There are many fantastic places to visit for a family-friendly skiing experience (2024)

If you’re looking to escape to the slopes for high-energy, family-friendly fun this winter, you should have no trouble finding the perfect destination in Michigan.

Many of the state’s ski resorts cater to families with ski lessons for all ages, equipment rental for youth as well as adults and rooms and suites with family features that allow everyone to get a good night’s rest. Some also offer family discount specials and include amenities like kids clubs, arcades and indoor swimming pools so families can enjoy their downtime together off the slopes, too.

Skiing is a wonderful family activity, said Chris MacInnes, president of Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville.

“In addition to being excellent exercise, it’s one that multiple generations can enjoy together – I started skiing with my brother when he was three and I was four. Sixty-eight years later we are still skiing together,” she said.

MacInnes said it’s fantastic to see people instilling a love for skiing and snowboarding not only with their children, but also their grandkids.

“It’s a lifetime sport that brings people together,” she said. “Michigan is well known for its pristine slopes perfect for the twists, turns and jumps of snowboarding. Whether you travel up north to an iconic resort or head to a ski hill in your own backyard, there is plenty of fun to be found.”

Indeed, the Great Lakes State has many great choices for downhill skiers and snowboarders both up north and closer to home. In the Detroit/Flint area, Mt. Holly is a popular choice because it is one of the larger ski areas and it offers a variety of terrain and runs everyone can appreciate and enjoy. There is also Alpine Valley in White Lake, Mt. Brighton Ski Area in Brighton and Pine Knob Ski and Snowboard Resort in Clarkston to consider.

For Up North fun with some backcountry and powder, plan a trip to Mount Bohemia in the U.P., Boyne resorts in Boyne Falls and Harbor Springs and Caberfae in Cadillac.

Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire has 53 slopes on two mountains that are perfect for every skill level and thrill-seeker. Lindsey Southwell, director of marketing for Shanty Creek Resort, said beginners use the magic carpet to build confidence on Elf Buster, while veterans find challenges by taking the moguls on Blue Skidoo.

“The jumps, rails, boxes and tabletops at Shanty Creek’s five terrain parks are highly regarded, including The Monster Park, Low Rider and The Natty,” she said.

During a time when some have to resist the temptation to hibernate inside, skiing and snowboarding are the perfect winter activity to take in the fresh air and the scenic outdoors, said Southwell.

“Hitting the slopes promotes exercise while having fun. Everyone can ski or snowboard. Sure, sometimes it takes a lesson or two to be successful but that’s why we offer lessons,” she said.

Those who find it difficult to put down their phone and power down their laptop are delighted to discover the many ways to stay busy and spend time with family at ski resorts.

“Getting outdoors, specifically on the slopes, offers families an opportunity to reconnect. Time spent on the chairlift is time spent without a phone in your face. It’s quality time with loved ones, making memories,” said Southwell.

MacInnes said the relaxed atmosphere of skiing encourages conversation.

“It’s a time and place when parents have conversations with their kids on lifts that otherwise just don’t happen,” she said.

Michigan is the perfect state to learn to ski or snowboard in with family-friendly slopes, affordable resorts and trained instructors who know how to make skiing a fun experience for everyone. Crystal Mountain, for example, has more than 70 instructors and learn to ski programs that are the right fit for every member of the family.

Crystal Mountain, said MacInnes, is a resort designed for families by families. It has 58 downhill trails, with 27 lighted for night skiing; eight lifts including a high speed detachable quad and 25 kilometers of cross country trails with 4km lighted for night skiing. Of its downhill terrain, 22% is designated for beginners, 48% for intermediate skiers and 30% for advanced.

The 5,000-acre Shanty Creek Resort is a multi-faceted playground for the entire family. The three distinct villages of Shanty Creek Resort – Summit, Schuss, and Cedar River – offer everything from downhill to cross country skiing, multiple terrain parks, a multi-lane alpine tubing park, dog sledding and more.

“With more than 160 inches of snowfall annually, snow-lovers love Shanty Creek,” said Southwell.

Many ski resorts are so much more than just a place to ski and play – they are a winter vacation destination. Lodging is often spacious, with room for families – even large extended families – to stay together under one roof. At Crystal Mountain, accommodations include four and five bedroom condominiums and homes that can sleep up to 14 people, for example.

Many of the lodging options at Shanty Creek are geared toward families. King studio rooms at The Lakeview Hotel in Summit Village feature a full kitchen with refrigerator, oven, microwave and dishwasher. The King Studio can be connected to a guest room to create a one- or two-bedroom condo, perfect for families. There are many other options at the other villages as well.

When the last run is made, gather everyone together and head inside to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate, a great meal or more fun indoors. Many resorts offer family fun like indoor swimming pools and arcade rooms.

“This is a wonderful way to build lifelong relationships – sharing the joy and challenge of being outside together and one with the mountain, regardless the vertical,” said MacInnes. “This is the stuff that creates precious shared memories.”

Shanty Creek recently announced the opening of Northern Michigan’s first Topgolf Swing Suite. Located at Cedar River Village’s River Bistro, the Topgolf Swing Suite features two simulator bays and a variety of virtual games including the popular Topgolf target game, Zombie Dodgeball, Hockey Shots, Baseball Pitching, Carnival Classic and more – paired with comfortable lounge seating, HDTVs and food and beverage service. Up to eight people can play, eat, drink and hang out in each bay, said Southwell.

If you’re enjoying a family vacation, take time to explore the area outside the ski resort, too. Crystal Mountain is located in Thompsonville, a village in the heart of northern Michigan. MacInnes said there are many dining and shopping options as well as opportunities for snowshoeing, ice skating, riding in a horse drawn surrey, participating in themed holiday activities and walking through Michigan Legacy Art Park. Parents might also enjoy a tour of Iron Fish Distillery nearby.

For date night or a couples excursion to a local brewery or winery, Shanty Creek offers childcare at The Lodge at Cedar River for kids ages 3 months up to 5 years. The day includes storytime; small group play like puzzles, painting, play dough; large group play such as dancing and group games; and a snack. After hour babysitting is also available upon request and availability.

Shanty Creek Resort is once again partnering with Short’s Brewing Company to create a custom brew, Neon Snowsuit, available only at Shanty Creek.

“Skiers who can’t get their fill of Short’s while at the resort can also hop onto one of Shanty Creek’s complimentary shuttles for a 5-minute ride to the pub, where 20-plus brews are always on tap,” said Southwell.

Parents seeking some downtime can also relax in the spa. Crystal Mountain, said McInnes, is home to Crystal Spa, ranked 23rd in North America by Spas of America.

“Combined with the Peak Pool and Fitness Center, it’s the perfect place to relax, refresh and renew – to enjoy a little ‘me’ time or a lot,” she said.

Discover Michigan Skiing

Ski areas all across Michigan have teamed up with Michigan McDonald’s restaurants to offer an affordable program to learn to ski or snowboard called Discover Michigan Skiing. Twenty-three ski facilities are offering the program, which includes a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard rental equipment and a beginner-area ski lift pass or cross-country trail pass. The program is available through Jan. 31.

Prices for the Discover Michigan Skiing program are: $20 for cross-country skiing and $35 for downhill skiing and snowboarding. The lesson normally covers basic maneuvering on skis or snowboards, including stopping, turning, riding the lifts and getting up from a fall.

“Michigan is the perfect state to learn to ski or snowboard in,” says Steve Kershner, chairman of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and director of snow sports at Shanty Creek Resorts. “No matter where you live, there is a ski area within 2 1/2 hours of your home, our slopes aren’t as intimidating or expensive as the mountains in the West and you’ll find trained, friendly instructors who know how to make it a really fun experience.”

To sign up, interested beginners must fill out a Discover Michigan Skiing Voucher and then call or register online with the ski area they want to visit. Vouchers are available at participating McDonald’s restaurants. Printable vouchers and online reservations are available at Program times differ from ski area to ski area.

Participating ski areas include:

* Bay Mountain at The Homestead in Glen Arbor

* Big Powderhorn in Bessemer

* Big Snow Resort in Bessemer/Wakefield

* Bittersweet Ski Area in Otsego

* Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs

* Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls

* Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon

* Garland Lodge in Lewiston

* Hanson Hills in Grayling

* Mont Ripley in Hanco*ck

* Mt. Brighton in Brighton

* Mt. Holiday in Traverse City

* Mt. Holly in Holly

* Muskegon Winter Sports Complex in North Muskegon

* Nubs Nob in Harbor Springs

* Pine Knob in Clarkston

* Pine Mountain in Iron Mountain

* Porcupine Mountain in Ontonagon

* Swiss Valley Ski Area in Jones

* Timber Ridge Ski Area in Gobles

* Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire

* Ski Brule in Iron River

* Treetops Resort in Gaylord

There are many fantastic places to visit for a family-friendly skiing experience (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated:

Views: 6212

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.