*UPDATE: howdy ya’ll! You’ll see a few changes to this blog very soon including a brand new name! I’ll still be sharing road trip stories, but you’ll see a mix of lifestyle, food *and* travel stuff. I’m roadtripping much less these days– hence my lack of posts lately 😀 I hope you guys will stick around and, as always, thanks for reading xo
Warning: this post is pretty long (no surprise there, I’m sure) but I gotta make up for lost time, right? (Don’t worry, a bulk of this story is just pretty pictures)
Now…let’s head over the border to Mackinac Island in Michigan, shall we?
Main Street Mackinac Island
I hope you’re doing great and enjoying the start of the holiday season (how are we almost at Christmas already? EEK!). I’m excited to get my holiday baking on and also hoping for some orders for the holidays, too. I was crazy busy over Thanksgiving (I made over 20 pies!!!) which was really fun. A big thanks to my friends for your support, spreading word of my treats and helping me launch my new biz. I couldn’t have done it without you guys! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU ❤
I’ve also started a fun new project called ‘Pie It Forward’. Every week I’ll bake a pie to share with a good friend over coffee, to bring to someone in need of a smile, or for an awesome volunteer, charity or local heroes (like firefighters or paramedics). I’ll share my pics on here, too, in case you guys want to follow along. It’s gonna be fabulous!
Speaking of pies, I made this a couple of weeks ago for our Ottawa Redblacks when they won the top spot in the East. It’s a Red & Black Berry pie 🙂
Since this pie was made, however, we went on to win the long-overdue Grey Cup!! (our version of the Superbowl) Woohoo!
Okay, enough about food…lest you stop reading because you’ve gotten too hungry.
While I’m not a big fan of Fall, I at least started the season off right this year….with a ROAD TRIP! I actually haven’t gone anywhere in nearly a year (big reason this blog is becoming less travel-focused) so this trip was lonnnnnggg overdue.
This guy sure was happy about hitting the road again, especially since we missed our usual trip to the East Coast last summer.
We’re on the road, baby!
We had actually only planned to go as far as Mackinac Island (Michigan) but, like any good road trip, the wind kept taking us further. So somehow we ended up in Indianapolis…at a Colts game! (OMAHA!). Have no fear, I’ll share that adventure in my next post.
I’ve been to Mackinac Island before but it was a long time ago (almost 15 years ago) and it was very briefly (we’re talking half a day) so I’ve been wanting to go back for a long time now. The Island is pretty close to the border (near Sault. St Marie) and lies between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.
This is where one of my favourite time-travel movies ‘Somewhere in Time’ (with Christopher Reeve & Jane Seymour) was filmed in 1979. The movie became a huge cult classic and the famous Grand Hotel, where most of the movie was filmed, still holds the popular ‘Somewhere in Time’ convention every October (that’s how big of a fan base it still has, even many years later).
The Famous Grand Hotel from the ferry
This photo was taken on my first visit on the island in 2003. This is the beautiful path behind the Grand Hotel along the shore of Lake Huron. It’s also where some of the movie was filmed.
Is it you? No..it’s actually me! Way back in 2003
I’d kinda like to do some time-travel and maybe go back to this time (early 2000s) when I was just a Spring Chicken (*sigh*).
Here’s my good friend Al hanging out with the horses on Mackinac during our visit way back when. He looks like a
spring chicken, too!
The best, and possibly the biggest, draw to this lovely Island (aside from the Grand Hotel) is that there are NO Cars allowed on the island at all–except for emergency & construction vehicles (and maybe the odd DeLorean).
Which means you’ll have to leave your car in St Ignace or Mackinaw City to visit the island. The ferry goes back and forth quite regularly and it’s a super short trip– only about 15 minutes to the island.
Waiting for the ferry in St Ignace
You get a great view of the island as you approach it. It’s pretty magnificent…
This is the humongous bridge that connects Lower & Upper Michigan. You’d take it if you’re driving between Detroit and the Can/US border.
I missed this bridge on my first visit to this area because after leaving the island I headed back up to the border. On this trip, however, Cowboy and I were heading to Ann Arbor (near Detroit) after leaving Mackinac so we got to go over it. It’s not as long as Confederation Bridge (which connects Nova Scotia to PEI) but it’s still pretty impressive.
Ferry to Mackinac Island Lake Huron, Michigan
Hello Mackinac Island! We’re heeeeere. Within minutes of getting off the ferry Cowboy made an instant friend. Not too surprised… such a charmer that boy. Look closely at his arm to see his new pal/stalker.
The Butterfly Whisperer
Since there aren’t any cars allowed on the island, it forces you to get active. You gotta walk or bike everywhere if you venture further from Main Street. Or you can ‘cheat’ and take a carriage ride around the island if you wish, too. We rented bikes so we could see more of the island and get some exercise which was a good idea after spending so much time in the car en route here.
Fortunately they even allow kooks like this one to rent bikes here (explains the extra ‘fee’ ha ha).
Most of the hotels, Inns & B&B’s are on the main drag, or at least fairly close by. We didn’t actually book anything before coming (ya, we’re rebels) but it was near the end of the season so we figured we’d find something. And we did–fortunately–but the pickings were surprisingly slim. A few hotel owners told us it was because the weather was very summer-like (about 25C, or 75F) which was pretty hot for late September. So there were tons of ‘spontaneous tourists’ arriving on the island the day we got here (Darn tourists! hehe)
We choose The Harbour View Inn which is absolutely stunning…
Our Hotel: The Harbour View Inn
It’s a short 5-minute walk to the main drag, so it was a perfect location as well. A wee bit further than some of the places we’d looked at (the closer ones were filling up or way too crazy expensive) but not right in the thick of things, either. This place is definitely more of an Inn than a hotel since it’s relatively small… but not ‘B&B small’, either (thankfully). While I like B&B’s and have stayed in many really nice ones, there’s been a few that were so small I felt like I was in someone’s house (no thanks, unless it’s a family member or friend’s place).
How ’bout sitting out here in the morning with your coffee while listening to the sound of horses galloping nearby? Yes please...
Just for fun though, we might stay at the Chippewa Hotel next time. It’s right on main street (very close to the ferries etc) so it’s much busier, but super close to everything which is always fun for a change. Plus it’s got lots of history too, which I really love (if you’ve stayed here, please let me know what you thought in the comments–thanks!)
The famous Pink Pony bar is in this hotel too, which might be dangerously convenient 😀
You can’t come to Mackinac Island without going to the famous Grand Hotel– especially if you’re a fan of the movie. Since I didn’t get to see the inside of the hotel the first time I was here (which I always regretted), I wasn’t missing out this time. No Sireee…
It was just as lovely as I’d imagined!
Built in 1887, the Grand Hotel is commonly touted as ‘America’s Summer Place’. In 1972 it offically became a National Historic Landmark. It also boasts the world’s largest front porch–at 660 feet!
The Grand Hotel
The front of the hotel from the lovely huge park close to the entrance.
At the back of the hotel you can walk along the shoreline of Lake Huron and see the famous rock where part of the movie was filmed.
Somewhere in Time Filming location
Because you can’t stand against a beautiful tree (and famous filming spot) and NOT take a fun selfie, right? BTW Cowboy did watch the movie at one point and he actually enjoyed it 🙂 It’s less cheesy/scary than it looks (haha). But it’s got time-travel in it so you’d be hard-pressed not to like it, really. Mostly though, he really liked these trees and walking along the lake.
But don’t worry, even if you’re not a fan of the movie (say what??) this hotel is outstanding and definitely worth a tour. Though you might have to put on your invisible cloak to get inside the hotel if you’re not a guest (I wouldn’t know this from experience, of course…*cough cough*).
Lobby at the Grand
I was happy to come across this wall of cool memorabilia from the movie.
Somewhere in Time Film Photos
This pic was taken in front of the Grand Hotel on my first visit there almost 15 years ago:
My first visit to the Grand Hotel 2003
Even though it was the middle of July, it was pretty chilly that day (as you can probably tell by my fleece sweater. BRR!).
Annnnnd, this was taken on my recent visit this past September. Much nicer weather this time around!
The Grand Hotel Sept 2016
Cowboy wanted a fun photo for his upcoming rap album and thought the Grand Hotel would make the perfect backdrop for his album cover.
Totally awesome dude! Gnarly to the max. Womp womp womp…
Main Street is where all the action is (aside from the Grand Hotel, of course) on the island. Since this is where all the ferries come in, you can’t avoid it even if you tried (you wouldn’t want to, anyway). It’s absolutely gorgeous and so vibrant with all the flowers lining the street.
the Bustling Main Street
I’d love to come here in the Spring during the Lilac Festival which I’ve heard is THEE most beautiful time to come to Mackinac. Hard to believe that this place could get any prettier, really.
One of the beautiful hotels on main street
Since it was early Fall, a good part of the street was decked out in gorgeous fall decor. As it was really close to our Thanksgiving (early Oct.) as well, this was a really nice festive touch.
There are quite a few restaurants, cute shops (most of them are very touristy, not too surprisingly) bike rental kiosks and about 78 fudge stores lining main street. Okay, I’m exaggerating about that last one–but not by much. I think Mackinac Island has the highest per capita of fudge shops in the world.
Needless to say there was a LOT of free sampling to be had.
Yep, fudge isn’t paleo-friendly so I was a bit of a bad-ass while I was here (please don’t tell the Paleo Police). I must have tried every variety of chocolate fudge I came across. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t read the ingredient lists before imbibing though as I generally avoid foods with nasty vegetable oils (Yikes!).
We wandered up main street munching on our fudge samples and soaking in the beautiful scenery with all the hustle and bustle of folks arriving from the ferries. With all the pretty horses trotting along beside us, it really felt like we’d gone back in time about a hundred years ago or so. (wait, did they have fudge back in 1916? If so, I bet it was probably much better then).
Now, where did I park my DeLorean again? (ha ha).
After we checked into our hotel, toured the Grand Hotel and wandered around main street eating way too much fudge, it was time to do a bike ride so we could see more of the island. There are several bike rental kiosks to choose from here, so it wasn’t an impossible feat in the least.
Just a few minutes away from main street there are tons of trails (many of them being uphill–eek!) so we got to explore a few quieter areas of the island which was really nice.
It also reminded me that I need to get in better shape…
Someone was lagging behind because he was busy taking photos (silly photo nuts).
Oh look a painting! In the middle of the forest?
We biked & hiked to a couple of really cool spots like this one: the incredible Arch Rock.
This is a rare limestone arch which was formed during the Nipissing (post-glacial) period when the water levels of both Lakes Huron & Michigan were much higher than they are today. This hunk o’ rock rises 146 feet above Lake Huron and is pretty spectacular to see up close and personal.
It’s absolutely stunning and the views of the lake aren’t too bad at all, either.
The hike to Arch Rock wasn’t too hard at all. It was just a handful of stairs to get to the top (don’t worry,the view is so worth the work)
We also biked to this cool spot…. Sugar Loaf!
It’s an enormous 75 feet-high landlocked rock that stands almost smack-dab in the middle of the island. Pretty impressive geological action going on here….
On the way back from Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf, we checked out Fort Holmes as well. This is the highest point on the island and was a strategic location for the military during the War of 1812.
After a couple of hours of biking & hiking it was time to head back into town for a bite to eat and a refreshing drink to quench our thirst. But first…. coffee time!
No Starbucks here, fortunately. This is the town’s favourite coffee shop, apparently. The Lucky Bean.
A few of the locals and friendly tourists told us it’s the best spot in town. When it comes to coffee, always trust the locals, right?
Coffee sure was great, but I was disappointed they didn’t have any treats that I could eat (evil gluten)…darn!
We chatted with some other tourists while sipping a cuppa out front on their little patio area. One of them graciously offered to take our photo, although they accidentally drop the camera right after snapping the pic (Oops! All was good– it didn’t break..until Cowboy dropped it a few days later in Indianapolis lol)
It was time to hit the patio to soak up the late summer sun. We choose the Pink Pony as they had a big patio overlooking the lake. Cowboy ordered a nice cold local lager and I tried a blood-orange cider. Yum!
Patio at the Pink Pony
And we grabbed some grub, too. The food here is fabulous and after spending a few days on the island, we both agreed this is one of the best restaurants/pubs on the island. SO if you come to Mackinac, make sure you have one meal (or at least a drink) at the Pink Pony. Tell them we sent you (ha ha).
Well, this is probably already long enough so I think it’s a good stopping point after this wonderful long first day on Mackinac Island.
Be sure to watch for my upcoming post on our tour of Ann Arbor & Indianapolis (for some football fun!) I’ll also be posting a few food-related stories soon as well and my blog name will be changing in the next day or two. Hopefully you’ll still be able to find me and follow along. Have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend everyone!
Love, Dana xo