Tag Archives: Soo

Give the Gift of Sault Ste. Marie

 

Struggling to find just the right gift for someone you love this winter? A trip to Sault Ste. Marie is a hit with both the guys and the gals. Let us show you how.

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Lucky guys know that planning a surprise vacation to play in the snow will be a home run. Make all the arrangements and wrap the details up in a box with cute hats, mittens and other winter accessories she’ll love!

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Or maybe a new pair of cross-country skis are more her style? With the beautifully-groomed trails of Algonquin Ski Trails, enjoy the beautiful north woods together while getting some fresh air and exercise worthy of your New Year’s resolution!

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Ladies can plan a winter escape, too. Maybe your guy is looking for a place to try out his new snowboard at Sault Seal Recreation Area?

 

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Sault Ste. Marie isn’t just for couples. Families find plenty to do during a winter trip to Sault Ste. Marie, including tubing at Sault Seal Recreation Area, hockey action at LSSU, ice skating at local rinks, and no winter trip is complete without an excursion to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

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A winter adventure to Sault Ste. Marie is a fun and affordable getaway for everyone!

 

48th Annual International 500 Snowmobile Race in Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Are you up for an adventure? 500 miles of thrills, spills, and chills are waiting for you at the 48th International 500 Endurance Snowmobile Race. The I-500, as locals call it, is February’s answer to cabin fever for over 10,000 spectators. For $20 dollars admission you can watch 38 teams race over 100mph through the straightaway for a prize purse worth tens of thousands of dollars.

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Did I mention that they race on a one mile ice oval track? Yes, ice. It takes three weeks, 1,800,000 gallons of water, and freezing temperatures to create the track.

You’ve never been, you say?!? What’s to do, you ask?!? Between laps watching the snowmobiles careen around the ice track you might wander through the Top of the Lake Vintage Snowmobile Show. Sleds representing nearly every decade since the dawn of the snow machine are present. Admission is included with the purchase of a button.

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The I-500 race has a tailgate atmosphere filled with festive social spectators. Bring your cooler or purchase food and beverage from the local vendors that line the infield. Join the fun to chase away your winter blues, but remember to dress really warm. You never know what the weather has in store for the Eastern Upper Peninsula during early February.

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Truth be told, you can turn your Saturday I-500 Race adventure into a weeklong excursion.

One week before the race join Sault Ste. Marie for the Downtown Winter Ice Festival. Saturday, January 30th, watch as ice carvers go head-to-head to chip, chisel, and saw ice creations before your very eyes. Monday night bring your ice skates and join in for skating on the smooth one mile oval track. Tuesday through Thursday afternoons watch as teams practice and jockey for position in time trials. Ramp up Thursday night with the 20 lap Woody’s Challenge Pro-Am Race, followed by the Downtown Pub Crawl.

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Friday night cast your vote for the 2016 Miss I-500 with your pocketbook; all funds donated to the Pink Ribbon Riders Breast Cancer patient assistance fund. Admission is free. Stick around after the crowning to watch the kids tear up the track in the Mini-5 Race. Enjoy the crackling bon-fire as Friday night wines down and you prepare for the fun of Saturday morning.

So pack up the vehicle (and/or sleds) and make your way to Sault Ste. Marie for a day (or week) filled with fun and excitement.

 

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.

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!

A “Rendezvous” with History in Sault Ste. Marie

Call it humbling. Or maybe thought-provoking. It may even feel like deja vu if you think you were an explorer or fur trader in a previous life. The feeling differs from person to person but the outcome is the same: it’s just plain awesome to walk the same shores of the St. Marys River settled by Europeans nearly 350 years ago.

You’ve got a date with history on July 25-26, 2015.

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Rendezvous in the Sault

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Surround yourself with costumed re-enactors from the French Colonial Heritage Society of Port Huron who pride themselves in recreating authentic scenes, activities, and living arrangements from the 17th and 18th centuries. These encampments are truly remarkable in their detail.

There’s music to dance to, wares to be purchased, and hatchets to throw. This isn’t a passive exercise, but rather an immersion into another time. Both children and adults will enjoy listening to the story-teller, playing authentic games, and meeting historic personalities from the era.

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There’s butter to be churned, concerts to be performed and cannons to be loaded. Rendezvous in the Sault is a perfect multi-generational activity, so bring the whole family.

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If you appreciate the assistance of a schedule, you can always consult the Rendezvous website, where you’ll find details about events and times.

These are the very grounds where the first European settlement in Michigan was created in 1668. Sault Ste. Marie’s early history gravitated around the river, creating a gathering place for literally centuries of Native Americans and European settlers alike. What better place for a historic rendezvous than on the place where history was first made?

Join us as we make merry and celebrate our shared history on July 25-26, 2015.

 

 

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?

New Year’s Eve in Sault Ste. Marie

Ring in 2015 in Sault Ste. Marie and your biggest dilemmas will be figuring out what to do first and where to be at midnight.

You could start with a great, hand-crafted beer made locally at Soo Brewing Company. Ray and his team will have 9 different beers on tap, as well as Chuggs keg-conditioned Root Beer. The Brewery is planning some special events for the last hours of 2014 and will be open to ring in the New Year.

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At 8pm, let your competitive spirit take over and join the walk-in bowling tournament at Dondee Lanes. There’ll also be live music in the bar, a lasagna dinner to delight the taste buds and plenty of opportunity to dance, bowl, and have a great night.

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Kewadin Casino hosts an annual New Year’s Eve party, filled with live music, light hors d’oeuvres and a balloon drop at midnight. There is no cover charge for the party and you’re always just a stone’s throw (or better yet, a dice throw) away from casino gaming action.

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There are also a variety of eateries and taverns located in downtown Sault Ste. Marie and the broader Soo area. But did you know the community also has local taxi services and plenty of lodging options?  Visit us and you can celebrate safely and then wake up in Sault Ste. Marie in 2015.

No matter what your plans, make sure to put Sault Ste. Marie on your 2015 vacation calendar and have a Happy New Year!

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!

History comes to life during performances on Water Street

I don’t know about you, but I’ve sometimes perused museum exhibits or historic homes and felt like I should tip-toe through the location. Don’t make any noise. No sudden moves. It’s probably self-induced, but I feel like I’m in a library and someone might “shush” me at any moment. I’ll go one step further and say sometimes my attention span can be a little, shall we say, limited.

All of this is my not-very-brief way of saying that performances make museums and historic places come alive for me. Every summer, thousands of visitors feel the same when they visit the John Johnston House on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2pm. That’s when local singer/songwriters Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith give small, intimate concerts and bring history to life with their voices and their guitars. The performances are included in the price of admission to the historic homes and are offered through July and August.

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Of course, you can have the best of all worlds. You can tour the homes on Historic Water Street at your leisure and combine that with a Tuesday or Thursday concert. These important buildings – John Johnston house, Bishop Baraga house, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft house and the Kemp Coal Office – have distinctly different exhibits and each tells a unique story. The homes are open 7 days per week from Noon-5pm through Labor Day. The price of admission grants you access to the four buildings and is $3 for adults, $2 for children, $8 for a family, and $15 for a season pass. 

 For more information on events and activities visit Sault Ste. Marie.