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Sault Ste Marie's Blog

Enjoy a Northern City’s Winter in Sault Ste. Marie

Posted on November 25th, 2019

Are you looking for a magical time in the far north? Come and experience winter in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan! Yes! Hear me out. It may be cold – bitter even – but with the right layers and boots, plus a strong Northern attitude of “there is no bad weather only bad clothing,” you will do fine. You may even enjoy the winter silence as the muffling snow piles up. The snow brightens up the long dark nights. And, perhaps best of all, no mosquitoes or black flies to harass you.

Mandarin at Rotary Park

Rotary Park is one of the best places to see freighters during winter months as well.

Jump into activities you can only do during the cold, snowy months within the Sault, like walking on snow-packed sidewalks, winter photography, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. Even the Soo Locks can be enjoyed as the ships lock through until mid-January, and afterward watch the Corps of Engineers hard at work on lock maintenance. Don’t forget to watch the lake freighters pass between Sherman Park on the west end of town and Rotary Park in the east across from Sugar Island, where the Sugar Island Ferry darts back and forth year-round even after the shipping lanes freeze.

If you prefer to dash to and from a heated vehicle, focus on indoor activities. The Arts Center at Lake Superior State University offers programs in music, dance, and Shakespeare this winter season, beginning with “Together for the Holidays” on December 3. For sports, catch the Lakers hockey and basketball games, or work-out at the Norris Center’s full gym and drop-in skating rink.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of the Chippewa Indians’ Kewadin Casino provides gambling, dining, and entertainment at the DreamMakers Theater. Nearby, participate in the Big Bear Arena’s full gym, track (free anytime, subject to special events), or public skating hours. Or rent a pair of snowshoes for a local trek.

Christmas Open House

Sault Ste. Marie’s Christmas Open House even includes picturesque horse-drawn carriage rides. (Photo courtesy of DaleJohnsonPhotographer)

In town, a full schedule of events begins with the Christmas Open House in mid-December and the annual display of Christmas trees at the Avery Center on Ashmun Street. Ring in the New Year with a ball drop at the corner of Portage and Ashmun.

Next, participate in the International-500 Snowmobile Race, which takes over town as snowmobile enthusiasts and racers flock from around the world to watch teams drive 500 laps around a one-mile icy track. This season the weeklong activities begin on January 27 with a night skate on the track and includes the I-500 Pub Crawl later in the week before culminating on race day, February 1.

The human-powered annual Outhouse Races occurs on its own icy track on Portage Avenue in February. The Downtown Winter Ice Festival also takes place February 15 along Ashmun Street and Portage Avenue.

Pullar Stadium

A cherished landmark on Portage Avenue is the Pullar Stadium, a favorite since it was built in 1939. The Pullar Stadium is home to the Soo Eagles, an American junior ice hockey team from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan that plays in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, and it also offers public skating times. And don’t forget bowling – watching or doing – at the Dondee Lanes on Mackinac Trail near the Chippewa County Snowmobile Trail. It hosts the annual Twin Sault Tournament beginning in February.

The Sault Seal Recreation Area on Minneapolis Street offers snowboarding and snow tubing down the steep Minneapolis hill. Practice cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the adjacent wooded area. For a longer, but still, easy trail near Sherman Park, enjoy all or part of the 9-mile wooded Algonquin Cross-Country Ski Trail equipped with lights for night skiing and snowshoeing. 

When planning your trip, consult with the Sault Convention and Visitors Bureau before you go to make the most of your winter in magical Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan!

Do you have a favorite activity that reminds you of winter in a northern city?  Tag us in your photos of with #ilovethesoo so we can share in the fun! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Guest writer Susan Puska provided this blog post.