Each year Harbor Springs and Petoskey celebrate the holiday festivities, the coming of the snow, and a great opportunity to start holiday shopping or at least get some great ideas from downtown businesses with a Holiday Open House. Falling back to back each year on the first Friday and Saturday in December (Petoskey on Friday, December 1st and Harbor Springs on Saturday, December 2nd). These are both equally as festive and fun as you get to wander the streets while they are shut down, enjoy a free beverage or snack from a business, and revel in their holiday lights displays.

Petoskey Holiday Open House

Petoskey Open House is held on the first Friday in December and starts with tree lighting with none other than Santa Claus himself! He lights the large Christmas Tree in Pennsylvania Park located downtown. This tree lighting by Santa begins at 6 o’clock at night. The sounds of the Petoskey Steel Drum Band can be heard throughout downtown during their performances (no front-row seats needed) – although they do put on quite a show in their double-decker performance trailer. For another fun celebration, check out the Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade on the second Saturday in December.

Looking for a bite to eat? Make reservations if you can at the restaurants that accept them or stop by one of the wonderful downtown restaurants and grab a table. There are restaurants of all levels from casual classics like Mitchell Street Pub, Noggin Room Pub, and Duffy’s Garage and Grille to more upscale experiences at Pour Kitchen, City Park Grill, or Chandler’s A Restaurant.

Eating ahead and just looking for a sip? Check out these awesome stops:

High Five Spirits – Home to Gypsy Vodka, Petoskey Stone Gin, and Mackinac Island Rum this local distillery is a great experience if you are looking for a tasty cocktail. They have yummy seasonal cocktails or offer classic cocktails as well. My favorite is the Petoskey Stone Gin which is infused with locally sourced lavender – not for everyone but still my favorite.

The Back Lot Petoskey – A unique experience that can be enjoyed in any season, The Backlot in Petoskey offers a selection of craft beers, draft wine, and signature cocktails. They offer outdoor seating as well with firepits and heaters to enjoy some fresh air. Check their website to see which of the food truck offerings are available.

Beards Brewery – Craft brewery, Beards Brewery, offers a selection of light, nutty, hoppy, roast-y, or refreshing beers. Not a beer fan? They have cider and seltzer that might pique your interest. Check out their menu online.

Looking to sip and shop? Don’t forget that Petoskey has a Downtown Social District! Check out the map here.

Harbor Springs Holiday Open House

The Harbor Springs Holiday Open House is held on the first Saturday of December and is filled with holiday cheer. Downtown Harbor Springs will be closed on Main and State streets for those three hours to allow visitors to wander and shop. Great opportunity to shop at local stores for the ones you love! You can also enjoy the sounds of Petoskey Steel Drum Band in Harbor Springs too.

Looking for a place to eat downtown? There are many dining options in downtown Harbor Springs! Check out The New York, Stafford’s Pier, or the Paper Station Bistro for places you can make a reservation ahead of time. Or stop by Pierson’s Grille & Spirits, Turkey’s Café & Pizzeria, and Bar Harbor, or travel uptown to Rodrigo’s for some of the best Mexican cuisine north of the 45th parallel.

Just walking around with your favorite warm beverage and visiting all of the wonderful shops is a great way to spend the evening out. Want to catch a movie at the Lyric Theater? Check out what is playing that day here.


The holidays come up so quickly so take advantage of a weekend in Petoskey and Harbor Springs to get started on your holiday shopping. Check out our Stay page for a full list of accommodations. Also, round out your weekend with some outdoor fun! Check out our ski resorts and see if their lifts are spinning yet! Or even a wintery walk along the Bear River in Petoskey or down by the water in Harbor Springs.

About the author

Ellen Auten is a native of the area and loves to promote the next fun thing to do in the Petoskey Area – but also loves giving out local favorites and learning opportunities for all. She hopes to help in your planning process for your next trip to the Petoskey Area of northern Lower Michigan.