May 18-20th: Mackinac Island, Michigan
We started the day driving into Mackinac City and decided to have lunch before we departed for the island at the Keyhole bar and grill, downtown. They keyhole was pretty great! It was for sure a bar type of atmosphere, but charming. Keys untastefully placed absolutely everywhere to fit their name and theme. The food was great and quick. We were there at the beginning of the season so there were only a handful of people there so we got wonderful service. Plus, we were getting a canadian air cold front & it was beginning to get cold and rainy. Overall great food, accommodating, wonderful friendly staff, friendly community, too. I got a simple yummy turkey wrap that wasn’t on the menu, and mom got a BLT.
We drove over to Sheplers, one of the few ferry services that will take you over to the island. Out of pure luck, we decided to use Sheplers and I will continue to use them in the future. They have a phenomenal service down to a T. We pulled in and drove up to a man that gave us a sticker for our car since we were staying overnight, and a ticket to put onto our dashboard. We drove up to the unloading area where a man tagged our bags and took them for us to the boat while we got our tickets for the boat inside the ticket shop which also holds a coffee stop with snacks.
From there, we decided to park in the free lot since we were staying for two nights VS the $10 a night closer parking-but this was ok for more than just it being free: Sheplers provides a type of taxi shuttle to the parking lot just about a 3-4 minute drive straight back behind the main block of Mackinac City to the lot. We parked and they were there with a shuttle to pick us right up.
From there, I found a starbucks about a block away when we drove past it in the shuttle so I walked back and got mother a tea and myself a latte for the ride.
The boat ride over was breathtaking, need I remind you that it was drizzling, cold, and very foggy. We had to cruise past the Mackinac Bridge to get to the island, and it was practically covered by the fog on top. The weather made this trip.
I stood on top of the boat like a fool, but it was worth it in the freezing rain for the sights I got to see.
We walked to our hotel, Mission Point, located the farthest hotel to the right side of the island when you get off the boat. It is about a quarter mile from town and about a ten minute walk from town. There are horse carriage taxis but on Mack there are no cars; only bikes and horse carriages besides emergency vehicles.
Went back into town and shopped till dinner. We decided to try the Yankee Rebel Tavern. It’s located on a side street up a hill to the left of the island in town. It had such a charming atmosphere inside, friendly staff, and it was not crowded at all. Mother got the pot roast & I got a salad with salmon, both super good. Mother said it was even the best pot roast she has had.
We took a horse taxi back since we were cold & exhausted. It had began to lightly drizzle again as well. The driver was sweet, and spoke with us for our 8 min ride to our hotel. It didn’t get dark until about 9:30 on the island, so when we looked at the clock we were shook at the time it was since the sun was still out. I went to the gym at the hotel while mother watched the tigers game on tv in the room.
The next morning I got myself up and walked into town. In 34 degrees and many sweaters, went to Starbucks for breakfast. The town was empty since it was before most of the mainland tourists got there for the day around 8 or 9 am. Walked around the Iroquois hotel grounds without realizing it. It was next to a lovely shore to the left front of the island. I walked around town for a bit, eyeing more shops, then walked back to Mission Point to sit by their beautiful fireplaces and defrost as well as bring mother her morning tea.
By the time I wondered back it was around 10:30 and I went down to get a yogurt parfait from the hotels mini market/ coffee shop downstairs and ate it while enjoying the beautiful wide lawn view with white chairs and island geese. I met Nick, the hotel dog that helps round up the geese when they get to rowdy, and drew in my sketchbook while mom read by the fire.
Mother had gotten breakfast in the hotels sit down restaurant and she said she had felt a bit rushed and the quality wasn’t what she expected. Though, she did get a more quality breakfast that included eggs, bacon, and the american works. They immediately gave her the bill along with her food and she said she felt ‘rushed’.
The hotel overall was lovely! For my Disney lovers out there, it was like an older version of the Grand Florida, but with a touch of that Michigan camping feel added into it.
The gym hotel I had to myself, and had quite a bit of arm machines; 2 ellipticals, 2 treadmills, and 1 bike. The beds were comfy, clean, and the room was overall lovely with accents of lilac. We had a lovely view of the inner lawn and main lobby building on top of the hill in the main building, just a skip away from the pool and spa. The doors and floors were a bit creaky, but not an issue. Just gave it more Mac charm.
Speaking of Mac charm, the island is known for their famous fudge. We decided to try two of the many and see which we liked better without going overboard. We got both Joann’s Fudge & Murdicks since those were the most highly spoken about. Mother and I both agreed that both were very yummy, but Murdicks was more creamy- so we both liked that one just a bit more. The smells alone will have you in heaven! It was so neat seeing them make the fudge on the marble counter tops, too. You can find many fudge shops all over the island. I suggest trying more than one and compare!
After, we had to check out and go to the other hotel since we decided to stay another night on the island. We found the Chippewa hotel connected to the Pink Pony restaurant and shop. Mission Point had actually taken our luggage for us via bike man to the hotel even though it was not affiliated with it, (too cute)
We walked to the Chippewa. We didn’t have an issue with walking because we love the charm of the entire island. Everything about this town was cute, white picket fences everywhere, happy children and families, dog walkers, bikers of course, green grass and tulips EVERYWHERE. It was a sunny but cold day the second day VS the first cloudy day.
We poked our heads into the hotel lobby just to see if our room happen to be ready since we were in town even though it was still pretty early. They said they would call us when it was ready.
From there, we thought we would go to the carriage horse tour. Past trips we would always say we would go on it but thought it wasn’t worth the price. I didn’t expect all we got to see with the tour! It was about an hour and 45 mins long going up and down the hills of the island. We got put upfront with a new trainee learning the literal ropes (or reins) of the horses.
Side note: Being over in mid May, we noticed many college students learning the ropes to their new summer jobs. I asked a student and she proceeded to tell me about how she was spending the summer on the island while she was in college. They have student dorms on the island, and you can get anything from a stable hand to a merchandise position on the island, how cute is that?
We stopped first at a butterfly house where there was also a little shop and quick food service available. The moment you get into the building you can smell their freshly made doughnuts, too. I wouldn’t call it a cafe, just a food pitstop if you will. You could take as long as you wanted here to look around and nibble, but then you got in line on the other side from where you got off to continue on. They will staple your previous first ticket, and let you aboard the next carriage. The second carriage is a three horse carriage, and will take you up to the Stone Arch and Fort Mack.
Riding along through the islands state park, you pass through their unique cemetery which is one of the four cemeteries that always have their flag at half mast in the US. The others include Arlington, Hawaii’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and one other I’m trying to remember from my tour guide on the island. Going through the forest state park, the tour guide talks about the history of the island and before you know it you are at the arch. The driver stops at the arch, and you have very limited time there. We had 8 minutes exactly. 8 minutes to behold the arch, go to the restroom, as well as attempt to walk up to the highest point on the island where there is ‘just a remarkable view of the whole island’ according to the driver. I say this because I didn’t get to go up, and just a bit salty about the limited time we had there. My suggestion is to use the restroom at the first stop so you can attempt to see the better choices you have at the second stop.
Back onto the carriage, we continued forward back towards Fort Mackinac, then the Grand Hotel. Arriving at the Fort, we let people get off that wanted to pay the additional fee to enter the old 1700’s fort. We didn’t get off at Fort Mack because it was setting into 2pm, and we just wanted lunch.
We continued on the path just a bit longer when the driver got to a point where there was a trail back down into town you could walk to get back within 5 mins, or continue to take the carriage that would eventually take you back in just over 15 minutes.
We were starved at that point, so got off and went straight to the Pink Pony, the restaurant in the downstairs area of the hotel we were staying in that night.
We sat down around 1 and ordered, didn’t get the food till about 2 even though we had simple sandwich orders. They on top of that got my order wrong, but then proceeded to give us our meal for free. Very sweet service, but very busy. The restaurant is lake side dining, so it is popular and busy. I spoke to a lady that sat next to us inside and she asked us how we liked our meal as we were stepping out. I told her I enjoyed the tomato basil soup and my turkey wrap once it came around. She proceeded to tell me that she had heard that the Pink Pony had a time issue attached to their name. Overall, I did enjoy my tomato basil soup appetizer very much. Mom liked the pretzel bread that she had ordered, but didn’t care for their whitefish chowder or their cherry chicken salad sandwich. Overall, I would normally advise another choice on the island for lunch.
From there, since we were already inside the hotel, we decided to check in to see if our room was ready. They had just finished up with our room, so we checked in and got our luggage send in right behind us.
It was such a cute room with accents of purple just like the previous room at Mission Point. The Chippewa Hotel was on the main street, so the view from our window we could watch the horses go by as well as the bikers. I liked this because I could walk across the street to Doud’s Market, Mackinac’s super market, if I wanted snack for the room or even Starbucks just a two minute walk from me. Super cute!
Saying that, I decided to go get my second coffee of the day, then rent a bike for the rest of the day. I was iffy about biking, but I am glad I did. I ended up driving around the island for about 2 hours and saw all the way around the island. Mackinac is 8.2 miles around, and a beautiful ride besides the bugs that were still out due to the cold weather. On the bright side, they were not mosquitoes, but they looked a lot like them. They did not bite, they were just there in your way and ‘buggy’ especially in the more remote areas on the island.
While biking around, I found more trails and saw the stone arch from the lower trail. After that, I then went back home for the evening. We were pretty tired and were not to hungry since we had a late lunch, and just decided to give Pink Pony another chance since it was just downstairs from our room.
I sat at the bar and had asked the bartender a question about the menu. She walked away to ask the cook, but didn’t come back . I flagged her down 10 minutes later asking if she had asked, and she had placed my order already with the meal that I had a question about. She did not know that I was going to continue my order for something for my mother and she stated that they would not come out at the same time due to the time difference in orders. SO, I said this was ok and I decided to walk out to the deck while my food was cooking. I spotted people out on the lake kayaking in the 40 degree weather, and also found a larger hot tub on deck that I decided I’d come back to later after dinner.
Going back to get my food, it was there waiting for me. She proceeded to give me the bill and I noticed she had billed me for a draft beer when I didn’t order one. I gave the bill back to her and told her it was wrong; she corrected it but didn’t seem keen on what had just happen. I took my food upstairs before I saw they didn’t give me everything I had ordered and refused to go back. Overall, terrible service between the two visits, average overpriced food. I wouldn’t recommend, clearly.
Like planned, I decided to go down to the lake side spa. I made a few acquaintances, but couldn’t stay long because the hot tub wasn’t hot enough to keep me ‘hot’ with it being so cold out. The view, though, was great. I sprinted back inside. I also didn’t like the fact I had to pass through the restaurant in my towel to go back up the stairs and past the check in counter to go back to my room. Oh well!
Chilled, I decided to take a bath to heat back up from my cold sprint. That quickly changed to a shower when I realized the bath’s plug/drain was jammed or broken. Gave up on the day and went to bed.
The beds were very comfy and clean. The maids had stopped by at one point in the early evening for turn down service and had brought us cookies, chocolates, and milk which I though was one of the cutest things i’d ever seen. The hotel was a bit loud since it was just upstairs from a bar, and along side the main street strip, but wouldn’t be an issue if you are not a light sleeper. The noise stopped around 11pm downstairs when the bar closed. Most of the island shops close super early in the early season, but extend a bit later when the tourist really come in.
Early the next morning, we got up in the cold to catch one of the earlier boats back to the mainland after coffee and breakfast at Starbucks. Sheplers took our luggage for us once again so we didn’t have to drag it along with us. Once back on the mainland, it was like an airline luggage service. We went and picked up our bags at a covered awning, then like MCO, a little shuttle came and drove us back to our car with our luggage. Overall, I would recommend Sheplers Very highly. They have it down to a T, with top service.
Before driving to down state, we decided to drive across the bridge just to say we did. $8 round trip, we drove over the 5 mile long bridge. Personally, I think it is much cooler and worth seeing than the Golden gate bridge. Once a year, they open the bridge to walk across as well, but on a day to day basis you cannot walk it. If you drive over, there is a viewing area in the upper peninsula where you can take a photo or just take in the beauty of the bridge.