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What's better on a brisk winter day than lacing up some ice skates and heading out to the rink? There are dozens of ice skating rinks in and around Traverse City -- including the locals' favorite on 14th Street near the Michigan State Police Post. There is also a rink at F&M Park on the corner of State Street and Railroad Avenue. And if you head to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, you can rent skates, too.
There's no need to be discouraged by warm weather or the occasional midwinter thaw, either. Traverse City has two indoor rinks: Howe Arena at the Grand Traverse Civic Center and Centre Ice Arena on Hammond Road – the same facility where the Detroit Red Wings hold their fall training camp!
The Traverse City area has lots of fun sledding hills, like the one at Grace MacDonald Park in East Bay Township (High Lake Road and E. Arbutus Lake Road) or the college observatory hill on Birmley Road. Almost every little village in the surrounding area has its own sledding hill. But the biggest sledding thrill is undoubtedly at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where the famous Dune Climb – all 260 feet of it – is open for sledding in winter.
Traverse City is famed for its fishing, and there’s no need to put away your tackle when winter comes. In fact, for those hardy souls who are willing to venture out on the ice, the months between December and April can be the most enticing of the year. Big toothy pike, tasty walleye and perch, plenty of bluegills, and even the occasional foolhardy bass are active under the ice in Grand Traverse Bay, Boardman Lake and the dozens of other inland lakes that surround Traverse City.
Everything has to be just right – crisp, cold weather, thick polished ice and a strong steady wind. But when it happens, the members of the Grand Traverse Ice Yacht Club pull their iceboats out and start racing across one of our long glacial lakes. We wouldn’t recommend that you try the sport without proper instruction, but it’s a fascinating spectator event: it’s fast, almost entirely silent and utterly beautiful to watch. Elk Lake, just northeast of town, is one of the favorite regatta sites.