Old-Fashioned Christmas in Manistee, Michigan | Midwest Living
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Old-Fashioned Christmas in Manistee, Michigan

Cider, chestnuts, pines and a parade fill an old-fashioned holiday weekend in Manistee.

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Horse-drawn carriages help visitors experience the festival’s Victorian feel.
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The trees at the parade's end stretch at least 30 feet fall.
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Friends linger over hot cocoa at Goody's Juice and Java.
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Santa listens to Christmas wishes.
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Trip guide

What to do

Manistee County Historical Museum Tour a Christmas-theme exhibit and see a toy train display featuring Lionel and American Flyer models from the 1930s and 1940s. (231) 723-5531; manisteemuseum.org

Old Christmas Weekend The 2014 event runs December 4–7. Crafters and artisans set up at Manistee High School for the Sleighbell Craft Show and Bazaar; you might have to search for a parking spot, but the show is worth the effort. Partygoers feast on traditional homemade beef stew at the First Congregational Church’s Lumberjack Luncheon before touring the stained-glass–adorned sanctuary upstairs. The temporary Sleighbell Chocolate Shop sells festively packaged truffles, barks and fudge made by volunteers; sales benefit the Manistee County Child Advocacy Center. Thousands of spectators—many dressed to the nines—attend the Victorian Sleighbell Parade on Saturday night (bring a blanket to wrap up in). (877) 626-4783; visitmanisteecounty.com

Ramsdell Theater This historical venue is home to the Manistee Civic Players. Check the website for the performance schedule. (800) 836-0717; manisteecivicplayers.org

River Street retailers You’ll find many to choose from, but these are some of our favorites. The Ideal Kitchen specializes in cooking gadgets. Surroundings, a cigar and gift shop, has a walk-in humidor. Upscale women’s clothing tempts shoppers at Suvi, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the wide selection at Anne’s Book Store. (231) 398-3262; visitmanistee.com

Where to eat

Goody’s Juice and Java The drinks and fresh-baked scones impress customers. (231) 398-9580

The Glenwood It’s worth the 20-minute drive north to Onekama for a meal at this turn-of-the-century former resort—just be sure to make reservations. Come hungry for salads topped with from-scratch dressings; steaks, lamb and fresh Lake Michigan fish; and decadent frozen peanut butter pie. (231) 889-3734; glenwoodrestaurant.com

House of Flavors Stop after 11 a.m. during the winter, and you’ll get a free scoop of their own brand of ice cream at this 1950s-theme diner. (231) 887-4600; houseofflavors.com

Shay’s Chop House Affordable comfort food shines here in Onekama; specials include steaks and freshly harvested seafood. (231) 889-3121; shayschophouse.com

T.J’s Pub Downstairs in the Ramsdell Inn, this cozy pub dishes meals with locally sourced ingredients. Start with the bruschetta or homemade meatballs. (231) 398-9174; ramsdellinn.net/the-pub

Where to stay

Little River Casino Resort If you can get past the smoky smell in the lobby, the resort offers large rooms with lofted ceilings and French doors leading to a courtyard, plus a pool, a workout room, and on-site gaming and concerts. (888) 568-2244; lrcr.com

Ramsdell Inn For a historical setting in downtown Manistee, snag one of the 10 guest rooms, which are spacious and richly furnished. Just be prepared to carry luggage up a flight of stairs—there’s no elevator. (231) 398-7901; ramsdellinn.net

For more information and to plan your trip: Manistee County Visitors Bureau (877) 626-4783; visitmanisteecounty.com

(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® November/December 2013.  Prices, dates and other details are subject to change, so please check specifics before making travel plans.)

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