12 Unique Winter Things to Do in West Michigan (2023)

Everyone knows that Michigan experiences a real winter every year. But you might not know that it is a great place to be when the weather turns icy! There are lots of great things to do in Michigan in the winter, so don’t feel like you have to sit at home throughout the snowy months.

If you’re looking for the best winter things to do in West Michigan this year, we have 12 unique activities that you can’t miss.

Best Winter Things to Do in West Michigan

Don’t feel like winter has to be the time of year where you sit in your house with nothing to do. In fact in west Michigan, things are downright buzzing with activity!

This is the perfect place for outdoor winter sports, holiday festivals, and fun family activities. Snow and ice definitely can’t keep Michiganders from having a good time!

Take in the Sights

Western Michigan has some of the most stunning winter sights in the country. In places like Muskegon, you will find places to take in snow-covered vistas, icy forests, and peaceful farmland.

Many people take to the West Michigan lakeshores and woods to get away from the crowds and enjoy the peaceful view of undisturbed snow on Lake Michigan’s dune hills or among the trees.

Best Winter Things to Do in Holland Michigan

Visit a Winter Market in Holland

The winter market in Holland is one of the best places to get your hands on local goods even when the ground is covered in snow! Even though you won’t find field-grown fruits and veggies at this time of the year, you might be surprised by the selection of greenhouse produce and other goods.

But fruits and vegetables are far from the only thing you’ll find at the Holland winter market. You will also get the chance to buy everything from fresh meat and seafood to homemade quiche, baked goods, pastries, and cheese.

There is also plenty of farm-fresh honey, maple syrup, jam, and juice. This is definitely your one-stop-shop for all things delicious and fresh.

12 Unique Winter Things to Do in West Michigan (1)

Go Snowshoeing in the Woods

Michigan is a great place to be for winter outdoor enthusiasts. West Michigan is one place where people flock in the winter to go skiing, tubing, skating, and snowshoeing!

During the summer, this region attracts many visitors to the coastline to enjoy the sand and surf near Lake Michigan. But when the snow starts to fall, people flock here to enjoy winter sports.

The 1800 acres throughout the local parks — as well as eight miles of trails — are an extremely popular spot for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other winter sports. There are local equipment rentals and even a lodge where you can warm up with hot chocolate.

12 Unique Winter Things to Do in West Michigan (2)

Best Winter Things to Do in Grand Rapids Michigan

Holiday Celebrations at Frederik Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids is a popular destination at any time of the year. But just because the temperature is dropping doesn’t mean that the gardens are off-limits.

Instead, this time of year is the time to celebrate cultures and holidays are a community. You’ll find elaborate light displays, cultural exhibits, fun activities for people of all ages, and a tree lighting ceremony.

View Holiday Lights in Grand Rapids

Seeing local holiday decorations is a fun activity in any part of the country, but it is a pretty big deal in Grand Rapids. The city takes the holiday season very seriously, with its dedication earning its accolades as the Jolliest City in America and the best holiday light display in Michigan.

Visitors come from all over the state to participate in the holiday walking tour, which winds through downtown Grand Rapids. Along the way, you will pass some other well-known sites in Grand Rapids, including Rosa Parks Circle.

You can also hop in a horse-drawn carriage to view the lights in a slightly different way.

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle

If you have ever gone skating at a public outdoor rink, you know what a fun and unique winter activity it is!

Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids serves as an outdoor events plaza during the warm months. But when the temperature drops, it gets converted to an ice skating rink.

Then visitors from all over (not just Grand Rapids!) break out their ice skates and hit the rink. The plaza’s official website estimates that more than 750,000 people visit the plaza every year, many of them for ice skating in West Michigan.

Stop by an igloo at a local restaurant to warm up!

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Try Skiing or Tubing at Cannonsburg

Some of the best skiing in Michigan can be found in Cannonsburg, with thousands of visitors flocking there every winter. If you aren’t sure of your ski legs, feel free to rent a tube and have some fun in the snow that way, too!

There are plenty of ski rentals, trails, and slopes for skiers of every level. You can even find lessons if it is your first time hitting the slopes. Try downhill skiing, snowboarding, or cross-country skiing at this West Michigan ski resort.

12 Unique Winter Things to Do in West Michigan (4)

Best Winter Things to Do in South Haven Michigan

Go to the Ice Breaker Festival – South Haven

If there was ever a local event that was truly one-of-a-kind, it is the South Haven Ice Breaker Festival.

During this February celebration, shops throw their doors open while visitors skate at outdoor rinks, eat at a fish fry, drink beer, and participate in races. Other competitions include snowsuit fashion, ice sculpting, and a chili cook-off.

There are also plenty of activities for kids, including arts and crafts, cookie decorating, cardboard sledding, and horse-drawn wagon rides. The main event is the famous fish fling, where adults and kids alike compete to throw a frozen fish as far as they can.

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Best Winter Things to Do in Muskegon Michigan

Try an Olympic Sport

If you have ever watched the luge team at the Winter Olympics in awe, you will need to make the trip to visit Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park.

This park is open throughout the year for adventurous activities. In the winter, it offers opportunities to ski, snowboard, skate, and snowshoe. The luge track is one of just four in the continental US.

Here, visitors will receive gear and training before participating in the nail-biting sport. The luge track is made for beginners to ensure that everyone stays safe (even while flying along at 30 mph!).

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Best Winter Things to Do in Southwest Michigan

Attend the Annual Winter Ice Fest in St. Joseph

The Annual Winter Ice Fest in the town of St. Joseph is an event you won’t want to miss. This weekend takes place in February and features everything from community competitions to treats from local vendors and all kinds of family fun.

Visitors can participate in ice sculpting competitions and scavenger hunts, races, and yard games. Of course, you will have the opportunity to enjoy delicious treats from local vendors.

Though the event changes somewhat every year, it has long since become a beloved staple in St. Joseph, drawing visitors from all over Michigan.

Visit a Family-Owned Tree Farm in Gobles

Visiting a family-owned farm is a treat at any time of the year. But once winter rolls around, that doesn’t mean it is time to stop! You will find some amazing Christmas tree farms in western Michigan.

Wahmhoff Farms Nursery, located in Gobles, opens the day after Thanksgiving. Visitors are welcome to come pick a Christmas tree. During their visit, they will also have the chance to take a wagon ride and enjoy some hot, fresh popcorn.

Starting in late November, you will also have the chance for a visit with Santa Claus, making it a perfect place for families to visit.

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Check Out the Annual Winter Beer Festival in Kalamazoo

January is a dreary time of the year, with the holidays over and the winter at its coldest and longest. So of course the citizens of Kalamazoo decided that it was the perfect time for a Winter Beer Festival!

This annual event takes place during the first month of the year and showcases local craft beers, brewers, and vendors from all over Michigan and most particularly the Kalamazoo region. This adult event is a great add-on to a winter romantic getaway in West Michigan.

For another beer festival be sure to check out Grand Rapids as well!

More to Do During a Michigan Winter

It’s not just the western part of the state that comes to life during the winter months. There are many things to do throughout Michigan when the temperature starts to drop!

Many people enjoy going outside to take part in sports in Michigan in the winter, but you will also find seasonal festivals, family events, and holiday markets. Skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding are popular.

12 Unique Winter Things to Do in West Michigan


What is there to do on the west side of Michigan in the winter? ›

Winter Things to Do in West Michigan
  • Experience the World of Winter Festival.
  • Snowshoe Along the West Michigan Lakeshore.
  • Go Ice Fishing on Spring Lake.
  • Learn to Luge at Muskegon State Park.
  • Hit the Slopes at a Community Ski Area.
  • Visit a West Michigan Lakeshore Winery.
  • Take a Cooking Class at The Local Epicurean.
Jan 11, 2021

What is there to do in Lake Michigan in the winter? ›

When you visit Lake Michigan's beautiful beaches and trails in winter, you'll see them in a whole new light. Try snow hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing on quiet trails, or get your heart pumping with some snowmobiling, downhill skiing or snowboarding.

What is there to do in Grand Haven in the winter? ›

The Grand Haven Area is a year-round destination with plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy this winter: skiing, downhill or cross-country, ice skating, snowshoeing and sledding, just to name a few. Area parks are full of groomed and ungroomed trails to explore. Park restrooms are open.

What was the worst winter in Michigan? ›

Quotes. C. R. Snider, National Weather Service Meteorologist in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said on January 30, 1978: The most extensive and very nearly the most severe blizzard in Michigan history raged January 26, 1978 and into part of Friday January 27.

What is the coldest lake in Michigan? ›

Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by area (31,700 mi2 /82,100 km2). It is also the coldest and deepest of the Great Lakes, with a maximum depth of 406 meters (1,332 feet). By most measures, it is the healthiest of all the Great Lakes.

What is Grand Haven Michigan known for? ›

The Grand Haven area is famous for its soft-sand beaches , picturesque lighthouse, and musical fountain which plays nightly from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

How much does it cost to get into Grand Haven? ›

For Non-residents, it's $9 per day pass or $33 for an annual pass. There is limited free street parking available on Harbor Drive.

How cold is the water in Grand Haven? ›

Today's Grand Haven sea temperature is 47 °F.

What can I do in January? ›

  • 1 Write thank-you notes. ...
  • Visit a dog park. ...
  • Buy yourself (or someone else) some flowers. ...
  • Visit your local library and get a library card. ...
  • Enroll in a Paint Nite or Cooking Class. ...
  • Take down and put away your holiday decorations. ...
  • Toss items in your fridge and pantry that are old and/or expired.

What is the coldest city in Michigan? ›

The Coldest Place in Michigan (-51°!)

Vanderbilt, Michigan, is a small town located in the northern part of the state. On February 9, 1934, temperatures dropped to a record low of -51°F. This temperature remains the coldest ever recorded in Michigan to this day.

Is Michigan one of the coldest state? ›

The coldest states in the US are Alaska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Maine, Wisconsin, Idaho, Vermont, and Michigan. Alaska is the coldest state in the US, with an average annual temperature of 30.7 F°.

What is the coldest city in Michigan on average? ›

According to a list compiled by Stacker, the coldest city in all of Michigan is Sault Ste. Marie.

What time will the Northern Lights be visible in Michigan? ›

Tips for viewing the northern lights

The best aurora is usually within an hour or two of midnight (between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. local time). These hours expand towards evening and morning as the level of geomagnetic activity increases.

What months can you see the Northern Lights in Michigan? ›

Best time to see the Northern Lights in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In the U.P. you are more likely to see the Northern Lights between August and April, with the peak months being April, October and November. Choose a clear, crisp, cold night without the threat of lake-effect snow.

What date can you see the Northern Lights in Michigan? ›

The months of April, October and November (near the spring and fall equinox) are peak viewing times; it's when solar particles are most likely to react with the Earth's magnetic field, producing ribbons of blue, green, pink and violet light.

Which Great Lake is cleanest? ›

Lake Superior is the largest, cleanest, and wildest of all the Great Lakes.

What lake never freezes in winter? ›

Issyk-Kul is a lake without a drain and is located in the northeastern part of the Central Asia nation. It also keeps scientists intrigued as the water of this lake never freezes due to the lake's depth and natural warmth of the water. This is the reason, it was named Issyk-Kul, which means "warm lake" in Kyrgyz.

What is the lake that doesn't freeze? ›


Experts say it won't freeze this year and likely never has in human memory. That's because Lake Tahoe is deep — very deep.

What temperature should I keep my house at in the winter in Michigan? ›

"In the winter, raise your room temperature to between 68 and 70 degrees, or even higher if you live in a humid environment." Lower than that, and you could end up with mold on your walls since colder air isn't as good at preventing water vapor from accumulating in your home."

What to buy for winter in Michigan? ›

A hat and gloves are important for any winter activity. Mittens are best for those who tend to get cold fingers. Double-layered, fleece-lined options with a waterproof or wool exterior are ideal for keeping the chill away. Footwear should also start with a non-cotton sock.

What temperature to leave a vacant house in winter in Michigan? ›


Most recommendations say to turn the temperature down no lower than 55° F. If away for an extended period of time, it might be a good idea to shut off the water supply. Shutting off the water supply can also help prevent pipes from bursting inside the home.

What lake is frozen all year round? ›

Lake Vida is a hypersaline lake in Victoria Valley, the northernmost of the large McMurdo Dry Valleys, on the continent of Antarctica. It is isolated under year-round ice cover, and is considerably more saline than seawater.

What lake freezes completely? ›

Great Lakes that have completely frozen include Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake to have never frozen entirely.

Why do fish survive in frozen lakes? ›

Like many people, fish tend to be less active in the cold. As cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism dips when temperatures take a dive. The layer of ice that forms on top of a lake, pond, river, or stream provides some insulation that helps the waterbody retain its heat.

What is the oldest town in Michigan? ›

Sault Ste. Marie was settled as early as 1668, which makes it Michigan's oldest city and among the oldest cities in the United States. Located at the northeastern edge of the Upper Peninsula, it is separated by the St. Marys River from the much-larger city of Sault Ste.

What is the most remote town in Michigan? ›

Omer, Michigan
Omer Location within the state of Michigan Show map of Michigan Show map of the United States Show all
Coordinates: 44°02′51″N 83°51′16″W
CountryUnited States
25 more rows

Where is the oldest house in Michigan? ›

The Charles C. Trowbridge House is located at 1380 East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, Michigan.
Location1380 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates42°20′1″N 83°1′58″W
Arealess than one acre
Significant dates
11 more rows

Can you drink on the beach at Grand Haven? ›

You may not possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at any time within the following described locations, without written authorization of the park manager: Belle Isle Park - entire park. Dodge #4 State Park - entire park. Grand Haven State Park - entire park.

Can you have alcohol at Grand Haven State Park? ›

Alcoholic Beverages and Marijuana Use

You may not possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at any time in the park without written authorization of the park manager.

Is Grand Haven a good place to retire? ›

Grand Haven is the seat of Ottawa County. Nestled along the shore of southwest Michigan, this beautiful city of almost 11,000 people ranks among the best places to retire anywhere - let alone in Michigan.

Is the water in New Haven safe? ›

New Haven's water compares with the best. It meets or exceeds all water quality standards set by national, state, and local agen- cies.

Is Winter Haven water safe to drink? ›

Yes, Winter Haven's tap water is generally considered safe to drink as Winter Haven has no active health based violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) that we are aware of.

Where does Grand Haven get its water from? ›

Water is pumped from Lake Michigan and is pre-filtered through submerged infiltration beds located 12 to 15 feet below the lake bottom. When it reaches the treatment plant it is filtered again using a “direct filtration” procedure, passing water through 52 inches of anthracite coal.

What hobbies should I try in winter? ›

8 Best Winter Hobbies Anyone Can Do
  • Learn Recreational Snow Sports. ...
  • Make Your Own Rugs and Textiles. ...
  • Add to Your Party Game Collection. ...
  • Create Room for Planned (and Random) Acts of Kindness. ...
  • Take an Online Cooking or Baking Class. ...
  • Start a Side Hustle From Your Home. ...
  • Work on Upcycling or Eco-Friendly Projects With Your Friends.
Jan 21, 2022

What winter activity are most popular? ›

The main international winter sport event is the Winter Olympic Games. In the United States, skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular winter sports. On average, the number of skiers in the United States amounted to around 14.94 million and the number of snowboarders comes to around 7.56 million.

What physical activities can you do in the winter? ›

Try these outdoor activities:
  • Brisk walking or hiking.
  • Jogging or running.
  • Raking leaves.
  • Shoveling snow.
  • Ice skating.
  • Sledding.
  • Cross-country skiing.
  • Snowshoeing.
Dec 1, 2016

How can I have fun in dry January? ›

Here are a few alcohol-free activities to try out this January:
  1. Start Painting or Drawing. ...
  2. Take a Bike Ride. ...
  3. Skiing, Snowboarding, and Ice Skating. ...
  4. Tune Into an Audiobook. ...
  5. Tap Into Your Spirituality. ...
  6. Revamp Your Space.
Feb 21, 2023

What can you do for fun in dry January? ›

Still dry for January? Try these sober activities for non-alcoholic fun.
  1. 1Host a sober potluck dinner.
  2. 2Turn exercise into a social occasion.
  3. 3Get crafty.
  4. 4Plan a spring garden.
  5. 5Try a morning 'Happy Hour'
  6. 6Find a different favorite drink to serve guests.
  7. 7Count your savings and other benefits.
Jan 24, 2023

How can I stay happy in January? ›

Psychologists Top Tips For Staying Positive In January
  1. Start with small resolutions. ...
  2. Take a moment to refocus. ...
  3. Be realistic with your 'dry' rules. ...
  4. Make some optimistic plans. ...
  5. Get outside. ...
  6. Try something new. ...
  7. Start saving.
Jan 4, 2021

What makes people happy in winter? ›

When it is cold, your body has to work harder, which leads to increased endorphin production. More endorphins in your body give you a happier state of mind while at the same time relieving stress.

What do people like to have in winter? ›

The shorter days and longer nights, cold air and low humidity, and the quiet weather are all the things people enjoy during winter.

What is beautiful about winter? ›

When the Northern Hemisphere is wrapped in winter's dark shadow, nature puts on a spectacular show for anyone willing to brave the cold. The stillness of the frozen air heightens each of the senses, making the little details of a glimmering blanket of snow or a cardinal's song even more inspiring.

When can you see the northern lights in West Michigan? ›

Best time to see the Northern Lights in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In the U.P. you are more likely to see the Northern Lights between August and April, with the peak months being April, October and November. Choose a clear, crisp, cold night without the threat of lake-effect snow.

What is the coldest month in West Michigan? ›

Average Temperature at West Michigan Regional Airport

The cold season lasts for 3.3 months, from December 2 to March 11, with an average daily high temperature below 41°F. The coldest month of the year at West Michigan Regional Airport is January, with an average low of 21°F and high of 32°F.

How deep is the frost line in West Michigan? ›

The frost depth for this area, and most of the state of Michigan, is 42". Footings are required to be a minimum of 42" deep., measured from the finish grade to the bottom of the footing. This page last updated on 3/13/2023.

What do people do in the winter in the Midwest? ›

Skiing, snow tubing, and ice-skating are classic Midwestern pastimes during the winter months. If you can make it through a Midwestern winter, you can make it through anything.

What are the best dates to see the Northern Lights in Michigan? ›

The Northern Lights in Michigan can often be seen between the months of August and April, with the peak months being March, April, October, and November. Solar activity tends to be highest during the transition from fall to winter and winter to spring, adding to the chances of catching Aurora Borealis in Michigan!

Can you see the Northern Lights with the naked eye? ›

Will I see it with my naked eyes? You will never see an aurora with the naked eye that looks like the photographs taken on the same night. Cameras, using long exposures, are much more sensitive than the human eye. They capture colours and details that are impossible for the human eye to detect.

What month is the snowiest in Michigan? ›

But December through February sees the most snow of all. When looking at monthly snow reports between 1969-2022, the months that saw the most snowfall, on average, were: January, with an average of 12.57 inches of snow; February, with an average of 11.46 inches of snow; and.

What year was the warmest winter in Michigan? ›

The top 7 warmest winters in order, starting with the warmest include: 1931-1932, 2011-2012, 2001-2002, 1982-1983, 2015-2016, 1997-1998, and 1918-1919. The winter of 1920-1921 is now tied with 2022-2023 for eighth, and just for fun, 2019-2020 is the tenth-warmest.

How deep do water lines need to be buried in Michigan? ›

The well construction code in Michigan specifies that all water supply wells must be cased to a depth of 25 feet.

What state has the deepest frost line? ›

Generally, the coldest U.S. states have the deepest frost lines. Alaska's is the deepest at 100 inches, followed by Minnesota with 80 and North Dakota with 75. On the other hand, the hottest U.S. states have more shallow frost lines.

What is the deepest frost line? ›

The maximum frost line depth is 100-inches as seen near the tip of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Alaska, all the way to zero inches in Florida, southern Arizona, and southern California.

What do farmers do all winter? ›

Many farmers spend the off-season checking their fields. They look at fencing and other outbuildings such as barns and storage silos for damage and then make repairs. Some continue growing, though it's usually at a lighter level. Hearty winter crops such as kale, onions and leeks can help bring in additional income.

Does the Midwest have 4 seasons? ›

The climate of the Midwestern U.S. is largely temperate, one where all four seasons exist. However, summers can be very hot and humid in some parts, and winters can be very cold and full of blistery snow. This area of the country is also known for severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes.


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