Winter Must-Dos from a Michigan Student

ResNav at "Having a Heat Wave" #SoYF (in Union) in February.

Michigan is known for its brutal winters, but I’ve come to enjoy the Michigan winters because of all the activities I do to keep myself occupied and find joy in the cold.

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Ice Skating at Yost

Ice skating is a great activity to do with friends (and by yourself)! Even though I don’t know how to ice skate and grasp the ice skate trainers for dear life, I still had a fun time with my friends at Yost. The Yost Ice Arena is right by central campus and has openings for the general public to skate. Be sure to view their schedule and see when public skating is available. Students can skate for $4 per person. You can bring your own skates or pay $3 to rent skates.

Skiing, Snowboarding, Dogsledding, and More

Skiing and snowboarding are classic Michigan activities in the winter. You can drive 30 minutes north to Mount Brighton (non-UM affiliate) for both. Rentals are available onsite, along with lessons. Grab a few friends and carpool!

Adventure Leadership Trips are open to everyone and can take you anywhere - from dogsledding in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to backpacking the Grand Canyon - and they’re convenient because they handle all the logistics and details, while providing a great adventure outdoors. Be sure to sign up fast because spaces are limited and fill up quickly!

Go to a U-M Sports Game

Even with the end of football season, there are still plenty of sports games to show your Michigan spirit. “Go Blue!” at hockey games, which are held at Yost. The student passes are currently closed, but you can buy single tickets at the public price. (Did you know that our student section—The Children of Yost—has a complete collection of chants?)

No tickets? No worries! You can cheer on our women’s basketball team at Crisler Center for free, by showing your Mcard at the Maize Rage entrance.

Here’s a great returning student tip: student section tickets go on sale for all U-M Athletics in March, so get yours for next year!

Take a Tropical or Polar Walk in the Gardens

Michigan is home to the popular Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. The Arboretum, or “Arb,” is open seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free for everyone. There are various trails, nature areas, and gardens. I've gone to the Arb a few times with my friends, and each time, it's like a whole new experience because we explore a different trail or garden. It's quite the sight to be surrounded by the bright yellow leaves of ginkgo trees (during the fall) or to get stand at the highest point on campus at the Geddes Road entrance. The Arb is very scenic and calls for the perfect mini photoshoot sessions with your friends or yourself.

If you prefer to escape the cold for a little, you can enjoy the indoor Conservatory at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, which is filled with plants from around the world. With three major life and climate zones, there’s is a little something for everyone.

Movie Nights

If you prefer to stay in and relax or take a break from studying, movie nights (with hot chocolate) are a great option. One of my favorite movies is “When Harry Met Sally” - it’s a classic rom-com about a couple who meets on a college break! Alternatively, you can get cozy and watch newly released movies at the State or Michigan Theaters (non-UM affiliate) with some buttered popcorn. Both locations offer student discounts with a valid student ID, so don’t forget to bring your MCard! (I have yet to watch a movie at either theater, but I’ve watched a live orchestra of Studio Ghibli's soundtrack, and it was the highlight of my finals week last term.)

Speaking of Studio Ghibli, there’s a late-January “My Neighborhood Totoro” study event hosted by Michigan House DEI, which they’re holding in the Edward Said Multicultural Lounge. At almost any point on the calendar, there’s a movie night posted on Happening@Michigan: search “Find Amazing Things to Do.”

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is right around the corner! Many restaurants will have discounts and deals from February 5 to February 10, 2023. You can choose from their lunch menus and menus-for-2. There are always vegan and vegetarian options. This is the perfect time to try new food at great prices. This year I am so excited to try Jolly Pumpkin and Pacific Rim!

Happening @ Michigan

Be on the lookout for university-wide sponsored events throughout the school year. There will be multiple UMixes at the Michigan Union/Pierpont Commons on Fridays with various themes during the winter semester. These are always a great opportunity for students to connect with others while having fun! I have been to a couple of UMixes with my friends, and we have met, talked, and bonded with other students while playing board games and roller skating. (I roller skated for the first time at a UMix, and people were so nice in helping me up and teaching me how to roller skate!) My favorite one was on the Friday of Halloween weekend because I got to stuff a pumpkin-shaped teddy bear and had a lot of fun with my friends. Be sure to try one!

UMICH RESOURCE LINKS (in order of article appearance)

Yost Ice Arena 
Mount Brighton (U-M unaffiliate) 
Adventure Leadership Trips 
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum 
Conservatory at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens 
State or Michigan Theaters (U-M unaffiliate) 
Ann Arbor Restaurant Week (U-M unaffiliate) 

Content Expertise Contributor: 
Nancy Chen | Junior | LSA Org Studies & PPE