Mackinac Island, MI

The day before our visit to Mackinac Island, we drove to Whitefish Bay to see Tahquamenon Falls, which we had heard were rather special.  Root Beer Falls is the name given to the Upper Falls by the locals, as the water cascading over the edge is notably brown in color, due to the tannins that leach from the nearby cedar swamps into the river.  The Upper Falls span 200′ with a 48′ drop.

The Lower Falls consist of a series of 5 smaller falls that cascade around a small island.  A vehicle can be driven to view both
the Upper and Lower Falls or a hiking trail 4 miles out and back (8 miles round-trip) can also be taken.  We opted for the latter and what a treat it was.  We had to admit that it rivaled our hike at Pictured Rocks, although this hike provided more exercise with many stairs scattered throughout the woods.  Much of the trail ran along the river, which was oh so pretty.

If you are in the area and have bikes, a great-looking bike trail is the North Central State Trail, a 62-mile multi-use trail connecting Gaylord, Indian River, Cheboygan and Mackinaw City.  The trail has a 10′ wide packed crushed limestone surface and is open to non-motorized use year-round.  John and Janie, if you are reading this, you have yet another reason to head back to the UP.

Terry had been to Mackinac Island before but this was to be a real treat for me. Our last day in the area brought sunshine and temps in the 50’s so our ferry ride over to Mackinac Island proved to be invigorating.

Located in Lake Huron between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, Mackinac Island was home to Native Americans before European explorers arrived in the 17th century.  Based on its position, it played a significant role in the Great Lakes fur trade.  This led to the establishment of Fort Mackinac  in 1780 by the British during the American Revolutionary War.

Much of the island has undergone extensive historical restoration and preservation.  More than 80% of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park, originally designated the second National Park behind Yellowstone, in 1875.  In 1895 the park was turned over to state control.

On this island of 492 year-round residents, motorized vehicles have been prohibited since 1898, with the exception of snowmobiles in the winter and emergency vehicles.  Travel on the island is by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage.

The Three Amigos

Many homes that we walked by have bicycle racks in the side yard.  Tourists can rent bikes, drive a horse-drawn carriage or climb on a carriage, relax and get a tour of the island.

Aside from the numerous retail shops, galleries, restaurants, and candy shops, probably the most prominent structure on the island is the Grand Hotel.  This stunning Victorian-style hotel opened in 1887 and gained national notoriety after the movie Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, was shot on location in 1979.

Grand Hotel
Coachman at the Grand

The porch at the Grand Hotel is said to be the world’s longest at 660 feet.  With white rocking chairs along its length and its trademark red geraniums, it beckoned us to relax and enjoy lunch overlooking the golf course and the lake.  The Cupola Bar is the highest point at the top of the hotel and features a stunning  view of the Straits of Mackinac.

Condé Naste Traveler lists the Grand Hotel as one of the “Best Places to Stay in the Whole World” and Travel & Leisure Magazine lists it as among the “Top 100 Hotels in the World”.  This amazing hotel has been visited by five U. S. Presidents, as well as Prime Ministers and inventors.

We had a wonderful day and an ideal end to our stay in Mackinaw.  From here we are headed to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to spend time with family.  Please enjoy the gallery of photos below!