If you don’t ski, snowboard or snowmobile, then getting outdoors in the dead of winter is difficult. And if you’ve got kids, you’re likely ready to leave the house halfway through winter break. So get back to your childhood roots, head to your local sledding hill or ice skating rink, and enjoy a few hours experiencing the best parts of winter. We then suggest finishing off your trip with a cup of homemade hot chocolate, local coffee or a mulled wine.
First, you can grab your toboggan and go for a ride on one of our top sledding hills:
Richmond Park (1101 Richmond St. NW, Grand Rapids): Long hill, beautiful woods, pond at the bottom.
Belknap Park (30 Coldbrook St. NE, Grand Rapids): Massive, steep, powerful — maybe too big to handle. Provides beautiful city overlook.
Johnson Park (2600 Wilson Ave. SW, Walker): Long and large. One YouTube video demonstrates an impressive 30-second long ride.
Sugar Bowl Dune (near South Scenic Drive in Muskegon): Extreme, steep, completely natural. Excellent view of Lake Michigan. It’s a dune, but with snow.
Branstrom Park (Branstrom Drive, Fremont): Disc golf in summer, sledding in winter.
Provin Trails (2900 4 Mile Rd. NE, Grand Rapids): Deep in the woods, surrounded by trees. Big, steep, natural.
For those looking to up their sledding game, try tubing! Cannonsburg Ski Area (6800 Cannonsburg Rd. NE, Belmont) offers fast and fun tubing lanes serviced by a state-of-the-art magic carpet, ensuring your group fits in maximum laps. To the south, Echo Valley (8495 E. H Ave., Kalamazoo) offers both tubing and tobogganing with a tow rope to pull you back to the top. For the ultimate sledding experience, head to Muskegon Winter Sports Complex (462 N. Scenic Dr., Muskegon) and try out the luge track, where participants slide down an 850-foot track reaching speeds up to 30 MPH.
On the other hand, if you want to strap on some skates and practice your winter Olympic routines, West Michigan offers ample opportunity to skate indoor and out.
Griff’s Icehouse (30 Coldbrook St. NE, Grand Rapids): Official practice facility of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Griff’s Icehouse offers learn-to-skate classes for all ages, youth and adult hockey lessons, drop-in hockey for ages 16 and up, and open skate hours.
Georgetown Ice Center (8500 48th Ave., Hudsonville): A year-round facility offering open skate ($3 children, $5 adults), hockey instruction and learn-to-skate programs.
Millennium Park (280 Romence Rd., Portage): Home to the first refrigerated outdoor ice rink in Southwest Michigan, Millennium Park is the perfect place to practice your skating tricks. Check the website for special events held each year, including the Valentine’s Skate Dance and Twilight Skate.
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex (462 N. Scenic Dr., Muskegon): With two acres of outdoor ice skating, including a path through the woods, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex offers some of the best ice skating opportunities in West Michigan. Skate rentals available. The rinks are weather dependent, so make sure you check conditions before going.
Rosa Parks Circle (135 Monroe Center St., NW): Of course, we had to include Rosa Parks Circle, the iconic place to skate in West Michigan. If you never get out and Instagram an evening skate session at Rosa Parks, did you really even experience winter? (We kid … kind of.) This budget friendly rink ($3 for adults and $1 for youth, includes free skate rentals) is the perfect place for a family outing or romantic date night, and you can warm up first with a cup of coffee from one of the many shops within walking distance of the rink.