Ultimate Guide to Winter

As much as we love winter in Traverse City and Northern Michigan, it is true that it takes a little more effort to get out and enjoy the season.  Here is our guide to jump-starting your winter fun.

1. Ski in Peace

Wilderness State Park is the kind of uninhabited wonderland you’re drawn to when you crave clean and soothing white space. Six miles of groomed skiing. 903 Wilderness Park Dr., Carp Lake, 231-436-5381.

2. Date at the Mountaintop

Nestle under a blanket as hill groomers pull you in a snowcat-drawn sleigh to the top of the Boyne Highland’s North Peak. Your chosen wine bottle and a candlelit table await in the warming hut with a crackling fire and a rustic menu of roasted beef au poivre and Michigan apple and raspberry crisp. Friday and Saturday evenings all winter.  Aonach Mor Café, 231-526-3059.

3. Take Tea

On comes a lavish parade of tea sandwiches like cucumber pesto as well as warm scones with clotted cream and homemade lemon curd, steamy Italian wedding soup and rich bacon quiche. Dress up if you like, but if you’re going for coziness over couture, a turtleneck and mukluks work too. Owner Andrea Schuldt assures: “It’s okay, the Queen isn’t coming.” Four Seasons Tea Room. 606 Shelden Ave. (U.S. 41), Houghton, 906-482-3233.

4. Go to Guntzviller’s

Take a snow day to explore Guntzviller’s Spirit of the Woods Museum and gift shop, a sincerely Up Northy collection of wildlife dioramas, taxidermy, warm duds and moccasins. 11060 U.S. 31, Elk Rapids, 231-264-5597.

5. Test Your XC-ski Power

Choose from the 10-, 20- and 50-K (that’s 32 miles) and glide to personal victory through Antrim County’s frosted hills. The 33rd White Pine Stampede starts at Mancelona High School and ends at Shanty Creek’s Summit Village. Saturday, February 7, 231-587-8812.

6. Drink Hot Toddies on the Beach

Toast how lucky you are to live in a place where you can ski and soak up sparkling waters on the same day with a mood-warming cocktail. Go classic: Whisky and hot water, honey, lemon. Go loco:  Cocoa spiked with coconut rum.

7. Dog Sled

Kalkaska Winterfest:  They don’t call Kalkaska “Alaska with two extra K’s” for nothing. Get out in Up North’s snow-drenched oasis for one of the largest dog sled races in the Midwest. Races begin at 9 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Free. January 17–18. Kalkaska County Fairgrounds (on M-72 West).

Boyne Highlands:  Hour-long dog-powered excursions with a stop for scenic photos and a cup of hot chocolate. Reservations at 231-526-3000.

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