You know what is worse than a Monday? A Monday after a weekend on Mackinac Island. This week is going to be a struggle, I can feel it.
With a majority of the island closed during the winter months, as soon as summer hits thousands of vacationers flock to the island for a day, a week, or a weekend. When we started talking about #MittenTrip, I was beyond excited to explore this area for myself. Strangely enough, I have lived in Michigan my whole life and spent one night on Mackinac Island…in the 6th grade.
After my experience, I am going to do my best to provide you a weekend guide to this magical place. Everything from food, nature, biking, beers, and shops. It’s all right here to help make your next trip to Mackinac Island a little less stressful, Awesome Mitten-style.
The first (and possibly hardest) task is to get to Mackinac Island. Ferry boats are the main source of visitor transportation, and they leave from two locations: St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. Shepler’s Ferry offers luggage drop off at your hotel, valet parking for $15 a night (or free parking), and gets you to the island in about 20 minutes.
For our adventure, we arrived at our hotel (The Island House) rather late, but that didn’t stop us from heading to town to try some brews at the famous Pink Pony. Live music, Short’s Brewing Company beer, and good company makes for a pretty great Friday night. The Short’s tap list included Space Rock, Soft Parade and Magician Irish Red Ale. Each had it’s own unique taste and was the perfect “it’s been a long day” relaxer.
The island is so unique that the possibilities for a weekend getaway start to feel endless. There are the classic stops, hidden secrets, and breathtaking moments that wait for travelers this summer. Let’s get this started!
For the adventure lovers:
Biking, hiking, and climbing
Town can get quite crowded during summer months, and so a bike ride around the island is the perfect way to get away and experience the island’s natural offerings. The 8.2 mile biking path is almost completely flat, which makes it perfect for every kind of biker. Arch Rock is visible from below when you’re on the path, and you can check it out from above by climbing a staircase of (exactly) 207 steps.
Take a short lunch break to fuel up, then you should get back on the trail with mountain bikes. It’s fun, adventurous, and (importantly) crowdless. The Tranquil Bluff Trail starts at Arch Rock and continues all the way through the island. While we were trying out the path, we passed no other bikers. This is good considering the path is barely wide enough for one bike! Roots, rocks and hills are common obstacles along the trail, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Sugar Loaf is located toward the center of the island. Free climbers often come here to see how high they can climb. Although making it to the top is nearly impossible, the 70 foot cliff-rock is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast.
I think it is safe to say I was quiet tired and sore by the end of our day. My Garmin Vevofit had counted over 14,000 steps, which didn’t include all that bike peddling!
For the foodies:
Sweets, treats, and filet mignon
Besides bracing for the food prices, there is a lot to look forward to in terms of food on the island. If you’re a chocoholic like me, you’ll be in heaven.
Obviously fudge is the #1 food item on Mackinac Island, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more fudge shops than restaurants. I tried the chocolate cookie crumble fudge at Joann’s at was highly impressed. Kilwin’s is also located downtown and carries some of my favorite ice cream. Debating between fudge and ice cream? Why not both!
For fine dining, I recommend the Carriage House Restaurant, which is attached to the Iroquois Hotel. I started with the goat cheese salad followed by the mouth-watering filet mignon, and I gently slipped into a food coma after their homemade hot fudge sundae.
The Draught House is the go-to local taproom, which was perfect for post food-coma drinks. If you want to go big, New Holland’s Dragon Milk chocolate beer is the way to go. Just prepare for the 10% alcohol content! Not a drinker? Head to Lucky Bean Café on Market Street for the Sugar Loaf Latte.
Of course, I can’t forget to mention the delicious Soft Wet Taco and Chips & Salsa at Horn’s Gaslight Bar & Restaurant. So good!
For the Families:
Tours, shopping, and games
The whole family can all benefit from a Mackinac Island getaway.
Wake the kiddos up early on Saturday, and head to the famous Fort Mackinac for a tour and look into what life was like on old Mackinac. Around noon, rent tandem bikes and enjoy the bike path around the island.
After an afternoon nap, it’s time for shopping downtown. Everyone in the family can benefit from some Great Lakes Proud gear – like the new temporary tattoos or High Five Threads shirt (I know you’ve seen them!).
Stop by Little Luxuries, where the adults can pick up some sweet Michigan/Mackinac pride house décor and/or a bottle of wine.
Afternoon ice cream will cause a sugar rush, I recommend combating that with sunset putt-putt golf at Mission Point. When the night settles in and the kids have crashed, the bottle of wine can come in handy. This is the time to sit on the porch of your hotel, relax, and listen to Lake Michigan waves in the distance.
Save Sunday for a trip to the Grand Hotel, where the whole family will enjoy the extravagant interior and a walk down the longest porch in the world. If not a guest on the island, access to the porch will cost $10. The gardens and landscaping will have everyone in awe of the beautiful hotel.
That’s not even the half of it – Mackinac Island is fantastic! My personal favorite of the weekend was exploring the paths of the island. Getting back on the dirt trails will take you away from the busy and bustling downtown, which is good for some wilderness relaxation.
So, what are you waiting for? Mackinac Island adventures are waiting!