/847-3591).
Mustang Lounge, Patric Sinclair’s Irish Pub
With its location right downtown, it’s just a short walk from Mackinac Island’s Cottage Inn B&B to the Mustang Lounge or Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub – the two restaurants open during the winter. Mustang Lounge (906/847-9916). Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub (906/847-8255).
Winter Travel to Mackinac Island
Yes, it is a bit more challenging to get to the island in winter – but it’s not impossible. Until the Straits of Mackinac are frozen over, limited ferry service is available from St. Ignace on the Arnold Line (800/542-8528 or 906/847-3351).
After the ice solidifies, the more adventurous travel to the island via snowmobile along the “Trail of Trees” that outlines the safe passage. Flights to the island run year-round from St. Ignace with Great Lakes Air (906/643-7165).
While bicycles and horses are the main mode of transportation during the prime tourism season, it is snowmobiles that get locals and visitors from point to point during the winter months.
Northeast: More Places to Go, Eat and Stay
Nearly 40km of trails are also available for discovering at Forbush Corner in nearby Frederic. The largest fleet of Nordic-only grooming equipment in the Midwest keeps the miles and miles of rolling, wooded trails immaculately groomed for both classic and skate styles of cross country skiing. The trails at Forbush also connect with the nearby Hartwick Pines State Park system (989/348-5989).
One of the country’s top golf destinations, Forest Dunes in Roscommon now welcomes winter visitors to explore its 1,200 acres in the heart of the Huron National Forest. A groomed snowshoe trail, which travels through the scenic forests and fields of the golf course, includes a stop at the Warming Hut, where a roaring fire, cozy chairs and a steaming mug of hot chocolate or coffee is served. Three on-site cross country ski trails, collectively measuring 15km, traverse the wooded property and are suitable for both beginner and seasoned skiers. The Black Trail also offers access to the Warming Hut.
Forest Dunes is ideal for small groups of family or friends looking to escape to the northern wilderness. Stay & Ski packages (available Thursdays through Saturday night) include lodging in one of a handful of half-million-dollar model homes, gourmet dining at Sangomore’s and unlimited use of the trails and modern clubhouse and fitness center. Spa treatments, including massages, facials and manicures, are also available (989/275-0700).
Some 3,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness at Garland Resort in Lewiston is calling your name. Savor the silence and experience winter as you never have before. More than 40 miles of the best groomed cross country ski trails and snowmobile routes in the Midwest await. Garland also offers ice skating, sledding, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis and horse-drawn sleigh rides – including the Zhivago Night Dinner. This intimate and exciting meal starts with a horse-drawn sleigh ride along a lighted path to the rustic log-style Bridge Inn where a five-course gourmet wild-game dinner, paired with exquisite wines is served. Cross-country skiing takes you through majestic snow-covered pines, streams and forests, for unforgettable adventures. A favored activity is the Gourmet Glide, a tantalizing ski and feast excursion that travels along 10km of groomed trails, stopping at five buffet stations strategically placed along the route. At the end of the day, warm your toes before a roaring fire as you sip hot cocoa or a hot toddy on the patio under the canopy of stars. Then, settle in at the Main Lodge – the largest log lodge east of the Mississippi – with its soaring cathedral ceilings, huge fireplaces and artistic stained-glass windows. Cottages, Villas and Condos offer a more private, yet equally enjoyable overnight experience (877/442-7526).
The natural beauty of the AuSable River Valley is your backyard when you retreat to the Manor House, on the Lake Huron shoreline, in Oscoda. Watch the sunrise each morning from the Cambridge I colonial-style room and enjoy breakfast in your room with views of the lake. A queen-size bed, two-person Jacuzzi and gas fireplace fill this cozy, lakeside room. It is one of 11 romantically designed guest rooms at the beachfront inn (989/739-1977).
Huron-Manistee National Forest
After breakfast, bundle up for a shoreline walk along the private beach or take a short drive to the 120,000-acre Huron National Forest for a day of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling. The Corsair Ski Trails, nestled in the Silver Valley area, is one of the largest groomed trail networks in Michigan. The 56 km of interconnecting trails through forests and across meadows, hills and valleys. The Highbanks is one of the most scenic trail routes in the Midwest, with backcountry ski touring and snowshoeing along ungroomed trails. A treasured site worth discovering is Iargo Springs, considered a holy place by Native Americans with its breathtaking views of the AuSable River Valley from the 30-foot-high observation deck. For those more adventurous, the 294 steps down to the boardwalk are open year-round and lead to the mystical and serene location, where underground springs come together and form cold water streams (989/826-3592).
Upper Peninsula: More Places to Stay
Big Bay Point Lighthouse B&B
Spend a winter night or weekend at one of Michigan’s historic beacons. The 1896 Big Bay Point Lighthouse B&B is one of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country. Perched atop a cliff jutting out over the deep waters of Lake Superior, guests at this secluded retreat enjoy a half-mile of shoreline, spectacular views and sightings of the occasional ghost. The 14-room inn has seven guest rooms with private baths, the largest of which is The Keeper’s Room, with a queen sized bed, a warming fireplace and views of Lake Superior. A living room, extensive library, sauna and lighthouse tower, at 120 feet above the surface of the lake, are open to all inn guests. A full offering of spa services are also available, including hot stone massage, a Dead Sea mud pack and herbal body scrub and wrap, as well as couples massages (906/345-9957).
The tiny town of Big Bay, just 30 miles northwest of Marquette, has a population of just over 300. The town drew national attention in 1951, when an Army officer staying on site as part of a training mission for an anti-aircraft battalion was arrested for murdering the owner of the local Lumberjack Tavern. The incident was the subject of a book, published in 1958, and a movie – starring James Stewart, produced in 1959, called Anatomy of a Murder. Both the book and the movie are available for B&B guests to borrow and enjoy, during their stay .
Falling Rock Lodge Bed and Breakfast
The Upper Peninsula is a winter lover’s paradise, and Falling Rock Lodge B&B on Powell Lake in Wetmore is for those who want a truly unique and snowy Northwoods adventure. Located in the Hiawatha National Forest and along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this retreat features a 700-square foot two-bedroom cottage and a separate two-bedroom suite above the garage. A free-standing wood-burning fireplace is the focal point of the main-house living room, meant to keep the chill out of even the coldest winter night. Your stay includes a breakfast basket of fresh roasted coffee from the Great Lakes Coffee Company, bagels, and delicious baked goods or coupons for breakfast at The Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore in Munising. Falling Rock Lodge (906/387-1623). Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore (906/387-3008).
The best winter activities are right out the front door: groomed cross-country ski trails, snowmobile trails connecting to the main groomed trail system in Alger County and ice fishing on Powell Lake. The adventurous and skilled might try ice climbing or dog sledding in nearby Munising. Frozen waterfalls and the lakeshore, historic lighthouses and the snow-covered countryside make great snapshots for amateur and professional photographers alike. The 27-mile Valley Spur – located just five miles from Munising – offers 12 loops ideal for beginners or advanced cross-country skiers, as well as five miles of marked snowshoe trails. The first Saturday of March is the annual “Taste and Glide” – a chance to cross-country ski from one trailside buffet to the next savoring sweet treats.
A popular activity is to ski or snowshoe along the shore, or on the many trails in the area. Local tour guides can show you the ropes, including Big Bay Outfitters with their snowshoe tours equipment rentals (906/250-2457).
Snowy Plains Kennels
In Sands Township, can hook you up with two- and five-hour dog-sledding adventures at Snowy Plains Kennels (906/249-1011) .
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