winter activities at bay harbor

When the crisp white snow starts to cover the ground, there is an entirely new set of winter activities to enjoy and explore in Northern Michigan. The community of Bay Harbor is a hidden gem where locals and visitors alike enjoy the very best the winter season has to offer. From local traditions to days spent in the snow, Bay Harbor has winter activities to fit every lifestyle. Find out why these pastimes are among the best ways to enjoy winter in Northern Michigan.

1. Watch a Show at The Great Lakes Center for the Arts

the nutcracker play at the great lakes center for the arts

Standing as the region’s cultural hub, the Great Lakes Center for the Arts presents a series of holiday performances. Ushering in the season, Crooked Tree Arts Center’s rendition of The Nutcracker will take place December 11-12. Classical music lovers will enjoy Handel’s orchestral piece “Messiah” December 16-17, performed by the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra. Discover the full calendar of events coming to the Great Lakes stage.

2. Explore Downtown

Decorated for the holiday season, the quaint streets of The Village at Bay Harbor are home to a variety of unique shops, fashionable boutiques, waterfront dining and more. Also within The Village, the Inn at Bay Harbor and the Village Suites Bay Harbor are two amazing hospitality options for guests visiting the area. Additionally, Petoskey’s historic Gaslight District features over 170 unique stores and restaurants. Fresh greens and twinkling lights adorn shop windows and streetlamps, offering plenty of charming spots for photos.

winter activities at bay harbor

Insider’s note: Check out the annual Petoskey Holiday Open House, a local favorite offering a great opportunity to stroll between stores, enjoy holiday treats and shop locally.

3. Have A Snowy Adventure

friends skiing in northern michigan

If you are a thrill-seeker, Northern Michigan is home to 160 different downhill runs between three of the best ski resorts in the Midwest. Expert and beginner skiers alike all meet up at Nub’s Nob to explore the 248 acres of skiable terrain. This Park delivers first-class ski and snowboard experiences day and night. For a variety of winter activities, Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain both offer cross country skiing, zipline adventures, tubing, snowshoeing and biking. Boyne Highlands also features an Enchanted Trail on select weekends of the Winter season, guiding guests on a magical experience through a beautifully lit winter trail.

4. Enjoy Local Traditions

ice fest in downtown petoskey

One long-standing Northern Michigan tradition is the Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Parade in Harbor Springs. This year marks the 106th year where everyone will come together to light the tree, sing carols, and kick off the holiday season. Another “don’t miss” event is the Harbor Springs Ice Fest, featuring hand-carved ice sculptures on display throughout the town, a Chili Cook-Off, live ice carving demonstrations, and more. Browse the full calendar of events.

5. Spend A Day Ice Fishing

January and February are the biggest months for the time-honored sport of ice fishing. Traversing frozen waters allows anglers to reach the far corners of lakes that would otherwise only be accessible by boat. With dozens of lakes and rivers nearby, there are plenty of great locations to fish in Northern Michigan. Popular catches include bluegill, northern pike, walleye, and various trout species.

ice fishing in michigan

Explore Bay Harbor

After a day filled with winter activities, it’s easy to see why so many choose to call Bay Harbor home. Encompassing 5 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline, Bay Harbor’s natural beauty – serene lake views of crystal-clear water, lush woods and gently rolling topography create a peaceful haven away from the noise of everyday living. The coolest thing about this community is that the fun doesn’t have to end when the sun sets. Bay Harbor makes for a great place to stay a day, a week, or a lifetime.

During Spring and Summer, families often enjoy boating, swimming, and fishing off the shores of Lake Michigan or walking or biking along the Little Traverse Wheelway. For golf enthusiasts, the Bay Harbor Golf Club features a 27-hole golf course designed by Arthur Hills. Bay Harbor Yacht Club, the social centerpiece of the Bay Harbor community, has recently undergone a multi-million-dollar transformation. Members of this luxury private club are loving the new facilities. This renovation brought a state-of-the-art Wellness Center, Relaxation Spa, full Aquatics Center, and upgrades to the Member dining experience making this cherished lifestyle even more spectacular.

No matter how long you stay at Bay Harbor, you’ll wish it could be longer. It’s never too late to request a complimentary digital copy of the newest edition of Explore Bay Harbor magazine. Through its pages, you’ll find information on the recent Club renovations, local events, and tips for planning your trip. Go to to find out more.