As Adam was growing up, his grandfather decided a great bonding opportunity would be to travel the country together. Each year, Papaw would select a new location for the two of them to explore. Both he and my husband treasured these road trips and I’ve been lucky to hear the stories about so many of them. Because of the special times they had visiting these different locations, Adam has since brought me back to some of them. They were places that stood out in his mind and one of his favorites was Mackinac Island.
Downtown Mackinac Island
Located in northern Michigan, visiting Mackinac Island is like stepping back in time. There is no bridge to reach the island and cars are not allowed. Instead, visitors travel by one of the two ferry lines, Star Ferry or Shepler’s Ferry. Once reaching Mackinac locals and guests get around by walking, biking, or horse drawn carriage. Adam is a car fanatic, but even he enjoys the slowed down pace of the island. Lending to the nostalgia is the architecture. Main Street on Mackinac reminds me of walking down Main Street in Disney World with its Victorian era designs.
Our first stop when reaching the island was to try some world famous Mackinac fudge. It was hard to choose which shop to purchase from with more than a dozen options available and each offering a wide variety of delicious flavors. Ultimately, we decided on Murdick’s Fudge as it was the first location on the island to sell fudge, back in 1877.
Fudge in hand, we headed over to Marquette Park to people watch and enjoy the view of the lake. Families were making the most of the beautiful weather, spread across the hillside playing and picnicking. The whole environment felt peaceful and serene.
One of the adventures Adam was most excited for on our visit was a bike ride around the island. As much as I loved biking as a kid, I was a little hesitant if I could make it. I’m not in the worst shape, but I had struggled using my mountain bike at home and the sound of an 8 mile loop was intimidating. I could not rain on Adam’s enthusiasm though, so we made our way to a rental stand near the dock.
We opted for brightly colored cruiser bikes and in a matter of minutes had started our trip. With no cars to worry about, riding through the streets was relaxing. The terrain was fairly flat for the whole loop and the breeze off the lake was refreshing. It was amazing to tour the island this way. We were able to take in scenic views of the rocky coastline, pass by Victorian neighborhoods, and this ended up being one of my favorite parts of the visit.
After our bike tour of the island exterior, we decided to explore the interior of the island by foot. We headed to the best known hotel on the island, The Grand Hotel. This famous landmark has been open since 1887. Even without an overnight reservation, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the hotel or enjoy the Afternoon Tea. Despite it’s luxurious environment, the resort is very child friendly and was named by Travel+Leisure as a top 50 family-friendly resort in North America. When we visited, I loved exploring the beautiful gardens and watching families play croquet on the lawn. The extensive wrap around porch with numerous rocking chairs is also a relaxing way to enjoy the views of the lake.
I found Mackinac Island as enchanting as Adam had always described it. If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat to unwind with amazing scenic views, Mackinac is definitely a charming option.