Five ways to enjoy the winter (four of them let you stay indoors)

The weather outside might be frightful, but there is a lot going on in the region to help you and your family avoid the dreaded cabin fever.

Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty of places to cross-country ski, hike, snowshoe, ice fish, and more during the winter. But even Michiganders who prefer to enjoy winter’s beauty through a windowpane, still have opportunities to enjoy the season.

Here are five activities to warm your days in January and February:

1. Visit the Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center

Need a new perspective on the sun? The Delta College Planetarium offers shows that feature the fireball and its role in the history of Earth. The stars are always shining at the Planetarium. The 360-degree screen with 4D imagery puts you at the center of the universe and lets you catch a view of planets and even the sun that you wouldn’t see otherwise.

Located in Downtown Bay City at 100 Center Avenue, the Planetarium is a way to spend a few hours gazing at the solar system from the comfort and warmth of the indoors.

Hours and pricing are available here. For more information send an email to planetarium@delta.edu.

2. Enjoy outdoor sports indoors at the Bay County Civic Arena

Ice skating and hockey are popular outdoor sports in winter, and the Bay County Civic Arena is a great place to practice old skills, learn skills, or join a league, all while staying out of the wind and weather. The Civic Arena, located at 4231 Shrestha Drive in Bangor Township, has two ice surfaces and open year round for skaters of all ages.

Whether you are a seasoned skater or are looking for a new hobby, the Civic Arena has open skating and Learn to Skate/Learn to Play programs. Public skating sessions are offered daily, with noon skates for working out on your lunch break. Family skates, night skates for school-age children, and special themed skating opportunities also help break up the winter doldrums.

A complete schedule is available by clicking here. To schedule a party or ice time, send an email to bccaschedule@baycounty.net.

3. Try a new sport or sign up for a fitness class at the Bay County Community Center

Get a group together and get a workout at the county-owned Community Center.
 
Inside this county facility you’ll find lots of options for breaking up the winter monotony. There are fitness classes, team sports, knockerball and pickleball along with facility rentals for all kinds of winter activities. Most people recognize the community center for its summer and youth activities. But it’s fast becoming a stomping grounds for adults and youth in the cold winter months.

The multi-purpose gym is just the right size for a basketball game, or a game of knockerball. If you haven’t experienced knockerball, it’s a way to get some exercise while playing a game – and wearing an oversized soccer ball. Pickleball is also a popular sport for people who want to stay active in the winter. The game involves a short tennis court, wiffle-ball, and a wooden racket. Pickleball drop-in times and organized leagues are available.

Just looking for fitness? The Community Center also offers yoga, aerobics, and chair fit. Classes are offered for all fitness levels.

The Bay County Community Center is located at 800 John F. Kennedy Drive near the scenic Riverwalk Trail on Bay City’s West Side. For information or an updated schedule of events contact Beth Trahan at trahanb@baycounty.net. More information can be found here.

4. Discover the Saginaw Bay Coast, Tobico Marsh and the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center inside Bay City State Park

Although winter hours are a little more limited than summer hours, the State Park Visitor Center is the perfect place to take time out from blustery weather. Here, you can enjoy an indoor tour of the shoreline. Jonathan Massung is the interpreter who provides not only educational materials, but virtual tours and classes for all ages. You can learn about everything from hunting, fishing, and archery to the unique wildlife that call this area home.

Inside Jennison Exhibit Hall, you can get a panoramic view of the bay and shoreline, along with the opportunity to watch Tobico Marsh wildlife close-up on a big screen, thanks to a strategically placed video surveillance camera.

The Visitor Center also offers interactive computer games, and video explaining how the Bay shoreline formed. Call (989) 667-0717 for hours and exhibit information. A Recreation Passport is required for entry to the park.

5. Venture into the great outdoors during the Winter Festival at the Bay City State Park

Are you ready to try outdoor life? The Bay City State Park gives you a taste of why people love this season in Michigan during its annual Winter Festival on Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. As usual, the festival corresponds with Free Ice Fishing Weekend in Michigan.

During the festival, visitors can explore winter wildlife, watch live animal presentations, and get outdoors for snowshoe hikes, cross-country skiing and, of course, fishing. Dress warm, pack a lunch, and plan to spend the day outdoors. Along with exploring the nature trail, there will be a family ice fishing derby, youth ice fishing clinic, and other activities for the whole family. There will also be a snow snake clinic and tournament where you can decorate a snow snake and see how far you can make it slide across the snow.

Hot chocolate and snacks will be provided, as will bait and poles for fishing. There is no Recreation Passport or fishing license required since this is an opportunity to get families outdoors and into the State Park for the day.

For more information on Winter Festival, visit Pure Michigan Events, or send an email to Jonathan Massung at the Saginaw Bay Visitor’s Center.