We took an end of Summer trip to visit Mackinac Island, MI and the surrounding area. My husband and I had visited as kids with our families, but have wanted to return for a while.
If you’re not familiar with it, Mackinac Island is a small island that sits in Lake Huron off the coasts of the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. The island is car-free with lots of horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and the most amazing fudge!! It’s like taking a step back in time…
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There are lots of options to stay on the island from bed & breakfasts to the amazing Grand Hotel. We chose to stay on the mainland in Mackinaw City at a wonderful bed & breakfast called Deer Head Inn. It was a great place just a few blocks from Sheplers Ferry dock and the breakfasts were amazing!
We hopped on the ferry in the morning to head over to Mackinac island. (And, yes, Mackinaw City is spelled differently but they are pronounced the same. 😊 You can read a little about that here.) As we neared the island, we were treated with a spectacular view of the Grand Hotel.
The porch of the Grand Hotel is the world’s largest at 660 feet long. It is lined with rocking chairs for relaxing, sipping a drink, and enjoying the views. The bridge in the photo below is the Mackinac Bridge as seen from the porch. The bridge connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan and spans about 5 miles.
For a small fee, you can tour the first few floors of the hotel along with the porch and the grounds. It is very plush and inviting and the flowers are gorgeous.
For the movie buffs, the 1980 film Somewhere In Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, was filmed at the Grand Hotel and other Mackinac Island locations. There is a room with memorabilia from the movie. I haven’t watched the movie in quite a while – I’ll have to watch it again soon!
We took a horse drawn carriage tour around the island. We started in the downtown area and rode past some of the beautiful sights on the island. Below is a view of downtown which is filled with shops, restaurants, and fudge shops (I think I saw at least 6!), Little Stone Church, Saint Ann’s Cemetery, Fort Mackinac, and Arch Rock. Most of the island is a Michigan State Park left in its natural state. It was so quiet and peaceful riding in the horse-drawn carriage listening to the clip-clop of the horses with no engine noises.
A few of the sights as we walked from the Grand Hotel back to downtown…
There are a few hardy souls who live on the island full-time and you can visit anytime, but the main season is May-October. There is also a Christmas tree lighting to kickoff the holiday season and you can enjoy some winter activities. However, not everything will be open on the island. I think it would be absolutely beautiful to visit in late September or early October when the fall colors are showing off!
We also took a day to drive across the Mackinac Bridge to the upper peninsula of Michigan and visit the Whitefish Point Great Lakes Maritime Museum. It felt like we were driving to the end of the earth! The farther we went, the more rural it got. Michigan is a beautiful state! The museum is on the very tip of Michigan on Lake Superior – you can even see Canada in the distance in the last photo below.
The museum remembers the shipwrecks that have occurred in the Great Lakes. One you may have heard of is the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The ship was lost on November 10, 1975 about 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point and 29 men were lost. You may remember the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot which commemorates the sinking of the ship.
The bell of the ship was recovered on July 4, 1995 and you can see it in the museum. A replica of the bell engraved with the names of the 29 crew who were lost was placed in the same place on the sunken ship in memory of the men.
It was a chilly and windy day on Lake Superior but I’m so glad we made the drive up there! It was so beautiful!
If you ever find yourself in Michigan, I highly recommend spending a day on Mackinac Island. It will take you back to simpler, slower, and quieter time – even with all the other tourists there with you. 😉 And be sure to take a drive through the countryside – it’s beautiful!