Winter Family Fun in Northern Michigan

Even though it may be cold, there is still fun waiting for your family outside! Below are a few suggestions to enjoy the wonderment of winter, indoors and outdoors, and some tips to protect yourself when enjoying the winter elements.

Winter Fun Starts with Warm Clothes

It’s impossible to enjoy the outdoors when you’re freezing so make sure you and your kids have a full set of winter gear before the snow falls: warm clothing, hats, mittens, snow pants, winter coats, warm socks and waterproof boots. Winter clothing can be expensive so if you need access to affordable winter clothes for your child, local resale stores are a great option. Baby pantries also have these items for free or low cost.

Snow, Sleds, Skates

Sledding is low maintenance winter fun! All you need is some snow, a gentle rolling hill, a sled, a helmet, and your snow gear. For beginning sledders, you’ll want to seek areas that have slow rolling hills and are clear of trees. You can find such areas at most local parks or you could head to Avalanche Mountain Preserve in Charlevoix County. This park operated by the City of Boyne City, features a sledding hill, ice rink (with free loaner skates!) and a warming house. The sledding hill is plenty big to produce belly laughs on the way down but not too fast for first-timers. You also might want to check out the Dune Climb in Leelanau County. A fun, kid-friendly activity during any season, the Dune Climb is the only place in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where you can sled. With wide open spaces and no trees, this is a great spot for beginning sledders, but it’s also steep and sledders can pick up some speed. You don’t necessarily need to start at the very top. It is recommended that children always wear a helmet when sledding and skating.

Library Love

Your local library can be a winter wonderland. Offering regular story times and weekend programming, the public library is an excellent resource for family interaction and exploration. You could easily spend an afternoon browsing the shelves or drop in for a special program. And reading to your child has many, many long-term benefits! You can also find information about story times, library hours and tips for reading to your little one through Born to Read.

Art Exhibits

The Oliver Arts Center in Frankfort and the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey and Traverse City offer ongoing art exhibitions. Admittance is free and viewing original artwork together can be a stimulating activity for the entire family. Additional art programming and classes for kids of all ages is offered as well. Make sure to check the Crooked Tree Arts Center exhibit calendar for the annual Youth Show to view and attend or perhaps submit.

Splish Splash

Your local YMCA is a great indoor option for kid-friendly activities. In addition to various classes ranging from tennis to dance to healthy cooking, kiddos can learn about water safety by taking swim lessons. Lessons, led by an instructor, can range from discovery and exploration to basic and strokes or even private lessons. Once you’re comfortable in the water, look into regularly offered open swims, where your child (and the whole family) can splish splash around in the warmth of a heated pool under the watchful eyes of a lifeguard. Swim lessons are a great way to help your child prepare for safe water fun in the summer. (Grand Traverse YMCA)

There are many different kinds of kid friendly activities that offer stimulation and opportunities to interact and connect with your child. Be sure to check out what’s available and offered in your community and the surrounding area.

For more winter activity ideas, check out Shape Up North!