Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Jewel of the Great Lakes
By Shannon Doe Ewing
Mackinac Island is one of those rare destinations where you can truly take a step back in time. Accessible only by ferry boat or plane – via Great Lakes Air from the St. Ignace Airport – this completely automobile-free island will seduce you with its Old World Victorian charm.
The ferry ride to the island is impressive, with its exceptional views of the massive Mackinac Bridge. Once on the island, the sounds of horses and carriages are heard throughout the streets, providing a rhythmic calm compared to normal automobile sounds. Visitors relax naturally to this new rhythm, enjoying the sights and sounds of this unique and beautiful place.
Charming Accommodations – From Quaint to Grand
There are so many accommodations to choose from on Mackinac Island, from resorts and spas to historic inns and B&Bs. You will soon discover that there are no chain hotels anywhere. I stayed at the beautiful and historic Island House Hotel. Each room is decorated uniquely with a romantic Victorian flair. The ambiance is charming, and the vibe is all about relaxation. Simple pleasures here include taking in the view from the veranda over cocktails, and relaxing at the outdoor fireplaces on the lawn.
Carriage rides were one of my favourite activities on Mackinac Island. I assure you that booking a carriage tour is one of the best ways to see the sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac, lighthouses and the gorgeous Victorian architecture. I took a morning tour of the island, stopping to enjoy the Butterfly House, a perfect family activity with so many delicate exotic species flying about. After that, I took a quick trip up to the famous Grand Hotel, known as “America’s Summer Place.” The impressive grounds really make you feel the history and opulence of this Victorian island.
Fort Mackinac: Lunch and Historic Tours
The walk up the hill to Fort Mackinac is fun, and a lovely lunch at the Fort Mackinac Tea Room is a great idea. Enjoy the exceptional views of downtown Mackinac Island and the harbor over lunch, then check out the fort with a self-guided tour of the grounds. There are re-enactments to enjoy, with soldiers demonstrating cannon salutes and rifle firings.
After lunch, I walked down the hill and rented a bike downtown. It’s super easy to do, with many vendors throughout Main Street. I loved riding my funky beach cruiser, impulsively stopping at shops and boutiques. Among my favourites were the several fudge shops, which sell exceptional homemade fudge, making it in the shop for all to see.
Downtown Nightlife and Good Eats
Evenings downtown are lots of fun, with a vibe similar to a mini Bourbon Street with many restaurants, bars and pubs you can stroll in and out of. Be sure to check out the Pink Pony Bar & Grill, right on the waterfront at the Chippewa Hotel. It’s a local favorite for food, live entertainment and great cocktails.
Mackinac Island surpassed my expectations with its beauty and Old World flavor. It truly is an opportunity to relax, turn off the noise and get back to what is important: family, friends and the simple pleasures in life.
For more information, please visit us:
Official Mackinac Island Travel Information
When you goAccommodations
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours
The Original Butterfly House and Insect World