Avalanche-Bay.jpgMother Nature is apparently suffering some type of memory lapse and has her seasons confused. December in northern Michigan traditionally means snow on the slopes. Even if nature didn’t come through, it’s normally been cold enough to pump out the white stuff with the incredible snowmaking capabilities of Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain and Nub’s Nob. We’re not giving up on the chance of some great skiing and boarding, but just in case, keep in mind that there’s more to the Petoskey Area than just three awesome ski resorts. Check out these fun places:

  • Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark: Located at Boyne Mountain Resort, Avalanche Bay is Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark with wet and wild slides and rides. Get drenched when the Splasherhorn lets loose, catch a wave on the Rip Zone or take on extreme vertical drops on The Big Couloir. This is 88,000 square feet of pure family fun, all in a comfortable 84 degrees. Hit the arcade at Avalanche Bay, too, for a little dry time and lots of games for all ages.
  • Busy Bodies Bounce Town: More fun than a barrel of monkeys, but just as active! Busy Bodies Bounce Town offers a way for the kids to burn off energy and have a ball. Inflatable bouncers for kids 2 to 12 provide hours of entertainment. Buy a bracelet that allows you to leave and come back throughout the day or just stay until the kids (or you) get tired.
  • Ziplines: For the 60-pound plus crowd, there’s nothing like playing Peter Pan and flying – wheeeeee! A quick Twin Zip Ride or full 2 ½-hour adventure – either way it’s sheer thrills at Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands. The Twin Zip takes you 25 feet up while the adventure tour is double the height and triple the fun!
  • Castle Farms: Stone towers and massive walls will set young minds whirling as kids imagine they’re fairy princesses and knights in shining armor. And the Christmas train display will keep the whole family smiling. Take a self-guided tour Monday through Saturday from 9am to 4pm.
  • Hiking: Pull on your hiking boots and hit the trails – they’re all around. From the Little Traverse Wheelway stretching from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs, to Avalanche Preserve in Boyne City and a myriad of Little Traverse Conservancy properties dotted throughout our towns, you’ll find trails waiting to be trekked. Explore!
  • Raven Hill Discovery Center: Don’t tell the kids they may learn something; just tell them they’ll have fun! 25 minutes south of Petoskey (or a hop, skip and a jump from Boyne City), Raven Hill in East Jordan is offering extended hours during the winter break. Hands-on fun in science, art and history with special 12-4pm hours December 19 – December 31.
  • Petoskey Cinema: Choices – you’ve got ‘em at the Petoskey Cinema where six screens give you multiple choices to find something the family can agree on. Save a couple of bucks for Gobstoppers, popcorn or Milk Duds and take in the matinees.
  • Bowling: A little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Get the whole family together and bowl a game at BC Lanes in Boyne City or Northern Lights Recreation Center in Petoskey. Both facilities have open bowling, bumpers to give the wee ones a chance at a strike and laser tag to keep you all hustling before or after you shoot for that 300.
  • Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen Tours: Find out how the really good stuff is made at Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen in Petoskey where tours are offered Monday through Friday and end with a delicious free sample. If you’re here on the weekend, stop by Kilwins of Petoskey (downtown).
  • Big Bear Adventures: What a great family experience as you and your crew take a trip down the river with Big Bear Adventures! The guided trips beginning in Indian River just north of Petoskey are 1 ½ hours long and there’s no need to worry about getting wet – the rafts don’t tip over! Dress in layers and bring a camera – you may catch sight of a turkey or deer and you’ll definitely want to capture the smiles that go along with this ride.
  • Pied Piper Skatery: You don’t find skating rinks too many places these days, but this Petoskey landmark reopened last year to rave reviews. Try it again with your kids – it’s like riding a bike and will all come back to you! Maybe you’ll even remember how to shoot the duck.

We understand (and share) the anticipation of hitting the slopes. Don’t let your spirits go downhill – the snow will come and we’ll all be ready! Find a hotel, condo or inn and plan a getaway the whole family will love. The Petoskey Area – winter here is more fun!


Diane Dakins is passionate about all of the communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. She strives to create informative content that gives potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.