Seven family-friendly stops for a winter weekend getaway in Bay County

Winter in Michigan is full of choices. You can stay inside and re-watch Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian until spring arrives. Or you can get outside and enjoy all the beauty and adventure that a snowy winter brings to the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Here are seven ways for your family to sample the joys of a classic Michigan winter during a weekend in Bay County.

Immerse yourself in a Michigan winter when you stay in a cozy, heated cabin surrounded by trees and within sight of the Saginaw Bay.

1. Stay in a log cabin in Pinconning Park


This first suggestion is all about embracing the weather. While most people think of cabins rentals as a summertime activity, getting one in the middle of winter has a very Thomas Kinkade feel to it. The six cabins at Pinconning Park, 3041 E. Pinconning Rd., are heated by propane, so you can enjoy a cozy weekend away with your favorite books, board games, and people.

Bring board games, puzzles, and books to make the most of family time inside one of the 6 cabins available for rent in Pinconning Park.Don’t stay inside the whole weekend, though. You’ll want to hike along the walking trails and enjoy a spectacular view of the Saginaw Bay. If you time your trip right, you can try your hand at ice fishing or take a spin on a snowmobile or ATV.

Through the month of February, you could attend or participate in the 6th Annual Frozen Frenzy Walleye Tournament. A number of local businesses in the region work together to bring this event to the community and it draws people from all over Michigan. There are big prizes for the biggest, best, and most fish. Proceeds go to the Friends of Bay City State Park’s Take a Kid Fishing Program and the Linwood Bicentennial Park.

When you need a break from enjoying Mother Nature’s bounty, or if you want some last-minute gear for your weekend adventure, then drive into town and visit Northwoods Wholesale Outlet, an iconic Pinconning business. If you’ve got a little more time, Downtown Bay City is only a few minutes away.

Shopping at Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning is an adventure. Inside the rambling building, you’ll find everything from outdoor gear to groceries.

2. Get lost in Northwoods Wholesale Outlet


This place has everything inside its rambling, one-of-a-kind space. On the shelves of Northwoods Wholesale Outlet, 229 W. 5th St., you’ll discover camping equipment such as chairs, tents, sleeping bags and air mattresses next to outdoor winter gear such as fishing rods, reels, ice shanties, bobbers, and more lures than snowflakes in a snowball. A few steps away, clothing for hunting, fishing or just lounging fill the shelves. Across another aisle, tempt your sweet tooth with candy and treats.

If you forgot anything you need for the weekend, from ponytail holders and extra blankets to barbecue sauce and snacks, just ask an employee to point you to the right area. While you’re here, you might even find something new to decorate your home.

The Davidson Building in Downtown Bay City is home to a dozen locally owned shops.3. Shop the Davidson Building in Downtown Bay City

The first floor of the Davidson Building ­– on Washington Avenue between the 4th and 5th streets – houses 12 locally owned shops. Check the hours, though. Some are open only on Saturday and some are open Saturday and Sunday.

Ferne Boutique offers contemporary clothing.Men’s and women’s shoes and accessories fill Urban East.Get a contemporary outfit in Ferne Boutique or new shoes at Urban East.

Nelsen & Co. carries jewelry and watches.Shop for the kids at Sweet Peach Children’s Boutique.Shop for diamond earrings at Nelsen & Co. Visit Sweet Peach Children's Boutique for kids wear.

Pop into Baysics Variety Store for a souvenir sweatshirt.For essentials or a souvenir Bay City sweatshirt, check out Baysics Variety Store.

Regent Floral and Mercantile offers one-of-a-kind items.Lastly, don’t miss Regent Floral and Mercantile, which specializes in unique house plants, handmade gifts, original art, and fresh-cut flowers.

After you’ve worked up an appetite from exploring nature or shopping, it’s time to grab some grub at a locally owned eatery.

Sports buffs will enjoy the décor at CJ’s Sports Grill.

4. Knock one back and out of the park

CJ’s Sports Grill, 201 N. Mable St., is owned by Pinconning natives Cliff and Jessica Holland who are homerun hitters when it comes to serving burgers to local families.

Voted WNEM TV5’s Best Burger for three of the four years CJ’s has been open, this place is filled with Detroit sports memorabilia and serves up food that will please even your finicky eater.

The family-friendly menu at CJ’s features award-winning burgers as well as a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.For Mom and Dad, CJ’s stocks beer, Michigan-made wines and an expanding selection of bourbons. Feature nights include Taco Bar Tuesday, Fish Fry Friday, Steak Saturday, and Sunday Breakfast Brunch Buffet.

It was a dream of Cliff’s to own his own bar that serves up good food and feels comfortable for families. “We wanted a place for families and kids. We’re very community-oriented,” says Cliff.

The memorabilia in CJ’s belongs to him and as all of it is special, one item does stand out.

“If there was a fire and there was one thing I had to get out of here, it would probably be my Willie Mays autographed baseball,” says Cliff.

Need something to do after the sun sets on Saturday night? Check out our next stop.

5. Leave the cold behind and get out of this world

The Delta College Planetarium, at 100 Center Ave. in Bay City, changes its weekend shows every few months. Showing on Saturdays at 7 p.m. through February is Edge of Darkness.

The Delta College Planetarium offers public shows.The Delta website describes the show as follows: “Edge of Darkness features amazing scenes of places never before seen gathered by recent space missions that culminated with groundbreaking discoveries. It features a spectacular flight though the great cliffs on Comet 67P, a close look at the fascinating bright "lights" on Ceres and the first-ever close-ups of the dwarf binary planet Pluto/Charon and its moons.”

The $8.75 million facility, funded by NASA, houses a state-of-the-art Planetarium Digital 360 theater. The Planetarium Digital Theater has a Digistar full-dome video projection system housed under a tilted 50-foot domed screen with 146 unidirectional seats. The entire building is architecturally designed as a metaphor for astronomy and space exploration.

After the show, take a walk along the Saginaw River to breathe in some of the crisp fresh winter air. If the film and stroll have sparked your creative genius, and the kids are ready to stop walking, you’re in luck.

Staff at Painterly Pottery can help you choose a project and offer hints for success.6. Create art and memories at Ward Studio and Painterly Pottery

Sit down and paint a new coffee mug, a gift for a friend, or start a collection of gnomes for your front porch. There are hundreds of options available and skilled staff to help you.

Projects range from small items perfect for youngsters all the way to complex ceramics for aspiring artisans.Ward Studio and Painterly Pottery, 923 N Water St., offers daily and weekly specials. The studio is open Saturday and Sunday.

When it’s time to re-fuel, consider a stop at a local coffee shop.

Steamy, warm beverages from a coffee house give the family a chance to re-charge for more fun.7. Harless & Hugh Coffee

Located at 1003 Washington Ave., this super cool, hipster vibe stop serves hand-poured coffee from Traverse City with house-made syrups, tea, a small brunch menu that includes waffles and few other “healthy-ish” dishes. The kids will love eating their snack inside the igloo in the back.

This place, its name, and its owner have a story to tell. It is one rich with family, culture, hard work and a dedication to a man who set an example over a hundred years ago. Be sure to check it out the business website before walking through the doors.

If you think that’s not enough to keep your family busy, then find more ideas at Go Great Lakes Bay.