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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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