One of my favorite parts about living in Michigan is getting to experience all four seasons. Each brings their own unique beauty and variety of activities to the area. This winter I've made it a goal of mine to opt outside as much as possible so I was very excited for the opportunity to be a tourist in my town and create my own winter bucket list in Southwest Michigan.
Whether its snowboarding down a sand dune, sipping wine in an igloo, or attending a local festival, there is so much fun to be had in Southwest Michigan during the snowy season. Read on to discover the best ways to enjoy a winter weekend of your own.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Southwest Michigan Tourist Council. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
One of my favorite winter activities has always been lacing up my skates and hitting the ice. Start your winter weekend off skating around the indoor/outdoor John and Dede Howard Ice arena. The rink offers a variety of open skate hours throughout the week. Pay a $5 admission fee and $3 rental fee, or bring your own, and skate the night away. Take a break and warm up next to the fireplace in the rental building or grab a glass of hot chocolate from the concession stand. Be sure to check the schedule online before you go as they do change open skate hours often.
After you work up a sweat, head to downtown St. Joseph to cool off with a cold beer and a burger at The Buck. Order one of their unique burger creations (highly recommend the Thorn Burger) or build your own. If you can't decide on a local brew from their extensive drink list, simply spin the wheel of indecision behind the bar to help you make up your mind. While in St. Joseph shop in the many boutiques, stroll through the Lights on the Bluff (up mid-December through mid-February), or head down to the beach to admire the frozen lake. We decided to end the night with a sweet treat at Kilwin's and a glass of their delicious salted caramel hot chocolate!
Fat Bike Riding
If you're looking for some outdoor adventure during your winter weekend head to Love Creek Nature Center. During the winter months, Love Creek grooms their mountain bike trails for fat bikes and offers rentals for $15/hr or $25/two hours. The bikes are unique because of their wide tires which make them better suited to riding across snow. The fat bike trail is a 3.4 mile loop that winds through the forest of snow covered trees. It took us just under an hour to complete the loop and we were both beginners. The trail is fairly hilly and was much more of a workout that I thought it would be. Overall it was a great way to explore the outdoors and get a good workout in! If bike riding isn't your thing, Love Creek also offers snowshoeing and cross country ski rentals with dedicated trails on the 200-acre nature preserve.
Makers Trail Ball
A true celebration takes place each winter during the annual Makers Trail Ball at the Inn at Harbor Shores. This event is a great way to experience many of Southwest Michigan's breweries, wineries and distilleries all in the same place. With our tickets we received a souvenir wine glass and 10 tastings tickets which could be used for samples throughout the evening. I loved being able to try new wines from few spots along the Makers Trail that I haven't been able to visit in person yet. We also enjoyed delicious apps (hello mini chicken and waffles), dancing, a photo booth and Mario Cart on the big screen. The Inn at Harbor Shores offered a lodging package for event guests so after an evening full of fun we were able to simply head back up to our suite overlooking the Harbor and enjoy a restful night's sleep. The Inn is a perfect place to extend your weekend stay year round and in addition to beautiful suites with private balconies guests will also enjoy a selection of dining options, full service spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and fitness center.
Don't wait until next year's ball to start exploring the Makers Trail! From now until April 30 you can pick up a Flight Crew Passport and receive a stamp for each of the more than 40 participating craft breweries, wineries and distilleries you visit. The more destinations you visit, the more free stuff you’ll get!
Bridgman Polar Party
Have you ever partied in a giant igloo? I can officially check this one off my list since attending the Bridgman Polar Party. This was a new event in Southwest Michigan this year but I think it's safe to say it will become an annual tradition. The giant inflatable igloo housed a meet and greet with Frozen characters in the afternoon and live music by the Mark Ficks Band later in the evening. We also enjoyed local beer and wine, food, and outdoor games. There was a variety of family friendly activities available including an outdoor movie showing of Frozen 1 and a volleyball court with a giant inflatable beach ball.
Igloos at Round Barn
Is there anything more winter-esque than sipping wine in an igloo? The insta-worthy domes seem to be popping up all over and Round Barn recently added four on the grounds of their estate. The domes can seat up to 8 people, are heated and available on a first-come first-serve basis. You'll have to stop in the tasting room first and grab a glass of your favorite wine or beer before heading outside. We also picked up a board game to play while hanging in the igloos. The day we visited the sun was shining and the igloos were plenty warm enough and we didn't even need our coats inside.
If the igloos are full when you arrive, don't worry! People moved in and out of them pretty quickly while we were there and you can always participate in a tasting or grab a drink in the iconic round barn while you wait.
Fireplace at Dablon Winery
One of my favorite tasting rooms no matter the season has to be Dablon Winery. The brown leather couches, ornate chandeliers, and bottles lining the walls make it a wine lover's paradise. But let's not forget about the star of the show - the expansive stone fireplace which makes the perfect place to cozy up next to on a cold winter day. They also have outdoor fire pits on the patio that are lit on occasion and most weekends you can also enjoy live music by local artists.
Keep an eye out for other fun events happening at the winery throughout the winter months. We had originally registered for their Snowshoeing in the Vineyard event which includes a guided snowshoe hike through the vineyard led by Sarett Nature Center and ends with a glass of wine and live music back at the tasting room. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't want to cooperate and there wasn't enough snow on the ground for the event to take place but be sure to follow them on Facebook page to be notified when they host it again.
Participate in a Wine and Chocolate Tasting at Domaine Berrien Cellars
What pairs better with wine than chocolate? During our winter bucket list weekend we had the opportunity to attend the first wine and chocolate tasting event at Domaine Berrien Cellars. The guided tasting featured five artisan chocolates crafted by Anne Boulley of Artisan Chocolatier paired with five wines grown and bottled by Domaine Berrien Cellars.
We had so much fun learning some of the history behind where chocolate comes from and how it is made. We also learned about the ingredients in the chocolates and why they paired well with each particular wine. My favorite part was getting to see what the next chocolate was going to look like.
This was the first wine and chocolate event Domaine Berrien Cellars hosted, but based on it's popularity I'm sure there will be others in the future. You can also discover other unique Makers Trail events featuring pairings such as macarons, Girl Scout cookies and more by clicking here.
Looking to add more winter fun to your weekend? Try these activities:
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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