Tag Archives: Downown Soo

Lights, Contests, Gifts – It’s December in Sault Ste. Marie

Okay. I’ll admit it. When I heard the words Light Up the Soo for the first time a few years ago, a bevy of marijuana-related jokes came to mind. Immature? Yes. But here’s the thing – the joke’s on me because there is nothing more beautiful than twinkling holiday lights in Sault Ste. Marie.

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It’s true that plenty of communities show their Christmas spirit with fantastic light displays. What makes the Soo unique can be summed up in three words: Tower Of History.

From 200 feet above Portage Avenue and tucked safely into an enclosed observation platform, bring friends and family to view the lights of the city, as well as the one-of-a-kind glow of freighters on the St. Marys River and the sparkle of our sister city – Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

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It took only one visit and it quickly became obvious that Light Up The Soo is the newest holiday tradition in my household. Visit the Tower of History Dec. 18-31 from 5-9pm to start your own. An entire family can visit the Tower for just $10 or pay $4 per adult and $2 for kids 6-18.

With such an inexpensive family outing, you’ll have more money for Christmas shopping. Sault Ste. Marie isn’t the place to visit for huge box stores or massive shopping malls. Instead, it’s the place to find that really special something in one of the many Downtown or Business Spur stores.

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Not sure exactly what to get someone? The Sault Area Chamber of Commerce sells Chamber Bucks that can be used at a wide variety of local stores and establishments. Like a gift certificate that spends at a list of stores and restaurants, Chamber Bucks make a great gift.

And speaking of surprising someone you love with a great gift, wouldn’t you love to share VIP treatment at the upcoming International 500 (I-500) snowmobile race with someone special?

Truthfully, just attending the I-500, with its “NASCAR on Ice” reputation and its high-speed excitement is something you don’t want to miss. Thousands attend annually and, on Feb. 6, you can be a part of history for the 48th annual race.

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Can you imagine how exciting VIP treatment would be? This year one lucky winner of the I-500 VIP contest won’t have to worry about arranging lodging, finding a place to watch the race or having a good time because it’s all included in the grand prize!

Spend two nights at the Soo Locks Lodge & Suites and watch the race from the enclosed, comfortable VIP area with a friend. It’s truly a great way to enjoy a winter tradition.

Enter the contest now and we’ll look for you at the top of the Tower, in the shops of Sault Ste. Marie, and, if you’re lucky, in the I-500 VIP suite!

Christmas (and Santa!) comes to Sault Ste. Marie

In your fast-paced, technology-heavy life, don’t you find some of the most endearing moments are the simplest ones? If you’re like me, you are at your holiday happiest when doing something reminiscent of a childhood Christmas moment. Singing carols. Sipping hot cocoa. Searching for that perfect gift and, of course, stealing glimpses of Santa in the days and weeks before he made his big ride on Christmas Eve.

Starting on Friday, Nov. 27, stand on the sidewalk in Downtown Sault Ste. Marie, take a deep breath, and be transported back to one of those childhood memories. That’s the evening of the Parker Ace Hardware Christmas Parade of Lights. Sparkling lights, singing voices, and plenty of grins and giggles make this a beautiful family outing. The parade begins at 7pm.

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This annual staple has been part of Sault Ste. Marie’s holiday celebration for decades, but it’s taken a huge leap forward this year with a major sponsor (Parker Ace Hardware) and a float contest that will gift a cash prize to one lucky entry.

Of course, the entry every youngster waits for needs no extra Christmas cash. Santa Claus always makes his appearance at the Christmas Parade of Lights. At the parade’s conclusion, Santa will say a few words before helping Mayor Anthony Bosbous flip the switch to light the official Christmas Tree at City Hall on Portage Avenue. Remember how the mere sight of Santa used to make your heart beat faster?

And with that….Christmas in Downtown Sault Ste. Marie is off and running, starting with Small Business Saturday on November 28.

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Shop local and show your support to the business owners and shopkeepers who are your neighbors and major contributors to area non-profit organizations, school programs, and so many other activities that require financial or in-kind support.

Downtown businesses are so community minded that during the first two weekends in December, these very same businesses will offer up tasty refreshments, fantastic deals and more during back-to-back Christmas Open House events. Plan to be Downtown from Noon-5pm on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, when parking, warm smiles, and holiday cheer are free all day during these special events.

Many heartwarming traditions pop up over the course of these two days, including Christmas carols, warm cider, special sales and more. But there are some special perks you may not expect. For instance, have you ever been transported from store to store by horse-drawn wagon? No? Don Bell at Bell Farms is ready to introduce you to this climate-friendly mode of transportation!

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In fact, you may hear the clip-clop of horse’s hooves from more than one source.

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In addition to Santa sightings and sleigh rides, be sure to visit Avery Square for their Christmas Tree Forest found inside the Atrium. Dozens of trees are found in all their holiday finery in what is a fun and festive atmosphere that also doubles as the location where kids can get a photo taken with Santa.

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Local businesses also put out holiday cookies, snacks, and hot drinks, as well as great prices and one-of-a-kind gift items that can only be found at the independent stores. In fact, more than 30 retailers in Downtown Sault Ste. Marie will offer in-store specials, not to mention the chance to register to win a drawing for Downtown Dollars!

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We hope you will make Downtown Sault Ste. Marie part of your holiday calendar of events and allow yourself to be transported back in time to the traditions and festivities that make the Christmas holidays special.

Ready for a Sault Ste. Marie Peepshow?

Don’t just steal a peek or pretend you don’t know what we’re talking about. You wouldn’t be the first person to head to upper Michigan for the kind of show you can’t experience close to home. But talk is cheap, so here’s a picture of the kind of rack you can hope to see at our Peepshow.

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Photo Credit: Esther Mudge

I’m not sure what you were expecting to see. It’s leaf peeping season in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area and there’s no better Peepshow than what you’ll find along the roadways and wooded pathways of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Moose, for instance, are most likely to be seen in the Newberry area. Stay in Sault Ste. Marie and then take a leisurely drive not just to see moose, but maybe a few other autumn attractions. Like….

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Tahquamenon Falls….

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and Point Iroquois Lighthouse….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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and Mission Point Overlook.

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of scenic routes to explore around the region, where you’ll enjoy changing colors beautifully composed alongside lighthouses, waterfalls, Lake Superior shoreline and so many other stunning backdrops.

Appreciating the colors of fall doesn’t have to involve a road trip, either. You can take to the waters of the St. Marys River and bask in beautiful autumn light while your Soo Locks Boat Tour captain does the driving. Or you can stake out a spot along the shore and haul in a fresh catch for your dinner.

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Photo credit: Mikel Classen

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Photo Credit: Mikel Classen

Oh sure – those people in New England think they have a corner on the autumn color tour market. Some say they were the ones to coin the term “leaf peeper” and if you watch the video below, they’ve probably coined a few other words, too? (“Foilage” anyone?)

Funny right? We can appreciate a good giggle and truth be told, we sometimes chuckle when visitors ask us what day they should come to see the leaves turn. But we’ll take Boston Jonny’s video and raise the stakes with one beautiful presentation of fall in Sault Ste. Marie.

There is plenty to see and do during this fall color season and it’s not too late! So book your Sault Ste Marie lodging, pack your bag, and head to Sault Ste. Marie.

And please make sure to tell your relatives you’re on your way to the peepshow. We like to stir up a little trouble now and then.

Beer steins & running shoes: It’s a Sault Ste. Marie Saturday

I have a confession to make. I have never thought of myself as athletic.

What does my confession have to do with someone flinging a beer keg? Easy. I have never thought of myself as athletic…until I discovered that on Sept. 26 in Sault Ste. Marie, competitive sports involve running a half marathon, sprinting over a bridge, walking a 5K, holding a beer stein for a lengthy period, pulling a fire truck, and flinging a beer keg. I am confident I can master at least one of these competitions.

On Sept. 26, two great events occur on the same day in our fair city. Sault International Festival of Races dominates the morning hours, while Oktoberfest takes the reigns in the afternoon and evening.

Truth be told, I am in awe of those who have run the Half Marathon and the 6.6 mile Bridge Run over the past five years since the event was launched. It grows each year in popularity which makes perfect sense, considering it has to be the most scenic race in all of Michigan. During your morning run, cross the International Bridge and sneak a bird’s-eye glimpse of the Soo Locks below.

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And for those who aren’t runners, there’s even a 5K Run/Walk. It doesn’t cross the bridge but it does take a scenic path through Downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

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Since Oktoberfest happenings don’t begin until the afternoon, you over-achievers can participate in all events, including the Keg Toss, Fire Truck Pull, Tug of War, and more.

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You can even sign up for the Samuel Adams Beer Stein Challenge at the Alpha Bar, where you’ll have to hold a beer stein in front of you in a test of both endurance (how long can you hold it?) and discipline (how long can you go without drinking it?) at this first-time event. Lacking a photo, I invite you to check out the following video from Cincinnati and start conditioning your arm TODAY to get ready for the Soo event.

The Alpha isn’t the only business offering special events during Oktoberfest. And, like any good festival, there are awesomely-autumn vendor booths, tasty fair food and live entertainment – all found in Downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

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Hoisting a beer. Walking a beautiful downtown. Joining in a tug of war. Visiting vendor booths while listing to live music and munching on good eats. These are all on the docket, which is why I’m retracting my confession. I AM athletic and I will give all takers a run for their money in at least one of these events. Can you guess which one?

See you in Sault Ste. Marie!

Those Lazy, Crazy, DOWNTOWN DAYS of Summer

Am I giving away my age if can sing alone with Nat King Cole to Those Lazy Crazy Hazy Days of Summer? In truth – I learned it from watching Gilmore Girls. Know what else I love about that show? The small town of Stars Hollow always has some quirky, fun, unique festival going on. The same can be said for Sault Ste. Marie, when Downtown Days roll out on Ashmun Street, August 7-8, 2015.

What’s the secret sauce behind a great festival? First, it has to be kid friendly, right? I’ll go even further – the kids have to be entertained and having fun. I’m talking about petting zoo, bouncy house, hands-on art project fun.

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The Downtown Days “Kid’s Zone” – complete with bouncy houses, dunk tank and more – is open each day from 9am-6pm. The petting zoo is sure to bring a smile each day from 11am-5pm. (And pardon me, but petting small, furry animals isn’t just for kids!)

Another key ingredient to a successful festival is entertainment – particularly local talent. From kids performing dance routines, musicians sharing their art, or martial arts demonstrations – there’s something so authentic about street performances. Don’t you just want to join in?

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There’s also plenty of shopping – with more than 50 stores and vendors featuring their wares in a “sidewalk sales” fashion as part of Downtown Days. Who doesn’t love a good deal?

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If we’re talking fun for the whole family, then someone is bound to love classic cars and Downtown Days also features the Slashin’ Ashmun Car Show on Saturday, from 10am-3pm.

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And there’s more – including a pancake breakfast, B.A.S.S. tournament, and a Kids Balloon Drop with prizes for everyone. Yes – there’s so much going on – you will need this schedule.

And like we learned on Gilmore Girls, there can be unexpected benefits from a festival…..

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….No, No…..not a doggy swami, but making new friends and what’s more festive than that?

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So what are you waiting for? It’s time to roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy DOWNTOWN DAYS of summer. I’ll be there Aug. 7-8 — will you??

(P.S. Just like compliments, admission is FREE and the event is hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Development Authority.)

Engineer’s Weekend in Sault Ste. Marie

“What was your favorite part of our vacation?”

That question floats easily off the tongue toward anyone with whom I’ve traveled near or far. Secretly – I only ask it so they’ll ask me in return! I’m chomping at the bit to relive every minute and the most memorable vacations….those are the one’s when you cannot decide which part was the best.

Engineer’s Weekend in Sault Ste. Marie is like that.

Starting on the last Friday in June, you find yourself moving from one great event to the next, starting with Engineer’s Day at world-famous Soo Locks. It’s pretty remarkable to stand on a lock gate at the Soo Locks and stare a massive freighter in the nose. To wander the inner sanctum of this engineering wonder is an opportunity that happens only one day a year and worth the wait!

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There are interesting displays and booths inside the park, vendors set up nearby, and great shops and restaurants just across the street. We like to park the car and leave it while we explore. Oh…and we always make time for this!

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But there are more things to see and do and it’s time to move less than a mile up Portage Avenue to tour the Cloverland Hydro-Electric Plant, opened in 1902 and still providing power to part of Sault Ste. Marie today. It’s a stunning beauty from the outside, but simply fascinating inside to see how they turn water into power.

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Can you believe that’s all on Friday alone? Come Saturday, we’ve tied our shoes, charged our camera batteries and are ready to beat feet across the border for the International Bridge Walk. Stretching from Michigan to Canada and passing high over the Soo Locks, the event is fun, picturesque and, in truth, a pretty easy walk.

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The whole town is hopping during Engineer’s Weekend. We sampled Upper Peninsula maple syrup, watched the kids bounce to their heart’s content, and bought a few souvenirs at Fridays’ Arts, Crafts, and Family Fun Day. On Saturday, after the bridge walk, we cheered tugboats as they raced up and down the river.

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We also made time for museum visits, brewery samples, casino action, and dipping our toes in the St. Marys River. It’s no wonder I can never choose the best part of Engineer’s Weekend! I guess we’ll just have to try again this June and see what tops the list.

Can you pick your favorite?

Fall in Love with The Soo

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Fall in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is like no other. Pull up a seat and enjoy the view or take a drive out to a stunning lighthouse just off the scenic path less traveled.

You don’t HAVE to drive far to find great color; downtown Sault Ste. Marie is bustling with shops, restaurants, freighters, and fall.Portage Fall 2013 Mikel Classen Keep Calm

If you do leave town a gorgeous drive west along the Curly Lewis Highway and then north to Paradise (literally) will take you to the Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

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There’s lots to do in the Soo as the colors begin to change. Sault International Marathon runs rightDSC_1167 into the heart of Oktoberfest in downtown September 27.  Family friendly activities, craft market, barrel tossing and spirits are just a handful things to find at Oktoberfest. There are live bands throughout the day including a traditional Polka Band.Oktoberfest FallJoin us in the Sault for a picture perfect fall. Peak color starts approximately the last week of September first week of October. At this time (9/11/2014) color saturation is less than 10%.

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The Wonders of Wednesday: Markets and Music

If you visit Sault Ste. Marie only on a weekend, you might be missing one of the best days of the week. There’s a special something in the air on Wednesday nights in “the Soo” – especially Downtown.  While the attractions that make the city irresistible – the Soo Locks, a variety of museums, historic churches, boat cruises and more – are still on the menu, two special offerings can be found only on Wednesday evenings.

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It starts with the Farmer’s Market, located at the corner of Portage Avenue and Ashmun Street. From 4-7pm, local farmers share the bounty of their gardens and fields throughout the summer season. From arugula to zucchini, those interested in locally-grown goods will have plenty of options. But it’s more than just vegetables and fruit. Fresh fish, poultry, eggs, baked goodies, canned jams, pickles and more…and the list goes on and on.

There are also non-edibles for sale. For instance, when we mention the word “hoop” – you probably expect to hear about produce grown in a hoop house, but at the Sault Farmer’s Market, you can also find HOOLA HOOPS! (And jewelry, and hand-carved items, and so much more.)

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It’s a good thing the Farmer’s Market closes at 7pm, because that’s when you’ll need to be at the Soo Locks for the weekly “Music in the Park” series. A different act takes the stage each week and the styles of music vary dramatically from week to week. Tomorrow, for instance, the Petoskey Steel Drum Band will perform for what is typically the largest audience of the season. Last week, a trio shared romantic crooner classics and future performances will include Da’ Yoopers, a local rock group, and a banjo band. How’s that for variety?

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Bring a lawn chair, then kick back and listen to the music while watching freighters, Coast Guard vessels, and other watercraft make their way through the Locks nearby. Just when you think a perfect summer evening can’t get any better – did I mention this is free?

Have you caught Wednesday fever? The only known cure is to plan your Sault Ste. Marie visit to include what some call “Hump Day” but we simply refer to it as Wonderful Wednesday! See you Downtown!