This post is part three of a travel series to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. To start at the beginning go HERE. The next posts in consecutive order are HERE.
The biggest highlight of Mackinac Island is The Grand Hotel. Mention to anyone that you visited or plan to visit Mackinac Island and someone will inevitably bring up The Grand Hotel. So that being said, even if you're not spending the night in the hotel, be sure at least to visit! It costs $10.00 to view the lobby for non-guests, but it is free to walk on its porch...the longest in the world...and sit in one of their many rocking chairs.
But let's back up a bit before we cover The Grand Hotel shall we?
We started our day by grabbing the first ferry out to the island. Mackinac Island is only available by ferry. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island. It costs around $30 per person to take the ferry. We were the first ones on board but it quickly filled up with employees of the island.
Here is the view of The Grand Hotel as seen from the ferry. You really get an idea of the size of this hotel when you see it from Lake Huron.
The hotel is a historic site, and this sign giving information about the hotel is located right outside.
The road leading to the front steps of the hotel is lined with American flags and beautiful flowers. These flower beds change with the seasons. We were there in spring, so all the tulips and other spring bulbs were blooming.
It's pretty intimidating walking up these red carpet steps. I kept wondering if one of the valets was going to stop me!
Once we reached the top of the steps we just walked down this very long porch enjoying the views, and of course we had to spend some time sitting in their famous rocking chairs. We did not pay the $10 per person to view the lobby, but I did peek through the windows! I must admit, as much as I love the exterior of this hotel, I detest the interior, which is one of the reasons we didn't stay here. The decor is just hideous and out-dated to me. I know some people love it, but just as many people like me hate it. I feel they really need to update the decor, and that is coming from someone who lives in a house built in the late 1800's. The rooms look like one just stepped into an elderly person's house in the eighties. They all have loud, obnoxious floral wallpaper, bright, neon colors, floral patterned couches that look like they need to be donated to a thrift store...and you get all this for a mere $500.00 a night. Blah! Not for me. Sleeping here would give me nightmares. And if you don't believe me, see for yourself HERE!
Now, once again, I'd like to repeat that I love historic homes...I live in one myself! But I think you can keep the architecture of a historic home and decorate with more updated furniture, colors, and patterns and mix a little historic flair with an antique here and there. At least, that is what I try to do in my own home.
The Grand Hotel sits high on a hill (it's quite the steep walk to get here) so you get great views of Lake Huron.
All along the edge of the porch are planters of red geraniums. They inspired me to plant more geraniums in my garden this year!
Behind me you also get a great view of the famous Mackinaw Bridge that I wrote about in post one.
After spending quite a bit of time on the porch, we decided it was time to explore the rest of the grounds and the famous "Secret Garden". Before I do that I should note that the porch is not open to the public all the time. They will close it for special events. In fact, on the day we were there they had a convention in the evening at the hotel and they were only allowing hotel guests on the grounds after 5:00 pm. So before you make any plans for your day on the island, make sure the hotel grounds are open to the public.
The hotel has an amazing outdoor pool with incredible views of both the hotel and Lake Huron.
There is a massive lawn right in front of the hotel where outdoor events are held. The paths are lined with white benches and flower borders.
I had first heard of The Grand Hotel "The Secret Gardens" when watching the YouTube show "Garden Answer" where she gave a tour of the gardens. Now, let me tell you, these gardens are definitely "secret" and very hard to find. They do not advertise them for some reason. There are no signs anywhere. I had a pretty good idea where they were because I watched the show and I still couldn't find them! I finally stopped and asked a worker and he gave us more clues and eventually we found them.
But first, let me show you this amazing horse and carriage topiary on the front lawn of The Grand Hotel.
The trick to finding the garden is to get off the main path that leads to the greenhouse, and go onto these little narrow gravel paths. I was so excited to see all these dainty Forget-Me-Nots.
Here was our mistake the first time we looked for this garden. We saw this beautiful Magnolia tree and stopped to admire it before continuing straight. Wrong! When you see the Magnolia tree hang a right and start walking down a very narrow path that looks like you shouldn't be there.
As soon as you round the bend of the Magnolia tree it will open up to "The Secret Garden" and your jaw will drop because you will see this stunning floral display with a backdrop of The Grand Hotel.
The flowers change with the seasons. Once again, we were there in May so we saw all the spring bulb blooms. A 'river' with a bridge in the center was created using blue hyacinth bulbs. On either side of the 'river' are tulip beds.
I felt I was in heaven surrounded by all these flowers.
But the "Secret Garden" aren't the only flowers of The Grand Hotel. Surrounding their building are gorgeous flower beds!
I thought daffodils were the perfect choice for the Ice Cream Parlor flower bed because the yellow of the flowers matched the awnings.
And this bed is loaded with geraniums!
Here's an aerial shot of two of the hotel beds. I love the pattern the tulips create.
If you are a flower lover like me, you love visiting The Grand Hotel even though you never step inside!
Next week, I will conclude our day of our visit to Mackinac Island by sharing our walk along the lakeshore seeing more natural sights of the islands and some miscellaneous stuff.
Have A Great Day! Amy
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