Holiday shopping in Traverse City, Petoskey, Frankfort & Marquette, Michigan gives locals and visitors a new view of Northern Michigan’s downtown shopping districts. Decked in holiday decor and twinkly lights, stroll through our villages and rekindle your spirit! But if you can’t get to Northern Michigan this holiday season, get gifts straight from our boutiques at ShopMyNorth.com.
Think mistletoe and holly with a hip twist, and you’ve got Traverse City’s Front Street shopping district. The city does the holidays in a big way—literally—situating its towering Christmas tree in the middle of a downtown intersection and wrapping the trees lining the streets in twinkly white lights. From early December through the end of the month, the State Theatre throws a holiday vintage film fest, offering a holiday classic flick daily, sometimes for $5, sometimes a quarter. For warm-ups, the martini and microbrew crowd will find an ever-growing list of venues for artisan food-and-drink (recent additions to check: Georgina’s, Little Fleet, WorkShop Brewing Co.); so will those looking for a spot to sip hot chocolate with the little ones (new-ish: Sugarkissed). And oh, the shopping! Some 180 galleries and boutiques offer one-of-a-kind finds. Lodging deal: beach-view king room at the Sugar Beach Resort, starting at $89/night. tcbeaches.com; 231.938.4455.
Some of Northern Michigan’s prettiest summer destinations are just as captivating when dressed in their winter coats. Booking the Up North Lodge room at Frankfort’s Sleeping Bear Inn makes it easy to catch Lake Michigan’s winter drama—just a short stroll from your downtown room. Then warm up through-and-through in your in-room Swedish sauna and double Jacuzzi ($166/night; sleeping-bear-inn.com). Or stick with a simple queen ($76), leaving more to spend on one-of-a-kind gifts, like those sold at Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm and Boutique: impossibly soft socks and pillow cases and throws made from Alpaca wool. Thank the critters while you’re there. A country drive also leads to the woodsy studio of Gwen Frostic for nature-themed wood block prints or Beedazzled, for candles and honey. Playtime: The Christmas Magic celebration, Dec. 14 in nearby Beulah, features horse-drawn wagon rides, cookie decorating, hot chocolate and caroling. 800.882.5801.
For full immersion in Petoskey’s holiday charm, book the Shopper’s Retreat Package at Stafford’s Bay View Inn, Dec. 6–7. Launch your weekend to the tune of traditional carols and a not-so-traditional steel drum band, bean pots, and a Santa fly-in at the town’s holiday open house. Later, shop the town Smithsonian Magazine named one of the best 20 small towns to visit in 2013. A must: explore the Gaslight District awash in lighted wreaths and red bows. Package ($299 for two nights) includes welcome reception, breakfast, Santa brunch and a dinner for two. Book later in the month to get your annual dose of Scrooge at the Little Traverse Civic Theater production of A Christmas Carol, Dec. 13–16 or 20–22). staffords.com; 231.347.2771.
Head to winter, via Christmas (the village, that is), when you take M-28 across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula toward your getaway weekend in Marquette. You’ll know you’ve reached Christmas by the three-story cutouts of Santa and Mrs. Claus, not far from Jingle Bell Lane. The town, once home to a toy factory, may boast only a single gift shop—but it’s a worthy stop for wine charms fashioned as Santa boots or homemade spiced fig soap or to get your Christmas cards postmarked from a pretty, iconic locale. Downtown Marquette boasts more charming gift options like Moonstone Gallery’s jewelry crafted from Lake Superior stones. Pack your skinny skis. Blueberry Ridge, a superbly groomed 21K cross-country ski trail (2.7K lighted), this year gets warming huts complete with fireplaces. Locals can direct you to the ice caves of frozen Laughing Whitefish Falls nearby. travelmarquettemichigan.com.