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Views of the Straits of Mackinac from Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Jewel of the Great Lakes

By: Shannon Doe Ewing

Anton Fresco
1 of 6
Beautiful Victorian Architecture on Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Jewel of the Great Lakes

By: Shannon Doe Ewing

Anton Fresco
2 of 6
Ice cream shop on Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Jewel of the Great Lakes

By: Shannon Doe Ewing

Anton Fresco
3 of 6
Bars and restaurants in downtown Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Jewel of the Great Lakes

By: Shannon Doe Ewing

Anton Fresco
4 of 6
Gourmet dining on Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Jewel of the Great Lakes

By: Shannon Doe Ewing

Anton Fresco
5 of 6
Unique shopping on Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Jewel of the Great Lakes

By: Shannon Doe Ewing

Anton Fresco
6 of 6
  • States:
    Michigan

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, and they include resorts, spas, 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 ambience 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.

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
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Anton Fresco

Carriage Rides

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.

Traditional horse carriage tour of Mackinac Island

Traditional horse carriage tour of Mackinac Island
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Anton Fresco

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 at 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.

Self-guided tour of historic Fort Mackinac

Self-guided tour of historic Fort Mackinac
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Anton Fresco

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 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.

Traditional Victorian fudge-making on Mackinac Island

Traditional Victorian fudge-making on Mackinac Island
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Anton Fresco
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