Every summer, my family and I plan a getaway to a location in our great state of Michigan. Family vacation is something that we all look forward to very much as we love family time and vacations! We’ve been north, south, east and west throughout our state. We chose to head north for this summer’s adventure – to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island.
Located approximately four hours north of metro Detroit, Mackinaw City is at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula on the Straits of Mackinac. During the summer, the town is packed with tourists staying or stopping through on the way to the Upper Peninsula or Mackinac Island (it’s often listed by AAA as the most popular tourist city in Michigan!).
Some years we have relaxing vacations where we simply hang out, unwind and make no plans. We were more on the go this year as we explored the area and enjoyed various activities. It was a fun time filled with laughs and, like every year, we wished for ‘one more day.’ We had a great time exploring the city and the island (more on the island in my next blog post). Here are some items that stuck out in my mind:
- Mackinac Old Time Trolley tour: After a snafu with our suite, the manager offered to comp our entire group on the evening trolley tour so we said yes! The 1.5 hours trip took us along the water to learn about Colonial Michilimackinac, the city, bridge and more. Then we crossed the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace on the Upper Peninsula during sunset (gorgeous!). The tour driver was very informational and the views were beautiful.
- Last stop before the Mackinac Bridge: Known as the “Mighty Mac,” this five-mile suspension bridge is the only connection between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. It’s the longest bridge in the western hemisphere, and was built to withstand 400 mph winds!
- Pier at Straits State Harbor: At 1,200 feet long, this pier is one of the longest
barrier-free piers in the state. It has a 500-foot long fishing pier with benches, railings and lights. I took some walks in the morning and evening to the end of the pier, which offers beautiful views of Mackinac Bridge and Island.
- Mackinac Island Brewhouse: Tucked inside of the Mackinac Bay Trading Co. building on Huron Street is this beverage house. There are at least 10 micro beers on tap or you can purchase bottles from more than 350 craft breweries. Beer tastings are available.
- Mackinac Island Winery tasting room: If you’re checking out the beer options inside the Mackinac Bay Trading Co., you might as well taste some wine too. You get a souvenir wine glass with five samples. Lots of wine bottles from Michigan and beyond are also available for purchase. My choices were the Mackinac Red and Sweet White wines.
- Fudge options: There are so many fudge shops within walking distance of the hotels. It’s easy to eat your dessert simply from the free samples offered. I highly recommend Joann’s chocolate cherry fudge (made with cherries from Traverse City). Yum!
- Fort Michilimackinac: This historic fort was built by the French in 1714, where it became a colonial community until the British took it over. The fort was located to Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island in 1780 and the remaining structures burnt to the ground. When Mackinaw City was formed in the 1860s, the area became a park until a replica was built in the 1930s. Reconstruction continues every summer, making this the longest running archeological dig in North America. Live demonstrations, programs and tours are available.
- U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw: This ship was once known as the largest icebreaker on the Great Lakes. Decommissioned in 2006, she now is docked as a museum that the public can tour. You can see this impressive ship as you walk along Huron on the water. Very cool.
- Lodging options: Multiple hotels and motels line the main strip along the water. Most are easy walking distance to the shops, restaurants and activities. Parking gets crazy busy during peak summer season so it was great to be able to walk everywhere.
- Shopping options: From tourist t-shirt shops to Michigan-made products to collectibles, the shops offer something for most people. Mackinaw Crossings is a cute, well-maintained shopping area complete with evening entertainment, fountains and kids’ play activities.
While I love exploring new cities, states and even countries around the world, I do love my home state. We’re lucky to have such beauty, history and natural wonders within hours of home. And, of course, sharing these adventures with family makes it that much more fun and memorable!
Do you have a favorite destination in Michigan? Share with us!