Mackinac Island had been a dream destination of mine since I saw the movie "Somewhere in Time" – because of that, the Grand Hotel was the main attraction. But I was delighted to discover that the entire island was utterly fascinating and so much more than just the location of that fabulous hotel.
This small island is just under four square miles and allows you to step back into a time prior to those first noisy and sputtering Model T Fords and other "horseless carriages" that began populating the roads after the Grand Hotel was first built in 1887. Cars have been banned here since 1898.
Until I saw this sign and then looked it up on Mackinac Parks.com, I didn't realize that 80% of Mackinac Island is within the Michigan State Park System. Actually, when Fort Mackinac closed in 1895, Mackinac Island became the country's first state park! In fact, it was the second national park after Yellowstone in 1875. But the National Park Service deemed it not significant enough for a national park, so they deeded it to Michigan for a state park (Wikipedia).
I chose Shepler's Ferry and really appreciated their level and frequency of service. This is the view approaching the harbor where the ferries dock. That's Fort Mackinac in the background – truly a must-see during your visit!
From the moment I stepped off the ferry, I was enchanted with the fact that you could walk down the streets accompanied only by pedestrians, horse drawn carriages and bicyles.
There are numerous bike rental vendors, but I was glad I elected to bring my own bike over on the ferry. During this first visit, I biked around the island to get a feel of the layout and just take in all the beauty along the way.
I was still teasing myself with long- awaited anticipation of my visit to the highlight of my trip – the Grand Hotel.
The next time, I treated myself in grand style to a truly grand luncheon at the Grand Hotel!
I never rented a carriage to drive myself, but there are over 600 horses on the island, and at the time of my visit, they outnumbered the number of fulltime human residents of the island (between 500-600). Mackinac Island Horse Drawn Carriage Tours is the oldest and largest horse and buggy livery in the world and the official tour of Mackinac State Park.
I did enjoy the Mackinac Island Carriage Tour after my feet got worn from walking and my butt got sore from bike riding,
Although it took me three visits to do even pieces of what I really wanted to see, Wings of Mackinac is another must-experience, especially for butterfly lovers like me.
I saw this sign by the Shoreline Trail offering kayak tours and I think that would be a great time, too.
I did a lot of posts on my Malia's Miles blog during my time there, so all the pages related to the island and Grand Hotel are linked below:
Malia's Miles Blog Posts:
Michigan Miles Pages:
Mackinac Island Scenes (Inns, homes)
I also did a Facebook album about the Grand Hotel, with lots of pictures and comments.
Other links about Mackinac Island:
Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau (Pure Michigan)
FAQs on Mackinac Island (Mackinac.com)
Mackinac Island: Horses, History & Hospitality (Visitor's Guide – May 2011)
I'd love to hear your own experiences about places I've been - and what you think are "must-sees" - and I really value any suggestions and feedback from readers, so please let me have your 2 cents in Comments below: