When the orange and red hues of fall fade into the crisp whites of winter, it’s easy to wish those cold months away. But West Michigan’s lakeshore communities are more than just summer beach destinations — they hold a magic in winter that’s hard to beat.
Button up that parka, tie that scarf real tight and check out these six ways to embrace the winter season.
Explore the trails
The 282-acre Pigeon Creek Park in West Olive offers a variety of winter activities. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will love the 10 miles of groomed trails, three of which are lighted for nighttime use. The trails wind through old pine plantations, mature deciduous forests and bottomland forests along the Pigeon River. The park also offers a lighted sledding hill. Visitors can warm up in the Pigeon Creek Lodge, which serves snacks and beverages.
Grab your toboggan, inner tube, saucer or sled and make your way to the Van Raalte Farm Park sledding hill in Holland. Tucked inside the historic farm, the hill offers short and steep slopes perfect for all adventure levels. After the snowy ride, a ramp is there to make it easier to head back to the top to go again. Lamp posts at the top of the hill illuminate the entire hill for nighttime fun.
One of only four luge tracks in the United States, the luge at the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park offers Olympic thrills for all. Designed by three-time Olympian Frank Masley, the Muskegon luge is an 850-foot track with six curves and two starting areas. Participants receive all the equipment and training they need before sliding down the track at speeds up to 30 mph. Other winter activities at the complex include ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding.
Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park 462 N. Scenic Drive, Muskegon 1-877-879-5843 msports.org
Ski the day away
Take in the excitement of downhill skiing and snowboarding at Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl in Grand Haven. The city-owned park features eight downhill runs, tow ropes and snowmaking, and lighted paths make it easy to keep the fun going after the sun goes down. Mulligan’s Hollow offers ski and snowboard lessons, rental equipment, school programs, freestyle clubs and seasonal events. The ski bowl is on the site of a former World War II Coast Guard boot camp.
At Saugatuck Dunes State Park, snowshoers will find a 1,000-acre winter wonderland. With more than 15 miles of trails (most leading to Lake Michigan) and steep dunes that tower 200 feet, the park is the perfect place to experience nature. Saugatuck Dunes State Park consists of four marked trails of varying length and difficulty, each offering a variety of winter scenery and wildlife.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park 6575 138th Ave., Holland 269-637-2788 michigan.gov/dnr
After a day of outdoor fun, there’s nothing better than getting warm and cozy. Downtown Saugatuck’s Wickwood Inn is a bed and breakfast that offers all the warm winter feels. Amenities include complimentary farm-to-table breakfasts, hot drinks, private baths, fireplaces in certain suites, featherbeds and reading areas, among others. The Sips & Small Plates happy hour features Spicy Potato Puffs, Four Cheese Paninis, Crack Crackers with Spicy Three Pepper Chutney and Hazelnut Mezzaluna Cookies, just to name a few. In-room, hot-stone massages can be scheduled as well.