The last installment of my Michigan travel series has arrived, and it takes place on Mackinac Island, the idyllic vacation spot of the Great White North. Laying at the very northern tip of the lower peninsula (or the bottom of the upper peninsula, depending on how you look at it). The main draw of Mackinac, aside from its beautiful weather during the summer months, is the fact that the island has no motorized vehicles. There are a few exceptions, some dollies for moving tourist luggage, US Forest Service trucks, and in the winter, snowmobiles for the permanent residents.
The island takes leisure seriously, one slogan reading “RIde Hard, You Can Rest At The Bar”. There are no real scheduled activities, aside from arrivals and departures of the ferries. The things to do consist of: eating at one of the many restaurants, shopping, walking, riding bikes around the island, swimming, taking tours of historic homes, Fort Mackinac, and flying kites. If you ever wanted a vacation where you didn’t need a vacation after you’re done, this place is it.
The ride over to the island:
I stayed at the Grand Hotel, the crown jewel of the Mackinac hotels.
While it is the priciest, it is, as its name suggests, grand. Included with the stay are breakfast and lunch buffets and a five course dinner, every night. If you wanted to, you could eat for the vast majority of the day. The grounds at the Grand are beautifully maintained – a mixture of woodlands with paths and lush and verdant gardens. Bocce Ball and Croquet are favorites among the guests, as well as laying out on the deck chairs by the pool.
One of the most notable features of the Grand is the porch, all 700+ feet of it. Dozens of rockers and deck chairs line the wall, looking out onto the grounds of the hotel and Lake Huron. After dinner, a small bar cart waits on the porch and guests are encouraged to come out, have a coffee or a drink, and just sit on the porch and relax. For other after dinner options, there is the bar immediately outside of the dining hall, the cupola bar, offering stunning views of the surrounding area, and the Terrace room offers live music and dancing.
The Terrace room is not the only venue for live music though. During High Tea and after dinner service, there is a demitasse – a young woman who plays the harp – performing classical pieces. A Jazz pianist is in the Cupola bar, providing a backdrop to the night lights, and the band in the Terrace rooms offers Jazz, Swing, and classic pop (30’s – 60’s).
The other offerings of the Grand are a miniaturized labyrinth, providing a meditation as you walk the small path, a short 1/2 mile fitness circuit, bike rentals to ride around the island, and an 18-hole golf course.
The Grand is the showpiece of the island, and it deserves that reputation. The amenities, services, and facilities are first class, both modern and comfortable, and a throwback to ‘simpler’ times.As you can see, the main street offers a lot of fudge, food, and tourist trap stores. However, it does provide for a pleasant browsing experience and a way to walk off some of the copious amounts of food which are consumed during stays on the island. The only downside which I could come up with for the entire visit: sometimes, despite the best efforts of “manure control officers” the stink of horse poop can get a bit strong.
That concludes the super-long post about the visit to the island. Next time: Pictures from a hike on the island (just to break up the posts a bit).