LUDINGTON, MI – It turns out that some of our favorite beach towns have plenty to do in the winter, too. If you’re ready to bundle up and enjoy the snow, areas like Ludington and Manistee County have a whole list of winter activities worth checking out.
From the mellow sounds of lantern-lit cross-country skiing through a forest to fat-tire biking in the moonlight, adventures await. So find your warm beanie, your favorite mittens and get ready to choose your next excursion. Our tourism friends at Pure Ludington and Visit Manistee County have these suggestions. Some events are for specific dates, and others are ongoing for the winter season:
- Lantern-lit Skiing/Snowshoeing: Jan. 22, Feb. 5, and Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at Ludington State Park. Bring cross-country skis or snowshoes and follow a one-kilometre lighted and maintained trail through the park for this free evening event. The lighted trail starts at the Warming Shelter and follows the lanterns to a bonfire halfway along the trail for a warm up and a hot drink. The park has 60 pairs of snowshoes available for free loan on a first-come, first-served basis for visitors ages 10 through adult. Reservations are not required.
- Guided snowshoe walks: Saturdays Jan 29 and Feb 12 at 18 o’clock ; Saturday, February 19 at 1 p.m. Ludington State Park. This free 1.5-hour guided snowshoe hike highlights the park’s nature and history through snow-capped sand dunes. The park has 60 pairs of wooden snowshoes available for free loan on a first-come, first-served basis for visitors ages 10 through adult. Reservations are not required.
- Pure Ludington Brrrewfest: January 29 from 1-6 p.m. at Legacy Plaza in downtown Ludington. “This popular outdoor winter beer festival returns after a year-long hiatus, moving to the new Legacy Plaza – featuring beer, cider and mead as well as live music. More than twenty-five brewers will serve samples under the pavilion’s open space, with warming zones and heaters spaced throughout the plaza. Disposable sample cups will be used and commemorative glasses can be purchased as a souvenir to take home. Tickets are $35 in advance / $40 at the door and include six drink tokens, and they can be purchased here. Tickets will be limited to 1,000 attendees. Proceeds benefit Friends of Ludington State Park.
- Downtown skating rink until January 31 at Waterfront Park in Ludington. “This 30′x56′ synthetic-surface rink is open for skating, free of charge, seven days a week. Those without skates can check out one of 100 free pairs of new ice skates on loan from the Ludington branch of the Mason County District Library with a Mason County District Library card. centre-villeludington.org/check-out-skates
- Ski/fat bike evening in the moonlight: February 12, 7-9 p.m. at Big M Cross-Country Ski Area (Udell Hills Road), Wellston. “Participants can ski or bike in the moonlight and then warm up in an outdoor fireplace or at the wood stove in the heated cabin. Skiers and cyclists bring their own gear and can hit the trails on their own or hang out in the clubhouse or by the bonfire. The trails are not lit, so a headlamp is advised if the weather is cloudy. This event is free and open to the public (no reservations needed), although there is a $5 day pass fee for the US Forest Service.
- Guided winter raft floats on the Pine River, Wellston. “Pine River Paddlesports Center has brought back its winter guided rafting trips on the Pine River twice daily (10am and 1pm) for 1 hour/15 minute floats (guide can be in your boat or paddle alongside from you). It includes the option of a 1.7 mile hike along the Silver Creek Trail to your car, or across the river at 2.4 miles – both with views. The center can also arrange an individual paddle adventure along the Pine River. thepineriver.com.
- Cross-country skiing/snowshoeing at Northern Natural Cider & Vineyard in Kaleva. Visitors can cross-country ski or snowshoe on a one-mile groomed, pet-friendly trail on site, before or after a hard cider or wine tasting outdoors with gas and wood fire pits. wood.
FRANKFURT to BENZIE COUNTY
- Curling at Stormcloud Brewery downtown Frankfurt. This nearby Benzie County brewery is offering curling on its own curling rink in its downtown Frankfort pub until February 20. (NOTE: Curling is weather dependent. Also, all ages are welcome, but those under 18 must have a parent or guardian present.) stormcloudbrewing.com/private-curling. Options include:
- Course “Learn to loop” Saturdays in January and February at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. $15 per person for a 1.5 hour session for up to eight people. Sign up at stormcloudbrewing.com/curling-at-stormcloud.
- 1.5 hour private curling lessons Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Departure time depends on the weather. The fee is $200 for a group of up to 8 people. Email Stormcloud curling instructor Aaron at [email protected] to reserve a spot.
- drop-in curling, Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. $10 per person and no reservation required.
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