When friends heard that I was going to Michigan, every single one of them told me that I must go to Mackinac Island.
To be honest, I was somewhat skeptical of whether or not I would like Mackinac Island. I tend to not enjoy what some people would call ‘tourist traps’.
I was hopeful that Mackinac Island would be someplace that I would enjoy. So far, our trip has been filled with fun adventures including a wine tasting and climbing a lighthouse yesterday.
So, we got up this morning, drove to the ferry and took it out to the island – about 20 minutes.
Along the way, our ferry passed underneath the Mackinac Bridge, which is the 3rd largest suspension bridge in the world and spans 5 miles. It is designed to move up to 35 feet in windy conditions – kind of scary sounding to me.
Later in the day, we would cross this bridge by bar, as it connects lower Michigan with the Upper Peninsula and our next destination.
On our way to the Mackinac Island, we passed a smaller island where the Round Island Lighthouse stood sentinel.
I am rapidly becoming a fan of lighthouses!
We started nearing the island and could see the buildings, including a picturesque church and its steeple.
*Pardon the photo quality – I had to take them through the window of the boat.
Our boat landed and we disembarked, anxious to explore the island.
The main street is flanked by Victorian-style buildings filled with shops, restaurants AND stores offering all types of fudge.
Fudge is a really big deal in Mackinac Island. In fact, the people who live on this island refer to the tourists as “fudgies”.
There are over 17 different stores that sell fudge on the island.
*We stopped at one and I picked up 1 1/2 pounds of fudge. I know that is an obscene amount of fudge, but it is easy to get carried away when you read all of the different varieties while the fragrance of fudge is wafting through the air. To justify my large purchase, I bought a 1/2 pound of peanut butter fudge for my husband and a 1/2 pound of regular chocolate for my kids. I’m reserving the toffee fudge for myself.
For those of you not familiar with Mackinac Island, there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. So, everything is brought in by horse or bicycle, whether it is wine or…
Just 3 weeks, there was still snow in parts of the island, so the planting season is just getting underway.
It was so interesting seeing plants being hauled in by horse and by…
Other items we saw being brought in by horses included boxed groceries from the mainland, furniture, merchandise for the stores – basically anything that motorized vehicles deliver to us regular folks.
Even the police rely on getting around on bikes, but they do have a police car they can use in case of emergency.
Firetrucks and ambulances are also allowed to drive the streets of the island.
Having so many horses around, delivering goods and moving people about makes a certain dirty job a necessity…
The next time my son complains about having to scoop up the dog poop in our backyard, I will point that he has it easy compared to this guy.
We enjoyed browsing through the shops along the main street and I found some gifts for my kids.
I didn’t see any store or restaurant chains except for Starbucks, much to my mother’s delight.
Summer has definitely arrived and I loved seeing all of the colorful plantings, including this one using a bicycle. Geraniums (Pelargoniums) and ivy were planted in the front and back baskets.
I am a huge fan of hanging baskets lining a porch or street, but I don’t have any at home, because it can be a struggle because our dry climate makes it hard to keep the roots moist without constant watering more then once a day.
I did love this particular hanging basket, which was made up of pink ‘Wave’ petunias, white bacopa and purple verbena.
Have you ever seen a prettier post office?
I sat down on a little bench in front and wrote post cards to my kids and sent them off.
Even the courthouse and police station put on a floral show with bright-red tulips.
There are many old buildings on Mackinac Island and plaques in front of each describe their historical importance.
I love this old fence – it has so much character, don’t you think?
Fort Mackinac was founded in 1780 and still stands today. It is up on the hill that overlooks the main street of the island.
Here is the back view of the fort.
This beautiful building is the Michigan’s governor’s summer residence.
Like the fort, it too sits up on the hillside. The governor spends a few weeks during the summer there – not a bad deal, I must say.
Probably the most famous place on the island is The Grand Hotel, a 5-star hotel, built in 1887.
It is very fancy, beautiful and expensive.
We didn’t tour the hotel, because of time constraints. But if you want to learn more about this iconic hotel, click here.
To get a real feel for the island, its people and its history – we decided to take a carriage tour. The tour begins downtown, but soon goes up into the more uninhabited areas of the island.
Horses pull carriages full of tourists. The horses resemble Clydesdale horses and are raised by the Amish.
Approximately 80% of Mackinac Island is a state park.
The carriage took us through the beautiful woods of the island and our tour guide was full of interesting information.
Dead trees aren’t removed, despite the fire danger they pose because the island does not have a lot of topsoil. So the fallen trees are allowed to decay, adding organic matter to the soil.
Arch Rock was an interesting limestone formation that we saw along the tour.
I highly recommend going on a carriage tour after spending time on the main street or else you miss a large part of the island’s identity and beauty.
My mother and I had a fabulous time on the island and spent longer there then we had planned.
After returning on the ferry back to the mainland, we picked up our car, headed over the Mackinac Bridge toward the Upper Peninsula, which is not known for the large amount of people who live here. In fact, in the 2 hours we drove from the bridge, we saw few buildings, homes and people.
This is where we are – in a small town in the middle of the Upper Peninsula.
Tomorrow, we will drive through the remainder of the Upper Peninsula to Green Bay, Wisconsin and more adventures!