Of course you want to spend your weekend getaway on Mackinac (pronounced mac-in-aw) Island… Perhaps because you heard that Mackinac Island has been rated the number one summer destination in America by TripAdvisor.com.
Maybe it is because you are looking to find some rest and relaxation surrounded by beautiful scenery. It also could be because you love homeade fudge, or because you watched the movie Somewhere In Time (1980) seven times and want to visit the Grand Hotel to travel back in time. You have come to the right place, because this island only allows walking, biking, or riding horse-drawn carriages.
You will never hear cars whizzing by, horns honking, or music blaring from the car stereo. What you will hear is birds chirping, horses clomping, softer old-fashioned and classical music coming from the hotels and shops, modern music in the restaurants, church bells, and cannons firing from the fort. One evening as we walked in the dark toward the main street looking for some late-night eats, it was dead quiet except for the faint sound of Taps. It was the only sound besides the chirping crickets. We assumed it was coming from the fort, but it just seemed to hang in the air around us as we made our way to the town.
Although, this is a top summer destination, we decided to travel there in spring. The town officially opens the second week in May. This is a great choice as well, as long as you understand that spring can still be chilly in Michigan. So if you want t-shirts and shorts, stick to the summer months!
Our sample itineray:
From either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace you can get to Mackinac Island from one of the ferry docks. Drop your luggage off with the ferry staff first. Ask them where to park. They will handle your luggage all the way to your hotel where it will be waiting outside your room. A shuttle will bring you from your parking spot back to the ferry. Enjoy the views from the ferry including the Mackinac Bridge and the Light house. Upon arrival to the island, take a carriage taxi ($5 pp+$1-2 tip) or walk to your hotel. We stayed at The Grand Hotel, but if you choose to stay elsewhere you can still tour the Grand Hotel for $10pp at a later time. Use this time (or do it earlier) to book any massages or facials you might want on your trip (when we tried the day of, everything was full).
After checking in to your hotel, head down to the main street towards the boardwalk and see the lookout for the Round Island Lighthouse, Check out the island library for something to read. A great spot for this is right behind the library where there are chairs with a view of the sea.
Next, rent bicycles (will include a map and bottled water) and go for a morning ride around the the island. Take in the sights along Lake Shore Boulevard. Stop and take the steps up to Arch Rock (it’s worth it!), other landmarks include the British Landing ( a little detour here), Brown’s Brook, and Devil’s Kitchen. You can also see the “Is It You” spot From Somewhere in Time.
Stop for lunch at the Broken Spoke, the Grand Luncheon Buffet or the 1852 Grill Room and then head over to try some of Mackinac Island’s famous fudge from Murdick’s Fudge, Ryba’s Fudge Shop, May’s Candy Shop, Joann’s Fudge or Murray’s Hill Hotel. Each place has it’s own claim to fame. Browse the other shops and art galleries on and around main street.
Visit Fort Mackinac and Fort Mackinac Tea Room (this includes tickets to other sights)
The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum and/or the Biddle House, and other houses.
The next morning on your Weekend Getaway to Mackinac Island, take a hike to Anne’s Bench and the Gazebo from Somewhere In Time, Then continue up past the cemetery and onto Point Lookout, and take in the view of Sugar Loaf rock (you can hike down to it to see it closer). Next hike up to Fort Holmes (the highest point on the mountain), read about the history, and see the amazing view below. You also might see some raptors at this location. Take the stairs down to make a loop. Alternatively, you could take the Mackinac Island Carriage ride to see these sights. If you are up to more hiking, you can walk over to Crack-in-the-Island and Cave of the Woods trail.
Don’t forget to take a tour of the Grand Hotel!
Some things we learned- Grand Coffee and Provisions at the Grand Hotel has the best hot chocolate. The Cupola Bar at the Grand has the best dining views. The Haunted Theater is overpriced, hokey and really dark, but you can make it fun if you want to. Don’t put your fudge in the freezer or refrigerator, it will ruin the taste. The Grand Hotel has a lot of secrets. Ask about its history!
Some things we wanted to try, but they were closed when we went- The Robert Stuart House, The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House & Insect World, Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory, Haunts of Mackinac Ghost tour
Have a great time on your Weekend Getaway to Mackinac Island!