Lucy Hough is currently enrolled in the English Master’s program at Northern Michigan University and writes frequently for other cool Upper Peninsula publications like U.P. Second Wave. I’m happy to have brought her on to Things to do in the U.P. as a contributor, so you’ll likely be seeing posts from her here on a fairly regular basis.
Winter is my favorite season in the Upper Peninsula, even though I don’t love outdoor sports. I’ve found there are a lot of ways to enjoy the season without having to hit the trails or put on snowshoes. Here are some of my favorite things to do in the winter:
Support the sled dog races. Even though it’s an outdoor activity, it doesn’t involve a lot of physical activity. The big two sled dog races in the U.P. are the UP200 and CopperDog 150. UP200 runs from downtown Marquette to Grand Marais and back, and you can watch the beginning in Marquette on Friday evening, Feb. 15, 2013. CopperDog takes place in the Keweenaw Peninsula, starting at 5 p.m., Friday, March 1st in downtown Calumet.
Attend other U.P., winter events. Along the same lines of the sled dog races, there are other U.P. winter events that allow for the enjoyment of winter without having to be super active. Some of those events include Negaunee’s Heikki Lunta from Jan. 19-20; Soo International 500 Snowmobile Race from Jan. 28 – Feb. 2; Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival from Feb. 9 – 11; Trenary’s Outhouse Classic on Feb. 23; and the Indianhead Mountain Resort’s Mountain Top Music Fest and Bikini Races from March 15-17.
Engage with the local library. What I love about the Marquette library is the fire places and big windows on the second floor of the library. What’s nice about most libraries is the regular events that can range from film screenings to workshops on local history. Between that and the tons of books on the shelves, local libraries are a great place to pass the time in the winter months.
Take a local food or drink tour. Winter is a great time to try all of those foods you’ve been wondering about. Some possibilities include a local brewery tour, a pasty tour, a local pizza tour or a cudighi tour. There are a lot of U.P.-specific foods and drinks, and why not spend a weekend trying them out?
Learn about local history. Though they may have more limited hours for the off season, many local museums are still open. The U.P. has an extensive list of local and subject-specific museums, and the winter is a great time to check them out. Some of the bigger museums include Negaunee’s Michigan Iron Industry Museum, the Keweenaw National Historic Park, the Marquette Regional History Center and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. And even if you’re not interested in learning about local history, there’s also the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.
Cheer on local sports. Especially after Ishpeming’s football team has been in the news for its win and the Sports Illustrated Underdog contest, it’s a great time to enjoy local sports. You may not be interested in doing the sport yourself, so why not cheer on the people who do. And often, the sports are indoors so you won’t have to brave the cold. From high school to university level, sports schedules can be found on the school’s website. I bet there’s a game near you every weekend, so why not. What’s more, the Beaumier Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University is currently featuring the U.P. Power! High School Sports in the Upper Michigan exhibit, which includes stories about the greatest teams, players and coaches in U.P. high school sports history. There are photographs, trophies, uniforms and other memorabilia on display.
Check out U.P. roller derby. Not many people know about it, but there are roller derby teams throughout the U.P., and their seasons are primarily in the winter. There’s the Kingsford Krush, the Escanaba Rollin Hellcats, the Dead River Derby (Marquette), and the Keweenaw Roller Girls. Check out their Facebook pages for information about their upcoming bouts.
In the comments, tell us some of your favorite non-winter-sport things to do in the U.P. winters.