thus far, Michigan winter weather this year has been so positively balmy it's starting to seem as though we may never get our annual shot at winter sports (or the less-entertaining "sport" of navigating icy interstates). Hell, there hasn't even been a decent snowfall yet. But it seems a safe bet that the state will at least get some version of the usual blast of snow, ice and frigid temps sometime before April. And when it happens, we want you to be prepared to get out and enjoy it.
Sure, winter weather may complicate plenty of daily activities, but it also provides an annual opportunity to get out and enjoy some fun winter sports and pastimes. We've put together this guide to the best spots in metro Detroit for your favorite winter activities. So suit up and have some fun!
We're just going to get the obvious out of the way up front here and point out that if you're looking for a bit of ice skating, you'd be remiss to pass up the classic Detroit experience of skating in the heart of downtown at Campus Martius Park. Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for kids and seniors. Need skates? No worries; you can rent a pair for $3. And if you seek refreshments while you're there, make sure to hit up Fountain Bistro (they have a splendid bar with which to keep yourself warm, you should know). But if you'd prefer a bit more of a river view while you skate, just head right on down Woodward to the rink at Hart Plaza.
If you're looking for some skiing action, of course, you'll probably have to venture a little further from home to find hills big enough. Check out Alpine Valley Ski Area in White Lake for that snowy downhill rush. To get up the hill and get yourself a pair of skis, you're looking at a price tag of around $60 (more like $70 if you hit the slope on the weekend). Almost half of the 25 slopes are beginner-level, so you don't have to be a slalom master to enjoy yourself. Check the website for snow conditions so you know what's open before you go!
If you'd rather be sitting than standing while you barrel down a snowy hillside, there are many more options at hand for sledding hills. Of course there's Kensington Metropark in Milford, the reliable stalwart for almost any outdoor activity in metro Detroit, with several different hills to enjoy. Don't forget you'll need a $25 park pass, though! Over in Westland, the light-up skiers who hang out for the Wayne County Lightfest on Hines Drive have given way to real-life sledders. Enjoy a sled ride down Middlebelt Hill in this scenic area. Within the city limits, check out the sizable 50-foot hill at Balduck Park, just west of Grosse Pointe Farms.
Of course, if killin' things is more your kind of winter sport, you'll probably want to skip that frilly ice skating and sledding business and go straight to ice fishing. Between Lake Erie, the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, our area certainly isn't lacking for waters to pursue your catch; it's just the "ice" part that's the problem right now. Things haven't yet gotten quite cold enough to produce enough ice safe for fishing. Fortunately, Michigan's DNR website compiles a weekly fishing report so you can stay on top of when and where it's safe to bust out the auger and show those sledding sissies what's what. | RDW