Mention snow tubing in our family, and someone will have a memory to share — many, in fact. Our local tubing hill has been the centerpiece of birthday parties for 50-somethings, outings with friends and an annual gathering with the grandparents, kids and cousins. Not everyone can ski or snowboard, but everyone in our extended family can grab the tow rope for the ride up, settle into a giant tube and spin their way down a scenic hill. Here are five favorite hills for experiencing winter like a kid again.
Sleeping Bear Dune Climb, Glen Arbor
If you’re a typical Michigan traveler, you’ve at some point hiked up (and maybe even rolled down) the famed Dune Climb in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. What you might know is how much fun it is to sled down when you just may have the hill to yourself. There’s only one way up (hint: without a tow rope). But you’ll go fast with even a partial climb, and the Glen Lake view from the top is gorgeous in its oh-so-still-winter way. The park’s only rule is that visitors stay within the designated dune climb area and only sled when the sand is coated with snow. bit.ly/SleepingBearSnow
Shanty Creek, Bellaire
For lake views while tubing, you can’t beat Shanty Creek and the tubing park (open Friday-Sunday) at Summit Village behind the Lakeview Hotel. From this aptly named summit, there are great views of frozen Lake Bellaire, and the park’s six lanes — some with rollers, some side banks, others a straight shot — offers plenty of variety. Tubers can raft together when conditions allow, and between runs, the magic carpet conveyor system hauls you back to the top. shantycreek.com
Boyne Mountain, Boyne City
The advantage of tubing at an established resort is, in part, the après-tubing fun to be had, whether it’s a few runs on the ski hill or zipping on a zip line course open all winter. But Boyne Mountain’s tubing park stands on its own. Five lanes encourage good-natured races with many ups and downs for continuous thrills. Plus, a handy conveyor belt makes it easy to get back up. boynemountain.com/winter-activities/tubing
Cannonsburg Ski Area, Belmont
With eight lanes, this is one of the largest winter tubing areas in the state, and with its toboggan-style up and downs is one of the most fun. There’s also a magic carpet here to haul you quickly back up. cannonsburg.com
Gladstone Sports Park, Gladstone
It’s open weekends only, but the tubing hill near Escanaba is serviced by a lift and sets you back only $10 a person for a half day of fun, and the ski chalet has a concession stand handy for warmups. Going with a group, you can rent the whole hill or extend the fun with downhill skiing, cross-country trails, snowboard terrain park or ice rink. bit.ly/GladstoneSports
Kim Schneider is an award-winning travel writer who has visited nearly every corner of Michigan.