Across the Lake
Old-world, lush, decadent: these are the words that come to mind when I reflect on my honeymoon trip to Mackinac Island. Reaching the island was an endearing adventure in itself; Mackinac can only be entered by jet or boat. My husband and I chose the latter and waited anxiously in the line to board a ferry early one June morning this summer.
Southerners ourselves, we were happily surprised to note that the northern island temperatures averaged in the mid-60’s and a lake breeze kept us cooled even at the sunniest of hours. This weather was a welcome deviation from the dog days of summer we’d just left in Louisville, Kentucky. To us, this island was an idyllic escape, exactly what we needed after the rush of wedding festivities.
Mackinac Island is famous for three main things: horse-drawn carriages, The Grand Hotel, and fudge. During our trip, we were able to experience these quintessential island phenomena to the fullest, living up proudly to a local nickname given to island-tourists: “fudgies.”
Here on the Island
Once on the island, you’ll notice the notorious carriages and horses immediately. They’re everywhere – and for good reason. There are no cars allowed! That’s right, there are absolutely no cars on the island. How’s that for old fashioned? Getting around is no difficult task though, in fact, it’s an excuse for adventure.
Horse-drawn carriages run paths around the island to and from popular points. If you don’t fancy a carriage ride or are allergic to horses (as is unluckily my husband’s case), have no fear! The island is home to thousands of bikes – all for tourist convenience. The rental fees are low and there are bike trails all over. A bike or carriage ride is a Mackinac must!
Whether biking or horse-drawn, there’s one street you won’t miss: Main Street. The road is lined with intricate storefronts, boasting large window displays and signs hanging over the bustling sidewalk. You can smell fudge as you walk through the shops, warm sugary air radiates from open doors. This is a great place to lose yourself. Just be sure to postpone stocking up on treasures until closer to departing the island, you don’t want to tote around extra bags all day!
Food with a View
Between all the walking, biking, and sight seeing it’s easy to work up an appetite on the island. Wherever hunger hits, you won’t be far from one delicious confection or another.
The Grand Hotel is a premium island experience and their luxurious menu options range from tea in the parlor, to cocktails, to formal dinners.
When we were touring the hotel, my husband and I opted for cocktails and snacks on the grand patio. Lounging in large white rocking chairs, we sipped our drinks and enjoyed one of the grandest views the island offers.
If you’re downtown and close to Main Street, another meal with a view is the Carriage House Restaurant. The Carriage House is tucked away on the end of a busy strip, but entering the building is reminiscent of walking into a lush garden house.
Once inside, you are met with light colors, dainty decor, and expansive windows looking out to the coast. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, so anywhere you choose will provide ample lakeside scenery. The Carriage House menu offers classic American cuisine, featuring local seafood selections such as Whitefish from Lake Superior.
I’m fairly certain that while we were in Mackinac either my husband or I ordered Whitefish at every meal. There’s nothing like fresh seafood, especially to two people used to living landlocked!
A Sunset Farewell
After a few fantastic days exploring the lush island, biking by sapphire waters, and indulging in decadent food, it was finally time to say goodbye. We boarded one of the last ferries leaving the island our last day. When our ship set off, the water turned from blue to gray while the sun lowered.
Our ferry skipped across waves, bounding away from the magical little island we came to love. Just as Mackinac faded into a blip of green across the water, my husband pointed out the window toward the sky. A sunset rainbow was beginning to form. By the time we neared our destination shore, we could see the rainbow stretch in its entirety arching somewhere in the sky above. It was the clearest rainbow I’ve ever seen.
We convinced ourselves it was for us: the island waving goodbye and wishing us well.