Mackinac Island Vacation
Located in Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is part of the state of Michigan. Before European exploration began in the 17th century, it was home to a Native American settlement. As a strategic location for fur trading, the British established Fort Mackinac during the American Revolutionary War. In the late 19th century, however, Mackinac Island became a popular tourist attraction and summer colony and it has blossomed ever since.
Mackinac Island is definitely one place to add to your bucket list. I am thrilled to share my experience and a few helpful suggestions as you make your own adventure to this beautiful island.
Getting to the Island
In order to get to the island, you must take a ferry or private airplane. Instead of leaving from Mackinac City, we chose to drive across the 5 mile Mackinac Bridge and took one of Shepler’s ferries from St. Ignace. It was awe-inspiring to see the bridge up close and so convenient to leave from St. Ignace. I would highly recommend Shepler’s Ferry as the best value – the facilities and ferries are spotless and lovely – the staff and Ferry Captains are friendly, capable and clean cut.
Where to Stay on Mackinac Island
Upon arrival to the island, you step into a different place in time and practically want to turn yourself into some fictional character from an enchanting 18th century novel. Since 1898 motorized vehicles have been prohibited on the island. Travel is either by foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. We were extremely pleased with our lodging accommodations at the Harbour View Inn .
Known as the island’s most romantic inn, we enjoyed lovely surroundings in a well-maintained and beautifully decorated inn. They offer a variety of room sizes from standard rooms to deluxe suites. The staff at the Harbour View Inn truly made us feel at home – responsive, knowledgeable about the island and welcoming.
Things to to on Mackinac Island
There are 4 “must do” experiences on Mackinac Island:
1) Bike the island –
First up catch the incredible views and breathtaking scenery – no matter the size of your group, the Mackinac Island Bike Shop can accommodate your needs.
2) Visit the Grand Hotel,
“The crown jewel” of the island (http://grandhotel.com/) – enjoying one of your meals at the Grand Hotel is a great way to become acquainted with this American treasure. I would suggest either the Grand
Luncheon Buffet (which is phenomenal) as well as the famous 5-course dinner in the Main Dining Room. Remember the dress code for the dinner! In addition to the memorable cuisines at the Grand Hotel, visitors should attend a historical lecture by the on-site Grand Hotel historian, Bob Tagatz – Tagatz makes history come alive in a presentation that is fascinating, entertaining and well worth your time.
3) Take a carriage tour of the island –
Take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage you gain insight into the history of the island as well as taking in awe-inspiring vistas (Carriage Tour).
Sample the varieties of fudge and take some home with you!
I should mention that my sister and I traveled to Mackinac Island with four children – ages 4-9. We and the children had the time of our lives and we found the “island experience” kid-friendly and suitable for these youngsters.
Before departing the island to go home, we dined at Mary’s Bistro and it was delicious.
Great food on the waterfront with loved ones – what more could you ask for? I suggest their salmon dishes – amazing flavors. The children enjoyed a fantastic selection of “kid food” and loved their dinners as well.
With great enthusiasm I highly recommend that your next adventure be to Mackinac Island, Michigan. It is sure to be a treasured and relaxing retreat from the fast-paced and busy lives of us non-island folk.
By Sarah Lovell and Jennifer McKay