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5 Must-Do Michigan Christmas Activities: Last Minute Merrymaking in Michigan

5 Last-Minute Holiday Activities in Michigan for Christmas FUN

Christmas gifts wrapped? Holiday lights and decorations all up? Sounds like you might be ready to step into the Christmas wonderland for some last-minute pure Michigan holiday fun!

Whether you’re all set and ready for Christmas or just need a bit of holiday spirit, these Michigan holiday attractions and things to do are bound to put a smile on your face and spread some cheer. I love a quick respite from the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season.

The opportunity to explore a good Christmas market and see the bells in the city, take in an amazing Christmas lights display with some holiday music playing, or simply take a holiday walk to see the pretty Christmas decor is always a perfect part of celebrating Christmas in Michigan. If you’re looking for “Christmas Activities near Me,” read on.

Here are FIVE fabulous, must-do Christmas activities and holiday attractions in Michigan for some last-minute merry-making in Michigan.

Campus Martius park Christmas Tree Lighting
Photo of Campus Martius Park in Detroit at Christmas courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership

Visit Campus Martius in Downtown Detroit

If you’re in southeast Michigan or the metro Detroit area, it’s one of the coolest Christmas things to do: take a quick ride into the city to see this wonderland of lights and Christmas spirit. Nearby Belle Isle Park is fun to visit in the winter, too, as is the Detroit RiverWalk!

Wander the shops and restaurants along historic Woodward Avenue before heading to Campus Martius Park to check out the ice skating rink. The giant Michigan Christmas tree all lit up, the sound of Christmas carols and a mug of hot cocoa in your hand…it’s one of the hottest attractions in Michigan right now.

For just $10 person (groups are $40) you can take a horse drawn carriage ride – complete with silver bells – around the city. It’s such a fun – and different way to take in Detroit in Christmas that you might even end up making it an annual holiday event.

IF YOU GO: There’s a lot of fun things to do in southeast Michigan during Christmas. If you’re coming from west Michigan or northern Michigan, you might want to make it a weekend and check out other Christmas attractions like the Detroit Zoo’s Wild Lights, one of the top, family-fun walk-through Christmas light displays; Holiday nights at Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum; or drive 45 minutes north to Rochester Hills and see the entire town of downtown Rochester decked out in Christmas lights.

PRO-TIP: You might try and make it for the annual tree lighting, a Detroit holiday tradition for 18 years and counting, from 5 p.m. – midnight on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.

Train Rides to the North Pole, Anyone?

Looking for a ride on the North Pole Express to meet Santa Claus? Look no farther than Mid-Michigan’s Owosso, an easy road trip from just about anywhere in the state (except the Upper Peninsula – you’ll want to stay overnight).

Climb aboard the steam-powered Pere Marquette 1225 and enjoy a one-hour and fifteen-minute train ride each way to and from the village of Ashley, where you can enjoy an old-fashioned country Christmas. This historic train was actually the inspiration for the book and movie “The Polar Express” and is fun for all ages.

Find another Santa train at Crossroads Village in Flint, MI. Here, you can take an evening ride on the Huckleberry Railroad through a spectacular display of Michigan Christmas lights and then stroll through the village.

IF YOU GO: the Village of Ashley is so much fun to explore. You’ll find a real winter wonderland here: a carnival-like atmosphere (complete with Ferris Wheel) of bakeries, cafes and more than one Christmas store. Bring your wallet and your camera!

PRO-TIP: Read our post on Polar Express and Michigan Santa Trains to find the perfect magical Christmas experience.

things to do in Frankenmuth at Christmas

Visit Frankenmuth MI and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

It isn’t the actual Christmas Michigan (that’s in the U.P.), but it’s as close as you can get in the lower peninsula. Frankenmuth might actually even be Santa’s workshop as it’s home to the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s.

Whether you start your visit at the store billed as the “largest Christmas store in the world,” where you can explore more than seven acres of Christmas ornaments and decor, or taking in the winter wonders of Michigan’s own “Little Bavaria, a trip to Frankenmuth is a Michigan-must during the holiday season. If you have a little one, be sure and get your picture with Santa here…it’s a holiday tradition for many Michigan families.

IF YOU GO: Of all the Christmas events in Michigan, a visit to Frankenmuth will be a real memory-maker. Use our guide to Christmas in Frankenmuth to help plan your trip. Get there early and plan to top your day off with a world-famous family-style chicken dinner.

PRO-TIP: You won’t find sleigh rides here, but you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride around this cute little town. It’s a great way to take in the lay of the land as you start to plan your day exploring Frankenmuth.

Visit St. Joseph on Lake Michigan

Yes, it’s called the “Riviera of the Midwest” for its perfect beach town vibe, and in the winter it’s equally beautiful. In fact, Christmastime is one of my favorite times to visit this top Michigan travel destination. The entire downtown is decked out in its holiday finery and I love looking at the windows of the shops along the brick-paved streets.

St. Joe’s is one of my favorite spots to shop for gifts with a more personal touch: you’ll find tons of unique gifts, toys, and books at the shops here. You can also find handmade chocolates, taste some wines fresh from the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail and grab a bite at one of the many restaurants and cafes.

This southwest Michigan town also comes alive with color in the evening, when the whole bluff overlooking Lake Michigan is ablaze with twinkling lights. “Light Up the Bluff” is one of Michigan’s top roadside attractions and better yet, it stays lit until Valentine’s Day!

IF YOU GO: Stop by one of Michigan’s Christmas Tree farms in nearby Galien. As tree farms go, this is one of the best in the best in the area. Take a horse-drawn wagon ride that make exploring the family farm even more magical.

PRO-TIP: It’s just a short ride from Grand Rapids, and just over two hours from Ann Arbor or metro Detroit. Try and plan your visit to coincide with the Annual Reindog Parade, a holiday parade for the canine crew. It’s held the first weekend in December.

Find Holiday Splendor at Meadow Brook Hall

This historic mansion and the surrounding grounds come alive with holiday splendor at Christmas. Explore the 110-room estate from the Grand Ballroom to Candy Cane Cottage and take in 50 beautifully decorated Christmas trees, flickering fireplaces, and lights galore!

IF YOU GO: You’ll also find special events throughout the season like the Starlight Stroll, Holiday Tea, and Santa Saturdays! Tickets are required, so check the website for details.

More Don’t Miss Michigan Christmas Attractions

If you’re still looking for some last-minute Christmas attractions in Michigan, we’ve got them. Check out:
• Canterbury Village in Lake Orion
• World’s Largest Singing Christmas tree in Muskegon
• Christmas at Eastern Market in Detroit, one of the country’s largest farmers markets