Michigan's Small Town Treasures: Harbor Springs Meanderings

by Julie Royce / Jul 16, 2008 /
Julie Royce's picture

 

 

Harbor Springs

 

Of all of Michigan’s lakeside villages, Harbor Springs may be the most
splendid – or so local residents will insist. If you follow Lake
Michigan’s coastline you will stumble over Harbor Springs somewhere
between Petoskey and Mackinaw City. The earliest people in the area were
the Odawa. The Native People called the place Waugawnawkeze which the
French translated to L’Arbor Croche or “Crooked Tree” for the
large crooked tree that marked the site of an early Catholic Mission.

 

Harbor Springs

 

In 1853 Richard Cooper opened a general store and started the commercial
development of Harbor Springs. Known in its early days as “Little
Traverse” or “Bayfield,” by 1881 the village was named Harbor
Springs - a reasonable choice based on the natural, deep harbor and the
many springs in the area.

Like Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City, Harbor Springs can be a trip
back in time for the interested history buff. The Andrew Blackbird
Museum (368 Main Street) is a tiny one room exhibit of local Native
American artifacts and history of Odawa Chief Blackbird who published an
Odawa Grammar and recorded significant Odawa history. The building is
also the site of the Chamber of Commerce and the helpful people there
will help you acclimate to their little town and let you know what is
going on during your visit. A new history museum is scheduled to open by
the end of summer.

 

Harbor Springs

 

The third week of July, Harbor Springs celebrates the Shay Festival
which honors Ephraim Shay, the man who developed a unique locomotive
designed specifically to suit the needs of the lumber industry. Shay was
more than just an inventor; he was a physician, teacher, logger, civil
engineer, merchant, business man and Civil War Veteran.

 

Harbor Springs

 

For the visitor seeking something a bit more active, there are walking
tours, bicycle paths and trails, beaches, and of course, sailing – all
kinds of ways to enjoy the summer season.

 

Harbor Springs

 

 

Stafford’s Pier (102 Bay Street) is one of the best known restaurants
in Harbor Springs and is the perfect place to enjoy fine dining with a
view of the Little Traverse Bay. Stafford’s serves up a great Rack of
Lamb, but you may prefer to try one of their daily specials. Mary
Ellen’s Place
(145 East Main Street) is an old fashioned soda fountain
and newsstand that has become a local favorite - the perfect place to
catch breakfast or lunch. Try the stuffed hash browns or drop by for
your favorite ice cream soda or malt.

Make time for a stop at By the Bay (172 East Main Street) if you are
interested in nautical art, or the Boyer Glassworks Studio and Gallery
(207 State Street) where you can browse glass, paintings and sculptures
by Harry and Kathleen Boyer. If you want to watch glassblowing, call for
schedule (231/526-6359).

Shopping in Harbor Springs is far more upscale than just an assortment
of souvenir shops. Take a leisurely walk down Main Street. You will find
upper end resort wear, antiques, and galleries. It would be hard not to
enjoy a day spent in charming downtown Harbor Springs.

 

Harbor Springs

 


Julie Albrecht Royce, Michigan Editor, is the author of Traveling Michigan's Sunset Coast and Traveling Michigan's Thumb, both published by Thunder Bay Press. She writes a bi-weekly column for wanderingeducators.com, entitled Michigan's Small Town Treasures.

 

Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Tourist Association and the Petosky - Harbor Springs - Boyne Country Visitors Bureau.

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