Mackinaw Island, Michigan

My favorite destination in Michigan is by far, Mackinaw Island.
I have been countless times and never ever tire of it. It’s
a bit of everything, beautiful, tranquil, touristy, scenic, I could
go on and on. So on September 8, 2013, my friend and I packed
the car and was off to Mackinaw Island for a two night stay.
With a quick breakfast stop at a Bob Evans restaurant, we
arrived in Mackinaw City, almost six hours later to a beautiful
crystal clear day. We parked our car in the secured lot of
Shepler’s Ferry, bought our tickets for parking the two nights
and the ferry ride to the island, and almost immediately
boarded the ferry for the 16 minute ride to the island.

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The approach to the island always puts a smile on my face.
It’s so beautiful and unique, that I sometimes forget that this
wonderful island is so close to home.

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In our traditional style, we jump immediately into the pleasures of
The islands Main Street, going in our favorite shops. No need to
worry about our luggage, you check it in when you board the
ferry and they deliver it to your hotel by bicycle.

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I always stay at the Harbor View Hotel. A charming inn that was
once called Chateau LaFramboise, owned by Madame Magdelain
LaFramboise, a successful fur trader in 1822. She would retire
to the island and built the Chateau, that we now know as the
Harbor View Inn.

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The Inn has three buildings, including the main Chateau. It is said,
it is one of the best places to stay on the island. The rooms are quite
large, decorated in a mixture of French, Victorian, and a Shabby Chic.
The rooms are spotless and the hospitality is superb.

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The view from our room was great. We were able to overlook
the small Lighthouse and a portion of the Harbor.

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The harbor of Mackinaw Island is lovely. A portion of it is open to
the public and a portion is private.

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The Mackinaw Island Yacht Clubhouse. There are over 300
members, many of whom are residents of the island. Notice
the immaculate groomed landscaping.

One of our absolute must when coming to the island, is to have
lunch at the Iroquois Hotel in the Carriage House restaurant.
The lovely glassed in dining room is overlooking a beautiful
garden patio, that runs down to the edge of the water.
In our tradition, after lunch, we ordered a Grasshopper drink.
It is one of the best I have ever had. It is a mixture of dessert
and drink. I have never had one that matches this. Mmmm
I like! I am not really a drinker, but I do look forward to this treat
when coming to the island.

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In walking the little streets of the island, I think, what is different
today than other times I have visited? It finally dawns on me that
today the colors are the most brilliant and vibrant I have ever seen
on the island. I have been so many times and always thought
it was beautiful, but today was exceptional. Was it my imagination,
was it the Grasshopper making me tipsy, or was it for real.
I say it was the real deal. The color of the flowers, the bluest
blue of sky, and the trees with their stark colored flowers, was
undeniable.

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This is the lovely Metivier Inn on the island. It is a charming
welcoming place to stay. The rooms are decorated in a homey
feel of colorful prints and absolutely spotless. One of these
times I would like to stay here. The landscaping is always
beautiful.

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See how vibrant the colors are in the grass, trees and flowers.

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A pretty street with blossoming trees. The island has no motorized
vehicles, except for emergencies. The only way to get around is
by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. This is what makes the
island so unique.

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The Little Stone Church is a beautiful small church that is made
of local field stone dating back to 1904. It is a popular setting
for many weddings. The church seats 200 people and has
exceptional stained glass windows. I feel like I am in the English
Countryside whenever I visit this church.

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The Grand Hotel is a spectacular setting with a 660 ft front
porch. The yellow gold awnings that compliments the stark white
exterior is beautiful. The hotel has more than 2,500 red geraniums,
making it the hotels trademark. There are 260 flower boxes adding
to the colorful facade.

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The hotel opened in 1887 for a rate of $3 to $5.00 a night. In 1890
the grand porch was added, making it the longest porch in the
world. In 1897 the West Wing was added. In 1989 the East Wing
was added, and in 2001 the Millennium Wing opened on the east
side of the hotel. In 1919 the rates would go up to $6.00 a night.

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In 1947, a movie was filmed on the island and at the Grand Hotel,
This Time is for Keeps, with Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams.
In 1980 the film, Somewhere in Time, with Christopher Reeves and
Jane Seymour was filmed here. Every October, it hosts a festival
celebrating this movie. It is also home for the Detroit Regional
Chamber of Commerce Conference, attracting politicians, labor
leaders and businessmen.
It is a historic hotel that has hosted 5 U.S. presidents, the Russian
Prime Minister and President, Mark Twain and Thomas Edison.
It is on Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure Magazine’s Gold
List as “One of the Best Places to Stay”. Also, Gourmet Magazine
lists it as “The Top 25 places in the World”. In 1972 it was registered
on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1989 it became a
National Historic Landmark. This is truly a Michigan treasure.

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This is the Island House, another great hotel with a good restaurant.
We rented bicycles and rode the 8 mile perimeter around the island.
It was early morning the next day and the streets were almost empty,
making this a peaceful and scenic ride. Passing many trails and paths,
along with gorgeous views of the water and eventually the Mackinaw
Island Bridge, makes this a must when visiting the island.

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Let’s talk food. A favorite of ours is Woods Restaurant, owned
by the Grand Hotel. Located a short horse-drawn carriage ride into
the wooded interior of the island, makes this a very unique experience.
The opulent Tudor mansion with Bavarian charm provides a casual
dining experience.

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A venison dish made to perfection. Their menu is a little limited,
but the food is excellent.

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Is this Creme brûlée? Am I in Paris? No, but good anyways.

Another delightful restaurant on the island is Mary’s Bistro.
They specialize in wood grilled and spitfire entrees. It is at the
end of the Main Street and sits right on the water. We were
lucky enough to get a picture perfect table overlooking the
Harbor.

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There are almost 500 residents that live on the island year round.
Their only mode of transportation are snowmobiles, allowed in the
winter months when the island is pretty much empty. There are
a handful of stores that stay open during this time for the residents.

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The little post office that serves the island.

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All of Mackinaw Island became a National Historic Landmark in
October, 1960.

There are so many more places I would love to tell you about
regarding this island. They are just too numerous. All I can
say is that, this is a very special place, that I am so proud to have
in my State. Kathy Lee Gifford, The Today Show, visited here
several years ago and said it is one of the most beautiful places
she has ever seen and would love to live here. Even showing a
short video of the island. How cool is that.

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