Skip to content

It’s a great time to be a local in Manistee, Michigan.

Following a busy summer and packed holiday season, we have a perfect opportunity to take some time for ourselves and embrace our community’s winter wonderland.

From January to March, we see lower traffic, reduced business hours, only very little sun, and a lot of grey clouds. The slow pace is refreshing, especially for everyone who volunteers and works to make our community a “place to be” destination for summer vacations and fall color retreats.

A routine of vegging out in the winter months is refreshing at first, but can soon cause lean business times due to lack of sales, and our waistlines to become not so lean. Looking at the slow season as an unavoidable side effect of where we live, we can embrace the short wait times and ample parking as payback for a busy summer — when the only seating available is on your back porch or around a friend’s campfire.

Besides the beautiful scenery, many of the events, attractions and activities that make Manistee a go-to destination are hosted by local businesses with the help of dedicated community members.

Did you know that the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the Manistee National Forest FestivalManistee County Community ChristmasManistee Area Leadership Program (responsible for the Big Day of Serving), the Annual Business Awards Gala and so much more? The chamber does all this as a nonprofit organization, supported by the Manistee County businesses and organizations they represent.

Not only is the chamber involved year-round, but its staff also continues to encourage positive growth and economic development, supporting Manistee County businesses and entrepreneurs, and advocating at the state, county and city levels for policies that will benefit our community.

Now it’s our turn to give back. Loving where you live is easy when it’s in Manistee County, and dining out, even just once a week, can help businesses during the slow winter months.

So you live in Manistee — but have you explored where you live? There are a variety of restaurants with daily specials, shopping downtown, the casino and so much more. Trivia featuring football FAQs, Star Wars, past presidents and more topics are available on weeknights at select restaurants downtown. Paint your own canvas, see a movie, enjoy the social district and walk the Riverwalk, all in support of our local businesses, year-round.

An afternoon or evening out playing trivia and enjoying a featured dish is incomplete without spending some time outdoors, winter recreating. Thanks to our volunteers, winter trails are widely available for multiple sports and are geographically convenient.

The Manistee National Forest is right in our backyard and scattered with hiking trails, ORV trails, two tracks and parks. Explore more than 500 miles of trails, check trail reports, download a snowmobile map and prepare for your winter adventure online at A winter hike, ski, run or ride on your snowmobile will have you feeling invigorated and ready to enjoy an evening at one of Manistee’s great watering holes or warm restaurants.

A walk on the beach or a visit to local non-motorized trails is some simple, outdoor self-care that can have a positive impact on your mood and keep winter from feeling dull and depressing. Then head in to find out what our creative culinary community has to offer (when they aren’t swamped from vacationers) or indulge in some local retail therapy.

The Manistee County Visitors Bureau publishes great winter activity guides, but you don’t have to be a visitor to visit their website and add some winter adventure to your agenda.

Plus, just because the sun sets before dinner doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a full evening, lit up by the reflection of the moon on the snow, or stroll downtown with a warm social district beverage as the snow gently falls to the street. Try and catch the night bite on Portage Lake with some friends in a shanty or brave the elements like our grandfathers somehow managed.

It’s also a great time to get back in touch with the community with multiple volunteer opportunities and planning to be done for the upcoming summer. Of course, it is never too early to start planning for the coming year’s events that bring so much entertainment and commerce to our community.

As the snow falls and Netflix asks yet again, “are you still watching?”, know that the days are now getting longer, and spring is on the way, but the best of winter is yet to come. And together, we can make our local community and small-town businesses a little bit brighter.

Dyllan Walker is a member of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He can be reached at, or 231-723-2575.