Northwest Michigan Winter Getaway Guide

Go beyond the slopes to experience the many wonders of this top winter destination. Challenging terrain, twin ziplines and a multilane tubing course add to the appeal of this Northwest getaway for snowsports enthusiasts. Add to that, the state’s largest indoor water park, an outdoor hot tub, spa services and pure relaxation—this must be the perfect Midwest winter playground.
 
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Boyne Mountain
I’m not sure whether a nickname like “Fozzy” adds or subtracts credibility for a ski instructor. Especially when he’s singing off-key, but with great gusto, on the chairlift in front of us. But I’m convinced Fozzy is a pro by the time we finish a brush-up lesson on a bunny hill among a sea of children tethered to teachers with Hula Hoops. He quickly sharpens our rusty skills and sends us off to the intermediate runs. But even with Fozzy’s insights, we’ll leave the advanced runs to our college-age son.
 
That choice of 60 runs and the second-highest vertical drop (500 feet) on the Lower Peninsula drew us to Boyne Mountain. (Boyne’s sister property, Boyne Highlands, edges it out at 552 feet). The twin ziplines, multilane tubing course and the state’s largest indoor water park add to the appeal. About a dozen other ski areas in this northwest region cater to adventurers with just about any definition of winter fun.
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At the top of the mountain, hot chocolate, a roaring fire and top-of-the-world views wait at the Eagle’s Nest. At the base of the hill is Avalanche Bay with the new ride Big Couloir, which drops brave souls through a trap door at 38 feet per second into an underground slide. As the 10-year-old ahead of us says, “It’s breathtaking. Plug your nose.” The pedicure station at Solace Spa is more my speed. Relaxation continues over a dinner of gooey cheese fondue paired with the signature IPA Everett, named after Boyne’s founder, an innovator in ski technology and now a pioneer in family fun.
 
More Resorts near Traverse City
Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort, Cadillac
The state’s first ski resort, built in 1937, is the only place in the Lower Peninsula with backcountry skiing.
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Crystal Mountain Resort, Thompsonville
While kids learn to ski at all-day Nanny McSki, parents can enjoy other amenities such as the spa and outdoor hot tub.   
 
The Homestead, Glen Arbor
Adjacent to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan; weekend skiing only. 
 
Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire
All-natural materials, such as split trees and boulders, form the Natty, one of five terrain parks. 
 
Treetops Resort, Gaylord
Snowboarders and skiers practice tricks by landing in the Big Air bag before hitting slopes with 23 runs, the longest at 2,200 feet.