Take a stroll down East Jordan's Main Street and it's easy to imagine what life was like in the late-1800's. Thanks to a restoration boomlet, storefronts and buildings echo the glory days of this Victorian-era lumbering port on the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix. Clearly there's a renaissance afoot, and with it a flourishing arts scene.
Leading the way is the Jordan River Arts Center in the reclaimed Carnegie Library (301 Main St., 231-536-3385). Its members include top artists from all over Northern Michigan, and its year-round programming draws huge crowds. Stop in the center's fine art gallery or check out one of its ongoing art fairs, workshops, classes, tours or theater productions.
At Cafe Casa & Galleria (105 Main St., 231-536-1350), take in works by local artists along with java and giant cookies. There are tiles and paintings by Jan Luptowski, kimonos and wall hangings by Sylvia Wallworth, watercolors by Prudy Barber, as well as photographs and cool cigar-box purses. Owner and interior designer Jennifer Aenis's studio, The Inner Structure, is in the back of this eye-appealing space.
See art in the making at Otis Pottery (1691 M-66 North, 231-536-7856), where David and June Otis create stoneware and porcelain objects for the kitchen and home. You'll find fine paintings, etchings, prints, woodcarvings and sculptures at wildlife artist Glen McCune's studio (9017 Ferry St., 231-582-2022, mccune-art.com), and at Jordan Valley Glassworks (209 State St., 231-536-0539, jordanvalleryglassworks.com), watch glassblower Jay Bavers turn molten wands into vases, bowls, wall sconces, fountains and light fixtures.
If all that heat has made you hungry, head back downtown to Sodalicious (109 Main St., 231-536-3085) for a hand-dipped cone, or for a real step back in time, try the Jordan Inn (228 Main St., 231-536-9906, jordaninn.com). The restored former lumber baron's mansion serves innovative breakfasts, lunch and reservation-only dinners.
Patty Lanoue Stearns is a freelancer based in Traverse City, Michigan. pattywrites.com
Note: This article was first published in May 2006, and was updated for the web February 2008.