4 Ideas for Weatherproof Indoor Activities in Michigan

Henry Ford Museum
Photo Courtesy of heather1allard

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There’s nothing quite like a Pure Michigan vacation to refresh mentally and physically. But sometimes spring’s thunderstorms or winter’s cold winds make outdoor recreation less than appealing. Consider these options for a Michigan getaway that will recharge your battery…no matter the weather.

1. Indoor Waterparks

Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark, located in Frankenmuth, is one of Michigan’s newest parks and mid-Michigan’s largest. Come for the day or book a stay in Zehnder’s adjoining hotel in a room overlooking more than 50,000 sq. ft. of watery fun. Splash Village includes the thrilling six-story raft ride and Super Loop six-story speed slide, a zero entry pool with water geysers and a giant dumping bucket. If the skies clear and the weather warms up, check out Splash Village’s spacious outdoor pool.  

Avalanche Bay Indoor Water Park at Boyne Mountain Resort ranks as Michigan’s largest indoor water park at 88,000 square feet. Six water slides will boost your adrenaline levels, including the park's newest thrill, The Big Couloir, a 360-degree Super Loop with the steepest drop in the industry. Other watery thrills range from the Rip Zone surf simulator to the Splasherhorn Mountain water playground and a relaxing lazy river. Buy a day pass or a package that includes accommodations at Boyne Mountain’s lodge.
Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City is a perennial favorite and fits right into this region of Michigan with its North Woods theme. Set the kids loose to enjoy a half dozen multi-story water slides, a family whitewater rafting ride, wave pools and numerous water toys. Overnight in cabin-themed guestrooms where bunkbeds are tucked away inside an oversized tent or a replica wolf’s den!
Double JJ Resort north of Muskegon offers its own waterpark to complement its numerous outdoor activities. Double JJ’s accommodations and water attractions follow a Wild West theme: the Miner’s Plunge cannon bowl slide; the Thunder Canyon whitewater raft ride; and Rustler’s Gulch, West Michigan’s tallest waterslide.

2. Museums

The Detroit Institute of Arts ranks among the largest and most important art museums in the nation. Take inspiration from masterpieces like Self Portrait, the first Van Gogh ever to enter an American museum collection; Bruegel’s beloved The Wedding Dance; and Diego Rivera’s brilliant Detroit Industry murals covering all four walls of the Rivera Court. The murals were painted in the 1930s and are considered among Rivera’s finest. Extend your stay at the DIA with regularly-scheduled free evening activities: music, storytelling, art workshops and puppet shows.
Kalamazoo’s Air Zoo focuses on rare planes like a replica Wright flyer, school bus-yellow biplanes and a brilliant red barnstormer. Walk alongside and beneath the daunting bulk of the world’s only remaining Blackbird stealth plane. Learn about the World War II-era Hellcats, Bearcats and Wildcats that gave this museum its name. And check out the East Wing to see spacecraft like a prototype moon buggy and a replica Space Shuttle. Flight simulators, a hot air balloon-themed Ferris wheel and a variety of interactive STEM-based activities keep kids and adults engaged for hours.
The life and career of America’s 38th—and Michigan’s only—President sits on display at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. Archival photos, campaign buttons and a replica Oval Office recreate American political life in the 1970s. Exhibits related to Ford’s inauguration as America’s first unelected President and his pardoning of President Nixon after the Watergate scandal are among the museum’s long-time favorites.
The Michigan History Center in Lansing brings to life the story of the Great Lakes State. Discover the pre-historic traces of Michigan’s Native American tribes. Learn about the lives of prospectors in a recreated Upper Peninsula copper mine. Find out why Michigan was such an important stop on the Underground Railroad and relive the nation’s Michigan-made muscle car era.
The Henry Ford in Dearborn offers at least a full day’s worth of fun—and learning—and most of the collections are inside. A storehouse of Americana, the Henry Ford began as the automobile magnate’s personal collection. While you’ll find lots of historic and rare automobiles, including Henry Ford’s first gasoline-powered vehicle and the limousine in which President Kennedy was assassinated, you’ll also find plenty of non-automotive history: President Lincoln’s iconic stovepipe hat; Buckminster Fuller’s shiny aluminum Dymaxion House, the only prototype still in existence; and a large selection of historic airplanes. Don’t leave before touring the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, a working assembly line where the Ford F-150 pickup truck is built.
Take the kids to one of Michigan’s interactive children’s museums. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum teaches youngsters about science in exhibits like H2Oh and Google Liquid Galaxy. The second weekend of every month Critters up Close allows hands-on fun with animals. The Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum in Saginaw focuses on children under the age of 12, allowing kids to explore their world through play with pneumatic tubes, magnets, lasers and solar panels. And among the many interactive activities at Traverse City’s Great Lakes Children’s Museum are a collection of exhibits revolving around stewardship of the Great Lakes. Kids learn about wave dynamics, discover how Michigan’s lakes influence rain- and snowfall and try their hand at boat-building.

3. Destination Resorts

Petoskey’s Inn at Bay Harbor sits right on the Lake Michigan shore, overlooking Little Traverse Bay. Guests can observe the power of Lake Michigan, whatever the weather, from private balconies. Stress melts away with treatments at the spa, followed by an afternoon absorbed in a good book beside an in-room fireplace. Afternoon tea has become a tradition at the Inn at Bay Harbor, while the resort’s favorite in-house fine dining restaurant is the Vintage Chophouse and Wine Bar. The getaway offers the very best of weatherproof vacations…and a little rain makes the Petoskey stones on the beach that much easier to spot.
Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn Lodge offers a whole weekend’s worth of indoor pastimes. Four indoor pools, three whirlpools and an indoor mini-golf course make it easy to enjoy an active getaway even if the weather makes it tough to get outdoors. On-site gift shops provide shopping opportunities while two lounges and two restaurants offer a variety of dining and nightlife options. Live music takes the stage every evening and on weekends, there are family-oriented karaoke shows.
The Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa in Boyne Falls sits surrounded by the wooded hills of northern Michigan. European-influenced guestrooms include one, two or three bedrooms, for weatherproof getaways ranging from romantic to family, and friend, focused. Guests can warm up in front of their in-room fireplaces for quiet conversations over a glass of wine, or head to the main lobby’s oversized wood-burning fireplace for a little people-watching and socializing. Make time to relax in the lodge’s large indoor swimming pool or with a spa treatment at Solace.
The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa near Traverse City is best known for its golf courses. But there’s no need to venture outside to enjoy this premier northern Michigan resort. Comfortable guestrooms and the resort’s 16th-floor fine dining restaurant Aerie look out over the stunning Lake Michigan scenery. Grand Traverse includes two indoor pools and an indoor water playground, or you can play tennis on the resort’s indoor courts. Looking to relieve some stress? Spa Grand Traverse offers a lengthy spa menu with deep tissue massages, manicures, pedicures and a hair salon.
The Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids has been wowing guests with its sparkling chandeliers, gold-leaf domed ceilings, velvet draperies and fresh-cut flowers since its opening in 1913. There’s plenty to keep guests occupied on-site including seven restaurants, a variety of boutique shops, an on-site florist and a full-service spa and salon. A highlight of a stay at the Amway Grand includes cocktails in the Lumber Baron Bar, a historic, richly-paneled bar made even cozier with a fireplace and leather lounge chairs.

4. Casino Getaways  

Detroit’s Las Vegas-style casinos offer luxury resort accommodations, multiple fine and casual dining restaurants and lots of games and theatres. The MGM Grand Detroit features an Art Deco style, fine dining restaurants and the luxury spa Immerse. Greektown Casino Hotel offers lots of live music and dining overlooking Detroit’s skyline from its 30-story tower. And Motor City promises some of Detroit’s finest dining at Iridescence as well as Detroit-themed treatments at D. Tour spa.
Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant offers high-stakes gaming, headliner entertainment and a wide variety of fine and casual dining options. (Expect a nice selection of Michigan wines.) Families will enjoy the casino’s indoor waterpark while adults can relax at Soaring Eagle’s full-service spa.

Try the Odawa Casino in the Petoskey Area for one of northern Michigan’s most popular gaming resorts. Beyond the dozens of table games and 1,300 slot machines are three entertainment venues and a fine dining restaurant with plenty of Michigan wines and beers.
Head to the Upper Peninsula to explore the popular Island Resort and Casino in Harris. Twenty gaming tables and more than 1,400 slot machines fill the resort’s gaming floor. Headline entertainment performs at the Island Showroom and Club Four One. And Drift Spa offers natural treatments and massage therapists for a weekend of total relaxation.