November brings cooler weather, holiday cheer, and the start of ski season to Michigan. From wine tastings and waterfalls to ice skating and Christmas lights, there are plenty of wonderful activities happening around the state this month. Here are my top recommendations for making the most of November in Michigan.
1. Visit a Michigan Winery
Fall is harvest time for Michigan’s fabulous wineries. November is a perfect opportunity to tour the vineyards, often decorated for the holidays, or relax by a fire in a cozy tasting room. Some excellent wineries to visit include:
- Mari Vineyards: Mari’s modern hilltop tasting room offers stunning views of West Grand Traverse Bay along with award-winning cool climate wines like pinot gris, chardonnay and cabernet franc.
- Black Star Farms: The tasting room sits on an historic horse farm with picturesque vineyards and trails. Try their aromatic white pinot blancs and rich cabernet francs.
- Vergennes Winery: Housed in a French-inspired chateau, Vergennes’ tasting room has a romantic fireplace lounge serving delicious wine and small plates.
Many wineries offer holiday tastings, wine and food pairings, or vine decorating activities in November. With smaller crowds, it’s a relaxing time to sample vintages and take in the scenery.
2. Browse a Christmas Market
Get a head start on holiday shopping and cheer at one of Michigan’s festive markets filled with gifts, decor, food and family activities:
- Alpine Christmas Market: Held annually at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, this German-style market has artisan vendors, live music, and German treats.
- Holly Days Christmas Market: Historic downtown Holly hosts this market on November 12, 2022 with 60+ vendors, reindeer meet and greets, cider, donuts, and carolers.
- Noel Night: This massive Midtown event has shopping, food trucks, family activities, holiday music performances and more across 5 walkable districts.
- Christkindlmarkt: Patterned after the classic Nuremberg, Germany market, enjoy German food, music, shopping and even ice carving demonstrations.
Get into the holiday spirit with hot chocolate, festive music, unique gifts and Christmas cheer! The markets make for a magical seasonal outing.
3. Marvel at Frozen Waterfalls
As temperatures drop in November, many of Michigan’s spectacular waterfalls start to freeze, creating incredible frozen wonderlands. Some of the most magnificent include:
- Miners Falls: Located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the 50-foot falls partially freeze in intriguing formations visible from the overlooks.
- Chapel Falls: Dropping 50 feet in a forested canyon, Chapel usually freezes into a giant ice wall by November – quite a sight! Access via a moderate 3 mile roundtrip hike.
- Horseshoe Falls: A short 0.5 mile hike leads to the 15-foot falls, which completely freeze into a large icicle by winter. See it from behind the icy veil too!
- Bond Falls: Check out the partially frozen 50-foot falls via a short boardwalk trail in the Western Upper Peninsula.
Seeing enormous frozen waterfalls creates unforgettable winter memories! Just take caution on icy surfaces. November offers a stunning transitional glimpse before they freeze fully.
4. Run a Turkey Trot
Burn off some calories before the big feast by running a fun 5K or 10K Turkey Trot. These family-friendly races often have costumes, prizes, charity benefits and post-race snacks. Here are some great ones:
- Turkey Trot Detroit: This enormous Thanksgiving tradition takes you along the Detroit Riverfront.
- YMCA Turkey Day Run: This chip-timed race follows the Grand River and raises funds for the YMCA Strong Kids program.
- Turkeyville Trots: Run through the hills and trails of Turkeyville USA resort. Gobble up the post-race Thanksgiving buffet!
Burn those Thanksgiving indulgences and start your holiday on a healthy note with friends and family! Registration fills up fast for popular trots.
5. See Magical Christmas Light Displays
From glittering gardens aglow with holiday lights to dazzling neighborhood displays, November is the perfect time to enjoy some early seasonal sparkle. Here are some fantastic Christmas light experiences:
Detroit Zoo comes alight with over 5 million LED lights formed into twinkling animal shapes and larger-than-life sculptures. Historic St. Clair is decked out in hundreds of thousands of lights along the St. Clair River for delightful strolling.
Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village shines with traditional holiday decor, candles in the windows, and Model T rides to see the lights. And Frederik Meijer Gardens dazzles with indoor and outdoor light displays, fire pits with s’mores, and live music.
‘Tis the season for Christmas magic! bundle up with some hot cocoa and watch your family’s faces glow seeing the spectacular light displays.
6. Take a Sleigh Ride
What could be more quintessentially wintry than a one-horse open sleigh ride? Nestle under a blanket as you meander through snowy countryside or quiet forests on a scenic sleigh ride. Some great spots include:
- Echo Valley Ranch: Choose from 30 or 60 minute rides through this beautiful ranch’s wintry trails.
- BK Sleigh Rides: Their draft horses pull you on private rides through the woods nearby Grand Haven and Lake Michigan.
- Country Dairy: Snuggle under blankets on an old-fashioned sleigh ride through this family-run dairy farm’s picturesque fields.
- Double JJ Resort: Take in the Thoroughbred Golf Course glittering with holiday lights on special illuminated sleigh ride nights.
Sleigh rides are perfect for families, couples, and even as a romantic holiday date night. The clip-clop of hooves and twinkling lights create a nostalgic winter experience.
7. See “The Nutcracker” Ballet
Attending a performance of the beloved holiday ballet, The Nutcracker, has become a cherished tradition for many Michigan families. With spectacular sets and costumes, the Grand Rapids Ballet puts on an unforgettable show at the DeVos Performance Hall.
You can see a fantastic blend of professional and student dancers perform at the Macomb Center For The Performing Arts. The Nutcracker also comes alive with the Mid Michigan Music Society performers.
With Sugar Plum Fairies and epic battle scenes between mice and toy soldiers, the dazzling holiday classic never disappoints.
8. Cruise to See Christmas Lights
For gorgeous views of riverside towns decked out in holiday splendor, book a special Christmas lights cruise or dinner:
- Grand River Lights Cruise: Take in the sights on a relaxed 90 minute riverboat cruise with hot cocoa and cookies.
- Holiday Lights Dinner Cruise: Cruise the Lake Macatawa shoreline while enjoying a 3 course candlelit dinner aboard a historic boat.
- Frankenmuth Cruise: See the Bavarian-themed village illuminated from the Cass River aboard the River Queen sternwheeler.
- Detroit Princess Riverboat: This 2.5 hour holiday cruise down the Detroit River includes a full dinner, live jazz, and spectacular building lights.
Cozy up on an evening river cruise to see glittering lights reflected on the water during the holidays. It’s a great way for families or couples to make merry memories.
9. Pick and Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Instead of buying a pre-cut tree, get the full holiday experience by selecting and harvesting your own. Here are some splendid U-Cut tree farms:
- H&H Evergreens: Wander through 22 acres choosing from Scotch Pine, White Pine, Blue Spruce and more. Hayrides, hot cocoa, wreaths and garlands too.
- Tree Top Nurseries: Cut your own pine or fir from this picturesque 160 acre farm. They provide saws, twine, sleds – even hot dogs and s’mores!
- Steinhards Christmas Tree Farm: This cute family-run farm offers tractor rides out to find that perfect fir, pine, or spruce.
Cutting down your own tree makes holiday decorating even more meaningful. The kids will love tromping through the snowy fields hunting for “the one!”
10. Experience an Enchanting Thanksgiving Feast
Make Thanksgiving magical with a themed feast at one of these venues:
- Grand Hotel: Dress your Thanksgiving best for the stately holiday buffet at the historic island resort.
- Castle in the Country: An all-you-can-eat buffet served in a real French castle – yes, please!
- Turkeyville Dinner Theater: Fun Thanksgiving musical show plus a classic turkey feast.
- Cornwell’s Turkeyville Inn: Thanksgiving dinner served in an 1865 stagecoach inn – charming!
Forget cooking and create special memories over an unforgettable Thanksgiving meal in a unique setting. Make reservations early as these fill up fast!
November brings no shortage of festive activities to Michigan from college football rivalries to twinkling light displays, family shows, and holiday feasts.
Take advantage of the cooler weather to see magical waterfalls or pick the perfect Christmas tree too! What will you add to your November must-do list?