Joie de Vie Antiques.
Essential to any Harbor Springs antiquing trip: a sweet breakfast, a sharp eye and a leisurely pace to fully scour each shop. The antiques here are beautiful, rare and diverse — with a little patience, you're bound to find that perfect something (or several perfect somethings) for your home.
Jumpstart your antiques excursion with a trip to a renovated Harbor Springs 1930's gas station, where the folks at Island Bean Coffee Company (110 West Main Street, 231-526-9998) whip up some mean morning beverages. Go for a strawberry-banana smoothie, then mosey west on Main Street until you see L'Esprit (195 West Main Street, 231-526-9888). Welcome to a whopper of an antiques boutique — it measures more than 4,500 square feet when combined with its sister store just up the road (220 State Street). Your kitchen has been waiting for those creamy table linens, the delicate oyster dishes, that rustic wire French egg basket. A 19th-century dough table makes a sturdy resting spot for pot-bellied, sage-colored glass vases whose tiny mouths hold just a few gangly stems of dill. French Provincial perfection? Mais oui.
Envisioning these goodies in your home, wander up to Pooter Olooms Antiques (339 State Street, 231-526-6101), where plum-, wine- and amber-toned jewels hang from dazzling antique chandeliers. Heftier items include painted Danish steamer trunks, Baroque-era Danish cupboards and gilded French daybeds. Picture yourself powdering your nose at the ultra-feminine pine vanity, complete with a Venetian-glass-edged mirror and pink perfume bottles. Then head over to Bishops Antiques (378 East Third Street, 231-526-8075), where an eclectic explosion of goods hides just beyond the garden gate. Model planes, trucks, and chandeliers with pink and blue daisies hang precariously from the ceiling, suspended over vintage jewelry, paper-thin porcelain tea sets, intricately decorated egg cups and Quimper china from France.
Treasures in tow, drive north on State Road five miles to the intersection of Stutsmanville Road for a post-shopping supper at The Fish (2983 S. State Road, 231-526-3969). Smoked bell pepper mussels make a divine appetizer, followed by cucumber walleye and, if you can handle it, ginger creme brulee for dessert.
Emily Bingham is assistant editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in April 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.