Michigan Roadside Attractions: Santa’s Workshop and 35-Foot Tall Santa Claus in Christmas
Michigan Roadside Attractions is a periodic feature on Travel the Mitten that will explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to unusual.
Michigan offers a good handful of places with unique names that you can visit – Paradise, Hell, Bliss, Mesick are a few of the names that raise eyebrows – but one small community in the Upper Peninsula might just have the best name of all: Christmas. Located just northwest of Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Christmas is an unincorporated community of around 400 residents that is named after a short-lived factory that built holiday gifts near here. Today, visitors are greeted by welcome sign that features Santa Claus, a 35-foot tall wooden Santa, and Santa’s Workshop – a store/post office/roadside attraction that features countless holiday gifts and where “it’s Christmas all year long.”
Just across the road from this holiday headquarters is the entrance to the Bay Furnace Campground and historic site, where only part of a furnace kiln remain of what was once the prosperous community of Onota. A fire at the pig iron smelter destroyed the entire village in the 1870s. The factory that made holiday gifts and lent Christmas its name suffered a similar fate as it burned down in 1940, two years after it started production.
Many visitors stop by here each year to have their letters postmarked from this unique post office, or to take in one of the many photo opportunities. In addition to the tall Santa, there is the wagon shown above, a snowman statue, and out back there are several wooden nursery rhyme statues.
Santa’s Workshop is fittingly located at the intersection of M-28 and St. Nicholas Ave. If you’re in the area to roll the dice at the Kewadin Casino, visiting the Grand Island Range Lights, camping at Munising Tourist Park Campground, or do some hiking and sightseeing at Pictured Rocks, consider checking out this unique roadside attraction!