March Break Alternative: Top Five Things to do in Traverse City, Michigan

March Break is now almost upon us, and we all have our family favourites for that hallowed week—the cabin up north that we always rent, the trip out to the sugar bush, the ski resort we visit, year after year.

Favourites are great, but if you’re thinking about making a change this year (especially if you live in Southern Ontario), consider Traverse City, Michigan. Located just a few hours drive over the border, this lakeside town is one of Michigan’s many hidden gems. Home to celebrities like Tim Allan and Michael Moore (who serves as president of the local film festival and helped renovate their iconic State Theatre), the town sits amongst scenic hills on the calm waters of Grand Traverse Bay. It’s a charming place, with a lively, well-preserved downtown, great restaurants, wineries and microbreweries, and plenty of activities to keep you and your family busy. Below are the Top Five.

Snowshoes and views at Sleeping Bear Dunes

#5 Hit the Slopes

With two mountains, 49 runs, 3 terrain parks (plus a half pipe), 5 tubing lanes and 600 rooms, Shanty Creek Resorts features three separate villages and plenty of opportunities to get your ski or snowboard on. They also offer plenty of beginner runs, a kid-friendly ski school with half and full-day programming, plus evening family campfires and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

#4 Conquer the Trails

If you’ve always wanted to try snowmobiling, now is your chance. Blue Sky Rentals offers machine, equipment and snowsuit apparel rentals as well as guided excursions (including family trips featuring double sleds where kids can ride on the back) through the winding trails of the Boardman Valley. Riding a snowmobile is a thrilling way to out into the woods—and provides a surprisingly thorough ab workout.

#3 Get Inside

Snow and cold are fine, but sometimes, you just want to enjoy the things of summer in the winter. You can do that at Grand Traverse Resort, a sprawling complex that features everything from indoor tennis courts to a newly renovated 15,000-square-foot water playground. They also have a very cool facility where you can get high-tech golf instruction all year long, and a lovely spa with a full menu of treatments.

#2 Snowshoe at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

This stunning sweep of Great Lakes scenery, which includes beaches, hilly islands, forests, a lighthouse, and shockingly steep and dramatic dunes, is a hub of summertime activity, but it has its wintertime charms, too. One of the best ways to see it in the snowy season is to strap on a pair of snowshoes, which are available in all sizes for rent at the park office, and hike the park’s easy to moderate trails up to its scenic overlooks.

#1 Take a Chocolate Stroll

If you like taking a stroll, then you’re going to love taking a chocolate stroll. Traverse City maintains a bustling downtown that feels like Main Street from some imagined past, like something out of a black-and-white Christmas movie. It features an array of local businesses, including a number which offer lovely sweets. Get fresh chocolates at Chocolate Exotica, stop in at Kilwin’s for some chocolate popcorn and candy apples, then walk down the block to Morsels, a cute bite-sized bakery which features a wide array of two-bite brownies, all of which have ironic names and wash down very well with a cup of their gourmet coffee.

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