Warm Up to Our Winter Hot List

By+Jenna Guerin

No one does winter quite like a Midwesterner. That’s a fact. The weather in the Midwest is infamous for repeatedly wreaking havoc on the lives of its residents. But no one rises to the occasion of winter quite like a Midwesterner. That’s also a fact. The Midwest is well known for its large bodies of water called the Great Lakes. Michiana residents know all too well what it means to live near one of the Great Lakes during the winter. It’s a little thing we like to call “lake effect snow.” 

Lake effect snow is what revolutionizes a pleasant snowfall into a full-blown assault. It translates into inches upon inches of snow being dumped unexpectedly and often, unwelcomingly, right into our laps. It’s never a matter of “if,” but always a matter of “when.” And that’s why it’s a survival essential to recognize winter as a season to enjoy, not just endure. Fret not, fellow Michiana friends, we’re equipping you with the winter hot list you never knew you needed!

 

Skiing & Snowboarding

They say there's an uphill for every downhill. We say there's a chair lift for every downhill!

 

Swiss valley

As one of the area’s primary ski slopes, Swiss Valley has 11 runs spanning 225 feet in the air and produces all of its own snow. It also includes two terrain parks, a cozy chalet, a convenient cafe, and a retail store. The full-service chalet features incredible views of the slopes, live music, warm winter cocktails and pub-style food. The shop offers snowboarding and ski equipment for rent, as well as equipment and apparel for purchase. Rates and rentals vary depending on the date, time of day and package purchase. 13421 Mann Street, Jones, MI

Timber Ridge 

Consider Timber Ridge the créme de la créme of ski resorts in southwest Michigan. The slopes range in difficulty level catering to both beginners and veterans with a tubing hill, terrain parks and mogul runs. The Snowshoe Bar is where you will find marvelous views, beverages and delicious food while the Cedar Chalet offers quick snacks on the fly! Timber Ridge offers both ski and snowboarding equipment for rent. 07500 23 1/2 Street, Gobles, MI

 

Winter Retail Stores

You can’t buy love, but you can buy things you love!

 

Outpost Sports 

Outpost Sports has four locations to serve each and every one of your recreational needs, but the Mishawaka location is the only one open all-year round. Customers can purchase all of their cross-country ski, snowboarding and alpine ski equipment here, not to mention the array of winter jackets, boots and other cold-weather fashions that are for sale. 3602 North Grape Road Mishawaka, IN 

North End Cycle 

North End Cycle is a family-owned and -operated business that caters to motorsports enthusiasts, especially snowmobilers. North End carries snowmobiles, parts, and apparel from big-name brands like Arctic Cat and Polaris, and offers an impressive showroom with new inventory. You can also use their online shipping system to browse for parts, name brand clothing and more. 2426 Cassopolis, Elkhart, IN 

Lee’s Adventure Sports 

As a family-owned sports equipment business that dates back to 1954, you know Lee’s Adventure Sports knows a thing or two about recreation. Lee’s offers snowboards, ski equipment, snowshoes, and much more for your winter adventure. They also carry winter apparel that serve a purpose for both function and fashion while you’re out on the slopes and trails. For convenience, customers can shop and order online through Lee’s Adventure Sports’ website. 311 West Kilgore Road, Portage, MI

 

Winter Getaways

Sometimes when you go away, you want to stay away!

 

Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa

Live entertainment, games, a luxurious spa and salon, and delicious dining options are only the beginning at Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa. With this much variety in one place, you won’t even remember that you’re stuck inside! 777 Blue Chip Drive, Michigan City, IN

DunesWalk Inn

Located in the Indiana Dunes, this historical inn benefits from its close proximity to the magnificent Lake Michigan and Dune’s beaches. It’s also close to casinos, shopping, wineries, dining and accessible to outdoor activities like cross-country skiing. For those who want to cozy up inside for a wintry weekend, the guest accommodations include luxury private baths, flat-screen televisions, lush bedding, and vertical mullion windows so guests can enjoy the winter scenery. 1491 North Furnleigh Lane, Chesterton, IN

The Blue Heron Guest House

The Blue Heron Guest House stands majestically overlooking Winona Lake. The elegance that guests experience when they walk through the doors is unparalleled. The home resides on a private peninsula so guests can relax. The Empyrean suite delivers grandesque views of the lake and even has a private hot tub on the deck. Pair that with one of Blue Heron’s romance packages that offers chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne. 2001 Westwood Road, Winona Lake, IN

Serenity Springs

Deemed a “romantic getaway for couples,” Serenity Springs is just that. It offers several packages for couples including in-room massages, flowers, champagne and chocolates. The private cabins around the lake offer intimate fireplaces and heated floors to unwind in. The resort also offers one-horse open sleigh rides through the snowy woods and has trails for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. And since it’s located near Michigan City, wineries, the casino and shopping, the entertainment options are endless. 5888 US-35, La Porte, IN

 

Best Winter Drinks

Finally! A winter activity you can warm up to!

 

LaSalle Grill

To compliment their exquisite menu, LaSalle Grill features after-dinner options that rival the dessert menu. The Traditional Irish Coffee mixes house-blend coffee with Jameson Irish Whiskey and brown sugar. The Killarney Coffee infuses Bailey’s Irish Cream and Irish Mist Liqueurs and is topped off with real whipped cream. 115 W Colfax Ave, South Bend, IN

The Uptown Kitchen 

If you’re looking to spend a night in deep conversation and sampling steaming cocktails, The Uptown Kitchen is your destination. With menu items like an Earl Gray Apple Hot Toddy and Hot Apple Pie, we couldn’t resist. The Kitchen uses our favorite liqueurs like Bailey’s, Captain Morgan, Jameson and Frangelico combined with our favorite hot drinks like coffee and apple cider to create a drink list that is worth braving any chilly winter night. 7225 Heritage Square Drive, Granger, IN

Granite City 

Granite City is well known for its wide and diverse beer selection. Plus, they even brew it. The rotating seasonal beers offer something for everyone, but for winter, we are especially fond of the Freezer Burn Winter Warmer, debuting in December. This dark amber beer infuses spicy cinnamon with flavors of toasted caramel and fruit. With ingredients like cinnamon, tea, ginger and nutmeg, we almost wouldn’t mind if this beer was served warm. 6501 Grape Road, Mishawaka, IN

 

Cross Country Skiing

Spoiler alert: you don't actually have to go across a country.

 

Potato Creek State Park

Potato Creek encompasses a 327-acre lake and is filled with wooded trails and open prairies for the avid skier. Potato Creek does not offer ski equipment for rent. Since it is a state park, there is a $7 entrance fee for in-state residents and a $9 fee for out-of-state residents. 25601 State Road 4, North Liberty, IN 

St. Patrick’s Park 

St. Patrick’s Park gratifies skiers with meticulously groomed trails and 398 acres of snowglobe-worthy views. The trails run adjacent to South Bend’s finest attribute, the winding St. Joseph River. This park does have equipment available for rent for $10. The daily trail fee for adults is $5 and $4 for youth. Laurel Road, South Bend, IN

Madeline Bertrand County Park 

If you can picture yourself leisurely skiing amongst gently rolling trails or along a scenic bluff overlooking the St. Joseph River, then you can picture yourself at Madeline Bertrand County Park! The county park features three miles of meticulously groomed trails and permit passes even allow skiers to wander in to nearby St. Patrick’s County Park. Skis are available for rent. 3038 Adams Road, Niles, MI

Lemon Lake County Park

From open prairies to wooded trails, Lemon Lake County Park has 403 acres of land and four miles of trails that serve every level of skier. These trails are groomed regularly to ensure a consistently pleasant experience. An entire ski rental package costs only $7. 6322 West 133rd Avenue, Crown Point, IN

 

Snow Tubing

The most fun you can have sitting down. We think.

 

St. Patrick’s Park

Intertubing has been deemed the winter activity that doesn’t require skill and we’re on board, especially when it comes to tubing the hills at St. Patrick’s Park. There’s also a concession stand with snacks and warm drinks, and a warming room. For just $3 and a vehicle gate fee, tubers can enjoy the hills all day. Laurel Road, South Bend, IN

Wilson Park

Wilson Park is opening up the winter tubing season with a bang with its newly expanded warming room, featuring an elegant fireplace to cozy up to. Tubing is $2 for residents and $3 for non-residents. 2605 Clover Road, Mishawaka, IN

 

Ice Skating

Being on thin ice has never sounded so good.

 

Nibco Water and Ice Park 

This outdoor rink sits right along the Elkhart River providing a serene setting for a family-friendly outing or date night. Complete with a warming facility and concession stand, skaters can warm up with steaming beverages before heading back out onto the ice. Skate rental for all ages and skating coaches are available for those less gifted out on the ice. 303 Nibco Parkway, Elkhart, IN

Howard Park Ice Rink

Howard Park Ice Rink is a public rink, but is available for private rental as well. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children, while skate rental is $3 per person. However, several specials and discounts are offered throughout the skating season. 219 South St. Louis Boulevard., South Bend, IN

Ice Box Skating Rink 

The Ice Box rink is a jack of all trades with two available skating surfaces and its year-round capabilities. Skaters can enjoy a variety of ice-related recreational activities including broomball, figure skating and hockey. The indoor rink is available for rent and includes a snack shop and pro shop. 1421 South Walnut Street, South Bend, IN

Merrifield Ice Rink

The Merrifield Ice Rink is open to the public only during weekends, but available throughout the week by reservation. Depending on age and residency, admission prices vary between $2-$5.50 per skater. Skate rental is $2 and lessons and private rental are available. 1000 East Mishawaka Avenue, Mishawaka, IN 

Compton Family Ice Arena

Located in the midst of the University of Notre Dame campus, the Compton Family Ice Arena is a beautiful indoor facility that holds two ice rinks, including an Olympic-size rink for open public skating. Many of the open skate times overlap with the Fighting Irish hockey games! Public skating costs $7 on weekends and $3 for skate rental. 100 Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN