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Best Island Resort in Michigan-Mackinac Island

Updated on July 24, 2013

The Perfect Resort

When it comes to great adventures Mackinac (pronounced Mack-in-awe) Island has it all: natural beauty, history, great retail shops and boundless dining experiences. Located east of the Mackinac Bridge in the blue water of Lake Huron, one of Michigan’s five Great Lakes, it is an island rich in history and folklore.

How to get to Mackinac Island

There are only two ways to get to Mackinac Island during the summer season: by ferry or plane. Three main ferry companies make several round trips daily from Mackinac City or St. Ignace. The five mile long Mackinac Bridge connects the two peninsulas making an easy access to reach either port.

By air: The center of the island has a 3500 foot landing strip which is used by private and charter aircraft to transport residents and tourists. The short flight is well worth an aerial view during the fall color season.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island-View from Lake Huron

Mackinac Island Resort
Mackinac Island Resort

History of Mackinac Island

Originally inhabited by the First Nations People who named it: Michimimakinong, ‘The Land of the Great Turtle’ , due to the way the island’s central point resembles the back of a turtle rising above the water, the name was later changed to Michilimackinac by the French fur traders, and then shortened to Mackinac.

French, British and Americans all fought for occupancy since the early 18th century on this tiny island, which is all part its story. Today, the Native American population still largely makes up the community of approximately 600 residents who share their home with over a million tourists each season.

Hotel accommodations on Mackinac Island

While prices of hotels on the mainland are more reasonable during the height of tourist season, lending themselves to day trips to the island, to get the full island experience it is best to stay overnight. Off season specials are an inexpensive way to enjoy the luxury of staying on Mackinac Island without the hefty price tag. It also allows for less populated streets and shorter lines to events. Tourist season typically starts in June and ends after Labor Day, so any time before or after, and into October, is a safe bet.

Accommodations can easily be found amidst the many hotels, inns, B & B’s, rented cottages and condominiums. Depending on what you are looking for-beach access, bridge or lighthouse views, or inner island experience, will help you decide. And, no matter where you choose to stay, a visit to the Grand Dame: The Grand Hotel is a must.

The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel
The Longest Porch in the World
The Longest Porch in the World

The Grand Hotel

Built in just four months, the original Grand Hotel was open to guests on July 10, 1887. Boasting the longest porch in the world, at 660 feet long, the Grand Hotel has a history that matches its grandeur. Some of its fame comes from the company it keeps. It has been visited by five Presidents, numerous Hollywood stars and entertainers, as well as American writer Mark Twain.

The two movies which were filmed at the Grand Hotel are: This Time for Keeps, starring Esther Williams and Jimmy Durante in 1947, and the 1980 film, Somewhere in Time, with Jane Seymour, Christopher Reeve and Christopher Plummer.

Along with its celebrity status the Grand Hotel’s amenities include a daily five course dinner and afternoon tea; a grand luncheon buffet that is a gastronomical delight of cold and hot foods; activities including swimming, golf, tennis and croquet; as well as contests and special events such as a Murder Mystery Weekend.

Arch Rock and Fort Mackinac

Arch Rock
Arch Rock | Source
Fort Mackinac
Fort Mackinac | Source

Mackinac Island Sightseeing

Mackinac Island is 80% state owned land and has a ‘no camping’ policy. Prepare to grab a bike and take a self tour to experience its natural beauty. Arch Rock, on the east side of the island, Sugar Loaf Rock and Skull Cave in the interior, and Devil’s Kitchen, a cave on the southwest side of the island, are all natural limestone formations that turn a mediocre day as a tourist into the adventure of an explorer.

For history buffs , exploring Fort Mackinac is a must. The reconstructed buildings offer military reenactments of the American Revolution, and tourists can participate in the loading and firing of the cannons.

Carriage Ride Tours are guided tours of the key areas of Mackinac Island. Or, if you prefer to handle your own ride, you can rent a horse and buggy from one of the stables. There are approximately 500 horses on the island that are put into service or owned by the local residents.

The Lilac Festival , which takes place in June, is one of the highlights of the summer season. Gorgeous display of pink, white and lilac blooms, accompanied by its distinctive fragrance, are displayed everywhere. A parade, complete with the elected Lilac Queen and her court, ends this ten day festival.

The Race to Mackinac , held each July, is the largest freshwater yacht race in the world. It is sponsored by the Chicago Yacht Club and draws participants internationally. This is only one of several water events that occur each season.

Mackinac Island Fudge

Mackinac Island is well known for its fudge. Fudge shops line Main Street and infiltrate the entire island. The smell of chocolate, peanut butter, mint and other flavors permeate the area surrounding the shops. From sunup to sundown cash registers ring up fudge, salt water taffy and other confections. Over 10,000 pounds of fudge is made and purchased daily by the ‘Fudgie’, a term of endearment for the tourists who come each summer to this tiny resort island.

Mackinac Island Restaurants

From casual burger to elite chef specials one only needs to investigate the choices. Most of the hotels have a restaurant that is open to the public, not just registered guests. There is also a variety of bars to visit for an afternoon thirst quencher or night life. A free directory of the island can be obtained at the Tourism Bureau on Main Street.

Bike riding around Mackinac Island is fun

Bicycling around the Island
Bicycling around the Island | Source

Why visit Mackinac Island?

Come to Mackinac Island to be pampered and serviced; indulge yourself in fudge and fun; or immerse yourself in areas deep in the heart of the island to experience its unique spirit. But, whatever your reason to visit Mackinac Island you will be sure to come away with many wonderful memories of this one-of-a-kind resort island.


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Audrey-that movie was just one that was filmed there, but it really helped the tourist industry. Perhaps one day you will get there? Thanks for your comments.

      MoonLake- Thanks for the read and vote UP. :)

      Hi Jenn-Anne- Thanks for reading and commenting. It is EXPENSIVE so come prepared, but it definitely is a very fun place to go. Thanks for your comments. :)

    • Jenn-Anne profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice hub! Mackinac Island looks like a beautiful, family friendly place to visit. I will add it to my list of places to see. I don't live too far away so hopefully I'll be able to go soon!

    • moonlake profile image


      5 years ago from America

      Been there many times, loved it except when the ride across gets rough. Enjoyed your hub. Voted up.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Oh - The Grand Hotel! I've wanted to visit this place every since I first saw it in the movie "Somewhere In Time." I had no idea it was in Michigan. Can't tell you how much I enjoy this hug with your grand tour and beautiful photos.

      Voted up and across and sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Tams-I certainly hope that you do! Make it a trip and do an overnight on the Island, if you can afford it-if not,the mainland in Mackinaw City has some very nice places on the beach along with a fort. As a matter of fact, my grandson was exploring that fort one summer when he was six or so,and tumbled off of the walk at the top to the ground below, some 20 feet or so. He ended up missing the stairwell on his way down and walked away (after a visit to the ED) with minor scratches and a good scare in the whole family. Thank goodness for my daughter's ICU experience and she remained calm, cool and decisive in her actions.

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 

      7 years ago from Missouri

      I want to go someday before it is too late. My Uncle Earl owned a resort there, but I've never been.

      It seems so serene and just beautiful!

      I'm thinking when the last child has flown the coop it will be time.

      Awesome hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Great idea, TS. I'm so happy that this hub has helped you out. Mackinac Island is so magical...I loved it. I worked on it for two summers and they were the best summers ever. It is a whole different island when the sun goes down and the ferry pulls away from the dock with the last group of fudgies. The whole place comes alive. Please let me know how this novel comes along.

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image


      8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Hi of my writing plans is to develop a novel that incorporates Mackinac Island as one of the settings. In my research I seem to recall them saying that no two rooms at the 'Grand Hotel' were the same. This Hub has reminded me...I was going to write an entire book Voted Up, useful, and interesting!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Izlpio90-nice to meet you. Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. :) Mackinac Island is one of my very favorite places to visit. And, if I won the lottery, I would buy a home on the West Bluff. :)

    • lzlpio90 profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, this is very beautiful and magnificent! Nice pictures!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Peggy. I love Mackinac Island, although it has been many years now since I've last visited. I was 18 yrs old, a new h.s. grad and determined I was NOT going to spend the summer in my boring home town. I sent out letters to all of the summer resorts and ranches and was offered a dishwasher position at one of the restaurants in town. I loved it. We had a blast that summer and the next. Thanks for your comments and voting. :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have heard of the beauty of Mackinac Island over the years from many people but none have described it so much in detail and from a personal perspective. You said that you worked there. Was this a summer job? Was it at the Grand Hotel? Rating this hub useful and up.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Les Trois-Yes, I went back and double checked b/c I thought you and I connected here earlier. Well, the fudge hint is well taken. I have a friend who runs a fudge shop in Michigan and I will do a future hub about his shop. With yummy photos of it being made. Thanks for your comment. Sun and Sea works well for me...Let's go!

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      8 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      Thanks for your message. I have obviously read and enjoyed this Hub already! Guess I was looking for an article devoted to fudge (hint). I enjoyed reading it again and just long for a bit of sun 'n' sea just now.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi James-thanks for stopping by for this read, and leaving your comments. I appreciate it. Yes, I grew up in Michigan as well. Never left until my forties and headed for a job in Alaska, of all places. It's been a long journey trying to get back 'home', but with the economy the way it is I am here in NC for longer than expected.

      Funny you mentioned never going there. My dad was a blue collar worker at a tool & die shop in Centerline. With his large family of six kids and a mother in law (read my Mothers Day Madness or The Sacrifices of Fathers hubs for a more in depth view of my parents) we never took a 'real' vacation. While other kids went off to out of state sight seeing we traversed the northern state parks. We tent camped and ate dogs or fish cooked over the grill. I never even knew the place existed. And, once I worked there I dad could never have afforded the expense. Hope you get a chance to visit. It really is a beautiful place.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      Well done! I am from Michigan and I know lots of folks who love Mackinac Island but for some odd reason, I've never been. I enjoyed the journey with you. Thank you.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for the comments and fan mail. I worked on this island for 2 summers and it was a blast. Yes, the porch is 'massive'. Even more astounding when you are up close and personal w/ it.

    • travelespresso profile image


      9 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Nice hub with beautiful photos DH. Gosh, that's a massive porch!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Mioluna-Ahh, a fellow travel lover. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Nice to meet you. I'm looking forward to reading your hubs. I'm always curious about how one gets 'linked' to another persons hub...Thanks for stopping and commenting. :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I enjoyed this small travel through your hub! Beautiful!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello LTC-yes, and I second that wish in reverse! LOL. Your B & B sounds lovely. I spent a few short days in France with my daughter when she graduated from college. We loved it and would love to return some day. She was told by one hostel owner that her relatives were part of the area we were staying at (Last name St. Aubin) Whether it was true or not, she left feeling more connected to the country she had studied in high school.

      I'm looking forward to reading your work. :)

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      9 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      Well that answers the question 'What do Mackinac Island and York have in common?' - Fudge. Lovely Hub that makes me wish I could spend some time travelling. Thanks.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      RM-thanks so much for your guidance. I'll go back and try to play 'tag' with it. :)

      Lilly-thanks for stopping by to read the hub. I appreciate your comments. (Hope you have a chance to actually experience the island one day--it's awesome!)

      Dale---LMAO ! SHHHHH You're telling my secrets, hahaha. Great memories, eh?

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      9 years ago from Central Oregon

      This is a beautiful Hub. "The Longest Porch!" Love it, thank you.

    • profile image

      Dale Gregg 

      9 years ago

      Denise -

      How 'bout an "Underground Guide to Mackinac Island"? Like: "Greasy Lou's - where the odors of barbeque pork mingle with toasted bat in bug-zapper," or, "How to get away with smoking a joint on the Grand Hotel porch," or, "Keeping dry during a thunder storm at Fort Holmes," or, "Midnight sex on the seventh green on the Grand Hotel golf course," or, "Eagle Point cave - an over-night option for the nature lover," or, Sugar Loaf cave safely shelters up to six singing enibriants." I would be very happy to help you with your research!

    • rmcrayne profile image


      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Denise, you have all the components for HubMob. You need to add the tag 'hmtswk4' for the contest. For hubtrails, you can add these tags: hubtrail, hubtrail-americas, hubtrail-michigan.


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