Mackinac Island is one of the most beautiful places in Michigan. It is an Island between the upper and lower peninsulas. Mackinac Island is like no other place.The only means of transportation is horse carriage, biking or walking. Mackinac is a small island of only 3.8 square miles and is well known for bike riding, bars, restaurants, shopping, hotels and, of course, fudge.
You must take a ferry or boat to get over to the island. Ferry’s go out of Mackinaw City or St. Ignance. Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry, Shepler’s Ferry, and Star Line Ferry each have a fleet and are similar in price. You can pay a little extra to take the quicker ride over and go on the fast boats as an option as well.
Got a plane?? There is the Pellston Airport which is about a 15 minute ride. Great Lakes Air is a full service, affordable passenger and freight charter service that offers a seven minute flight from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island. Fresh Air Aviation also services the Island with private aircraft charters.
There are many gorgeous hotels and bed and breakfasts on the Island. One of the most historic hotels on the island is The Grand Hotel. It’s a beautiful Victorian hotel with charming rooms and a scenic view of the straits. The rooms are quite expensive, but if you vacation on the off season, you can get a great deal. Grand Hotel was voted by Travel+Leisure Family magazine’s best resorts for families and kids. If you don’t want to stay at the hotel, you can explore the grounds and pay a $10 fee.
Mission Point is one of my favorite hotels to stay. You need to try the Chianti Italian Restaurant, which is delicious. Both of these hotels are a 10-15 minute walk from town. If you want to be near the hustle and bustle and hear the clopping of horses, then stay downtown at my favorites like The Lilac Tree Suites & Spa or the Chippewa Hotel Waterfront. There are many bed & breakfast destinations that are very quaint as well.
The nightlife is amazing on the island. They have some of the best live music. The best bars are the Pink Pony, The Gate House, and Horns. The pub crawls are a blast. Just a recommendation, no drinking and driving a bike on the island. You will get a ticket from your local police. Too many people have fallen off bikes on the steep hills around the island. Walking or catching a horse carriage ride is the best. A really cool bar in the middle of the Island is called The Woods. The best drink at The Woods and on the Island is called The Yellow Bird. It is $11 bucks, but well worth every drip. You can hit their two lane old bowling alley for some fun.
Most of this information you can find on-line, but I was lucky enough to have family that was actually born and raised on the Island and had yearly family reunions there. One of the coolest landmarks is Round Island Lighthouse. As you arrive to the island on the right hand side of the ferry, you will see beautiful Round Island Lighthouse, which was built by Frank Rounds. Frank Rounds was the great-grandfather of my ex-husband’s father, Dale Gensman. Dale has made charming ceramic replicas of the light houses and sells them around Michigan. You can always find his work in the local library on the island. Dale has helped restore the lighthouse along with Boy Scouts of America.
Dale Gensman grew up on the island and attended a one-room schoolhouse. Dale grew up with a black bear name Cubbie, which was the island favorite. Dale even published a book about it a few years back. He always said “get out of town, the middle of the island is the best”!
A few fun facts, the kids on the island have never had a snow day, since most of them have snowmobiles. They did, however, have an ice day once There is a cemetery in the middle of the island and you can only be buried on the island, if your an islander. The average graduating class is five.
The island is approximately seven miles around. There’s a beautiful bike path that goes around the entire island if you want to enjoy a scenic view. There are many things to do or visit on the island like shopping — I love Nephews boutique,. Other attractions include the butterfly house, St. Anne’s Catholic Church, Governors House, Fort Mackinac, and more. Make sure to visit the middle of the island and hike through the beautifully treed trails. Bring your clubs or rent for a fun round of golf at one of the courses like the lovely Jewel, Wawashkamo or Greens of Mackinac.
Another cool point is that the majority of the help on the island is from out of the country. I had a interesting conversation with our waiter who was from Jamaica and just the most friendly guy. He loves living on the island during the summer and goes back to Jamaica in the winter.
Visiting Mackinac is a must. It is a great family vacation and for the kids to learn more about history. Where else can you go and smell fudge and horse manure at the same time!
Pictures of Mackinac Island’s way of towing and garbage control.