Updated: Aug 23, 2021
If you're looking for an unexpectedly beautiful trip, then head north young man (or woman) head north. A few years ago I was doing research for a travel article I was writing for another publication and was assigned Mackinaw City, Michigan. I started reading about this place and immediately fell in love and knew I had to go.
Mackinaw City sits at the edge of two Great Lakes - Huron and Michigan. The two are separated by the Mighty Mac, a 26,372 foot long suspension bridge that spans the straits of Mackinac connecting the U.P. of Michigan to the rest of the United States. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of bridges. I tolerate them, but I certainly DO NOT seek them out. I mean they are great to look at from the ground, and the Mighty Mac is a beautiful bridge, but when I had to actually cross it, I realized it was an OPEN GRATE bridge. OMG! I Didn’t breathe the entire way across this amazing piece of engineering. Apparently it’s open grate because it freezes in the winter, and this is an easier way to keep it clean and safe. I could see the water as we drove across. AHHH!
Other than the initial shock of the bridge, I was able to enjoy the sheer beauty of the place. We took a ferry across Lake Huron to visit Mackinac Island. This place is home to the Grand Hotel which boasts the longest front porch in America.
Folks, this is luxury at it’s best. It’s been named the best historic hotel by USA Today, but it’s not inexpensive. The cheap rooms start at over $300 a night. But if you’re poor like us, you can hand the Porter on the front porch $10 and they’ll let you roam the grounds and ogle at how the other half lives. So, we did! Amazing!
The hotel was built in 1887 and has been serving guests ever since. The Grand Hotel has the worlds longest front porch at 660 feet long. This is the first thing you see as you travel by ferry across Lake Huron. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on Mackinac Island - so you can ride a bike, be carried in a horse drawn carriage or use the ole shoe leather express - that’s what we did. We certainly achieved our 10,000 steps that day! But it was worth it.
Here are a couple other cool and unexpected things about the Grand Hotel:
The hotel has 397 guest rooms and not one of them is decorated the same. Each is completely unique.
The 1980 classic film Somewhere in Time was filmed entirely on Mackinac Island. the film starred Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. I loved that movie!
Mackinac vs. Mackinaw. As you’re reading you’re thinking, “Pam, what the heck - figure it out, which is the proper way to spell this place.“ Well believe it or not, both ways are correct. Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) is the Native American spelling of the place, but when the developers built Mackinaw City, they believed that spelling it the way it sounded was a better marketing tool so they changed the spelling. The Island is still spelled Mackinac.
We loved this trip! We went in mid-June when the weather was just starting to turn warmer. the lilacs were blooming all over the island like a spring-time paradise. the water was such an amazing color of blue coupled with the smells of the lilacs was a sensory overload.
Oh speaking of smells, I would be remiss to not mention the other sweet smell on the island - fudge! Mackinac Island is known for it’s fudge. There are 14 fudge shops on the Island and collectively make 10,000 pounds of fudge a day during the peak of the travel season.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Mackinac you need to do it. Heat lovers need to go in mid-July when the area is at it’s warmest. Those of you who enjoy cooler temperatures, will love this place most of the year. Mackinac Island closes late September because winter comes early in upstate Michigan So plan accordingly.