My wife and I fulfilled a “bucket list” trip earlier this month when we traveled to idyllic Mackinac Island to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. 

Photo by Michael Embry
Overlooking the bay

The 4.35 square mile island is located on Lake Huron,  between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. The islet is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Mackinac Island State Park covers about 80 percent of the area.

While the island has been a popular destination since the late 19th century, the 1980 movie “Somewhere In Time,” starring Jane Seymour, Christopher Reeve, and Christopher Plummer,  brought more exposure to the picturesque locale. A popular event is the Somewhere in Time Weekend (Oct. 29-31), held annually at the hotel.

Photo by Michael Embry
Grand Hotel 

After arriving at Mackinaw City (lower peninsula) or St. Ignace (upper peninsula), visitors board ferries to the island that takes about 25 minutes to reach one of three docks. One of the views, as you approach the island, is the majestic Grand Hotel, a 19th-century Victorian-style structure that overlooks the bay. 

Hotels, restaurants, fudge shops, historic buildings, parks, and churches, and souvenir stores line  Main Street, from one end to the other. Something you won’t see is motorized vehicles since they are prohibited on the island (the exception is carts on the Grand Hotel golf course but that’s because the grounds are private property.)

Photo by Michael Embry
Bicyclists rule the streets

If there’s something you have to watch out for, it’s bicycles so look both ways before crossing the street.  You’ll see hordes of bicyclists traversing the numerous paths and roads on the island. A lot of folks bring their bikes on the ferry to tour the island. Visitors can also rent bikes.

Photo by Michael Embry
“Road apples”

There are horse-drawn carriages and buggies that take visitors to most places (we took a leisurely tour on a carriage). And the island being so small, you can walk to many places or hike the marked paths in the forested parts. But be careful where you step because horses leave their mark in various places (a carriage driver referred to the clumps as “road apples.”) 

Photo by Michael Embry
Fort Mackinac

Besides the Grand Hotel (where we splurged on lunch but didn’t stay), other points of interest include Fort Mackinac, St. Ann’s cemetery, Arch Rock, and several museums. We especially enjoyed touring the fort and hearing about its history from the costumed guides. The restaurants were a bit pricey, but the food was very good. My wife liked the whitefish at Mary’s Bistro Draught House.

You’ll discover that fudge is a popular product, so much so that Mackinac Island is regarded as “America’s Fudge Capital,” with an annual festival dedicated to the sugary concoction (Aug. 27-29 this year). 

While sitting on the porch of the Lake View Hotel, we talked to a couple from Troy, Ohio, frequent visitors to the island. The man said little has changed since his parents took him there in the 1950s. I bet if you could go back in time to the ’50s, perhaps his parents would say it hasn’t changed much since the turn of the century.

That’s a big part of the charm of Mackinac Island, an escape that harkens back to a simpler time and place.

Until the next time . . . 

Michael Embry Author, Blogger

Michael Embry is a multi-genre author of 15 books.

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,