6-21 and 22-2016 (May 1971)
Mackinac Island is located in the Straits of Mackinac, between Lakes Michigan and Huron. The size is small, only 3.8 square miles. Don’t let the size fool you, it played an important part in the War of 1812 and Americans lost their lives defending it. In present times it is a great vacation spot that remembers its past. The name in Ojibwe means “Big Turtle”. About 500 residents live here year-round, almost everyone you see during the busy summer season is a visitor from somewhere else. Many workers here at the many businesses are also just there for the summer.
It was not my first time here, it was Al’s though. My family took a trip here with my grandparents in 1971. Since we could not all go, I recreated the picture later. It was great to be back 45 years later!
Two things Mackinac are best known for are fudge and it’s abundant lilacs. Island visitors are in fact nicknamed “fudgies” by the locals. The island has a 10 day Lilac Festival every June to celebrate the abundant flower. We were lucky to see some left even in late June.
No motor vehicles are allowed here(except a few emergency). Horse-drawn wagons, bicycle and walking are how you get around here. Be prepared for many hills, some steep. The flattest route is around the perimeter of the island. If you have your own bicycle, bring it. It will save you money if it will be your prime mode of transportation. No worries if you don’t have a bike, there is a great selection at Mackinac Cycle across from the Arnold ferry dock.
If your time on the island is short or you just want to take it slow, take the Mackinac Island Carriage Tour. It takes almost 2 hours, and is narrated. The kiosk is across the street from here. Here is the route. The stops are short, you get about 7 minutes at Arch Rock so have your camera ready!
You can even ride a Taxi, but you have to arrange the ride in advance here through the dispatch. You can’t “hail” a taxi like you can on the mainland. Cash only.
Here I am in Marquette Park, then and now. It was fun! Never thought I would get this chance to re-create this silly picture.
Let’s explore Marquette Park, as long as we are here. Pick up island info at the visitors center across the street.
In the park there is a statue of Father Jacques Marquette. On it are 3 plaques. The statue was erected in 1909. Before this was a park, it was a large vegetable garden. See about most historical island features here.
Behind and above the park is Fort Mackinac, we hope to visit it next time.
A beautiful day to soak up the sun amidst the lilacs!
Be a part of the action! Take a cruise on Sail Mackinac! If you have sailing knowledge, they encourage you to assist the crew if you desire to.
Also in the park is a Missionary Bark Chapel replica, an early small church on the island. You can go inside and see this diorama.
From here you can see the McGulpin House, one the oldest house on the island, built around 1780. The house is on the corner of Market and Fort Street.
Across the street from the park is Mackinac Island State Harbor. Quite the view! You can see the Arnold Transit Co. dock and Round Island in the background.
On the left of this view is a Statue of Liberty replica. It was recently restored.
The harbor looks especially beautiful at night, view is from Arnold ferry boat dock.
Above Marquette Park is the East Bluff, with a great view of the harbor below. We went up there early Wednesday morning. The early ferries were bring supplies to the island before the first passengers.
You could also find a couple historical markers up here on the other end of the road by the bluff. The first one is for Lewis Cass who distinguished himself with great service to this country. He also was Governor of Michigan Territory. Cassville, Wisconsin was named after him.
Also up here is Anne’s Tablet, a local author who loved the island. The view is wonderful, especially in the morning when the island is waking up.
And this is the former Indian Dormitory building, now the Mackinac Art Museum.
Beautiful Main Street, where many hotels and great shopping (and fudge) can be found.
Speaking of fudge, let’s stop by May’s Candy Shop and see how the experts make it. They were the only shop open during the sugar-rationing days of WWII that made fudge. They made only one batch a day and sold only one pound per customer. They even have a trademarked quote, “Famous Mackinac Fudge”® Let’s watch them make a half-batch of peanut butter fudge!
There are MANY places to stay overnight on Mackinac Island, not just the Grand Hotel (staying there would be lots of fun too! 🙂
Many people say they can’t afford to spend the night on Mackinac Island, but that may be they are not keeping alert for price specials that happen often. The hotel Facebook pages are often where specials are posted. We chose to spend our night at the Murray Hotel, right across from the Arnold Ferry docks on Main Street. Their service is impeccable and hotel beautiful and in the heart of downtown. We were in room 318, a quiet interior room we would choose again. Check-in is officially at 3, but this room was available at 1:15 when we arrived! A porter was at our door with our luggage when we got there. We highly recommend the Murray! We also enjoyed their pizza buffet for dinner.
Next to the Arnold dock is the Chippewa Hotel and Pink Pony Bar and Grill. It’s lights reflected on the water were real pretty that night.
Their sister hotel is the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa. A beautiful hotel by day, the purple lights outside really set it off at night.
On the ground floor is the Little Luxuries gift shop. I found the perfect souvenier, this cute necklace created at Loveonthespot.com it captured my love for Mackinac Island so perfectly!
The island has many interesting rock formations, we saw the best known ones. Arch Rock is a favorite! You can see another lookout above right see the lake.
On the same side of the island is Dwightwood Springs. Don’t drink the water.
Sugar Loaf Rock has a commanding presence above the landscape.
Devil’s Kitchen is off the perimeter road on the island (I-85).
Over 80% of Mackinac Island is a State Park , boundaries are clearly marked by signs. Neighboring Round Island Lighthouse lights the way for freighters and other boats to pass safely in the Straits.
Once day a year, tours are given of the light house. A great view of the lighthouse is at Windmere Point, owned by the Windmere Hotel.
The red object on the waterfront is a retired buoy from the Race to Mackinac from Chicago. This year is the 108th year of the race, beginning on July 23. See details here about the race, sponsored by the Chicago Yacht Club. It is the longest freshwater sailboat race in the country.
We went to the waterfront at sunset to see the lighthouse, and a rainbow!
And the whole scene, with Round Island in the middle of both light stations.
The Mackinac Bridge gleamed like gold, what a beautiful evening that was.
To learn more about the history on Mackinac Island, the Public Library is a great place to visit.
We did some more important historic sites on the island. On Codette Ave. on the way to the Grand Hotel is the beautiful Little Stone Church.
British Landing is where the British came ashore in 1812 to take possession of the island. A cannon is there facing the water and a historical marker. At this juncture is also a sign telling how far other landmarks are.
You can grab a bite to eat at the Cannonball while you are here.
From here we took a right to see the Battlefield, airport and cemeteries.
A historic golf course is up the road from here.
We also went by the cemeteries, airport and aforementioned Sugar Loaf Rock on this route.
All this exploring works up an appetite! We enjoyed dinner at our hotel that first night. The next morning we had breakfast at the Pancake House, delicious pancakes and all the trimmings too!
Lunch was at the Grand Hotel, quite an amazing meal with a great view!
With only about 27 hours available, we couldn’t see everything, but we did our best! We hope to come back in 2017 to get to what we missed and see even more. Thanks for helping us make some great memories! our parting shot was people talking and laughing at the Pink Pony. It was time to board the Ottawa back to Mackinaw City at 5:00 to explore on Thursday. It was difficult to leave, we plan to come back.
For a funny and informative video of Mackinac Island, enjoy this episode of Matt’s Rad Show on YouTube. It helped me in my research and made me laugh too.