I have been anxiously awaiting to share this post with you since the day I booked my hotel reservation.
Confession: I’ve never been to Mackinac Island (pronounced like ‘Mackinaw’). If you’re not from MI you’re probably thinking “so?”. If you are, you’re probably scandalized.
For those who don’t know, Mackinac Island is a gorgeous island nestled in the straights of Mackinac between the two peninsulas. Ask any Michigander and they’ve been there.
When I moved home, one of the goals I had was to travel more and the top of my regional travel list: Mackinac.
So when the day finally came to set off, I was ready.
There is only one way to get to the island: ferry.
Most people, calmly sit around waiting for it to show, thankful that there’s always that one person, fervently on the lookout too make sure the ferry doesn’t miss them by.
Did I mention the ferries (we took Shepler’s) are dog friendly?
You can sit on the first level, enclosed with no fear of mist, severe wind or water splashing on you. Or you can sit on the top for the full effect.
Some of us were thrilled. Others, a little skeptical
As was the theme of our trip, it was gray, cloudy and with mist so thick you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of your face.
However, after what felt like a lifetime (a few minutes) the island slowly came into view.
You pull into the dock, walk down the pier and through the entrance to the ferry yard and right onto Main Street which is lined with every type of shop you could ever want.
Clothing, coffee, ice cream, sweets, restaurants, books. You name it, it’s there.
The coolest part of Mackinac?
There are no cars. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.
No traffic. No loud noises. No worries crossing the street. No stop signs. No flashing traffic lights. No exhaust fumes. Nothing.
To get around, you can walk . . .
Ride bikes. . .
Or hop in a horse and buggy.
Mackinac is an island filled with history and arriving there feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
But what is Mackinac really known for (besides the lack of cars)?
There are countless fudge shops on Main Street and people tend to pick one and be fiercely loyal.
You can sit and watch the fudge being made, cut and packaged by hand as you’re engulfed in the sweet, rich smell of chocolate.
Even in the rain and gloom Main Street is gorgeous.
Whether you’re window shopping, actually shopping, people watching or doing what the Wolf and I do best – eating ice cream, you will feel relaxed, at ease and content.
If you walk down through the end of Main Street to the left you’ll see the harbor, Fort Mackinac (founded during the American Revolution where actors recreate it’s history every day) and the cutest cottages and homes you’ve ever seen.
I found my dream home. Honestly, what’s better than mint house with a yellow door? (Nothing)
If you exit Main Street on the other end you’ll come out on a boardwalk that leads you right to the edge of the water and around the island.
The waves of the lake lapping agains the shore on your left and endless trees on your right. It’s the perfect place to wander.
This is the face of pure, unadulterated bliss.
If you decide to stray away from the lake and head inland, you’ll reach the Grand Hotel.
The immaculately manicured laws, historic front porch and the fact that it was the background for the Christopher Reeve’ Movie Somewhere in Time makes it the most visited spotson the island.
If you want to get anywhere past this sign however, be prepared to pay.
I’ll be honest with you, it’s beautiful but I didn’t care enough to pay to approach it. The island itself is so incredible, I wanted to spend more time exploring that rather than a hotel.
One of my top Mackinac tips for you.
No matter how tired you are, you must explore the island in the evening.
The sun goes down, lights come on and people migrate to their hotels.
It feels like the island is yours and yours alone. The waves are lapping on the shore, bugs are humming in the trees, you may pass a person here or there who will give you a friendly wave as you take in the quiet with the occasional sound of horse hooves clapping in the distance.
Do you remember that scene in Midnight in Paris when Owen Wilson says he likes Paris best in the rain? Well, I agree and even more, I like most places better in the rain.
Mackinac was no exception.
However, the next morning when the sun came out, I wasn’t complaining.
The sun made the greens of the trees, the pinks and purples of the flowers and the pastel on the cottages pop and look like something straight out of a painting.
All too soon, the sun hid itself again behind layers of clouds and we had to pack up and head back to the ferry.
My whole life, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to new and beautiful places.
I’ve seen mountains, rivers, lakes and oceans and I have to tell you, Mackinac has to be one of my favorite places.
It’s like no place I’ve ever been. It’s beautiful and serene.
No one on the island (tourists and native alike) care about dressing up, putting on makeup or looking their best.
People walk around in jeans and t-shirts, no makeup, no frills or heels.
All their focus is on their loved ones, pets, family, whoever they came with. Time seems to stand still in the best way.
Plus, the island is one of the most dog friendly places I’ve ever been. Most restaurants have patios for you to eat out on with your furry friend, shop owners enthusiastically let you bring them in and everyone on the street is so excited to see them, they can’t help but smile.
Even Lupin, my little nervous nelly, loved it there. Despite the bikes and people, he strutted around happy as a clam. Although, I’m sure the ice cream helped with that.
I’m already planning a trip back when I can stay more than 1 night on the island.
It’s one of those places, you can come back to over and over and still feel like you’re coming home.
As you sail past the Mighty Mac and back to reality, you can’t help to whisper a “see you soon” rather than a “goodbye”.