After crossing the bridge from the UP into Mackinac City, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying some super sweet and… interesting local wine in town, and chatting with folks at a local brewery in the drizzly evening. In a small boost to my self confidence I got hit on by a range of 23-57 year olds, so there’s that at least (or pickings are slim in pandemic- either way I’ll take a compliment and some free drinks and mozzarella sticks). Come morning I hopped in line to take the ferry to Mackinac Island after the wind and rain had calmed a little, which is great because it meant the ferry could take the route under the bridge along the way which I hear they’d been skipping due to high wind gusts. Woohoo!
Pulling up to the island the first identifiable feature is the enormous Grand Hotel, which from afar looks like it could take up a whole city block, and then some small lighthouses and cottages began to emerge as we approached the dock. The island is car-free aside from a firetruck and a few police vehicles, so there was a mad rush to the bicycle rental stands and the horse-drawn carriage ride stalls along the front street as soon as each boat pulls in. Being a rare adult who still lacks the coordination or drive to ride a bike without training wheels (side note- riding a child’s bike with training wheels leads to bruised knees, take my word for it) I decided to just walk. I mean, the island is less than 5 sq. miles and 8 miles around and I had nowhere to be but back by the last ferry, so…
I gathered some info, and started off down the road when two people taking photos asked me to stage a little walk by the water for their island fall marketing because I was apparently in the right colors with my green jacket and orange backpack combo accidentally resembling a hunter or something, so that was something novel and I am 99% sure those photos will never see the light of day given the fact that I hadn’t showered for a few days and had ferry wind hair, but who knows. They did give me a tip to trek up some stairs that looked like part of someone’s sidewalk but led up to a perfect view over the harbor. So pretty!
A little uphill walk took me into the state park area where bike, horse and walking trails cover most of the interior territory of the island. I looked out over arch rock and got my first views of how clear and blue the water around the shoreline can be, then continued onwards through the woods and to an old fort model, a few cemeteries, the tiny island airport, and into the section where gorgeous Victorian homes line the streets.
I was snapping some pics of the colorful gardens and inviting porches overlooking the west side of the island and a man gardening came to give me a giant dahlia, so that was a nice surprise and made my little lakeside picnic more festive. There are a few hundred steps leading down to the path circumnavigating the island, and I found a picnic table at Pontiac’s Lookout and dipped my feet into the nice cool and totally clear water of Lake Huron. Then it was back up the many steep stairsand down the block to the Grand Hotel.
Its massive front porch area is filled with picturesque rockers and little tables where guests and visitors were being served drinks and snacks by fancy jacketed waitstaff, and inside the decadent hotel a champagne-filled afternoon tea was in full swing. While I might have enjoyed the treats, dropping my weekly budget on tiny tea sandwiches and macarons wasn’t in the cards for me and I just took some photos and took off. On my way out down the main drive where most people enter, the signage clearly states that guests must be in more formal attire after 6pm and visitors will be charged a little fee to come in, so I guess it’s good I escaped without paying and arrived around 4:30 and not later. I checked online later and that night I could have booked a room for a measly $850. Maybe next time when I win the lotto.
The rest of my visit included getting some famous fudge (super delicious but the smallest amount one could buy lasted me about 5 servings), taking in some of the many turtle statues around the town, and having a drink waiting for the ferry. Then back to the mainland around sunset and onward. Another place that would be very nice to one day return with people to enjoy more fully.