While Northern Michigan’s ski resorts always pin their biggest hopes on cooperation from Mother Nature, they also put their best foot forward with entertainment, lodging, dining and other activities. From Cadillac to Harbor Springs, skiers and snowboarders can find a host of slopes and plenty to do after a strenuous day outside.
Caberfae Peaks just west of Cadillac has long been one of the state’s most popular resorts, in large part due to its proximity to Grand Rapids and other downstate locales. It’s also among the least expensive resorts. Special events include Family Funday Sundays, Ladies’ Day, and Silver Streak Day.
Dining options are plentiful, from pub grub to a breakfast buffet. And in a family-style twist, while the resort offers a variety of food for sale, those looking to bring their own are in luck. The downstairs area of the lodge features picnic tables where visitors are welcome to bring crock pots, make hot chocolate and enjoy the fire.
Snowmobiles are also welcome. For rates and additional information, go to CaberfaePeaks.com.
Head northwest to Thompsonville, where Crystal Mountain is introducing three new slopes this year. You can schuss down the 48 slopes, over half of which are open for night skiing.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Crystal offers cross-country and snowshoeing. And if you’re tired of the slopes (perish the thought), there’s still plenty to do. Family activities include bonfires, family bingo or Wii game night. Younger ones can go on a scavenger hunt, search for a snowman, or enjoy storytime. Those of all ages can enjoy the pool or hot tubs.
If you’re really feeling adventurous, try enjoying the frosty outdoors on two wheels. Fat Tire Snow Biking is the latest thing at Crystal, and the six-mile trail is typically groomed much like cross-country trails.
Laser tag, fishing and dogsledding round out the options. Plus there’s often entertainment at the Vista lounge, such as Girls with Guitars on Feb. 7 & 8. For more information, head to CrystalMountain.com.
The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor doesn’t offer as many slopes, but it uses that lack of congestion as part of its pitch. Just check its website, where it talks about views, service, and “limited lift ticket sales so the slopes aren’t crowded.”
Plus, who doesn’t love a good birthday party? This is the Homestead’s 30th year, and the festivities include a long list of festivals and activities including special deals on passes and ticket sales.
Throw in salon and spa services, fitness club classes and memberships, kid’s programs, the stunning views of Lake Michigan, the incredible food at Nonna’s, entertainment at Beppi’s, and you’ve got another winning ski resort. Plus, with a birthday, there’s got to be cake, right?
For the most up-to-the-minute reports on all resort happenings and 30th anniversary events and party dates currently in the works, you can head over to The Homestead’s Facebook page or simply keep an eye on The Homestead’s activities pages at TheHomesteadResort.com.
Speaking of birthdays, Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs is celebrating its 50th season, adding 31 Boyne Low-E fan guns, a new PistenBully 400 winch cat to evenly spread the snow, expanding the spa, and offering guests a remodeled main lodge pool.
The resort opened in 1955 as a private ski hill called Harbor Highlands. Everett Kircher, founder of Boyne Resorts, expanded his presence in the ski industry with the purchase and opening of Boyne Highlands in 1963. That season, he introduced the world’s first triple chairlifts at the Highlands.
There’s plenty of fun on tap this winter, including a new 110-foot suspended rope bridge constructed on Boyne Highlands’ Zipline Adventure course between lines three and four. Riders will cross the bridge hanging 20-feet above the valley. The course features seven ziplines descending over 50 stories.
Boyne is also once again partnering with the Iditarod sled dogs of Nature’s Kennel during the 2012/13 winter season. Every dog sled tour takes place on resort property among scenic trails blanketed (one hopes) with white fluffy snow.
Its sister resort, Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls, is introducing new thrills this winter with the opening of the first SuperLOOP slide in Michigan at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark. The waterpark, always a favorite, also includes “The Big Couloir,” featuring a trap door, plummeting riders into the extreme body slide and traveling at speeds up to 38 feet per second before finishing with a huge splash. What could be better in the middle of winter?
Well, maybe skiing and snowboarding, and the Boynes do indeed offer plenty of both. With a bevy of hills and trails, the Boynes needn’t take a backseat to any resort. Throw in a couple dozen dining options, some with entertainment, and your plate will be full, literally and figuratively. For all the latest, go to Boyne.com.
Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs continues to offer great skiing and snowboarding in its 56th year. One of the first events on the calendar is the Thanksgiving Weekend Rail Jam for Manna, Saturday, Nov. 30 at 11 a.m. It requires a signed release form and an entry fee of $5 or five canned goods, with all registration fees and food stuffs donated to the Manna Food Project of Petoskey.
In addition to fun on the slopes, there’s plenty of entertainment at Nub’s Pub, with entertainers like Mike Ridley and Sean & Patrick Ryan. Go to NubsNob.com for more information.
You can schuss down the slopes at the aptlynamed Schuss Mountain in Mancelona, part of the Shanty Creek Resort. Shanty Creek features 55 runs on two mountains, 6 terrain parks, 7 lifts, alpine tubing and 30km of Nordic trails.
Among the highlights is Monster Energy Park, a combination of three parks. Purple Daze features boxes and rails including a 35-ft. battleship, a 40-ft. roller coaster, an S-rail, a C-rail, and more. A long jumpline runs the length of Boulevard. The Natty Park offers rails and boxes created from all-natural materials like split trees, stacked trees, and boulders.
Then there’s the Moonlite Run, which rolls along the Summit Golf Course, featuring LED solar lighting. It provides a whole new Nordic experience.
And there’s plenty of fun food and entertainment options at the resort’s five dining rooms. For more, go to ShantyCreek.com.
Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding or tubing that gets your blood racing, you can find it in Northern Michigan. Throw in snowshoeing, dogsledding, skating, and snowmobiling, and your winter fun is just around the next drift.
Virtually all the ski areas offer instruction, rental equipment, and the chance to participate in various races and events. You can also keep updated on conditions at their web sites or Facebook pages.