As Northern Michigan’s premier four-season destination, Traverse City is a winter wonderland, from holiday festivities in the city’s picturesque downtown to skiing, and winter winery experiences. The region’s famous fall foliage gives way to stunning winter scenes, with a flurry of activities in the snow for visitors of all ages.
Holiday Happenings: With tree-lined streets decked out in twinkling lights, shops with cozy interiors and the holiday spirit in the air, Downtown Traverse City turns into a Hallmark movie set come winter. In December, visitors and locals can enjoy themed holiday Men’s and Ladies’ Shopping Nights, which support local businesses, complete with outdoor vendors and festive refreshments and treats. Over in Suttons Bay, visitors can enjoy Holiday in the Village, a family-friendly event complete with reindeer, appearances by Santa, tree decorating, and more. Fourth-generation cherry and apple farm Myrtle and Maude's hosts Christmas on the Farm for their opening weekend in mid-November. The North Pole comes to Michigan with live reindeer and a visit from Santa Claus at this magical Christmas market.
Winter Wineries: Traverse City’s wine scene does not slow down in the winter! The region is one of few in the United States capable of producing ice wine, which is made from grapes that have been frozen naturally on the vine and then pressed while still frozen. The decadent dessert wine is long associated with Canada and Germany, but is offered at a number of Traverse City’s wineries including Chateau Chantal, a winery and bed and breakfast that also offers cooking classes and tours; Black Star Farms, a 106-acre family-owned estate with award-winning wines; and Brys Estate, which offers fire pits and a snowshoeing wine tasting experience beginning in December. In addition to ice wine, these wineries and others like them continue to offer tastings into the winter months, when many wineries mix winter and wine for a unique and unexpected experience.
Skiing and Winter Sports: One of the best ski resorts in the Midwest, Crystal Mountain, offers downhill and Nordic skiing in a relaxing resort setting, offering 59 runs (including 27 lit for night skiing), and a variety of other courses for ski enthusiasts. For those new to the sport, Crystal Mountain offers several lesson programs designed for all ages and skill levels including the "Retired Not Tired" program, which aims to get the 55+ crowd back on their skis. Off the slopes, the property offers snowshoeing and horse-drawn surrey rides. Pay a visit to the Michigan Legacy Art Park on the resort grounds, which is spread across a 30-acre preserve with two miles of hiking trails and over 50 sculptures. During the winter, guests can snowshoe through the outdoor art, taking in the beautiful sculptures surrounded by a blanket of white snow. The park just welcomed a new permanent sculpture “Gateway to Black Eden” by Detroit artist M. Saffell Gardner. Standing over fifteen feet tall, the steel piece is the artist’s expression and reflection of Idlewild, Michigan’s African American lake resort and the Black experience before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Beyond skiing, Traverse City offers skating at the Centre Ice Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings Training Camp. Snowshoeing is also a major winter experience in the region, offered at unique places like Sleeping Bear Dunes, Grand Traverse Commons, and the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
CherryT Ball Drop New Year’s Eve Celebration: Traverse City offers a unique twist on the traditional ball drop with the 14th annual CherryT Ball Drop! The Cherry Capital of the World rings in the new year with a giant illuminated cherry dropping at midnight, as a fun-filled fundraising event for the The Father Fred Foundation.