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