Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

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

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm on Fall Break to enjoy time with my family.  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! "
Psalm 107:1

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Amy

Thursday, November 16, 2023

"Layer it Up!" with Ageless Style

Ageless Style is a monthly style challenge and link up for women of all ages.   Each month we pick a different theme and style an outfit based on that theme.  This month's theme is "Layer it Up! " and was picked by Mirelle.

This month's Ageless Theme is "Layer it Up!" and it couldn't be more appropriate for November because this is the time of year for wearing layers as the temperatures fluctuate so much.  I know in our neck of the woods we have gone from snow to sixty degrees then back in the forties again.  The daily temperatures also fluctuate from being freezing cold in the morning to downright balmy mid-day; so dressing in layers is a must this time of year.

In last month's "Ageless Style" post I showed you my new cropped cardigan, which are all the rage right now.  I love this new trend so much, I decided to buy another one!  This cropped cardigan I picked up at Daily Thread.  This store is new to my town and I have really enjoyed shopping there.

I paired my cardigan with cropped khaki pants from TJMaxx, a burgundy tank top, and loafers.  Loafers are also really trending this year.  I'm all for a comfy shoe trend!

For accessories I chose a brown pendant necklace and a large brown bag.

My loafers have a fun gold accent and I purchased them from TJMaxx.

Cardigans are the perfect layered item to wear in transitional seasons because they can be removed so easily when one gets too warm.  

So what about you?  Have you purchased a new cropped cardigan yet?  I'd love to hear from you.  

Now be sure to see what the other ladies in our group are wearing and link up with us too!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Amy ~ Amy’s Creative Pursuits

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Bo ~ Bo's Bodacious Blog

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Joanna ~ My Slice of Life


Jodie ~ Jodie’s Touch of Style

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Leslie ~ Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After

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Marsha~ Marsha in the Middle

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Mireille ~ Chez Mireille Fashion Travel Mom

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Rosemary ~ Distinctly Southern Style

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Amazing Historic Homes and Buildings on Mackinac Island

This post is part two of a travel series to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.    If you missed the first one, start HERE.

One of the biggest highlights of our trip to the UP was going to Mackinac Island.  Visiting this island has been a dream of mine for years and I have no idea why it took me a lifetime to get here, especially since it is so close to my home.  That being said, even though I did my research, we made a lot of mistakes when visiting the island that made the visit a not-so-pleasant experience at times, and I want to spare you those same mistakes, so I will share all the secrets of how to have a great time on the Island.

I have so many photos and experiences of the island, I decided to do three separate posts of our one day on Mackinac.  This week's post will cover just all the historic buildings and historic homes on Mackinac Island and the next two weeks I will cover The Grand Hotel, flower gardens, and natural beauty of the island.

There are no cars or electric vehicles allowed on Mackinac Island, not even E-Bikes are allowed.  You have to take a ferry that costs around $30 per person to get there.  Once on the island you can rent a bike (or bring your own for an additional ferry fee), a horse and carriage, or just walk like we did.

We took the very first ferry out to the island because we wanted to be sure we had plenty of time to see everything we wanted to see.  This was the one great idea we had because the streets were fairly empty as the tourists hadn't yet arrived so we got some great unobstructed pictures.  We also got to see how the town woke up every morning, as all the carriages were just starting to gather and employees were biking to work or sweeping the sidewalks.

The second we stepped off the ferry, our jaws just dropped to the floor.  Although I saw plenty of pictures in advance, they just didn't do justice to actually being there.  It felt like we were in another time period or on a movie set.  The historic buildings were so awesome and beautiful, I couldn't stop gawking!

Horse driven carriages arrive at the pier entrance to pick up guests who are staying at one of the many hotels and bed and breakfasts on the island.  That was the first thing we learned:  that there were lots of places to spend the night on the island.  I don't know why, but we though the only hotel on the island was The Grand Hotel and we didn't want to stay there because it was too expensive and posh for our taste (there is a formal dress code after 6:00 pm) plus we didn't like the style of the rooms.  Had we known there were other places to stay on the island, we could have chosen a hotel more to our liking.

I love the contrast of the modern/old in the photo above.  I mean, how often do you see a Starbucks with a horse and carriage in front?

Most people who visit Mackinac Island just walk the main street (Market Street) to shop and eat and then leave.  Would you believe we did neither?  I know, you probably think I'm crazy but I just don't like gift shops or spending a lot of money for food.  So if you're looking for store/restaurant recommendations you won't find it here.  We did walk Market Street but just to gawk at the amazing historic buildings.  For lunch, we did a picnic lunch (we brought a back pack with us) at the lake shore and it couldn't have been more perfect.

Do you like my outfit?  I tried to dress nautical and in layers as it was very cool in the morning but it warmed up nicely in the afternoon.  

After viewing Market Street we decided to walk around the island taking in all the beautiful homes.  This was our biggest mistake.  The island is just a lot bigger than we thought it was.  Hubby didn't want to rent bikes because he thought they were too expensive.  In hind sight, I would have brought our own.  So we walked everywhere and we were really hurting by the end of the day.  The worst part is we find out after we had walked everywhere that we could have paid for a horse and carriage ride that would have taken us to everything we wanted to see plus it actually STOPPED and let you get out to see the most famous sites on the island.  I can't remember the exact prices but I believe the bike rental start at $15.00 an hour up to $80 for a full day and the carriage rides range from $39.00 to $49.50.  If you decide to visit Mackinac Island, take the more expensive carriage ride as that is the one that goes to more locations and lets you get out to see things lie the Surrey Hills Museum,  Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory, Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac Avenue of Flags,  and The Grand Hotel.

Although there are a lot of private residences on Mackinac Island, many of them are used as inns or bed and breakfasts.  How fun would it be to stay in the inn above?

Even their Post Office is adorable!

This is their courthouse and police station.  How fun is the cupola on top of the building?  I can just imagine the view from there. 

Another amazing inn with lake views:  Metivier Inn.

The Cloghorn is a Bed and Breakfast

I could easily live in this cute home!

This private residence is named "Geranium Cottage".

Perhaps the grandest homes of all are located on the west bluff.  These homes are located past The Grand Hotel at the top of a steep road with amazing unobstructed views of Lake Huron.  We walked all the way from the pier to the top of the bluff, down to the lake shore to see Devil's Kitchen, back to The Grand Hotel and Market Street, over to Fort Mackinac, the East Bluff, Arch Rock and back to the pier again.  I can't even imagine how many miles we walked.  See why you need to rent bikes or take a carriage ride?

Almost every home and business on Mackinac Island has beautiful flower gardens.  I will share a lot more about these gardens next week!

These cute cottages are just calling my name!

The Windermere Hotel

The cutest public library ever!

The Great Turtle Hotel

As the day progressed the streets got busier and busier.  The bikes share the road with the carriages, and so many cyclists flew by so fast we wondered if there were many accidents.

Mackinac Island Yacht Club

What an elaborate deck system on this place!  There is no shortage of great views here. 

I love historic old churches, and Mackinac Island has no shortage of them.

Mission Church is one of Michigan's oldest Protestant churches.  It was built in 1829.  This church was open to the public.  It is very plain and simple inside, like most Protestant churches who rejected the ornate decor of the Catholic Churches because they believed they were a distraction from proper worship.

Cedar Hill

These next few homes were located on the east bluff (Huron Road), another road with great views of Lake Huron.

Craig Mawr

The size and magnitude of this house blew me away, who is wealthy enough to even live here?  Wow! It reminded me of the White House.

Huron Road

 And that concludes Part One of Mackinac Island.  I hope I gave you some great tips so you don't make the same mistakes I made on my first visit.  If I go back someday, I would look into staying at one of the other many hotels/bed and breakfasts on the island, and I would definitely take the carriage ride and bring my own bike!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!