Do you have a Northern Michigan vacation on your calendar during December? Pencil in some Northern Michigan holiday shopping while you vacay! What’s not to like? From Manistee to Marquette, Petoskey to Tawas, Leelanau to Mackinac, and Frankfort to Alpena, Northern Michigan communities are the happening holiday places to be.
Here are ten Up North ways to shop the season right, originally published in the December 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
Shop like (the) Dickens in a town wrapped in Victorian charm, particularly on Manistee’s Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend. Let a snack of roasted chestnuts and trombone bands playing from church towers get you in the spirit for shopping quaint boutiques and packed-full antique stores.
Go to market in Marquette, where the weekly Saturday farmers market continues through Dec. 16. In the style of European Christmas markets, Marquette’s includes handmade toys and candles, fishing flies, gemstone jewelry and more. Bonus: You’re in gliding distance of more than 155 kilometers of cross-country ski trails.
Make Merry in Petoskey, where the Merry Makers Marketplace at Crooked Tree Arts Center pulls together a visit-worthy collection of work by local artisans (Dec. 4 and 5). The 4th coincides with the Petoskey merchants’ Holiday Open House, when Main Street’s closed for wandering, and an old-time trolley takes you from store to store in an old-time gaslight district.
Try Christmas at the Lighthouse at Tawas, where on one day each year the lighthouse gift store is transformed into a Victorian boutique, Tawas Point State Park trees are lit for the holidays, and staff serves hot chocolate and treats. 979.362.5041.
Stock up on Leelanau wines and tasting room gifts at the year’s best prices. The Leelanau Peninsula Vinters Association member wineries offer deals Dec. 5–6 and 12–13. Take a tour! If on the 12th, catch The Nutcracker at nearby Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Gift your family (and yourself) with outdoor time together, booking a room and scoring free lift tickets at Treetops Resort. Rooms at Treetops start at $79 and include two free tickets per room per night. Nearby, the Pine Cone Inn and Suites offers rooms at $55 a night with four free tickets per night. The deal is offered Dec. 11–13, and there’s another bonus for beginners: Saturday free Learn to Ski clinics. Après ski, check out the charming shops in downtown Gaylord.
Catch Mackinac Island’s Christmas Bazaar. Here, a horse-drawn sleigh is the best way to get around, and shopping Dec. 5–7 scores you deals and supports local charities. (Arrive on Dec. 4 and you catch the island’s holiday tree lighting and caroling with locals on an island hay ride, even catch their first basketball game of the season).
Help a poor artist in Calumet. Attending the Poor Artist sale (Dec. 5) may not count as a charitable contribution, but is a perfect excuse to browse the work of 60 jewelers, potters, basket makers, fiber artists and more. Nearby, take a snowshoe hike on pristine Keweenaw Peninsula trails and warm up by a blazing fire at classic Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.
Stroll Alpena’s quaint and shop-worthy riverside downtown, catching Ladies Night (Dec. 11) to sing with carolers while you shop; or Gents’ Night (Dec. 18), where you’re encouraged to socialize at a local restaurant or pub while volunteers wrap your gifts.
Book the Up North suite at The Hotel Frankfort for a weekend of cozy with in-room Jacuzzi and a Swedish sauna; venture out for handmade gifts like the soft alpaca sweaters at Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm and block-printed nature cards at Gwen Frostic Studios.
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