Every summer, thousands of New Yorkers stream out of Manhattan for the sandy shores, shopping and relaxation of the Hamptons.
And we have our own summer paradise, located a mere 100 miles from Chicago in Harbor Country, Mich., where people retreat to second homes in the tiny towns along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. As visitors soon discover, Michigan’s many shopping, dining and entertainment options make sun, sand and surf look almost passé.
Sustenance is a good idea before embarking on your shopping excursion, so start with lunch at New Buffalo’s always-packed Redamaks. Its legendary burgers, French fries and milkshakes have been popular with ravenous vacationers since 1946. After lunch, walk across the parking lot to Da Barn (Da Barn, 510 E. Buffalo Street, New Buffalo, MI, 269-469-0333), a massive antique barn chock full of vintage goods arranged in booths by color. If you want to furnish a room with pink antiques, this is your place. While the merch isn’t necessarily high-end, the whimsical displays are entertaining.
From New Buffalo, drive northeast toward St. Joseph on Red Arrow Highway, which is dotted with dozens of shops. In Union Pier, check out Susan Fredman At Home With Nature and The Plum Tree (16337 Red Arrow Hwy., Union Pier), which offer mostly new home furnishings and accessories with a decidedly rustic aesthetic that makes them popular with people who own second homes along the lake.
If vintage is more your cup of tea, Red Arrow Highway has plenty of options, including Lakeside Antiques (14876 Red Arrow Hwy, Lakeside, MI (269) 469-7717) and Marco Polo Antiques in Harbert, which has two large showrooms filled with a trendy mix of country, industrial and vintage pieces presented in a way that rivals any Bucktown boutique.
For your last stop, exit Red Arrow at Highway 12 and head to Three Oaks, which boasts many cultural amenities and several buzz-worthy antique shops, including Brandon Nelson’s Ipso Facto Antiques. Nelson, who’s also an artist and musician in a local band, scours the Midwest for interesting historical artifacts, vintage furnishings and underground art, which he artfully arranges in his two-floor showroom. Located just a block away is Nelson’s latest endeavor, Trilogy Antiques + Design (19 South Elm Street, Three Oaks, MI 269-756-3300), an updated antique mall concept where dealers, art galleries such as the Packer-Schopf Gallery and designers such as Laura Soskin, of Laura Soskin Design in Wilmette, come together to offer their wares.
By the time you finish your whirlwind trip, you might be ready to enjoy a glass of wine and a light appetizer. There’s no better place than The Wine Shop at the Acorn Theatre, where they will be happy to recommend at least a dozen additional Michigan shopping venues as well as a nice bottle of wine to suit any palette.
Editor’s note: You can take a look at Tate’s trip through Harbor Country here.