The hustle and bustle of the holidays have long been over. This is the time when the full effects of an Alpena winter are washing over us, bringing us feelings of cabin fever, seasonal depression, and an anxiousness for spring. Don’t fall into the doldrums of winter, follow this guide to kick those feelings to the curb!

Here are 10 different things to do during the winter months here in our Sanctuary of the Great Lakes:

  1. 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. Bonus: you do not have to be the athletic type to enjoy winter sports, all can be done at a leisurely pace for fun!

  2. 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, many opportunities for volunteer positions in the Alpena area. Try reaching out to the Huron Humane Society of Alpena, Alpena Senior Citizens Center, Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Michigan, the Boys & Girls Club of Alpena, or the churches in the Alpena community.

  3. 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.

      Winter walks on the bridge behind the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

      Winter walks on the bridge behind the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary; photo by Paul Gerow

    • 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 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, 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.
  4. Wine & Hops Tour

    Take a weekend or a day to check out our brews at Thunder Bay Winery, Austin Brothers Beer Company, and Stoney Acres Winery.

  5. 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.

  6. Arts & Crafts

    We get it, cold weather is not for everyone. No need to brave the elements when you can get crafty indoors. Alpena has plenty of arts and crafts destinations such as Cobbygoose, Soaps and Such, Art in the Loft, My Glass Wings, and more! 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!

  7. Local Foodie

    Take a break from breakfast, lunch and dinner at home and splurge on an Alpena gastronomical experience! We asked locals where their favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner spots are and here are the top 3 in each category (in no particular order).

  8. 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.

  9. Downtown Days

    Discover everything downtown has to offer. You will find quite the variety of shopping venues, dining establishments, and events happening throughout the winter and into spring.

  10. 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. Afterwards, 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.

There you have it, 10 ways to make the most out of an Alpena winter! After all, “what good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” -John Steinbeck