Todd Zawistowski; Elly Johnson
Good times are a-callin' at Call of the Wild (800-835-4347, gocallofthewild.com), where little has changed since the museum/gift shop first opened its doors in 1965. From downtown Gaylord, turn south on Wisconsin Avenue; Call of the Wild is just a short spell up the road on the right. Scour the gift shop for old-timey finds like Minnetonka moccasins, cowboy boots and homemade cream-and-butter fudge. Ready for some wildlife? Pick up an activity sheet with museum admission and wander into the dark, craggy cavelike hallway. A deer stands silent to your right, a pack of wolves to your left. Pick up the bone horn to hear their lonesome calls. You've officially fallen into a taxidermist's wonderland - think ducks caught in midflight, rabbits running from predators and an 11-foot-tall, 1,700-pound polar bear.
The museum tour ends with a display of 1800's photographs depicting a Gaylord of horse-drawn carts, blacksmith shops and steam trains. More local history awaits at Old Spud Warehouse (989-731-0330, oldspudwarehouse.com), a captivating home decor shop in a circa 1900 potato storehouse on South Ostego. The goodies here include leather luggage cases, a Davy Crockett toy chest and old-school snowshoes. Antiques share space with modern-day pieces, including wall art, scented candles, comic books, jewelry, greeting cards and furniture.
Tummy rumblin'? Head to the Sugar Bowl Restaurant (216 West Main, 989-732-5524), a downtown Gaylord stalwart operated by the same family since 1919. The Main Street Special, sliced corned beef with sweet coleslaw on pumpernickel, is a fine fix, but hold off on dessert. Yesteryear treats like wax lips, peanut brittle, saltwater taffy and fine chocolates are just a few doors down at the Alpine Chocolate Haus (989-732-1077, alpinechocolatehaus.com).
Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in October 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.