The hustle and bustle of the holidays are long over. This is the time when the full effects of a true northern Michigan winter start to wash over us, bringing feelings of cabin fever, seasonal depression, and anxiousness for spring.

Try out these ideas to kick those feelings to the curb and make your winter more fulfilled and eventful…or fly by faster for our non-winter loving peeps

Winter Sports– Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter hiking, ice skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing, sledding, and fat-tire biking are all easily done here on our trails and lakes. You do not have to be the athletic type to enjoy winter sports, all can be done at a leisurely pace for fun!

Best trail for cross country skiing: Norway Ridge Pathway

Old man winter wraps Norway Ridge in a beautiful blanket of fluffy white! Winter photography by Laura Wolosiewicz

Best trail for snowshoeing: Besser Natural Area

Best trail for fat tire biking: Rockport State Recreation Area

Best trail for hiking: Chippewa Hills Pathway

Best lakes for ice fishing include: Long Lake, Grand Lake, Hubbard Lake, and Fletcher’s Pond

(Always double-check ice conditions for safety)

Best trails for snowmobiling include: N.E.S.T. trail

Best places for ice skating: Northern Lights Arena

Volunteer– Nothing warms the heart and soul like the gift of giving. Why not pass the time by helping others in need? There are many opportunities for volunteer positions in the Alpena area. Try reaching out to the Huron Humane Society of Alpena, the Alpena Senior Citizens Center, Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Michigan, the Alpena Volunteer Center, Alpena Community College, or Feed the Need – Alpena. *Covid19 restrictions may apply, please call first to see which organizations are accepting volunteers at this time. 

Alpena’s Ice Tree on State St, winter photography by Natalie Koreis

Winter Photography– You do not have to be a professional to capture the beauty of winter nature! Follow these tips for smartphone photography you can be proud of:

  • Always flip your camera horizontally when taking photos.
  • Find your point of interest that you want to capture.
  • Remember the rule of thirds; break up your frame of view into three sections and place the subject along with one of these intersections.
  • Check for interference (photo-bombers, garbage, or anything else unnatural).
  • Get in close and move around to find your best angles for the shot.
  • Don’t try to get it right the first time. Take many photos.
  • The best photos tell us a story. In this case, show us a story about winter and the fun that can be had or the beauty that is to behold.
  • Share on social media and use hashtags #sanctuaryofthegreatlakes #visitalpena #puremichigan

Wine & Hops Tour– Take a day to check out our locally made wines Thunder Bay Winery and locally brewed beers Austin Brothers Beer Company.

Alpena Events– Do you follow Alpena’s event calendar? If not, you should be! Get the latest on events happening in the Alpena area at Events are updated daily as they come in. *Due to Covid19, many events have switched to a virtual format.

The Arts – We get it, cold weather is not for everyone. No need to brave the elements when you can get artsy indoors. Alpena has plenty of destinations to bring out your artistic sides, such as Cobbygoose, Art in the LoftMy Glass Wings Studio & Gifts, and Thunder Bay Arts and Gallery.

Check out our blog, Get Out of the Elements and Into Your Element at These Alpena Art Workshops for a complete guide to getting crafty Alpena-style.

Local Foodie– Take a break from breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home and splurge on an Alpena gastronomical experience! Restaurants are currently closed for dine-in until February 1st, however many are offering take-out. Check out all the restaurants Alpena has to offer by visiting our website >>HERE

Outdoor Workout– Combine your daily workout routine with mother nature. Yes, it is cold outside. All the more reason to take your workout to your backyard or into the woods! Did you know that exercising in cold weather burns more fat? Better yet, just a 15-minute walk through the cold forest has proven to show measurable changes in physiology- a 16% decrease in stress hormones and a 4% decrease in blood pressure.

Downtown Days– Discover everything downtown has to offer. You will find quite a variety of shopping venues, dining establishments, and events happening throughout the winter and into spring. Alpena’s Downtown District

Hygge – Read our blog for living your best “hygge life” this winter >> 10 Tips to Find Your Winter Hygge Lifestyle

Culture & Heritage– A fun day for the whole family awaits at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center and Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan. Find out why the Thunder Bay has been deemed “Shipwreck Alley” while exploring a full-size replica of a wooden Great Lakes schooner at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Afterward, make your way over to the Besser Museum where art, history, and science collide all in one stop! Be sure to check out their newly renovated Sky Theater to explore worlds beyond our own.

Make the most out of our cold, snowy season. After all, “what good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” -John Steinbeck