One of the distinct benefits of living in West Michigan is that we can enjoy the beauty of all four seasons. It’s one of the reasons visitors like coming here. No matter the weather, there’s plenty to do.

The winter months present an opportunity to encounter nature in a different way. From busy downhill skiing slopes to quiet and secluded snowshoeing trails, the cold and snow reveal new facets of the region’s boundless beauty. Once you’ve had your fill of outdoor fun, head inside to cheer on some of Grand Rapids’ finest athletes in competitive play. West Michigan serves up outstanding winter action any way you like it!

Cannonsburg Ski Area, just 20 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, offers 21 downhill runs, including a 1,500-feet doozy with a 250-foot vertical drop. (And that’s not all ­– check out all the winter sports action Cannonsburg has to offer.)  Bittersweet Ski Resort, about 40 minutes to the south, boasts 20 runs and a 350-foot drop. Mulligan’s Hollow, 40 minutes northwest, has six slopes ranging from 250 ft. to 700 ft.

Cross-country skiers typically head to area parks and nature centers to get in a workout. Millennium Park, five minutes from downtown, offers 18 miles of trails over mostly flat terrain, through extensive natural areas. Wyoming’s Palmer Park is the only place in Kent County you’ll find groomed cross-country trails. Check out more trails and some great tips.

Fat Tire Biking

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There are five groomed fatbike trails within 45 minutes of downtown GR. The closest is Indian Trails, which is actually a city-owned golf course that offers a 3.7-mile single-track fastback loop in winter months. Cannonsburg Ski Area grooms five miles of rolling to hilly terrain for a fatbike trail loop. There’s also a number of ungroomed local trails to choose from. Get a closer look at our fatbike community.  

Two people taking off into the snowy trails for fat-tire biking.

Cycling isn't just for the summer! Try fat tire biking at Indian Trails or Cannonsburg Ski Area.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Ice Fishing

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Fishing enthusiasts aren’t always keen on sharing their favorite spots – but you can tell by the ice tents and shanties lining Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids every winter that the catch is good. Camp LakeCranberry LakeLime Lake and Long Lake are also great ice fishing options within 20 miles of downtown. Explore more ice fishing locations and some helpful advice.

Reeds Lake is one of the many inland lakes that are popular for ice fishing in the Grand Rapids area.
Ice fishing doesn't require too much equipment, but don't forget to bundle up once you get there.

Reeds Lake is a popular place for locals to go ice fishing - Just make sure the ice meets safety requirements!

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids


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Snowshoers share trails with cross-country skiers at local parks and nature centers – remember, skiers have the right of way – so Blandford Nature Center, Cannonsburg Ski Area and Millennium Park are popular places for snowshoers. Don’t have your own pair? You can rent them at several different locations, including some trail sites. Click here for rental (and purchase) information, and additional trails to explore.

Family snowshoeing at Blandford Nature Center.

Check out Blandford Nature Center for some family-friendly snowshoeing trails.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing require a certain level of snow on the ground. But you can enjoy a hike through nature on 60+ local trails whether there’s snow or no. Get your steps in downtown with a walk on the Grand River Edges Trail, which hugs the Grand River and passes by such popular attractions as the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum and Sixth Street Bridge.

Family Out Hiking Together

There are plenty of trails to explore in the area - with or without snow!

Our favorite fun (and free) sledding locations include Richmond Park Belknap Park Johnson Park  and Cascade Township Park . Don’t have a sled? Head to Mulick Park or Plaster Creek Park every snow-covered Saturday from 1pm-4pm – you can rent sleds on site from the city’s Gear Library.

Tubing is like sledding, only it’s typically faster, more orderly and done with a tube rather than a sled (duh). Even better, you don’t have to walk back up the hill – at least, not at Cannonsburg Ski Area, which boasts the largest snow tubing facility in all of Michigan. Its eight tubing lanes are serviced by a state-of-the-art “Magic Carpet” that transports you back up to the top of the hill, ensuring that you get maximum laps.


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The terrain park at Cannonsburg Ski Area is one of the top 3 in the Midwest according to Transworld Snowboarding. Cannonsburg actually incorporates multiple parks that range in skill from beginner to advanced and are designed to encourage natural progression. You can also snowboard at Bittersweet Ski Resort and Mulligan’s Hollow.

In mid jump while snowboarding
A snowboarder at Cannonsburg.

Grab your board and catch some air at Cannonsburg Ski Area.

Photo by Aaron Peterson for Experience Grand Rapids

You may have seen the sport of luge in the Winter Olympics: one- or two-man teams lay feet first, face up on a flat sled and let gravity propel them along a specially designed ice track. If you’ve ever thought, “Hey, I’d like to try that,” here’s your chance. The Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park, just 40 minutes from Grand Rapids, is home to one of only four luge tracks in the U.S. The park also offers outdoor skating (on two acres of natural ice), cross-country skiing (lighted after dark) and snowshoeing (with views of Lake Michigan).

World of Winter

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Grand Rapids’ annual winter festival invites visitors to walk around downtown to see 20+ huge outdoor art installations, participate in a snowperson-building contest and outdoor scavenger hunt, dance at an outdoor silent disco, and more. Jan. 7-March 6.

World of Winter

World of Winter Festival celebrates Michigan's cold climate, provide fun ways for people to get outside and enjoy the season!…

photo by Rashelle Whiteharris for Experience GR. Artwork: Carnevale by Mandy Cano Villalobos

Spectator Sports

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Ready to watch somebody else exert themselves? Cheer on the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team at Van Andel Arena at one of their home games throughout the winter.

The Harlem Globetrotters bring their patented basketball wizardry to Van Andel Arena on Jan. 23. It’s part streetball, part interactive family entertainment, and all jaw-dropping.

Van Andel Arena also welcomes the PBR Tractor Supply Co. Classic Jan. 28-29, featuring 40 of the best bull riders from around the world going head-to-head against the sport’s top-ranked bovine athletes. It’s one of the most exciting live sporting events you’ll ever witness.

The Meijer State Games of Michigan – Winter is a multi-sports, Olympic-style event that welcomes athletes from across the state regardless of age or ability. This year’s Games take place February 18-22.

World-class motorsport athletes invade Van Andel Arena for the Monster Jam Arena Championship March 25-27. They push their 12,000-pound monster trucks to the limit in Freestyle, Skills, Donut and Racing competitions.