Let’s be serious. Winter is not about sweating (except in a Finnish sauna) and baking in the sun. It’s about big, fluffy snowflakes on your mittens and eyelashes, crackling bonfires, frozen lakes, hushed woods and frosty puffs of breath. No place does winter like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s our signature season. It’s why the U.P. is the premier destination for the best winter family vacations packed with adrenaline-rush adventures, rollicking festivals or magical moments of just being together. Pull up your family calendar and let’s see when you can get away to the U.P. We can’t wait to see your bootprints in our snow!
While our peninsula gets tons of snow (up to 200 inches between November and April), we keep our main roads plowed. It’s rarely difficult to reach our winter wonderland lodgings, attractions and the quaintest historic towns in Michigan, including one named Christmas! Spend your nights at lodgings in town, on a mountain or island, in snowy woods, near frozen waterfalls and along three Great Lakes’ shorelines.
You will find many places to stay with amenities and rates that fit your family’s needs. There are choices with swimming pools, arcade rooms, hearty breakfasts, close-by trails for doing your favorite winter sports and the darkest skies to stargaze. For the best chance of getting your first choice, make your reservations now.
In the Big Snow Country of the Midwest, you play outside! Your family will eagerly bundle up to ride on thousands of miles of scenic snowmobile trails, listen to the rhythmic swoosh of cross-country skis or be awestruck by the majestic Eben Ice Caves, ice-silenced waterfalls or the Northern Lights dancing on the horizon. Challenge the cousins to a rousing game of pond hockey. Let snow spray coat your faces as you bounce down our tubing and sledding hills. Make unforgettable memories on a dog sled or sleigh ride, build snow castles along our Great Lakes and peer into the unfrozen, ethereal depths of the ever-gushing Kitch-iti-Kipi. Check out these kid-friendly winter escapes and top winter things to do as you customize your vacation plans.
When your family is ready to stomp the snow from their boots, bring them indoors. Shop for holiday gifts in our festively decorated downtowns and village stores, or at many local craft shows. Go shopping all winter long for U.P.-made Stormy Kromer hats, Sayklly’s chocolates, Trenary toast, Beaver lures, Rapid River knives, thimbleberry jams, U.P. beers, artwork, pasties and much more. Just leave room in your vehicle to bring your great buys home!
Let your kids learn while they play at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum in Marquette. Or bring them to the observation deck in Sault Ste. Marie and marvel as gigantic Great Lakes and international freighters ease through the Soo Locks from mid-March to mid-January.
Burn energy figure-eighting and gliding indoors at Lakeview Arena in Marquette, Mountain View Ice Arena in Iron Mountain and the Pat O'Donnell Civic Center in Ironwood, The historic Dee Stadium in Houghton offers free public skate sessions and a History of Hockey Exhibit that tells how Houghton is the birthplace of professional hockey. Michigan Tech University’s John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena, also in Houghton, offers twice the indoor fun with public ice skating and chances to cheer for the renowned Huskies during home hockey games. Or skate at these indoor rinks on the Keweenaw Peninsula and in Sault Ste. Marie.
The U.P. is also the best place to do things that there’s never enough time to enjoy at home — watching a movie at one of the U.P. theaters (eating popcorn in the Historic Ironwood Theatre is especially fun) or playing cards and board games, doing crafts and laughing over family stories at your hotel. You will go home with warm hearts.
We don’t hibernate in the U.P. It’s too much fun getting together at our family-friendly festivals. Scroll through our upcoming winter events for a complete list, but these are some to join us at:
- Jack Frost Festival, Ironwood, mid-November
- Holiday Lasers on the Ore Dock, Marquette, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from the end of Nov. to the end of Dec.
- Lights at the Lake, Lake Antoine Park, Iron Mountain, every day from late Nov. to Jan. 1
- TV-6 Holiday Craft Show, U.P. State Fairgrounds, Escanaba, weekend after Thanksgiving
- TV-6 Christmas Craft Show, NMU Superior Dome, Marquette, the first weekend in Dec.
- Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration, downtown Chassell, second weekend in Dec.
- Snowmobile the Mighty Mac, Mackinac Bridge, second Saturday of Dec.
- New Year’s Eve Celebration, Marquette
- Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, Muskallonge State Park, Newberry, early Jan.
- Heikinpaiva Mid-Winter Festival, Hancock, late Jan
- Heikki Lunta Winter Festival, Negaunee, early Feb.
- Michigan Ice Fest, Munising, early Feb.
- Michigan Tech Winter Festival, Houghton, early Feb.
- Michigan’s Free Fishing, ORV and State Park Entrance Weekend, mid-Feb.
- Outhouse Classic, Trenary, late Feb.
Share moments of your family’s winter trip with us
We would love to see your favorite moments and adventures! Use our hashtag #uptravel for an opportunity to be featured on our social media, website or in our marketing materials. You can also upload your photos to our Photo Crowdriff Collector below.