Traverse City, MI, has all the ingredients for a great winter vacation – a quaint downtown with beautiful views of Lake Michigan, microbreweries, restaurants, shops, performance venues and lots of snow. The city gets an average of more than 100 inches of snow annually, and skiers, sledders, snowmobilers and snowshoers put it to good use.
Three ski areas provide slopes for all skill levels. Skiers enjoy limited downhill runs and rope tows at Hickory Hills within the city, while Shanty Creek Resorts, about 40 minutes away, has more than 50 runs and a 450-foot vertical drop. Traverse City is surrounded by cross-country ski areas, including the Pere Marquette State Forest, home to the Vasa Pathway, a series of trails that loop through towering pine trees. Snowmobilers can easily access more than 100 miles of groomed trails throughout the winter season, while skaters, fishermen and ice sailors share the many frozen ponds and lakes in and around the city.
Traverse City’s indoor entertainment options draw even more visitors. The area’s nine microbreweries, brew pubs and craft beer taprooms helped Traverse City make it onto Draft magazine’s list of newest “Emerging Beer Towns.” Downtown Traverse City has many shops, restaurants and performance venues, such as the City Opera House and Old Town Playhouse. A pair of nearby casinos let visitors test their luck and skill at card games and slot machines. Although the beaches of Lake Michigan are closed during the winter months, visitors should pack a bathing suit for the Great Wolf Lodge, a tropical escape with an indoor water park resort featuring water slides, a lazy river and water playgrounds. Many visitors pamper themselves with a relaxing stay at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
Activities: Downhill and cross-country skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, hockey, sledding, ice fishing, ice boating
Average Annual Snowfall: 101 inches
Winter Temps: 15 to 32
Must Try: A warm meal at Kilkenny’s, an Irish pub