If you’re anything like our family, winter has you craving a vacation. We had the pleasure of escaping in early January to northern Michigan for a weekend getaway at the Inn at Bay Harbor. If you are looking for a mix of family activities as well as rest and relaxation, you’re in luck! I’m sharing my complete winter travel guide, perfect to book now!
We absolutely love exploring northern Michigan and the beautiful beach towns along Lake Michigan, and the Petoskey/Bay Harbor area has been a longtime favorite of ours. Growing up, my family visited each summer, and I love repeating the tradition with my own family now. We last visited the Inn at Bay Harbor in the summertime, and were curious and excited to see what activities would be available during our winter visit.
Visiting during the off season has incredible benefits! Because it isn’t peak season, you can enjoy lower room rates and reservation availability in the spa and restaurant, all while still getting the incredible views of Lake Michigan and amenities onsite. We even had the outdoor hot tub to ourselves, which was perfect for relaxing and unwinding after a day of playing in the snow.
During our stay, we had adjoining rooms with balconies overlooking the bay. The adjoining rooms are perfect for families! We love the ability to put the boys to bed and then be able to enjoy the fireplace and balcony in our room, along with a bottle of wine and the charcuterie board to go from the restaurant downstairs. Rooms also include a kitchenette if you prefer to prepare your own meals, another great benefit for family travel!
Family Friendly Snow Activities
For those wanting to take advantage of all Northern Michigan has to offer in the snow, you can ski nearby at sister properties Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, with complimentary lockers set aside for guests of Bay Harbor. Before you head out for the day, be sure to pick up a customized skier’s lunch from the cafe at the Inn!
While the great lawn offers yard games during the summer months, in the winter it transforms into the perfect backdrop for building snowmen, perfecting snow angels, having a snowball fight, or skipping stones over Lake Michigan. The clear, glassy water lends itself well to searching for Petoskey stones too!
Guests of the Inn at Bay Harbor can enjoy a “Snowshoe and Brew” by borrowing complimentary snowshoes during the afternoon, available at the front desk, to explore the property or traipse through Crooked Tree golf course. Beer, wine, and cocktail specials are available in the restaurant afterward! This was the first time we tried snowshoeing, and while the laughs were great, we are much better at skiing!
There are plenty of parks nearby for sledding too! We heard the most popular area was located in between Petoskey and Harbor Springs.
The outdoor hot tub is our family’s favorite way to unwind after a hard day of play. Complimentary slippers are available near the exit door, which came in handy for the trot back inside. For an extra treat, plan to go down around sunset to watch the beautiful hues over the bay.
Inn at Bay Harbor Onsite Amenities
For those looking to warm up inside, the Inn at Bay Harbor offers plenty of activities.
The world class spa is a perfect way to pamper your skin and body during the cold Michigan winter. Signature services include options like the Petoskey Hot Stone Massage or the Northern Michigan Luxury Pedicure. Last time we visited, I indulged in the massage, and this time I had a pedicure. Arrive early to shop the curated shop including luxury name brand apparel, candles, home decor, and gifts.
A tradition on property, Inn at Bay Harbor offers afternoon tea. Perfect for families, this includes tea, light bites, and optional twists, and is sure to be a memorable part of your stay.
The newly renovated workout facility is not to be missed for those looking to stay active while away. Just down the hall, you’ll find the cafe and shop, filled with gifts, decor, and plenty of toys and games for the kids. Our boys loved the gourmet pb&j smoothie, and even a superman ice cream cone after the hot tub.
While you could easily spend your entire stay on property, there is also plenty to check out nearby!
Petoskey’s downtown gaslight district offers boutique shopping, gourmet restaurants, and even some of Hemingway’s favorite haunts. Look for the historic plaques to learn more about each spot! For lunch, we love Happy’s Taco shop located at the Backlot food truck park, and for an upscale dinner, we love Chandler’s.
Not far away, Harbor Springs downtown has even more shopping and restaurants. If you go, be sure to stop by world famous Tom’s Mom’s Cookies for a dozen (or two) to go.
The greater Petoskey area also offers a trail of breweries and wineries you can check out.
Pond Hill Farm is a family favorite year round. In the winter, they offer a sledding hill, cafe, market, winery, livestock farm, and even a gnome scavenger hunt.
Interested in visiting Inn at Bay Harbor during the summer instead? Check out my travel guide for what to know before you go.
Thank you to Inn at Bay Harbor for our wonderful stay! Where have you and your family stayed recently? Let me know in a comment below!