Mackinac Island: Leave Your Car at the Ferry

Mackinac Island is located at the confluence of Lakes Michigan and Huron. Purchase tickets for the Arnold Line Ferry from St. Ignace to the island. They are one of three companies, which service the island from either St. Ignace or Mackinaw City, a twenty minute trip across the Straits.

The island has been an important stop for hundreds of years.  Originally called Michili Machinac (Turtle Island) it was a major trading post during the beaver fur days from the 1600s.  Being so close to the US Canadian borders, the island has great historical value, besides the resort it is today.

What can you say when you step from a picture postcard into the real thing? Horses pulling carriages or wagons, people riding bicycles, or walking, narrow streets with quaint looking shops selling fudge, souvenirs, antiques, etc. To avoid either getting trampled by the throng of humanity on the narrow sidewalks of Main Street, go one block up to Market Street, the main non tourist thoroughfare.

Your destination is the Grand Hotel. Follow their livery up the hill. Everything about the Grand Hotel yells old traditional values. Because they want to keep out the wandering tourist, they charge ten dollars just to go on their property. For an additional thirty-five dollars, you receive a delicious buffet luncheon. Opt to do the Jane Seymour, Christopher Reeve scene from Somewhere in Time on the front lawn of the hotel. The real front yard of The Grand is completely different from the Hollywood version. There also is no theater at the bottom of the lawn. Instead are beautiful gardens, a swimming pool with sauna and a Swedish physical fitness course winding through the cypress trees. The lawn area itself is set for lawn bowling and croquet, to be enjoyed at one’s leisure.

Leave the beautiful gardens of the Grand Hotel for a stroll down Market Street, less crowded with tourists. Mackinac Island boasts three of the oldest houses in the State of Michigan. Because of the island’s location where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge, a fort was built by the English to guard their territory. The Fort overlooks the town and the Straits of Mackinac from the top of a steep hill.

The pace of Mackinac Island is very idyllic. No one is in a hurry. There is no toot of an angry horn. The island is almost like Eden. There is one drawback for island living, however. Everything costs more, because everything has to be shipped onto the island from the mainland; a small price for beauty.

Did I mention about The Big Mac; not the ersatz food, but the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge is five miles long, connecting lower and upper Michigan. Before the bridge was erected cars and trucks would be backed up twenty-three miles waiting for the ferry.  The bridge is open to pedestrian traffic one day of the year: Labor Day

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