Michigan’s Mackinac Island is rated as one of the top 10 islands to visit in the United States. It is most known for having the only highway in America that does not allow motorized vehicles. Thousands of visitors come to the island each June for the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. My daughters and I were counted among the thousands this year. It was one of our most memorable visits to the island yet!
Mackinac Island is located on the eastern side of the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Huron. The island sits between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. It is a small island, 3.8 square miles, that is rich in history and legend. Highway M-185 is a 8.2 mile paved trail that goes around the island. It is the only highway that horses and bikes have the right of way. Mackinac Island is accessible by ferry for most of the year.
We chose to visit the island this year during the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. It is a beautifully fragrant and relaxing time of year to visit the island. I have been to the island many times with my husband and children, however this was our first time visiting when the lilacs were in full bloom. We were not disappointed!
Horses are abundant on the island. They are needed for taxis, hauling supplies, and pulling carriages. Percherons and Belgians are brought over on the ferry in the early spring to work during the summer months. There are many light carriage breeds as well represented on the island. Another option for seeing the island is on horseback or by renting a horse & buggy. Our family has done both, and it was a memorable experience. In August 2014 my daughters, my sister, and myself went to the island for the Festival of the Horse. We were spell bound by the Frisian performance and thoroughly enjoyed the Horse, Pony and Carriage Parade.
Fort Mackinac is a former British and American military outpost from the 18th century. It is both educational and intriguing to hear and see the history within these walls. The fort is open to the public May through October. Our family enjoyed the live demonstrations and bookstore! Mackinac Historical State Parks also have an original settlers home, fur trading building, and blacksmith shop that is open to the public during the summer. Visitors will find rich history in many of the accommodations on the island as well as other island landmarks. Visit the Mackinac Historical State Park site for more information.
Islanders have been celebrating with the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival since 1949. Locals planted the common lilac during the Victorian Age. The residents found that the micro-climate of the island made for bigger lilac bushes and the flowers bloomed for a longer duration. It was fascinating to observe young and old enjoying the fragrant flowers.
Mackinac Island is proud to have a magnificent historical resort on the island. It was built on the island in 1887. The story and pictures depicting the building of this hotel is very fascinating. The Grand Hotel’s porch is one of it’s most notable features. The 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was filmed at the Grand Hotel and other locations throughout the island. My husband and I had the opportunity to spend the night here and you truly felt you were in the Victorian Age.
Biking and Hiking
One way of exploring the island is by bicycle or on foot. We bring our own bikes over on the ferry most of the time. However, there have been a couple of times it was more convenient to rent bikes once we’re on the island. Biking around the island is the fastest way to see the beauty of the island. It is a tradition to bike around the island during our visits. We have also found many unique formations and sites like Sugarloaf and Skull Cave by biking through the island.
Dining on the Island
In order for any adventure to be relaxing, I need to know how to acquire healthy food. Since I keep returning you know I found excellent food on the island! Mission Point’s Round Island Bar & Grill offers an omelet bar, which makes a hearty breakfast. They prepare the omelet right in front of you. I enjoyed a delicious mushroom, tomato, and spinach omelet.
Our favorite restaurant to eat lunch or dinner is the Grand Hotel’s Cawthorne’s Village Inn. The Village Inn is located off the Main Street. We order their special which is Planked Whitefish, much to our delight it comes heaping with vegetables. The meal included red beets, candied beets, artichoke hearts, carrots, French green beans, broccoli & cauliflower. Although we do not normally eat potatoes, we take a little taste of the mashed potatoes pipped around the whole dish & seasoned with paprika. For the in-between times we pack snacks as well.
A Healthy Adventure
Michigan’s Mackinac Island is a wonderful destination to recharge and relax. The island naturally assists with slowing down your pace in life. When you spend the night on the island it’s comforting to hear the clip clop of horses as the sun rises in the morning. Sitting on the lawn in Marquette Park is relaxing. You can people watch, check out the beautiful horses or sink yourself in a good book. In the Fall, the sunsets over the Mackinac bridge are outstanding. My husband and I choose to visit in October when there are less crowds. We make a point to bike down to the west shoreline to catch the sun’s display as it goes down for the evening.
Mackinac Island does take you back in time. The beauty of the island and slower pace makes this a relaxing destination! What do you like most about this little island?