Find this list of February events around Northern Michigan (from Mackinac Island to Cadillac!) in the February 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
There’s no month more reliably winter than February; ice is never thicker, snow never brighter, moods rarely sillier. Check these 10 ways to embrace the glory.
Eat Chili. Apparently it’s Michigan’s unofficial state winter food, given the way chili cook-offs highlight most every February festival. And few cook-offs can beat the one you need fly to: the Great Turtle Chili Cook Off and Washington’s Birthday Bash on Mackinac Island (Feb. 13–16), especially when the spicy goodness is paired with cross-country skiing on the island’s pristine trails. mackinacisland.org.
Snowboard for a Cause. Head to Boyne Highlands (Feb. 27–March 1), where if you ask for the pink lift ticket, you’ll donate a dollar to breast cancer research. Or you can head inside and take in the educational seminars, fundraising auctions or the Zoo Bar Pink Party, with live music and pink drinks. Boyne.com.
Go ice golfing. Play 18 holes of golf, each carved into ice on St. Ignace’s Moran Bay. The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble (Feb. 28) is a daylong competition with an entry fee that wraps in a communal lunch and dinner. Top prize is bucket list–worthy: go to the tippy top of the Mackinac Bridge. stignace.com.
Float in your snow clothes, inside a dry raft, that is, carried on the swift current of the Sturgeon River past woods touched only by soft snow and wildlife. Big Bear Adventures offers three departures a day for the 1.5-hour float. ($34–$42 a person, two-person minimum). Your night’s stay is just as lovely—and super cozy—when you book at Up North-themed Northwoods Lodge, Indian River. bigbearadventures.com.
Laugh. The Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival (Feb. 13–14) will have you laughing those thermal boots off. Headliner Bill Maher is confirmed, and several more top comedians are being booked as we go to press (including Judd Apatow,. Other fest highlights: movie comedy, gourmet soups, even a mini outdoor carnival—with skating, makeshift tubing run, zipline and ice bar—all on TC’s Front Street. wintercomedy.org.
Speed fish. The North American Snow Festival in Cadillac (Feb. 5–7) offers speed ice fishing, snowmobile races, even arm wrestling. nasfcadillac.com.
Howl with the Dogs. There are other Michigan sled dog races, but for sled-dog thrill, nothing surpasses the snowy downtown Marquette start of the UP 200 as the 12-dog teams strain to get going, yelping their excitement. Teams take off on this year’s 50th anniversary race Friday, Feb. 13 and are back by late Saturday afternoon. up200.org.
Snowshoe under a full moon. Senses are on full alert on this moonlit Valentine’s night hike along the Lake Huron shore near the Les Cheneaux Islands. But no need to be afraid, leading the walk is a naturalist skilled in helping you identify what’s making those eerie shoreline sounds. Campfire dinner’s also included. The Lake Huron Nightlife Snowshoe Outing; Feb. 14 is the full-moon date (other dates are available). $70/person; woodswaterecotours.com.
Ski and sip. Suttons Bay Bikes mixes things up come winter, providing ski or snowshoe rentals and a quick lesson, then letting Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery do the rest—guiding you on a groomed Leelanau vineyard trail, pouring samples afterward. Grandtraverse biketours.com.
Take a stress-free road trip. Great for a group, Leelanau Road Trips lets you set the agenda, or you can leave it to local expert Doug Hart, who picks you up in his roomy, huge-windowed van with pop-up snack table for your hot chocolate and then drives you to scenic overlooks, favorite wineries, lighthouses, more.