Stay in or go out? Two opposing strategies for coping with Michigan winter

Jan 18, 2017 at 1:00 am

Though the weather may be chilly and the ground wet with snow, the season is still full of possibilities. If what you enjoy is cold temperatures, winter sports, or romps in the snow, it's obviously for you. But if the weather outside is too frightful, there's plenty to do indoors as well. It's prime time for arts and theater, and music events to keep you warm even on the coldest of days.

Go out:

Roll in the snow with fat tire biking

For those of you sitting forlornly on your bicycle in the garage waiting for weather you can ride in, upgrade to winter-ready fat tires. Fat tire biking (exactly what is sounds like) provides the opportunity to maneuver snowed-over trails and, as a result of its growing popularity, many parks and outdoor areas in Michigan have groomed-over trails to accommodate. Rolling Hills County Park in Ypsilanti, Addison Oaks County Park in Oakland County, and Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in Thompsonville are just a few locations that offer winter trails.

Skate the rink

You only had until Jan. 15 this year to experience skating under the light of Campus Martius Park's massive Christmas tree, however, the rink is open seven days a week (and on Fridays it's open until midnight), including holidays through early March. This could mean an opportunity to enjoy some romantic ice skating with your significant other on Valentine's Day, or to bust some sweet skating moves by yourself and blow everyone away. Whatever your inclination, there is still plenty of time to join family, friends, and lovers on the ice. The rink is surrounded by enticing dining and retail options downtown as well.

Open through March 5; 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit;

Cross-country ski

Trudging across the 6-mile cross-country ski trails of Hudson Mills Metropark in nearby Dexter may be the winter exercise you need to warm up. Then cool down with the calming ambience of the forestry and the possibility to encounter some local wildlife.

Come out of hibernation

The Detroit Zoo urges you to "cure your winter blues at the Detroit Zoo" with good reason. They offer a host of special activities exclusively for the cold weather, including Wild Winter Weekends on Jan. 21 and Feb. 4. Get the kids out of the house for music and crafts, zookeeper talks, and other attractions — all included with admission.

Open 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at 8450 W. 10 Mile Rd., Royal Oak; 248-541-5717;; tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for kids 14 and younger.

It's going down

Michigan is a superior spot for skiing and snowboarding, especially Northern Michigan, and just an hour or two north of Detroit are some excellent and inexpensive hills for both. Mount Holly has a fantastic ski school that only requires valid school ID. And if you're looking to get into ski racing, hit up the slopes at Pine Knob. Both locations also offer live music and craft beer to enjoy while you relax between sloping.

Pine Knob Ski Resort, 7778 Sashabaw Rd., Village of Clarkston; 248-625-0800; or Mt. Holly; 13536 Dixie Hwy., Holly; 248-634-8269;

Stay in:

Be soothed by an on-demand masseuse

So, you're the kind of person who would prefer to hibernate from November until mid-April. That's OK. We get it. With delivery services that will bring you everything from eggs to toilet paper, who really needs to leave the house anymore? Now, you've got even more reason to lock the door and through away the key once temps dip below freezing — a new service is offering Uber-style in-home massages. You can order a masseuse seven days a week from 8 a.m. until midnight through an app called Soothe. A licensed and properly vetted massage therapist will be at your door is as little as an hour's time.

Soak it up

Oasis Hot Tub Garden is a blend of going out and staying in. You see, the hot tubs are located in individual rooms (they're decorated in various themes, which is kind of cheesy but that's a conversation for another day), and said rooms have no roofs. So, if you're soaking in one of their piping hot tubs on a snowy night, a flurry becomes part of your experience. You can bring your own snacks and beverages but glass containers and alcohol aren't allowed.

2301 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-9001;

Curling? Yes, curling

If you're looking to spend some time on the ice why not try curling with the Detroit Curling Club in Ferndale. No experience necessary to enroll in their three-session "Learn to Curl" program. Curling provides a great way to exercise your mind and body while having a good time.

1615 E. Lewiston St., Ferndale; 248-544-0635;

Float on

Sensory deprivation chambers have been in the news lately for purporting themselves as a cure-all for everything from depression to high blood pressure. We'll pass on giving medical advice, but it does sound incredibly relaxing to spend an hour floating in water that's heated to the same temperature as your body and filled with salt (which makes it impossible not to float) while your mind enters a meditative state.

Motor City Float; 1203 W. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-291-7634;; costs about $65 per session.

Catch a flick

Check out the Detroit Film Theatre. Instead of the run-of-the-mill Hollywood movies this theater screens lesser-known films and documentaries like Chinese film noir Old Stone, the Afrofuturist Cinema Series which will be curated by Afrotopia founder, Ingrid LaFleur, and more. For Saturday night dates and relaxing Sunday matinees the DFT has you covered.

5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-3237;; tickets are $7.50.


Explore the past with the myriad of Detroit museums. From the Detroit Historical Museum to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, the metropolitan area has your educational needs covered. Pro tip: Find the museums in the area that don't break the bank. The Detroit Historical Museum is free to all, while the Detroit Institute of Art is free to for residents of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland Counties.

Detroit Institute of Arts; 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900;; admission is $12.50 for adults (non-residents).

Detroit Historical Museum; 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7935;; free admission.

The Henry Ford; 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 313-982-6001;; $20 for adults.

Make a splash at Michigan's indoor water parks

This fresh water state also has quite a few indoor water park options for when the lakes freeze over. Many are are attached to hotels allowing for a weekend away. If you don't mind a drive there's the Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel and Indoor Waterpark in Frankenmuth.

1365 S. Main St, Frankenmuth; 844-330-1715;

Go wild at an indoor playground

For some nearby indoor fun to tucker out the kids, CJ Barrymore's Family Entertainment Center in Clinton Township is the place to go. CJ Barrymore's offers bumper cars, laser tag, arcade games, and more. While the winter weather may close down some attractions (the go-karting, batting cages, and roller coaster), the golf dome and mini bowling stay open through the winter to keep the blood pumping till spring.

21750 Hall Rd., Clinton Twp.; 586-469-2800; see for hours and prices.

Take lessons from Olympians

Want to become the next ice skating Olympian from Michigan? You can start by taking advantage of the Detroit area's numerous ice rinks boasting coaches who have trained Olympians or skated on a national, international, or Olympic level themselves. Expect to have no less than excellent learning experiences from these dedicated professionals.

The Detroit Skating Club, 888 Denison Ct., Bloomfield Hills; 248-332-3000; The Arctic Figure Skating Club, 46615 Michigan Ave., Canton; 734-487-7777;