Your Guide to the Best Winter Family Vacations | Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council

Your Guide to the Best Winter Family Vacations

Sledding at Warren Dunes

It’s time to pull up the school calendar and see when your family can vacation this winter. But think about where you want to go, too. It doesn’t have to be an overpriced, overcrowded destination. The best family times happen every winter in Southwest Michigan. Our area specializes in lowering your vacation costs and eliminating the whining and long-line anxiety that other destinations pile on. This four-step guide will get you on your way to wondrous winter fun! 

Kids jumping on a bed.
Photo By: @theinnatharborshores

Step 1: Book a family friendly hotel

As one of Michigan’s premier family vacation destinations, you can find a hotel with the amenities, rates and warm welcome you want. There are swimming pools to play Marco Polo in, game rooms, breakfasts, suites for added privacy, views of Lake Michigan, short walks to favorite attractions and tail-wagging accommodations for your family pet. 

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A group of people getting ready to ski.
Photo By: @skiswissvalley

Step 2: Add outdoor winter activities

You won’t need snow to feel merry riding the Eden Springs Park Christmas Miniature Trains on Saturdays and Sundays in December. Or to go ice skating this winter in St. Joseph, Harbert and South Haven. But a glittering blanket of our pristine snow never hurts! 

Our parks offer scenic groomed cross-country ski, snowshoe and fat tire bike trails. You can open the throttle on our snowmobile routes. Or swoosh down multiple runs and terrain types at Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area. It’s rightfully earned a reputation as one of the best places to learn to ski and board. 

However, if you want to give your family a bragging-rights winter experience, take them to Warren Dunes State Park. Sledding or snowboarding on those giant dunes comes with the most incredible views of Lake Michigan. You will do all the climbing, but it’s unbridled joy going down!

Step 3: Include indoor fun

When you want to shed the boots and mittens, you can have a blast inside, too. The top family picks in St. Joseph are the Silver Beach Carousel where you can make the happiest memories riding the magnificent hand-carved figures and doing a roomful of activities that delight all ages. (FYI: the Carousel closes each January for maintenance). Or explore the Curious Kids’ Museum and Discovery Zone with your toddlers to pre-teens. You and your kids will quickly engage in all of the hands-on learning.  

If you are vacationing with young ones, bring them to The Little Things Play Cafe. It’s a fun place for you to enjoy the companionship of other parents and caregivers over a relaxing cup of hot coffee.

 Two kids playing laser tag at Slackers

Entertain your school-aged children and teens at Nardo’s Pizza with an arcade room. Their delicious Detroit-style pizzas will lure your pinball wizards back to your table. For a bigger slate of indoor activities, head to Slackers Family Fun Center & Laser Tag. Open seven days a week, there are bounce houses, pool tables, laser tag, arcade games and more ways to burn energy. Your kids will sleep well that night!

Two kids sitting on an ice chair.

Step 4: Go to winter festivals

In Southwest Michigan, we don’t believe in hibernating. We bring families together throughout the winter with community festivals, starting with the holidays. 

Join us in downtown St. Joseph the first weekend of December for Light Up the Bluff — when Lake Bluff Park becomes a magical, winter wonderland of sparkling displays until mid-February. There’s also the Reindog Parade that will keep you laughing and cheering right up to when Santa arrives! That same weekend, Dowagiac has its Candlelight Christmas Parade. And you can end December happily at the Silver Beach Carousel’s and the City of South Haven’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

By the first weekend in February, your family will be eager to chase away the winter blues. You will find spirit-lifting good times in downtown St. Joseph, South Haven and Dowagiac during their annual ice carving festivals. It’s amazing what chainsaw-carving artists can create from blocks of ice!

More winter events

Pack your winter clothes and join us for snow-much fun in Southwest Michigan!

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