Where: from New Buffalo to Detroit along U.S. 12 Heritage Trail, one of the oldest road corridors east of the Mississippi River. Originally a network of centuries-old trails created by Native Americans, this colorful highway linking lower southern Michigan’s east and west shores also served as a military road in the 1820s and a migration route before being paved and designated by the U.S. in the 1920s.
Since 2003, small towns and cities dotting the 180-mile highway have collectively hosted “Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale,” offering countless community-wide garage sales over the entire weekend.
Everything from antiques, collectibles and furniture to fresh garden produce and homemade jams can be found along the way at homes, farms, businesses, parking lots and fields. While some spots will feature many vendors, others will be more scattered or take the adventurous a mile or more off the beaten path.
Though a sale of this size is unique in the state, a journey along U.S. 12 outside of the event is reason enough to fill up the tank. The picturesque route is punctuated by nostalgic discoveries and historic spots including must-sees such as the Allen Antique Barn (500 vendors, more than the town’s population); Coldwater’s Capri Drive-In (ranked as one of the “Top Ten Drive-Ins Worth a Detour” by both The New York Times and USA Today); Drier’s Meat Market in Three Oaks (a National Historic Site that’s been in continuous use as a butcher shop since just after the Civil War, family-owned for generations and complete with sawdust on the floor); the Chicago Pike Inn and Spa (an award-winning, historic luxury retreat) and the Sauk Trail Trading Post (America’s largest Minnetonka Moccasin shop featuring over 3,000 pairs).
Uncover more stops before you go at us12heritagetrail.org.
— Lisa M. Jensen, Michigan BLUE Magazine.
*Photography courtesy istockphoto.com/mark wragg; james allred; Thomas Vogel