Phew! How’s that for taking a stab at alliteration? LOL. I’m a dork.
So anyway, 3-Day Weekends are the best! Let’s just put that out there.
What makes them even better? When you get to spend it somewhere cool, like on an island. And what better island (of driveable-ish) distance than Mackinac (pronounced Mack-ee-naw) island?
I’m not even going to lie, sometimes I say MackiNACK in my head 🙂 #livelifeontheedge 😛
One of the coolest things about the island apart from how small it is, is that there are no automobiles/cars/vehicles allowed on the entire island! So how do people get around or even get there??
Well, I’m glad you asked! To get around the island, choices include horses, horse drawn carriages, bicycles (and tandem bikes) and good ol’ walking :). Most people get to the island by ferry. Ferries go to the island several times a day from nearby Mackinaw City.
Mackinac Island is only 3.8 square miles and is located in the Upper Peninsula in the state of Michigan. Only a few hundred people live there but in peak season, there could be about 15,000 tourists a day!I first heard about Mackinac Island in undergrad. I knew some people who had visited and they said it was magical and a fun place to visit. They told tales of renting bikes and riding all over the island and getting ice cream and eating fudge. Lots of fudge!! They make amazing fudge there. Seriously.
For some reason, I never went (maybe subconsciously because I didn’t know how to ride a bike and thought I wouldn’t have as much fun if I couldn’t ride a bike around). Years went by and I’d see pictures of people I knew and their trips to this magical island and I kept telling myself “one day”.
After college, I moved to Tennessee, so I was even farther away. And then I moved back to Indiana, so I was closer than Tennessee but still farther than my starting point (Fort Wayne, IN). Finally, in the spring of 2015, I decided it was time to stop procrastinating. A 3-day weekend was coming up and I had a travel partner so the 9 hour road trip was set in motion.
I remember the drive was really pleasant. It was a gorgeous day and Michigan is pretty. Of course, we drove over the famous Mackinac Bridge. It is a suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac to connect the Upper and Lower peninsula of Michigan.It is over 8km long and you just see the lake for miles and miles. You can also see Mackinac Island and a few other islands as you drive across it. There is a toll to pay when you cross the bridge (both to and fro). There is also a part of it where you can see through the bridge road into the lake. The beautiful blue-green of infinity!
Day 1: Arrived at Mackinaw City and had lunch- delicious pizza at a little restaurant right by the lake and then took a walk to burn off some of those pizza calories. The walk was short-lived because it was just too windy. I couldn’t get over how huge the lake was and how clear the water was.
Then we went to Tahquamenon Falls State Park to see the waterfall, which was very pretty-but I am biased because I love any waterbody. lol. Also, try to say Tahquamenon rapidly 5 times– I can’t even pronounce it without repeating after someone who has just said it correctly!
Side note- the river isn’t dirty. The reddish color comes from the rock underneath which is rich in Iron deposits so the clear water over the red rock makes it look reddish-brown.
On the way back from the state park, we stopped at several view points just to take in the lake view.
When it was sufficiently dark, we went to watch fireworks over the Mackinac Bridge, which was also lit up. And because I don’t have a fancy camera, this is the best I could do, picture wise :).
Day 2: Island day! Very early, we went to purchase our ferry tickets then got in line for the ferry. The line was very long so we couldn’t get on the first ferry and had to wait for the next one. The ferry ride was cool. Again super windy :). It was also sort of a tour so the tour guide pointed out the Mackinac Bridge, the island in the distance, and as we got closer, some of the iconic landmarks on the island. There were also some history lessons mixed in there but I don’t remember much- it’s all on the internet 😛
Arriving at the island was a bit overwhelming at first because everyone got off the ferry at the same time and everyone was trying to do the same thing at the same time! The bike rental lines were extremely long, there were waits at the restaurants, and then just so much going on around. It reminded me of downtown Disney- only that there weren’t Disney characters prancing along the streets.We finally found a restaurant and had some food. Still no luck with the bike rentals (we had to have a tandem bike because of my bike riding challenges. We’d done tandem bike riding before so I was confident of my abilities in that. The bike also had to be multi-speed, apparently, because those are easier to ride- so the wait was longer).
While we waited, we decided to get around the island by walking. There were interesting things to look at along the way, and it also provided some time to rest as there were some steep inclines.
We happened upon the Grand Hotel and decided to take a tour. I mean how can one not? It is a must-do activity while on the island- even if you don’t spend the night there. You have to pay a token to be let through and you are free to wander the public areas of the hotel and sit on one of the rocking chairs on its magnificent porch while overlooking the lake.
After that, we visited the Fudge shop where we watched fudge being made. It was quite the interesting process! There was fudge for sale, of course– numerous flavors and styles.
Finally, our bike was ready. We rode around the island, stopping at various marked points. One of these was Arch Rock. Arch Rock is a geologic formation of natural limestone formed during the Nipissing post-glacial period, a period of high Lake Huron levels following the end of the Wisconsin glaciation. To this day Arch Rock stands on the Lake Huron shoreline 146 feet (45 m) above the water.
Day 3: Travel day. It was time to go back home. This worked out just great because it was a rainy day anyway and not conducive at all for sight-seeing.
I’m glad I finally made it to Mackinac Island and experienced the magical feeling of being in fairy-tale land. It is very beautiful there and the lake water is soooo clear!
Now that I live in Michigan, though still quite a ways from Mackinac Island, I hope to visit again and as often as I can.
Have you ever been to Mackinac Island? What was your favorite part?