by Andrea Guthmann
It’s doubtful anyone will confuse a Midwest ski resort with the Rockies. Midwestern mountains are more like Western hills, yet avid skiers will gain a new respect for Midwestern skiing after visiting Boyne Highlands, an all-season Northern Michigan resort with some of the Midwest’s best slopes. Resembling a Scottish country estate with its deep wood accents, tartan plaids and massive fireplaces, Boyne Highlands offers Midwestern families a budget-friendly ski vacation without the hassles or expense of flying.
Boyne Highlands is a sprawling resort with 55 ski runs that meander through pine forests alongside several terrain parks for snowboarders. On a clear day, you can see the mighty Mackinac Bridge from the highest peak. Another skiing perk? Buy a lift ticket at Boyne Highlands and you can also use it to ski at their sister ski resort, Boyne Mountain, located a half hour south in Boyne Falls.
Boyne Highlands has more than just downhill skiing though. There’s the peaceful escape of cross-country skiing through pristine woods, though kids will likely prefer the excitement of dogsledding, zip-lining, the tubing hill or the roar of a snowmobile ride through the surrounding forest.
The fun continues in the warmer months, with Boyne Highlands offering horseback riding, mountain biking and four 18-hole golf courses, surrounded by peaceful meadows and forests. Boaters and beach lovers will be delighted by the charming Lake Michigan towns of Petoskey (6 miles away) and Harbor Springs (3 miles away). These harbor towns offer quaint main streets filled with unique boutiques and galleries, eclectic coffee shops and upscale restaurants. Be aware that in the winter, the restaurants and shops have limited hours, with some even closing for a few months.
Since the nearby towns are a few miles away, Boyne Highlands has developed into a one-stop, play-and-stay resort. Superb onsite restaurants and bars with live music, combined with a myriad of kid-friendly activities, mean guests never have to leave the property. The ski-in, ski-out lodging allows guests to park their car upon arrival, and not drive again until it’s time to say goodbye. Few Midwestern resorts can match the fun Boyne Highlands offers families.
Our Editor Loves
- Ski-in, ski-out access
- Ski lessons for kids 3 and up
- Midwest's largest outdoor hot tub
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are plenty of lodging options at the sprawling Boyne Highlands. The resort's lodging units range from budget-friendly standard rooms to loft-style condos to full-fledged homes. You can choose from a room with one king bed to multiple bedrooms large enough to house a party. The most budget-friendly rooms are the standard rooms with one queen bed, found at the Bartley House. At the higher end, Alpine Village offers luxurious 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom slopeside homes. Free wireless Internet is provided throughout the resort's lodging, as well as complimentary parking.
As the name implies, this is the resort's main hotel. Stay here, and you'll be close to all the action -- walk to the cozy lobby, Slopeside Lounge and main dining room without ever going outside -- a nice perk in the winter months. Keep in mind that the even numbered rooms provide slopeside views, while the odd rooms overlook the parking lot.
Each room in the Main Lodge comes with a flat screen TV, mini-fridge, blowdryer, coffee maker and plush robes. Rooms all come with bathtubs in the Main Lodge, along with Gilchrist & Soames bath products and daily maid service.
A variety of room sizes and configurations mean there's a perfect lodging choice for every family in the Main Lodge. The smallest have one king bed, then there are rooms with two double beds and the European Suites, which have a king bed along with a pullout sofa. These normally connect to a larger room, a good choice for those traveling with grandparents or teens. True suites have a pull out sofa and fireplace in the living room and a bedroom with either one king or two queen beds.
The Family Rooms are a great choice for those traveling with several kids. There's a king or double bed in the living room and a bedroom with 2 sets of bunk beds.
Rooms 250 and 244 have only one king bed, and are a nice choice for smaller families, as they have a sliding glass door leading out to the pool. Rollaway beds and cribs are provided throughout in the Main Lodge free of charge.
The Bartley House offers the resort's most budget-friendly option -- one or two bedrooms with a TV and small refrigerator. It's said to have the Midwest's largest hot tub, not a bad way to end a day of skiing! You can also walk over to the Main Lodge's heated outdoor pool for a dip.
Heather Highlands Inn
Across from the Main Lodge is the stylish Heather Highlands Inn, where you'll find privately owned condos, all with full kitchens, ranging from a standard room to the two story lofts with a downstairs bedroom, an upstairs loft bedroom and two full bathrooms.
The deluxe rooms at Heather Highlands Inn have updated kitchens with modern appliances and a full size refrigerator.
All the units have gas fireplaces, and some, but not all, have bathtubs. There's an indoor/outdoor pool and jacuzzi with a dry sauna.
These two, three, and four bedroom condominiums are slopeside, and a short drive from the Main Lodge and golf courses. They're a popular choice for multi-family ski vacations. Each unit has a full kitchen, washer and dryer, fireplace, patio, complimentary Wi-Fi and full use of the pool, fitness center and other amenities at the Main Lodge.
The interiors are cozy yet stylishly decorated with natural wood, ceramic tile flooring and rustic cabin furnishings.
Heather Highlands Townhouses
Across from the Moor Golf Course, these 3- to 44 bedroom units are between 2,000 and 2,600 square feet, giving families ample space, along with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, complimentary Wi-Fi, a deck and fireplace. You'll have to drive to reach the ski slopes, the pool and restaurant and lounge at the Main Lodge though.
Located across from the Donald Ross Memorial Golf Course, these 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath homes are a perfect choice for a golf vacation. Each unit has a deck with a Weber grill, a full kitchen and a washer and dryer, along with complimentary Wi-Fi. It's a short drive to the pro shop and a mile drive to the Main Lodge, where you're free to use the pool and other facilities.
We really enjoyed our visit at Boyne Highlands with our best friends! We used the resort as a jumping off point to Macinac Island, the Tunnel of Trees, the Eastern side of Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula.
While at Highlands we learned how to ride a Segway, ride the ski lift up to the too of the mountain, played mini golf, corn hole, bocce, and our friends rode horseback.
The rooms were spacious and allowed us to enjoy some indoor games as we.
Staff was very friendly and helpful. I lost my carr keys and they helped me look for them.
I would heartily recommend this resort to anyone.
by Autumn T
There was 6 of us that went up north to see the colors. We picked this place to stay. It was so nice, we will definitely go back again. We only stayed one night, driving through the place, I seen a golf course and a pond, lots of things to do. The night we stayed, they had a get together on top of the hill, had to take the ski lift to get to it. It was a nice family setting. Everyone was so nice and friendly. They had a bond fire, hot dogs, snacks, kids activities.
Like a growing number of ski resorts, Boyne Highlands woos families and non-skiers with an array of activities off the slopes. There's ice-skating (skates available in the arcade area), cross-country skiing, dogsledding, a zip line and a tubing hill. Complimentary weekend horse-drawn sleigh and wagon rides and Saturday night bonfires with S'mores set the scene for a fun-filled, budget-friendly ski trip for the whole family.
Boyne Adventure Center
Families looking for excitement can book activities through the Boyne Adventure Center (located next to the lobby), from peaceful horseback riding through the forest to adrenaline charged zip-lining, tubing and snowbike tours. Ever want to try dogsledding or fat tire snow biking?
Conveniently located right underneath the Slopeside Lounge and Main Dining Room is an arcade room with about ten coin-operated video game machines, a pinball machine, air hockey tables and a pool table. It's a fun hangout as there are always a few teens, tweens and younger kids to be found here.
Saturday Night Kids Club
A Saturday night kids club (6 to 9 p.m.) allows parents the chance to enjoy a nice dinner or night out.
Polar Cubs Child Care
During the winter, kids ages 2 months old and up can spend the day at this onsite day care setting. It's $60 for the full day (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or $20 per hour (after 2 hours, you'll be charged the full-day rate). Evening babysitting can be arranged by calling 231-526-3000, ext. 3677. Note that the staff closes the facility at 1 p.m. if there are no children participating and no reservations scheduled for the afternoon.
Northern Michigan is filled with snowmobilers. You'll see large numbers of them roaring through the surrounding forest on your drive up to Boyne Highlands. Although you cannot snowmobile directly on the resort property, there are miles of trails going in every direction through breathtaking winter scenery, just off site. Some guests bring their own snowmobiles, but you can also rent one nearby.
Boyne Recreational Rentals
2784 U.S. 131 South
Boyne Falls, MI 49713
The Main Lodge has a massive Jacuzzi-like outdoor pool, while the Bartley House boasts the Midwest's largest outdoor hot tub. The Heather Highlands Inn has heated outdoor and indoor pools and a Jacuzzi, along with a dry sauna.
It's a 5-mile drive to the nearest town, so most guests stay on property for their evening meals and activities. Luckily, Boyne Highlands has bars and restaurants to keep everyone happy. The Slopeside Lounge is a cozy bar and restaurant serving American fare, including sandwiches, soups, hearty salads and standard pub fare, like nachos and chicken wings. There's a kid's menu serving burgers, chicken fingers and other standard kids fare. High chairs and boosters are available.
Throughout the ski season, there's live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Sweater-clad patrons gather around the fireplace over a drink or one of the restaurant's specialty salads or appetizers. It's a great way to end a day of skiing. Several large flat-screen TV's make this a great place to catch your favorite game, too. Kids are allowed to stay in Slopeside Lounge until 10:00 p.m.; after that, it's meant for only the adults to enjoy.
Main Dining Room
Located inside Boyne Highlands Main Lodge, the Main Dining Room offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with slope-side views. Guests like to fuel up before hitting the slopes at the popular breakfast buffet. The buffet has an omelet station, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, bagels, fresh fruit, hot cereal, and more ($17 for 9 and up, $9 for 5- to 8-year-olds, free for those 5 and under). There's also a continental breakfast buffet option, or you can order a la carte off the menu.
Dinner offers fine dining in a casual setting. The menu includes plenty of comfort food, including chicken noodle soup and chili, as well as higher-end items including mussels and shrimp cocktail appetizers. Entrees include pastas ($21 per person), fish ($26 per person), steaks ($23 per person) and all-you-can-eat fried chicken ($20 per person).
Boyne Highlands Cafeteria
Conveniently located in the Day Lodge (at the base of the mountain), Boyne Highlands Cafeteria is great for a quick lunch stop. There's pizza, homemade soup and chili, sandwiches and a salad bar. The burgers come in three sizes, perfect for a kid-size appetite. There's also a special area where you can bring your own bag lunch.
Perched atop Boyne Highlands northernmost slope, this classic ski lodge with its pine walls and crackling fire has comfort and comfort food on the menu. It's the perfect place to stop for lunch and warm up while out on the slopes. Relax by the fire and drink in the views of Mackina Bridge and the surrounding countryside while enjoying a specialty coffee, beer or glass of wine.
Open only during the winter, the name pretty much sums up the atmosphere. Besides live music and dancing on Saturday nights, there are 12 large flat-screen TV's, making it a good spot to catch your favorite game. Zoo Bar serves up classic pub fare in a fun casual atmosphere.
Several of these pizza stands can be found throughout the resort. You can order an entire pizza and bring it back to your room or have it delivered.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
There's a small fitness center inside the Main Lodge and in the Heather Highlands Inn.
A charming gift shop inside the lobby of the Main Lodge sells everything from aspirin to mittens and scarves for the slopes. There's also a nice selection of Michigan souvenirs, including our favorite -- a variety of Michigan wines from nearby vineyards.
Parking is complimentary throughout the resort.
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. Don't want to bring your laptop? A complimentary business center features complimentary computers and a printer for guest use.
The Art of Smart Timing
This is truly an all-season resort. Guests come here to ski and snowmobile in the winter, and play golf on the resort's four courses in the warmer months. The nearby harbor towns of Petoskey and Harbor Springs are flooded with tourists in the summer, who come to enjoy the charms of these quaint Lake Michigan towns.
Shoulder season is September and April through the beginning of May. Boyne Highlands closes each year from around the end of October until about Thanksgiving, depending on weather and guest demand.
Tiny Pellston Regional Airport is 20 minutes away. Boyne Highlands Resort has an agreement with Lake Shore Express Airline to pick up and return passengers who fly this airline. Very few airlines serve this airport though.
Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport is a one-and-a-half hour drive from the resort.
Boyne Highlands is a four-hour drive from Detroit and six hours from Chicago.
For Mom and Dad
On Saturday nights, tables are covered in white linens and North Peak is converted into a high-end fine dining experience. They call this special evening the Aonoch Mor Moonlight Dinner experience, and it begins with a horse-drawn sleigh ride from the main lodge to this mountain-top retreat. Candlelight, a roaring fireplace and acoustic guitar set the scene for a romantic evening ($72 per person). Make your reservations in advance, as it's limited to 40 guests.
Another or additional option is the spa, located in the Heather Highlands Inn and opened in 2012. The setting is serene and the treatments are heavenly. Sit back, enjoy a cup of tea or fruit -nfused water in the secluded candlelit waiting room and let the pampering begin!