When I was growing up in Michigan, so many memorable things filled my summers. Outdoor adventures in the woods, summer camp sleeping in teepees, bonfires and s’mores, catching lightning bugs in jars, the county fair, hiking, biking, swimming in the lake, water sports, weeks spent barefoot at the cottage and of course, warm nights eating soft serve at Tasty Twist.
But of all the amazing memories from those Michigan summers, some of the memories I cherish the most are the ones I made with my family on Mackinac Island. If you’re from Michigan, you most likely know all about Mackinac (or Mackinaw, depending on who you ask) and have probably visited the island at least once in your lifetime. And if you’re not from Michigan, all I can tell you is that it’s this small, almost unbelievably magical island in Lake Huron, just east of the bridge that connects the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of the state, where no cars are allowed, bikes and horse-drawn carriages abound and the Grand Hotel is something so incredible, your eyes will barely be able to believe what you’re seeing. My family spent many a summer vacationing at the Grand Hotel and riding horses around the island, and it wasn’t until I was older that I really understood just how unique and special the island really is. It’s bursting with charm and since I met Chris, I’ve been dying to take the Arizona boy to Mackinac to ride the ferry, taste the famous fudge, see Fort Mackinac, walk the streets of historic homes and churches and experience the place that filled my childhood memories.
So on our Northern Michigan vacation over the 4th of July, the last day of our visit it was the one day that had been a little chilly and rainy in the morning, but the forecast promised it would clear up by the afternoon. Chris and I had gotten tons of sunny, warm lake time, so we decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to hit the island. My family had told Chris all about the Mighty Mac (The Mackinac Bridge) and what the trip to Mackinac would be like, but I could never have imagined how fun it would be to watch him see it all for the first time, and how special it would be to go back to a place that means so much to me with the person I love. It was one of the most memorable adventures Chris and I have had together and I’ll never forget it!
We spent a big chunk of our time on the island exploring the Grand, and I almost forgot how incredible it is to be on the grounds of that hotel. The Grand opened its doors in 1887, and has somehow managed to hold onto its history and maintain an impeccable standard of service that feels long forgotten elsewhere. From the ornate dining rooms to the vibrant colors that cover every inch of the hotel to its famously massive porch, the classic staff uniforms to the immaculately manicured, lush gardens there’s just nothing quite like it in the world. Being at the Grand is so peaceful and pretty much forces you to sit back, relax and just be in the moment, which is exactly what we were. So here’s to new adventures, old favorites and good fudge!
Travel Guide: Mackinac Island
The Star Line
You can take the Star Line hydro-jet ferry after you cross the bridge from St. Ignace. This is definitely the way to do it if you’ve never seen or been over the bridge before.
If you’re not staying there, you can pay $10 to check it out for the day and it’s totally worth it. Make sure you go up to the Cupola bar and check out the view, sit on the front porch for a bit and sip one of their signature cocktails.
The Haunted Theatre
It’s been there for 40 years and is pretty much a Mackinac right of passage… even if it is totally ridiculous
On the highest ridge on the island.
An amazing way to see the island and you can do an unguided tour and let your horse lead the way!
The Little Stone Church
Fudge Shops on Main St.
I’ve always been partial to JoAnn’s, but pit them against each other & try a sample from all of them… if you dare.
If you don’t get a chance to stay at this adorable waterfront hotel, at least have a meal there. View + food = perfection.