Elk in the wild: You can almost hear the jingle bells
Not Quite Reindeer—But Close
Travel north this weekend and you can book an elk-viewing carriage or sleigh ride for a glimpse of the velvet-antlered beasts in the wild. The journey starts at the Thunder Bay Resort and travels through Michigan’s north woods to the Elk Antler log cabin, where you’ll be served a five-course gourmet dinner prepared on a pair of antique wood cook stoves. A huge stone fireplace in the cabin ensures you’ll be cozy while watching chef Jan Matthias prepare the post-elk-show feast, which includes pear crêpes, jumbo shrimp, chicken noodle soup, crown roast of pork, and a dessert of white chocolate mousse–filled pizzelles drizzled with raspberry sauce. If you like, add wine tasting to the meal and sample vintages from the nearby Stony Acres Winery.
GO Thunder Bay Resort, 27800 M-32, Hillman, Michigan. 800-729-9375, thunderbayresort.com
While you’re in the area: Stock up on stocking stuffers at the Alpena Indoor Flea Market (2630 U.S. 23 South, Alpena), a decades-old small town tradition. You’ll find everything from baked goods to antiques to fresh eggs; hours are noon to 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Looking for presents of an artful nature? Try Winterview at Art in the Loft (109 N. 2nd Ave., Ste. 300, Alpena, 989-356-4877, artintheloft.org), where more than 30 artists will exhibit works in a juried art show; hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Where to stay: Thunder Bay Resort (27800 M-32, 800-729-9375, thunderbayresort.com) has suites, chalets, and villas overlooking the resort’s golf course and cross-country ski trails; rates range from $141 for a suite to $206 for a three-bedroom chalet with a full kitchen. The Bay Motel (2107 U.S. 23 South, Alpena, 989-356-6137, baymotelalpena.com) is within walking distance of Lake Huron beaches and Mish-e-ke-wis Park, where, weather permitting, you’ll find a skating rink and warming house; rates range from $50 to $112 (for a guest house that has a full kitchen, Jacuzzi, living room, and three bedrooms).
Where to eat: Nowicki’s Sausage Shoppe (1224 N. 2nd Ave., Alpena, 989-354-2219, nowickissausage.com) is the place for meat lovers. Here, you’ll find everything from pickled turkey gizzards to peppered smoked bacon to a wide assortment of sausages. The Black Sheep Pub (113 S. 2nd Ave., Alpena, 989-356-3076) has live music, hard cider, an array of beer on tap, and a lunch menu of fish and chips and other English-style comfort food.
Photograph: Courtesy of puremichigan.org