Over the Christmas holidays, Mike and I — between visiting family in Michigan — surprised the boys with a few days of skiing at Boyne Highlands, located near the top of the mitten in what we call Northern Michigan. (Not the Upper Peninsula, mind you. Still the mitten.) Given that it was December and the midwest and #climatechange…it rained the first day. But the resort is so charming — like good, old-fashioned family fun — that we ended up having a blast. (And the cold rolled in the next day, giving us two pretty glorious days of skiing, too.)

1. Staying At The Boyne Highlands Resort (Ski-In/Ski-Out)

We loved the old-world vibe of the Boyne Highlands Resort. It was insanely family-friendly — easy to rent skis, easy to ski-in and out; it has a ski valet for the easy storage of your skis, and large rooms with little balconies (our suite had one king bed and two twins — perfect for families). It’s also one of the most affordable ski resorts we’ve ever found.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

The food was also surprisingly good (and healthy!). The buffet breakfast was kiiiind of amazing — omelettes to order for Mike and I (and whatever crap Pax picked out)….

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

…and the vibe in the downstairs bar was exactly what we wanted after a long day of skiing: roaring fireplace, not too fancy. And we could still find fresh salads (in addition to the typical pub food and homemade chili).We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

2. Cookie and Hot Cocoa Breaks at 4PM

The Boyne Highlands Resort has this charming tradition of serving cookies and hot cocoa every day at 4PM. And they’re delicious. Our favorite? A sugar cookie with dried Michigan blueberries in it — YUM. Needless to say, we planned our activities around Boyne Highland’s version of ‘tea time’.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

3. The Actual Skiing at Boyne Highlands

Michigan has a ton of gray skies, especially in the winter, but there’s one thing you can usually bet on: if it’s bitter cold…it’s usually sunny, too. (Strange but true.) And the skiing at Boyne Highlands is solid midwest skiing, meaning that we found plenty of fun slopes to zoom down. (And the night skiing is always a fun perk.)

It’s similar to skiing in the Poconos (maybe a little bit smaller, depending on the resort), but without the insane crowds.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

4. Hunting For Petoskey Stones At Petoskey State Park

The day it rained ended up being a glorious day. Instead of skiing, we drove to Petoskey State Park and hunted for Petoskey Stones.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

It turns out that they’re much easier to spot when wet (and, obviously, not snow-covered). Petoskey stones are seriously cool — they’re actually rocks that contain fossilized coral, from when Michigan was covered by ocean (the Denovian period, according to Wikipedia). And they’re pretty distinctive, once you know what to look for.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

And if you’ve never worn full ski gear to the beach, well…you’re obviously not from Michigan.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

5. Zipline Adventure Tour

Just for something different, we tried Boyne Highland’s Zipline Adventure Tour. It’s roughly 3 hours of ziplining all across the mountain (actually a good way to see the entire thing). The ziplines are fun, but not so crazy-high that you are fearing death.

That said, I insisted on going first, just to “check” the lines. And YES: Everyone made fun of me. #PROTECTMYBABIES. But the guys who took us ziplining were tons of fun. If you saw my IG stories (oh! I still have them up under “Boyne Highlands“), they were teaching us to turn upside down, do flips, etc., It was a total blast.

Also, we were ziplining as a private group. I didn’t book it that way, but it turns out that this activity is MUCH more in-demand during the summer. Wimps. That wouldn’t happen in the UP. #michiganjokes

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

6. Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner

The surprise hit of the vacation was this prix fixe, Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner.  I think it’s supposed to be a romantic evening, but we took the kids. Ha! Anyway, they whisk you to the top of the mountain in a snowcat, then serve you this very old-school fancy dinner. We’re talking french onion soup, filet mignon, fondue for dessert. It’s all by candlelight, and on a clear night, there’s a view of the Mackinaw Bridge. There’s a guy with a guitar and fire pits outside for roasting marshmallows — my kids were like THIS IS THE FANCIEST THING WE’VE EVER EVER DONE. (Haha – it’s not.) But because it’s Michigan, Boyne Highlands in particular, it’s more special and charming and delicious than…fancy. So in that way, it is the perfect fancy dinner for kids, and mine were so freaking appreciative. That said, Mike and I alone would’ve had a blast, too.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

On second thought, it’s probably not the best environment for young kids who need to run around. Quiet and seated kid shenanigans? Fine.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

We’re just entering this weird new stage where our kids will actually…sit and talk to us at restaurants. It’s so bizarre and it JUST started happening so I don’t want to jinx it, ya know??? (Seasoned Moms, weigh in here — too good to be true? Will this continue???)

That said, on the way back down the mountain, they offered to have the kids ride up in front of the snowcat. It was too dark for a good pic (even with Mike’s mad manual-focusing-skills) but you can see the general level of excitement.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

7.  Nights At The Resort

Even if we didn’t have anything planned, Boyne Highlands has a ton of stuff to do. There’s a pretty epic hot-tub and outdoor pool situation (even the large pool is heated enough that I was happy swimming around), and they constantly have fires going outside, with plenty of S’mores-making kits on hand. There’s a ton of winter events (found here), as well as a spa for massages, etc.,

Our apres-ski schedule tended to be beers at the bar, S’mores at the firepit, a little dinner, a little swimming, then bed. It was perfect.

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!We had a super-fun vacation at Boyne Highlands resort in Michigan. Skiing, S'mores-making, swimming & dining — perfect for family-friendly bonding. Go!

 

If you Midwesterners are ever in need of a little family re-charge, I highly recommend checking out Boyne Highlands. It’s such a fun way to both bond and relax.

Happy Adventuring!

xo,
S

ps. This was in no way sponsored — we just had a blast.

pps.  Photo credits: Mike. I swear he was there!

13 COMMENTS

  1. Have you heard of Skida?? They have the cutest neck gaiters and hats!! They are totally a thing here in New England. Didn’t know if you’d seen em yet. Love this post by the way!! Reminds me of the vibe at Smugglers Notch, so perfect for families!!

  2. Have you checked out Skida?? They have the cutest hats and neck gaiters! They are all everywhere in NE. Love this post by the way! For us Smugglers Notch is very similar as a family oriented mountain with activities designed for the kids.

    • Oooo…thanks for the tip! I’m always looking for cute ski stuff. And I’ve heard others recommend Smugglers Notch, too….hmmm…we’ll have to check it out!

  3. One of my kiddos just started skiing and wants to book a trip. Your post is just what I needed to read for inspiration. As far as talking while out to eat- that is a real thing, and one of my favorite phases of parenting. Enjoy it! While my tween still chats with us and fills us in on his thoughts about his day or life in general, my teen is as silent as a snowman. But at least they still enjoy family time and vacations with us. Holding onto these years and being mindful that it all ebbs and flows…

    • Ugh, those ebbs and flows. Raines is more silent by nature, and I’m worried that it will all slip away so soon. Which is why we love skiing together, I think. Such fun, dedicated family time (and one that they like won’t be able to afford themselves while in collage so….PARENT TIME). MWAH HA HA HA.

  4. Love this post! I’m in California, but my family is from Michigan, and I spent many summers in Grayling hunting for Petoskey stones at my Gradma’s place. Reading about your trip gave me all the feels. Thinking now about bringing my daughter to the mitten!

  5. I love this post (says the always freezing Chicagoan)!!! A couple questions: did you fly there from PA? Please advise on the layers you wore. I am always cold. Thanks for sharing.

    • Well…we sort of flew in from PA. Mike’s family is in Grand Rapids, and Philly now a direct flight to GRR, so that’s what we usually do. Then we rented a car and drove up to the UP to see my fam…with a stop at Boyne Highlands. In terms of layers…I basically wear the same exact thing almost every day: jeans, boots, thin turtleneck, thick turtleneck layered over top, puffer. And then I swap out the jeans for velvet leggings. This post has my go-to for Michigan actually: https://themomedit.com/2019/01/velvet-leggings-outfit-ideas/

  6. Re: Kids getting older and talking. It is the best. And nurtured and encouraged with listening and laughter, it just gets better and better. Their personalities shine and it feels like discovering hidden gold. Who knew they thought their way through stuff in this way? How very cool that they’re teaching me things about them that I never knew! Anyway, YES, sharing life experiences as they get older just gets better and better. And, frankly, it’s not always the exciting adventures that spark the joy, it can be the tough stuff too.

  7. I know mama. I know. The older they get the more mindful I am of time…even the eye rolls and dirty socks and pulling away. I know it simply means they are marking time in the developmental stage they are. Then there are times I am mindful that my patience is non-existent, which is often, when I come lose myself in your blog to get a breather. 😉

    I will say you’re BRILLIANT in thinking about skiing! It is why we take larger family vacations, versus buying lots of stuff. We figure if we give them a taste for the travel bug, they will love it and won’t be able to afford it later in their young adult lives. So YES! Now you may have swayed this mama to get on skis! xo

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