When I moved from Indiana to west Michigan five years ago, I was expecting a lot of snow—Grand Haven averages 81 inches per year—but I didn’t realize how much fun my family could have in winter. Here are 10 of my cold-season favorites, from skiing our local hill to celebrating all things winter at Grand Haven’s annual Winterfest.
1. Mullligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl Five rope tows lead to six slopes with a total of 7 acres for skiing or snowboarding, all in the heart of downtown. Enjoy views of Lake Michigan as well as snowboarding and ski lessons, lights for night skiing, an outdoor fire pit and a lodge for hot drinks. Plus, parents always ski free with their kids!
Mulligan's Hollow Ski Bowl. Photo: Janelle Darnell.
2. Rosy Mound Natural Area Put on your winter hiking gear for a workout as you trek 0.7 miles from the parking area to the Lake Michigan shoreline, with 1,000 feet of stairs going up and down the dunes and great views all along the way.
3. Grand Haven Lighthouse and Pier Crashing waves, blowing sand and freezing temps turn the historic red lighthouse and fog house into a breathtaking winter destination. Just make sure to bundle up!
Grand Haven Lighthouse and Pier. Photo: Janelle Darnell.
4. Downtown A snowmelt system keeps sidewalks and streets safe as you venture to downtown shops and restaurants. Stop by Buffalo Bob’s if you need winter gear, and snack on a Bavarian pretzel (or a hearty sandwich) from The Baker’s Wife.
5. Grand Haven Running Club and Odd Side Ales On Wednesday nights, meet up with winter running enthusiasts for a 5-mile run in and around downtown, ending at Odd Side Ales where you can enjoy a local beer from one of the 27 taps.
Odd Side Ales. Photo: Janelle Darnell.
6. Rock ‘n’ Road Cycle Rent a fat-tire bike—an off-road bicycle with oversized tires made for surfaces such as snow and sand—and you’re set to explore some of the area’s 100-plus miles of bike paths.
Rock 'n' Road. Photo: Janelle Darnell.
7. Pigeon Creek Park Just south of downtown, 10 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails wind through old pine plantations and forests along the Pigeon River. Three miles are lit for night skiing. The park also offers ski rentals, a sledding hill and a lodge with an indoor fireplace.
Sledding at Pigeon Creek. Photo: Janelle Darnell.
8. Hemlock Crossing Park Rent snowshoes at the park’s nature center (or bring your own) to trek six miles of trails. The nature center also gives guided snowshoe tours if you are new to the park or want to take a moonlit tour with a group!
Hemlock Creek. Photo: Janelle Darnell.
9. MACKite Thrill-seekers can try out snowkiting—the winter version of kiteboarding—with rental gear and lessons from this local outfitter. Kites and harnesses provided; you’ll need to bring protective gear, including a helmet, plus skis or snowboard.
10. Winterfest Celebrate all things winter at this festival, held the last week in January (Jan. 24-27, 2019). Events include snow volleyball, a fat-tire bike race, ski and snowboard competitions, an ice cream eating contest, family sled dog pull, bonfire bash, night ski glow-bowl and my favorite—the cardboard sled race. You and your family or buddies build a cardboard duct-taped sled and race to the finish down Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Hill.
Winterfest. Photo: Janelle Darnell.
For more information on Grand Haven, go to visitgrandhaven.com