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Five BEST Things to Do in Alpena in Winter

Winter in Alpena MI

Discover Alpena in the Winter

Tucked away in northeast Michigan along the shores of Lake Huron, Alpena may be one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets. Alpena in the winter is especially pretty, surrounded by soft white snow and glistening ice.

Surrounded by the Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers, and natural forests, there’s a lot of outdoor fun to be had here all year long.

Additionally, in the spring, summer, and fall, the water provides endless opportunities fun. You can enjoy swimming and splashing along the beautiful beaches; as well as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and fishing.

The parks and lighthouses along the shoreline and further inland provide even more chances for outdoor exploration. There’s endless miles of hiking and biking trails.

In the winter, the fun continues with winter hiking, fat tire biking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and even sleigh rides across open country in a horse-drawn carriage.

Read on to to discover FIVE things to do in Alpena in the winter.

Ocqueoc Falls in Alpena in the winter

What is There to Do in Alpena in the Winter?

Visit Ocqueoc Falls

Just north of Alpena is the largest waterfall in Michigan’s lower peninsula: Ocqueoc Falls in Presque Isle County.

The waterfall (and its five-foot drop) is created by the Ocqueoc River as it cascades over pre-glacial limestone.

It’s about a .3 mile hike from the parking lot to the waterfalls, under towering hardwoods like birch, maple, and ash. In the winter, it’s a quiet and calming spot. The cold weather doesn’t stop the rushing water as it travels on its way to Lake Huron’s Hammond Bay.

Furthermore, Ocqueoc Falls is the only universally accessible waterfall in the country: you’ll find wide paved paths if there is no snowfall.

Take in the Night Sky at Rockport State Recreation Area

The opportunities for stargazing in Michigan are boundless, but some of the clearest skies you will encounter are located in Alpena’s Rockport State Recreation Area, one of Michigan’s Dark Sky Preserves.

Located on the shores of Lake Huron, this unique 4,300-acre park is home to an old limestone quarry. Indeed, the mining and loading dock is still there.

In the evening, this remote spot is almost enchanting as the entire night sky lights up with stars over the water. In the winter, the stars seem to sparkle even brighter, too.

winter sleigh rides in Alpena MI - things to do in winter in alpena

See Elk During A Sleigh Ride

No winter visit to the Alpena area is complete with a sleigh ride over snow-covered hills and some Elk-viewing. Head for Hillman and the Thunder Bay Resort, just a short ride west of Alpena.

Here, you’ll walk directly into your snow globe world as you cuddle up under warm blankets and dash through the snow. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see some of the Elk (they are much bigger than you might think) the reside in the area.

Explore Downtown Alpena

I’ll be honest: I’ve been visiting Alpena since I was a child, and I have a certain fondness for this under-the-radar Michigan vacation destination.

The historic downtown shopping area is simply charming: think coffee shops, cafes, and boutiques housed in historic buildings along a brick-paved street, all filled with unique treats.

It’s a friendly town, too: the folks here love their town and are happy to share their own personal travel tips, too. You can use our ultimate guide to Alpena to find some of our favorite spots to dine and shop.

Don’t miss Cabin Creek Coffee (a favorite). This family-owned coffee house has a full coffee bar (delicious espresso) and a sandwich menu, too.

man snowshoeing in Alpena Michigan in the winter

Pick a Nature Trail and Get Moving

You can choose from snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter hiking, ice skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing, sledding, or fat tire biking; there are endless miles of trails to explore.

Besser Natural Area, and Rockport State Recreation Area are two spots you’ll want to check out, just north of the city. This is a great country for snowmobiling, too: head for the North Eastern State Trail, a 71-trail with gorgeous scenery of Michigan backcountry.

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