January 19, 2016

41 reasons to be thankful for winter in Detroit

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1. Skate your heart out
downtown at the Rink 
Park organizers the Detroit 300 Conservancy report record-breaking attendance at the Rink at Campus Martius Park, with the highest number of skaters during this year’s holiday period. It’s easy to see why — with a 60-foot tree, colorful lights, and amped-up dining and retail options downtown, Campus Martius is Detroit’s answer to New York’s Rockefeller Center. The rink is open through March 6 at 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit; campusmartiuspark.org.
1. Skate your heart out downtown at the Rink Park organizers the Detroit 300 Conservancy report record-breaking attendance at the Rink at Campus Martius Park, with the highest number of skaters during this year’s holiday period. It’s easy to see why — with a 60-foot tree, colorful lights, and amped-up dining and retail options downtown, Campus Martius is Detroit’s answer to New York’s Rockefeller Center. The rink is open through March 6 at 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit; campusmartiuspark.org.
4. Celebrate the snow and ice in Frankenmuth
Tired of scraping ice and snow off your car? Why not watch others carve and sculpt those pesky ice blocks into beautiful pieces of art. This winter, Zehnder’s Snowfest is celebrating 25 years, and it promises to “bring winter fun for the whole family.” Besides ice sculpting competitions and exhibitions, Snowfest will also have a warming tent full of activities, a petting zoo, and fireworks. The ice flies from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, at 730 S. Main St., Frankenmuth; 800-863-7999. See zehnders.com for full activity lists and prices.
4. Celebrate the snow and ice in Frankenmuth Tired of scraping ice and snow off your car? Why not watch others carve and sculpt those pesky ice blocks into beautiful pieces of art. This winter, Zehnder’s Snowfest is celebrating 25 years, and it promises to “bring winter fun for the whole family.” Besides ice sculpting competitions and exhibitions, Snowfest will also have a warming tent full of activities, a petting zoo, and fireworks. The ice flies from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, at 730 S. Main St., Frankenmuth; 800-863-7999. See zehnders.com for full activity lists and prices.
5. Visit the 1980s with Offworld arcade
Once a month, this community of old-school gamers hauls its machines into Detroit’s Checker Bar for a popular pop-up arcade. With a nominal cover fee, guests can play to their hearts’ content (all machines are switched to “freeplay” mode). The events are also known to feature guest DJs and vintage console and games raffles, and friendly competition — high scores are recorded on the arcade’s official website. Keep your eyes on the site for dates, as well as updates on what organizers are calling “something super secret and super awesome for you in 2016.” Next event is Saturday, Jan. 30 at Checker Bar & Grill is at 124 Cadillac Square; Detroit; 313-961-9249; see offworldarcade.com for info; $5.
5. Visit the 1980s with Offworld arcade Once a month, this community of old-school gamers hauls its machines into Detroit’s Checker Bar for a popular pop-up arcade. With a nominal cover fee, guests can play to their hearts’ content (all machines are switched to “freeplay” mode). The events are also known to feature guest DJs and vintage console and games raffles, and friendly competition — high scores are recorded on the arcade’s official website. Keep your eyes on the site for dates, as well as updates on what organizers are calling “something super secret and super awesome for you in 2016.” Next event is Saturday, Jan. 30 at Checker Bar & Grill is at 124 Cadillac Square; Detroit; 313-961-9249; see offworldarcade.com for info; $5.
6. Cheer on winter motor sports at Sno*Drift
It’s definitely a day trip up to Montmorency County, but plenty of downstaters make it up there just for the Sno*Drift Rally, which takes over closed county roads, with speedy little production-line cars racing through small towns in timed stages. Crowds gather along the hairpin turns to cheer while watching the snow fly as these tricked-out Focuses, GTIs, and Jettas slide sideways and glide away, thanks to the drivers’ fancy footwork on the brakes, clutch, and gas. Race runs Jan. 29-30, in and around the town of Atlanta; See sno-drift.org for more info.
6. Cheer on winter motor sports at Sno*Drift It’s definitely a day trip up to Montmorency County, but plenty of downstaters make it up there just for the Sno*Drift Rally, which takes over closed county roads, with speedy little production-line cars racing through small towns in timed stages. Crowds gather along the hairpin turns to cheer while watching the snow fly as these tricked-out Focuses, GTIs, and Jettas slide sideways and glide away, thanks to the drivers’ fancy footwork on the brakes, clutch, and gas. Race runs Jan. 29-30, in and around the town of Atlanta; See sno-drift.org for more info.
7. Do the next best thing to going up North at M-Brew
When M-Brew opened in 2014, owner Dean Bach tried to re-create the ambiance of a northern Michigan cabin. The “Up North” vibes are enhanced with little touches, like a fireplace hearth, folk art, and menu items like the “brew-ski,” or a sampling of local beers presented on a ski-shaped plank. And adding more indoorsy wintertime appeal, M-Brew hosts a collection of vintage arcade games, pinball machines, and a retro Jukebox downstairs. At 177 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-542-2739; m-brew.net. (Photo via HipinDetroit.com)
7. Do the next best thing to going up North at M-Brew When M-Brew opened in 2014, owner Dean Bach tried to re-create the ambiance of a northern Michigan cabin. The “Up North” vibes are enhanced with little touches, like a fireplace hearth, folk art, and menu items like the “brew-ski,” or a sampling of local beers presented on a ski-shaped plank. And adding more indoorsy wintertime appeal, M-Brew hosts a collection of vintage arcade games, pinball machines, and a retro Jukebox downstairs. At 177 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-542-2739; m-brew.net. (Photo via HipinDetroit.com)
9. Make a splash with the kids at Great Wolf Lodge
Cheap and DIY it ain’t, but if you’re a tired pair of parents who can’t fly off to a sunny destination, this is the next best thing. You’ll pay a pretty penny for a weekend in the water park, spa, and hotel that is Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. You can go splishing and splashing at a dozen attractions, dine at a sit-down restaurant, or chill in a commodious tub in your room. Those with children can watch the tykes wear themselves all day — and have another drink, because somebody’s gonna sleep tonight. See greatwolf.com.
9. Make a splash with the kids at Great Wolf Lodge Cheap and DIY it ain’t, but if you’re a tired pair of parents who can’t fly off to a sunny destination, this is the next best thing. You’ll pay a pretty penny for a weekend in the water park, spa, and hotel that is Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. You can go splishing and splashing at a dozen attractions, dine at a sit-down restaurant, or chill in a commodious tub in your room. Those with children can watch the tykes wear themselves all day — and have another drink, because somebody’s gonna sleep tonight. See greatwolf.com.
11. Eat (and drink) with the season
Say “seasonal dining” and most people think of tender spring vegetables, crunchy summer salads, and the bounty of the fall harvest. But winter is often overlooked, and that’s a shame, because it’s associated with some of the most comforting, richest food: bisques, stews, chili, fatty cuts of duck, rich steaks braised bone-in, veal cheeks, Kurobuta pork chops, or prosciutto’s fattier cousin Speck. There are even special drinks to break the chill of winter: At Detroit’s Sugar House Bar, you can still get the ancient favorite, hot buttered rum, with blackstrap rum, simple syrup, and butter, still hot in the mug. At the Oakland in Ferndale, they serve a Tom & Jerry — hot rum, cognac, milk, sugar, spice, and whipped egg — every time it snows.
11. Eat (and drink) with the season Say “seasonal dining” and most people think of tender spring vegetables, crunchy summer salads, and the bounty of the fall harvest. But winter is often overlooked, and that’s a shame, because it’s associated with some of the most comforting, richest food: bisques, stews, chili, fatty cuts of duck, rich steaks braised bone-in, veal cheeks, Kurobuta pork chops, or prosciutto’s fattier cousin Speck. There are even special drinks to break the chill of winter: At Detroit’s Sugar House Bar, you can still get the ancient favorite, hot buttered rum, with blackstrap rum, simple syrup, and butter, still hot in the mug. At the Oakland in Ferndale, they serve a Tom & Jerry — hot rum, cognac, milk, sugar, spice, and whipped egg — every time it snows.
12. Laugh about the Civil War with Butler
The Detroit Repertory Theatre — lovingly referred to as “the Rep” by those in the know — is in the midst of its 59th season, the oldest professional nonprofit playhouse in the state. It has a plush bar, gives plays lush stagings, and doesn’t shy away from plays about race or class. This winter, you can enjoy the Michigan premiere of playwright Richard Strand’s Butler, billed as a “riveting evening of seriously funny Civil War history.” Showtimes are 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 3 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays through March 13, at 13103 Woodrow Wilson St., Detroit; 313-868-1347; detroitreptheatre.com.
12. Laugh about the Civil War with Butler The Detroit Repertory Theatre — lovingly referred to as “the Rep” by those in the know — is in the midst of its 59th season, the oldest professional nonprofit playhouse in the state. It has a plush bar, gives plays lush stagings, and doesn’t shy away from plays about race or class. This winter, you can enjoy the Michigan premiere of playwright Richard Strand’s Butler, billed as a “riveting evening of seriously funny Civil War history.” Showtimes are 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 3 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays through March 13, at 13103 Woodrow Wilson St., Detroit; 313-868-1347; detroitreptheatre.com.
13. Wash down sweets with blackberry brandy in Hamtramck
For metro Detroiters, there’s a place that is almost synonymous to “paczki,” and that is Hamtramck. It’s a common fact — on Fat Tuesday, head to Hamtramck to purchase dozens of those delicious, jelly-filled doughnut-like confections. With countless bakeries selling the calorie-laden pastries, Hamtramck is the place to eat, drink, and be merry on Feb. 9, with most of the city’s bars open early. To ease the guilt of indulging, Tour Detroit also hosts its annual Paczki Day Run, a 5K around the city on Saturday, Feb. 6; see tour-de-troit.org/paczkirun for registration information. Photo courtesy of Tour de'Troit Flickr
13. Wash down sweets with blackberry brandy in Hamtramck For metro Detroiters, there’s a place that is almost synonymous to “paczki,” and that is Hamtramck. It’s a common fact — on Fat Tuesday, head to Hamtramck to purchase dozens of those delicious, jelly-filled doughnut-like confections. With countless bakeries selling the calorie-laden pastries, Hamtramck is the place to eat, drink, and be merry on Feb. 9, with most of the city’s bars open early. To ease the guilt of indulging, Tour Detroit also hosts its annual Paczki Day Run, a 5K around the city on Saturday, Feb. 6; see tour-de-troit.org/paczkirun for registration information. Photo courtesy of Tour de'Troit Flickr
15. Learn how to conquer a sheer wall of ice at Michigan Ice Fest
Winter sports tend to lay heavy on the extreme side, but nothing can compare to what happens at the Michigan Ice Festival in Munising, in the Upper Peninsula. Every year, ice climbers from around the world head to the U.P. for the most outrageous and extreme ice climbing that Michigan has to offer. Even if you’re new to the sport the five-day fest has workshops and clinics for new and experienced climbers. The festival takes place Feb. 10-14; see michiganicefest.com for details. (Photo via michiganicefest.com)
15. Learn how to conquer a sheer wall of ice at Michigan Ice Fest Winter sports tend to lay heavy on the extreme side, but nothing can compare to what happens at the Michigan Ice Festival in Munising, in the Upper Peninsula. Every year, ice climbers from around the world head to the U.P. for the most outrageous and extreme ice climbing that Michigan has to offer. Even if you’re new to the sport the five-day fest has workshops and clinics for new and experienced climbers. The festival takes place Feb. 10-14; see michiganicefest.com for details. (Photo via michiganicefest.com)