March ranks fairly low in the Popular Months Competition. It's the time of year when outdoor sports enthusiasts fear an early melting will make the next dash down the slopes their last.

March ranks fairly low in the Popular Months Competition. It's the time of year when outdoor sports enthusiasts fear an early melting will make the next dash down the slopes their last.

Those who refuse to leave home and hearth to play outside begin to suffer cabin fever. In other words, nobody's happy.

But not to worry. Here's a family getaway that will delight both snow lovers and indoor afficianados. How about a weekend in Traverse City, Michigan? It's a jewel on Grand Traverse Bay. At the tip of a finger of water flowing inland from Lake Michigan, the region boasts some of the most beautiful scenes nature has to offer. It also has great places to stay in all price ranges, fun indoor activities, shopping and terrific food in dozens of restaurants.

Traverse City has long been a favorite summertime playground, but these days it has something special for all four seasons. But since it's only March, let's explore the cool weather pleasures of the area.

How do you like to get around in the snow? No matter your preference, you'll find options in Traverse City. There's nothing else like it in the Midwest. Here are a few of the many outdoor joys offered in Traverse City.

Cross-country (Nordic) skiing and snowshoeing: Surrounding the city are 11 ski areas including the stupendous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with eight trails. Most trails are used for both Nordic skiing and snowshoeing.

Downhill skiing and snowboarding: There are two small community ski areas in the city itself - Hickory Hills and Mount Holiday. It's just a short ride to several larger ski areas that offer runs for both beginners and advanced skiers.

Snowmobiling: Two enormous networks of snowmobile trails cover hundreds of miles around the area.

Snowtubing: Timberlee is Michigan's largest snow tubing hill. An automatic lift brings tubers back to the top.

Now, let's move on to the indoor fun!

Great Wolf Lodge has a huge (38,000 sq. ft.) water park with waterslides, pools, whirlpools and a four-story, 12-level interactive tree house water fort. After the kids dry off they can put their skills to work in a fantasy game called MagiQuest. Players are challenged to battle and vanquish computer-generated dragons and goblins throughout the property.

At the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, there is an aquatics play area, including a 70-foot spiraling waterslide, and a waterwalk obstacle course with overhead and floatable components. There's even a new sprayground with floor geysers and bubblers.

If you and the kids prefer to stay dry, take off for Wilderness Crossing. It's a wonderful family entertainment center with a 16-lane bowling alley, a video arcade, a two-story laser tag arena, a miniature golf course and a billiard room. It is located in the Village of Grawn, about 10 miles south of downtown Traverse City. It's a new $4 million complex with a full-service restaurant and the Wild Pony Saloon, which features a dining area and a sports bar.

One of the region's most popular kid-sized indoor attractions is the Great Lakes Children's Museum, which features lots of hands-on, interactive, family fun - focused on water and the Great Lakes.

Sometimes it's the adults who need to get away and blow off a little steam, so it's good to know Traverse City's options for indoor fun don't end when the sun goes down. The local club scene offers plenty of nightlife, whether it's jazz on Union Street or some progressive rock at The Loading Dock. Traverse City is also home to two casinos: the Leelanau Sands Casino north of Suttons Bay, and the Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel in Williamsburg - both owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Visit the city's website at It's very easy to navigate is lavishly illustrated with terrific photos. Everything about the vacation mecca is right there for you to see. The Cool Things to Do and Cool Places to Eat and Shop will have the children ready to load up and take off. It's a little more than 300 miles away, so it's a fairly painless road trip.

The website is also chock full of ideas and vivid descriptions of great accommodations, activities, restaurants and directions. It's one of the best I've ever seen. You can order a full-color brochure and watch a video on the site.

Remember, you may always e-mail me if you have questions. My address is