When it comes to a choice of cozy or cold, my first instinct leans toward cozy. Yet, I’ve discovered an undeniable truth over many years of travel exploration. Get yourself outside for play-in-the-snow fun (even if it takes a hot toddy by a bonfire) and you likely will soon be having more fun than you can ever remember. Add the rush of a steep sledding hill or anything that takes you outside your comfort zone, and the outing will energize body, brain and spirit.
These favorite classic Michigan pairings of a chilly outing and perfect warmup will do all of that and maybe show you a new side of the state, yourself or the one you’ve brought along to snuggle with post-adventure.
Frozen falls and a cozy inn: The Roam Inn is a spot you’ll want to roam into when craving blue in the middle of a white, winter landscape. The restored 18-room lumber baron mansion has broad views over Munising Bay, and the scenery captured by owner/photographer Thomas Dolaskie can help map an outing featuring area waterfalls turned into stunning ice sculptures. Dine in-house on smoked whitefish agnolotti or shepherd’s pie with local lamb on-site, followed by a thimbleberry crème brûlée. But turn in early. Rooms are so comfortable, owners joke that they sell as many pillows as they do high-end scotch. roam-inn.com
Luge love: You’ve maybe heard the saying, “Do something every day that scares you?” Well, bulleting — even cushioned with helmet and elbow pads — at speeds nearing 30 miles per hour down one of the nation’s four public luge runs may cover you for the entire winter. The big draw to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is the adrenaline rush from the 650-feet luge peak from which Olympians train. Equally fun? Sharing stories of bravery during a warm-up hot tub soak at the Shoreline Inn, where you can also soak in the Lake Michigan view. msports.org; shorelineinn.com
Cool getaway to a hot city: Skating doesn’t compare when done in Michigan’s version of Central Park, Detroit’s Campus Martius Park. Here, you’re not far from where Antoine De Cadillac dragged his canoe to found the settlement or a warmup cup of steaming hot cocoa. Get a guide from Detroit Experience Factory to hear about innovation and architecture and experience Feet on the Street tours for the “Delish Detroit” tasting through comeback neighborhoods. visitdetroit.com
Float a winter river: Be prepared for skepticism when you suggest a getaway outing featuring a mid-winter river float. Trust us when we say it’s both warmer — and cooler — than it sounds to drift amid woods in which deer are hanging at a water’s edge and the shoreline is laced with ice crystals. Big Bear Adventures can package in everything from morning waffles to evening Italian cuisine, as well as warmup time by the massive fireplace at Indian River’s Northwoods Lodge. bigbearadventures.com
Snowshoe to some chocolate and Gruyère: Snowshoe or ski treks that lead from one food (wine or beer stop) to the next might be Michigan’s most tempting winter offerings. But it’s hard to top a “snowshoe with a view to fondue” that includes a (ski) lift to a mountain top. Boyne Mountain has paired Alpine ski hills and fondue in its weekend evening three-course fondue dinner that adds the fun of halfway point stops for a bonfire and hot toddy. boyne.com
Kim Schneider is an award-winning travel writer who has visited nearly every corner of Michigan.