t’s February. The holidays are long over, yet there’s still a long slug of winter ahead. The perpetual grayness seems to seep into everything, like slush soaking through your boots. It’s tempting to settle into hibernation mode, but let’s face it—getting out and doing something is far more rewarding than the binge-watching of TV. There are plenty of wintertime activities available, both indoors and out, and always something new to try. So get out and brave the cold! Your favorite shows on Netflix will still be there when you get back, we promise.
Hit the slopes
There's nothing quite like the feeling of carving through fresh snow on skis or a snowboard. Just twenty miles north of Ann Arbor, Mount Brighton is a quick and easy way to get some wintertime sun and fun. The 250-foot gradual elevation may not be the most grandiose, but its certified instructors and range of beginner trails make it a great place for anyone to learn to ski or snowboard. In fact, Mount Brighton and many other ski areas across the state have also teamed up for a new program, Discover Michigan Skiing, designed to encourage people to get some exercise and learn how to ski. Open to everyone seven years or older, the program includes a beginner’s lesson, rental equipment, and a beginner’s area lift ticket all for greatly reduced prices. (For more information, visit goskimichigan.com.) More advanced skiers and boarders can take advantage of the hill's terrain park, complete with half pipe, moguls, and jumps. Since Mount Brighton was purchased by Colorado's Vail Resorts in 2012, the new ownership has been putting millions of dollars into improving all trails, lifts, and indoor amenities. The hill, a little alpine getaway, is now better than ever.
Open seasonally, Mon-Fri. 10am-10pm; Sat. & Sun. 9am-10pm.
4141 Bauer Rd., Brighton. 810-229-9581 mtbrighton.com
While Michigan's weather is consistently unpredictable, there's one thing you can depend on this time of year: gray skies. Alleviate the gloomy feeling with a trip to the planetarium at The University of Michigan's Museum of Natural History. Recent renovations to the planetarium saw the removal of the last analog equipment under the old canvas dome, meaning the shows now are all digital, and more stunning than ever. 3D imagery makes for beautiful explorations of the universe, and state-of-the-art projection allow viewers to take virtual trips through the furthest reaches of space, with accuracy ensured by the Digital Universe Atlas and other authoritative sources. Keep an eye out for Star Talk: the Night Tonight, a recurring event that shows what's going on in the current sky—with no pesky clouds to get in the way.
Schedule varies. $5 admission.
1109 Geddes Ave. 734-764-0478
Held monthly at the Blind Pig, The Bang! is Ann Arbor's best dance party. Now in its 13th year, the event attracts mods, rockers, punks, glamazons—just about anyone who falls under the “hipster” blanket term—but all are welcome. Depending on the theme of the night (Tacopacalypse, Glitter and Gold, or Swimsuit Business, for example), people come dressed to impress and ready to cut loose. DJs spin classic soul, disco, garage rock, and retro pop hits—a welcome change of pace from the torturous dubstep blasting out of other venues. Despite playing older tunes, The Bang! is not a club night for the faint of heart—with so many bodies on the floor, get ready to get sweaty.
The Bang! returns to the Blind Pig with The Love Bang! on Saturday, February 15. $8, $11 under 21. 208 S. First St.
734-996-8555. Check blindpigmusic.com or
facebook.com/thebangdanceparty for future dates.
Sometimes all it takes is a little adventure to shake off the monotony of another gray February day geocaching—a worldwide scavenger hunt some 6,000,000 players strong—is a great way to spend the afternoon, as you’ll never know what you’ll find. The premise of geocaching is this: players (called geocachers) use GPS devices and web printouts to search for things (called geocaches) outside, in public areas. Geocaches are typically waterproof boxes or jars that are filled with a logbook and free trinkets and treasures. To find a geocache, print out coordinate clues from the geocaching website, and search for the cache using a GPS device. Difficulty varies by cache; some are disguised and very well-hidden. When one is found, you sign the logbook, and take an item inside as a memento. In return, you’re asked to replace each item you take with one of your own, so that the treasure abounds for the next geocacher. The real fun in geocaching is not just the treasure, but also not knowing where you’ll end up. Discover whole new areas without ever leaving town.
Visit geocaching.com to learn more.
Get active indoors
Even if it’s too miserable to consider going outside for any length of time, that’s still no excuse for inactivity. As so many of us hit that post-New-Year’s-Resolution slump at the gym, it’s a great time to get re-motivated by trying something new. The Ann Arbor area is home to many unconventional fitness options, from strengthening ballet barre exercises at Barre Bee Fit, to aerial and trapeze classes at the A2 Aviary. But in particularly frigid weather, Bikram Yoga may be the most appealing option. Practiced in sauna-like rooms, heated to 100° with 40% humidity, Bikram Yoga uses heat to strengthen and relax muscles. Hydration is key, as the steamy temps will have you sweating in
Barre Bee Fit: 500 E. Washington, Ste.1 / 734-769-6996
A2 Aviary: 4720 S. State St. / 734-726-0353
Bikram Yoga: 3227 Washtenaw Ave. / 734-975-2922
A little retail therapy is always an effective cure for cabin fever. This is the time of year to curl up with a good book, so it’s essential to have some good reading material on hand before the next big storm. Fortunately, Ann Arbor has no shortage of independent bookstores. West Side Book Shop, located downtown, offers an impressive array of rare and collectible publications, with especially-revered selections of art books and maps. If you’re looking for author readings and various other events with your book browsing, Nicola’s Books routinely brings nationally recognized authors through its doors. For the more casual, paperback browser, Dawn Treader is jam-packed with used fiction, sci-fi, mystery and travel books. For your mystery novel fix, check out Aunt Agatha’s New & Used, Mysteries, Detection and True Crime Books. Those who prefer fresh stock should check out Literati Bookstore, a snug, hip store that’s got a friendly staff on hand to recommend the latest titles in the literature world.
West Side Book Shop: 113 W. Liberty St. / 734-995-1891.
Nicola’s Books: 2513 Jackson Ave. / 734-662-0600.
Dawn Treader: 514. W Liberty St. / 734-995-1008.
Literati Bookstore: 124 E. Washington St. / 734-585-5567.
Aunt Agatha's: 213 S. 4th Ave # 1A / 734-769-1114.
Plan your escape
Dishes piling up? Laundry too? Neighbor’s dog driving you mad? Consider a mini-getaway at a nearby hotel… preferably, one with an indoor pool, sauna, and hot tub. Weber’s Inn is a great choice. Its family-owned operations make it a unique destination; this isn’t some chain hotel off the interstate. The luxe amenities of Weber’s make a welcome change of pace for any visitor, and the sophisticated design lends itself to a feeling of being far, far away from the dreariness of the Michigan winter. If you don’t want to spend the night, Oasis Hot Tub Gardens let you reserve one or two hour soaks.
Weber’s Inn: 3050 Jackson Rd. / 734-769-2500.
Oasis Hot Tub Gardens: 2301 S. State St. / 734-663-9001.
For a sure-fire winter blues fix, head to the hills. Washtenaw County has plenty of good sledding options, from kid-friendly neighborhood hills to the steeper, sculpted slopes of golf courses—Huron Hills and Radrick Farms are two popular choices. Local areas with sledding hills include Hunt Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and Montibeller Park. In Ypsilanti, the Rolling Hills County Park is definitely worth scoping out—it even offers sled and toboggan rentals. Snowball fights are optional, but hot chocolate afterwards is a must.
Rolling Hills is open year round from 8am to dusk.
$5 daily vehicle pass. 7660 Stony Creek Rd., Ypsilanti. 734-484-9676.
Hunt Park is open 8am to dusk.
Corner of Sunset Rd. and Spring St.
Veterans Memorial Park is open 8am-10pm.
2150 Jackson Ave. 734-794-6230.
Montibeller Park is open year round 9am-5pm
4305 Ellsworth Rd., Pittsfield Charter Township.
Get active outdoors
Any form of outdoor exercise can help keep cabin fever at bay. Just getting outside for a stroll can have a noticeable impact on your mood, and where better than at Nichols Arboretum. The scenic overlooks and broad valleys make it an unparalleled choice for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. Trails along the Huron River are particularly striking this time of year. Centrally located between UM’s main and north campuses, the Arb is easy to get to, yet spacious enough to get lost in. Finding solitude is easy at the Arb—even on a busy weekend afternoon.
Open year round, sunrise to sunset. Free.
1610 Washington Heights. 734-647-7600.
There just aren't many arcades like Pinball Pete's anymore. All the old favorites are here—Donkey Kong or Ms. Pacman, anyone?—as you remember playing them, joysticks and all. There are also flashier, newer games, as well as the chance to win prizes. (Unless you really want one of those sticky hand toys, why not make a child’s day and give your tickets away?) For those who prefer being slightly more active, the arcade has skee-ball, air hockey, and pool, making it a great place to bring friends. Rather than sitting around and playing video games on your home TV all winter, at least Pinball Pete’s gives you the opportunity to power up a level and get out of the house.
Open Mon.-Sat. 10am-2am; Sun. 10am-12am.
1214 S. University Ave. 734-213-2502