10 Northern Michigan December Vacation Ideas

Make the holidays a true holiday—as in vacation, too—with one of these 10 Northern Michigan December vacation ideas.


Give a toy, get a deal at the Chateau Chantal winery and inn in Traverse City. All December, art-filled rooms with Tuscan-like vineyard and lake views run $125 a night (Tuesday–Thursday) if you bring $25 worth of gifts for the local Toys for Tots charity. Bonus: gourmet breakfast, cellar tour and tasting of seasonally apt wines like Naughty and Nice.

Gather the gang for conversation, board games and communal cooking by the massive fireplace, under soaring beams, in the 1,500-square-foot log Seney Wilderness Lodge. It’s nature’s carols you’ll hear here along the Manistique River, bordering the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and its network of ski trails. Weeklong and long-weekend options.

Trust the horse knows the way to prance amid the beautiful Victorian homes of Bay View, where streets aren’t plowed this time of year, and the draft horses can pull the sleigh atop the powdery white. No snow yet, no worries. The Stafford Bay View Inn has indoor charm aplenty as well as shopping packages that let you finish your list with Petoskey’s one-of-a-kind finds.

Take your Christmas cards to Christmas, Michigan, where postal staff will add that perfect postmark while you shop next to the 35-foot cutout of a giant Santa, then head on to Marquette (Dec. 2) for a holiday parade of illuminated floats, trucks decked out with garland and roaming post office staff collecting letters to Santa.

Cozy up at Crystal Mountain, celebrating its own holiday— a 60th anniversary—with the addition of live music under slope-side tents and deals and continuing traditions like fireside dining at Thistle Pub and Grille, ski-in, ski out lodging; and the chance to soak on the cozy hot tub deck of the Crystal Spa. (Enter here for a chance to win a free ski getaway!)

Shop an old-time village that seems transported through time, transformed from buildings on the Escanaba Fair Grounds courtesy of the U.P. Steam and Gas Engine Association. The antique village seeks to preserve American heritage with artisans who blow glass, knit, spin, weave, quilt and make other handmade goods for purchase in two full acres of shops within a setting made especially festive the first Friday and Saturday of December.

Snowboard with Santa at Bellaire’s Shanty Creek Resorts Christmas Day, or just grab the steal of a lodging deal—$97 a person/night all month for lodging and open-to-close lift tickets.

Get your winter Alpine fix and a deal too, in Gaylord on December 16, 17 or 18, when you can ski free at Treetops Resort while scoring on area lodging deals that start at $29 a person per night—a deal whether you hit the slopes or not. No skill, no problem: on December 17, Treetops hosts a free learn-to-ski or snowboard clinic.

Book one of five Victorian-style inns through the Ludington Bed and Breakfast Association, if only for the joy of seeing the multiple Victorian Christmas trees decking the parlors.

Let actors and lanterns set the stage of holidays past at Wellington Farm Park, where “Farm by Lantern Light” performances are scheduled for December 9 and 10, 16 and 17 but seats fill early. Nearby, sleep to river music at Borcher’s Bed and Breakfast; play at Grayling’s Hanson Hills winter sports park.

Traverse travel editor Kim Schneider writes from Suttons Bay.

This was originally published in the December 2016 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Get your copy here!


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