Traverse City is known for its pristine beaches and nationally recognized food and drink venues. But for the whole scoop, and to experience something tailored specifically to Northern Michigan history, one must enter the past, namely the best of Traverse City’s antique shops.

Enter Wilson Antiques, a steadfast testament to this Northern Michigan history, lying in the heart of Traverse City’s shopping district. Despite its deceiving appearance Wilson accumulates a good amount of foot traffic throughout the week.

However, you won’t find a big crowd there, rather, you’d have to scope through its maze-like four floors and two mezzanines to find another person. And even then, they would most likely appear to be lost within a time warp.

Visitors often get caught in front of shining glass cases revealing a half century’s worth of jewelry: assortments of semi-precious stones and liquid-like drop earrings that dazzle like new. Each case is organized by color scheme and one can be found on each floor.

These treasures along with well-kept furniture sets, battered record sleeves, post cards, fur coats, and pressed army attire can be found at any point while skimming through Wilson.

From the perch of the first set of stairs leading to the second floor, the first floor appears to be a winding explosion of intriguing every-day artifacts. The attendants at this Traverse City antique shop must utilize every inch of space in order to find a home for all these little piece of Northern Michigan history. A couple paragraphs don’t do it justice, however. Give them a visit and get lost inside.

123 S Union St. Traverse City, MI (231) 946-4177

grey wolf antiques

Grey Wolf holds a multitude of light fixtures, bulbs, and trinkets.

Travel a few blocks over and you’ll run into the downtown Warehouse MRKT, a small marketplace holding a handful of sleek, eclectic shops and food finds. One of these is Grey Wolf Creek, an antiques shop with an intriguing trend.

You see it before you feel it, that is, you see a ceiling filled with light fixtures before you feel the impressive amount of heat they emit. Upon entry and a quick 360, you find lights every where: floor, shelves, window boxes, stacked on each other.

Little tags on some fixtures read “reserved,” but this Traverse City antique shop’s supply of unique, antique light displays shows no signs of dwindling. Also offering repair services for your current fixtures, Grey Wolf embodies a desire to enhance the old and re-purpose the older. Consider Grey Wolf Creek your stop for home goods and project material that won’t be found elsewhere.

144 Hall St. Traverse City, MI (231) 392-6368

Bay West includes two large rooms full of antique items.

Bay West includes two large rooms full of antique items.

Head to Garland Street and you’ll find the finishing touch on this trio, Bay West Antiques. Tucked next to the Inside Out Gallery at the end of the street, Bay West is the last house on the block you want to check out. They have been taking in some of Northern Michigan’s most unique antiques and precious metals for over twenty-seven years and continue to grow.

With Wilson-like, crammed nooks and corners and a satisfying sterling jewelry section, there’s no shortage of intriguing artifacts lining the shelves of Bay West Antiques. The majority of them can be considered a mix between the two shops listed above: some light fixtures, all the ingredients you would need for a DIY project, and tables full of dish sets.

The Traverse City antique shop itself is deceiving from the outside, but within are two segments of a whole: one large room and another, larger one filled with an array of items you want to reach out and touch.

205 Garland St., Traverse City (231) 947-3211

Take a walk through Northern Michigan history this weekend at one of these fine Traverse City antique stops. What you find might surprise you. But be ready to not leave empty-handed!

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Photo(s) by Riley Collins