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Mackinac Island: Take a Step Back in Time at This Scenic Island

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A visit to Mackinac Island is like stepping back in time. No cars are allowed on this scenic island. This wonderful island is well worth the visit.  I was fortunate enough to visit and plan to go back some day.  We visited in the summer time.   Next time we'd like to go in the fall to take in the beautiful autumn colors Michigan is noted for.  

Mackinac Island is a small, pretty island just a few miles from the Michigan Mainland. You can get there by ferry from either St Ignace or Mackinaw City. The ferry ride takes about 15 minutes.  Ferries operate from May to November from early in the morning until well into the evening.  There are many trips offered during the day, and you shouldn't have to wait long if you arrive early enough in the day.  Plenty of parking is available at the ferry docks.  You cannot take your car over to the island and must park on the mainland.  

Mackinac Island

This lovely island has many historic homes and hotels.   It is fun to spend time in the quaint downtown area and just to wander around.  

You can get around Mackinac by horse and carriage, biking, or walking. There are lots of lovely shops to explore, and a very good selection of restaurants.

The island has Mackinac state park which the National Geographic named one of the 10 best in the United States. Fort Mackinac was constructed by British soldiers during the American Revolution. This is well worth seeing, particularly if you are interested in history. The original restored fort is now a National Historic Landmark.

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Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA

Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel - America's Summer Place

The Grand Hotel has certainly earned its name.   The hotel opened in the late 1880s.  Over the years it has been visited by many well known people, including several US Presidents. The front porch is the longest hotel porch in the word, and overlooks a lovely tea garden and swimming pool.  You can also enjoy a wonderful view of the Straits of Mackinac.  

Two movies have been filmed there.  It's surprising that there haven't been more, considering the grandeur of the hotel as well as its scenic location.

This hotel really is an attraction itself, and has outstanding views of the island and the Mackinac Bridge.  The hotel has over 300 rooms, and every one is different.   Each room was created to be one of a kind.  

The Grand Hotel

Travel and Leisure named The Grand Hotel as one of the top 500 best in the world.  It's not hard to understand why when you see it yourself.  

There is a charge to visit the grounds and hotel itself for those who are not staying there.   This may put some people off, but it's worth paying to enjoy the experience.  We didn't want to pay, but were glad that we did.  It's an experience you won't forget.  Paying the fee  also entitles visitors to dine in one of their restaurants.  

Sadies Ice Cream Parlor is located just outside the east entrance and is accessible for everyone without having to pay a fee.  Sadies opened not long ago, and offers a good variety of ice cream.  This is a treat that is perfect to enjoy for a mid afternoon snack on a warm summer day.  

What to do on Mackinac Island

One of the best ways to explore the island is to take one of the many carriage tours available. You can even rent your own carriage or discover all the island has to offer on horseback.  The tours are fun and narrated.  It's an experience I highly recommend.  Mackinac is a very scenic island and there are many great views at various places.  

For the more adventuresome you can rent bicycles. This is a fun way to get around the island while getting some exercise too!  

Mackinac Island

There are many interesting shops which sell items such as clothing, gifts, and candies. Several artists live on the island and their paintings are available in the various galleries.   It might be a small island, but you will be amazed at what you can see.  You could easily spend a couple of hours just visiting the different stores that are located in the main downtown area.

There are two golf courses, one at the Grand Hotel and the other is the Wawashkamo Golf Club.  These are world class golf courses and the views are wonderful too.  

The Grand Hotel has a huge swimming pool, which is named after the actress Esther Williams.  She  also filmed a movie there.  The pool is open to the everyone, not just hotel guests, although there is a charge.  

Kids and families can enjoy the Original Butterfly House. This has an 1800 sq ft tropical garden with hundreds of butterflies.

Accommodations include something for every budget.  There are stately hotels, bed and breakfast, condos and suites. The population of the island increases dramatically in the spring and summer.  Some people only live there for part of the year, and live elsewhere during the winter months.  

Mackinac City and St Ignace also offer a wide variety of accommodation and in most cases their prices are quite a bit less than on the island.  If you plan to stay you should book well in advance as this area is highly popular in the summer months.  

Video of Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Fun Facts

1. The island is small, covering only 3.8 square miles.

2. The Grand Hotel has a porch that  is 660 feet long and is visible from a long distance away.  You will see it as you approach the island by ferry.

3. About a million people visit Mackinaw every year.  Thousands of people typically visit each day during the summer time.  

4. Two movies have been filmed here.   Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was released in 1980.   This Time for Keeps with Esther Williams was released in the 1940s.

5. The Grand Hotel serves as many as 4,000 meals per day during the peak summer season.

6. There are almost as many horses at Mackinac as permanent residents.  About 500 people live there year round.  

7. Five Presidents have stayed at the Grand Hotel. The Presidents are Truman, Kennedy, Ford, George  H. W. Bush and Clinton.

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Comments

Jan 16, 2015 2:48am
LeighGoessl
This would be a trip right up my alley. I'd heard of this island, but never really knew much about it. Excellent article, thanks really enjoyed the read!
Jan 16, 2015 5:59am
WriterJoanne
Thanks for reading and for commenting. It really is a lovely place.
Jan 16, 2015 7:51am
LexShadowglide
It looks beautiful. I love that there are no cars. I would go just for that.
Jan 16, 2015 8:36am
WriterJoanne
It adds to the charm of the island to have no cars. Thanks for stopping by.
Jan 16, 2015 2:08pm
azakieh
I remember I went to Mackinac Island as a child. This makes me want to visit again!
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