Mackinac Island, Michigan
One of the most compelling reasons Papa and I had for our autumn journey to Michigan was to visit Mackinac Island, an island in Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes.
I first heard of it back in the early 80’s when the island’s Grand Hotel was featured in scenes from the movie, Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.
I don’t think the movie did very well at the box office, but I still remember the haunting music from it and the time-traveling romantic aspect of the film. And the scenes from the Grand Hotel.
Mackinac Island is a bit like stepping back in time because no motorized vehicles are permitted on the island. You must travel either by your own impetus (by foot), or by bicycle, horse drawn taxis, or carriage tours, although electric scooters are allowed for those with disabilities.
Even supplies to everything on the island are brought by ferry from the mainland and then distributed to locations by horse-drawn wagons. So there are horses everywhere.
We boarded a ferry in St. Ignace, Michigan on a chilly, crisp morning for the short voyage (about 15 minutes) out into Lake Huron and after a side trip under the Mackinac Bridge, we set foot on Mackinac Island and its quaint hamlet.
Restaurants, bed and breakfasts, inns, cottages, homes, and gift shops galore line the village streets, including several fudge stores for some reason.
We soon learned that island tourists are called “fudgies” by the locals because sightseers indulge in so much fudge buying. (And yes, we also succumbed to the lure of freshly made fudge, namely peanut butter, chocolate mint, and Papa’s favorite, German chocolate cake fudge.)
The island sports many hiking and biking trails and plenty to see and do for the outdoor enthusiast. You can rent bicycles or bring your own. You may go golfing, kayaking, horseback riding, sailing and parasailing, fishing, and enjoy other outdoor activities if you want to step out of time in the hustle bustle world and step into nature.
If cultural activities are more your thing, there are museums and art galleries to visit and history buffs will enjoy Fort Holmes, as well as Fort Mackinac inside the Mackinac State Historic Park and old cemeteries.
Papa and I opted for a carriage tour lasting about an hour and 45 minutes, which transported us to all the major scenic sites on the island. The driver/tour guide was personable and we enjoyed her narration during the ride.
By far, my favorite spots to see were the Grand Hotel and Arch Rock.
After winding our way through the village and into more wooded areas, our carriage stopped at Arch Rock, so we could leave the carriage and walk to view this amazing 50-foot wide rock formation which towers above the gorgeous lake water.
Arch Rock on Mackinac Island
Near the end of our carriage ride the last stop was the Grand Hotel, a majestic and pristine white landmark, which opened in 1887. I’d claim it the showcase of the island with its 600-foot front porch looking out onto the lake. Picturesque? Definitely!
The historic hotel with 393 guest rooms is only open May through October. Overnight stays include breakfasts and dinners but it is quite spendy. So this Mama and Papa just hopped off the carriage after our tour, took a look at that beautiful place, and went on our merry way on foot.
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
On our walk-about, we stopped at a lovely stone chapel, walked along the lakefront, and enjoyed the sights and sounds (the steady clip-clop of horses’ hooves) of Mackinac Island.
Thankful that we had changed our plans due to inclement weather (all day rain and sleet), we visited the island on a Monday rather than our originally scheduled weekend day, Sunday.
Our day there was blessed with sunshine even though it was brisk and a bit windy, and the island wasn’t terribly crowded, which is always a plus in my book.
Mackinac Island is a place I’ll remember with fondness, a reminder of that somewhere in time when Papa and I enjoyed a splendid autumn journey.
“Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.” ~ unknown