The Village of Holly is located in the northwest corner of Oakland County. Primarily known for the Michigan Renaissance festival and the Annual Dickens festival, this town has plenty to offer year-round. Saginaw Street is the main street through the village, and what a charming one it is; Victorian-style red brick buildings line the sidewalk, indeed the city looks straight out of Dickens. The town’s personality has changed throughout the years; good things are happening, new businesses are moving in and people are coming to Holly to shop, eat and have a good time.
The Detroit Model Railroad Club is located in the old theater on Saginaw, they were having an open house so we thought we’d check it out. Wow, what an amazing set-up! The railroad is 1/4″ to the foot, referred to as “0″ scale among railroaders. In layman terms that means that the model of a 40 foot long boxcar will be 10 inches long. The amazing display depicts the fictitious Detroit Union Railroad, a freelance double track line running from Detroit to Dorrance MI. The detail is captivating; a downtown complete with hotel, gas station and train station. Tiny figures wait for long silver passenger trains, others stroll past minuscule buildings. Vintage passenger cars, buses and taxi’s are at the ready to take the townsfolk where they need to go. Mini street lamps and billboards complete the scene. Trains travel from the city to the country and into the mountains, I counted four levels of tracks. The scenery is beautiful; bridges cross over a river, tunnels cut through the jagged rocks. Signs of life in the country include cabins, wells with diminutive red pumps and horses. You have to look closely, but there is something going on everywhere; a truck that lost a load of tires, policemen chasing down a bad guy. And of course, the trains! It’s very relaxing to watch their travel, notice how they slow down as they go up in elevation, they even sound cool. Check their website for open house dates.
We stepped outside and headed south towards more shops and restaurants. We ducked into the boutique right on the corner called My Sweet Holly, in addition to home goods they have a large selection of Made In Detroit merchandise. A few doors down is one of the newer stores called Great Lakes Marketplace. A Made In Michigan grocery store featuring; Guernsey Ice Cream, Sanders, American Spoon, Cherry Republic, and loads of other food products, both big name and independents, native to the mitten state. When we came in the door a cheerful woman was handing out samples of her homemade candy, the dark chocolate espresso crunch was to die for! (I couldn’t leave the store without buying some….) Up front you can order an espresso drink or a double dip of your favorite ice cream. It was cool to see so many locally produced food items in one place. I am told beer and wine will be stocked soon! At the back of the store is a hallway connecting to the Great Lakes Artisan Village. What a marvelous find! Here you can purchase artwork crafted by Michigan artists, often using a Michigan product. They have a little bit of everything here; gorgeous jewelry, funky birdhouses, watercolor paintings and folk-art. A nice selection of books written by Michigan authors, intricate woodwork and sculptures for indoors or out are found throughout the space. If you’re looking for something unique, chances are you’ll find something here. The back of the store has been turned into a mini theater; on weekends they offer Movies In The Village featuring silver screen classics. What a fun idea! Most of the shops interiors retain their historic charm; some have exposed brick walls and wooden floors, most have tin ceilings, it really adds character.
We crossed Saginaw St to Bittersweet Cafe to catch some lunch. We had become quite hungry from shopping and staring at all the different food products at the marketplace. As we looked over the menu it was easy to be distracted by plates of mouth-watering food passing by. Finally a decision was made; the Vintage Pastrami sandwich and a Maurice Salad. The restaurant has classic Victorian appeal, again complete with an ornate tin ceiling. Up by the register is a glass case filled with scrumptious looking desserts. Passerby’s stop in for a coffee to go and linger over the selection. Our food arrived; the salad was a very generous size. Mixed greens with chopped turkey, ham and swiss, I liked the addition of black olives. The dressing was homemade and excellent. The sandwich was served on grilled pumpernickel bread; two slices filled with thinly sliced pastrami, swiss cheese, red onion and pepperoncini topped off with a creamy horseradish sauce, yum! We enjoyed our time in Holly and are already planning a return trip to visit their array of antique shops and other stores. I just may have to have more of that dark chocolate too….
Next time you’re in the mood to visit a quaint little town with pretty streetscapes, good restaurants, and great shopping, head on over to Holly.