Adventure on Mackinac Island

If you follow me on Instgram, I shared a few weeks ago that we went on an anniversary trip to Mackinac Island. Just the two of us, celebrating each other and getting away from the city. It was honestly just what we needed

Why Mackinac?

We started planning an extravagant vacation last year. Think cruise, Caribbean, nothing but sun and salt water. Well, you probably know what happened with that. For the longest time, I just thought we would just celebrate our anniversary at home.

Quarantine started having a draining effect on our family. Just everything was getting to be too much (I talk more about that in my last blog here). We desperately needed to disconnect and get away for a bit. Mackinac had been on my radar form a Garden Answers video. One of the things the island is known for is their beautiful gardens, which is right up my alley. So I started doing some research and said, why not? We booked a room at Bogan Lane Inn and were set for Labor Day.

A Note About COVID

I’m not sure if I should put this paragraph in or not, but I know some of you may click your tongues at us traveling during COVID. A few things I want to say (even if I don’t need to). We didn’t fly there, we drove. Just Richard and I traveling the great roads of the Midwest. We also wore our masks every time we thought we needed to. Pretty much every place required it. The only time we were really around people was at restaurants, but we chose restaurants outside. Also, Mackinac is hurting…. badly. That’s all about that one.

Day 1

We spent the previous day in Green Bay, so our drive there was only about 4 or so hours. Richard did all of that, thank you honey! I had never been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before, but it was honestly a gorgeous drive. Most of the roads were right nest to the lake, so I enjoyed the ride as a passenger.

To get to Mackinac you have to take a ferry to get there. If you look at the map, Mackinaw connects to the “mainland” of Michigan with a bridge. You can come either way, but we went though St. Ignace on Shepler’s Ferry. That way we didn’t have to drive over the bridge (no thank you). The ride was only 20 minutes or so, not bad at all. When we got to the island we were able to walk to Bogan Lane Inn.

After stopping for lunch at Island Slice Pizzeria, which was ok but perfect for lunch on the go, we decided to take a carriage tour. I’m glad we did this on our first day. They took us all around the island, pointing out the historical landmarks and the scenic views. If you’re going to Mackinac I also recommended you do this first. We learned a lot about the island and got a feel for the layout.

Day 2

The second day started with breakfast at The Watercolor Cafe, which was honestly delicious and a short walk from our BNB. I’ll have dreams about that avocado wrap. We then ventured to Fort Mackinac, which I will give you a quick run down of.

First off, the best view of the island was from the top of the hill at the fort. We did have to pay to get in, but it was worth it. I love to learn about the history and culture of a place when we travel, and this was the perfect way to do so. It was originally built in the Revolutionary war by the British to keep the Americans away. It changed hands quite a bit, was briefly used as a Prisoner of War camp, then as the headquarters for Mackinac National Park. After the Civil War, they were cutting cost and closed the forts. It’s then that Mackinac became a State Park.

Fort Mackinac

After that we took a taxi to Forge a Memory. One of the interesting things about Mackinac is that there are no cars on the Island. Taxis look a little different there than they do in Milwaukee. Richard loves the show Forged in Fire. The owner of the shop has actually competed on the show. His wife was there and gave us some behind the scenes information about the show, which Richard was loving. We also make a cool knife and an arrowhead. You can see videos of us forging them on my Instagram highlights.

We ate dinner that night at the Jockey Club. If we go back to Mackinac, this will be on the list. The lamb I had was DELICIOUS. Worth every penny. Highly recommend you go there, and you don’t have to buy tickets for The Grand Hotel to get there. We were stuffed from delicious food so we relaxed at the BNB for a bit.

After that we finally decided to rent bikes, which we should have from the start. It was so much easier to get around on the bikes. We decided to take the 8 mile ride around the entire island during sunset. This was the favorite part for both of us. We hardly encountered any people and the view was stunning. The pictures don’t do it justice. After we were done we celebrated with Ice Cream and got back those calories we lost.

Day 3

No going to lie, we were super tired and sore at this point, but we had 1 full day left on the island. A lot of this day was spent relaxing in our room, but we did venture out a few time. I had so much I wanted to do, but was super exhausted so we kept it more simple.

The first things we did was go horseback riding, and I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. My legs hurt and my horse was a hot mess. I could honestly do without this next time (Richard however is convinced he wants to buy a horse). I’m not sure if I was just too tired to enjoy the day, but our stop at The Grand Hotel was lack luster. I can see the appeal of it, it is quite grand. But it honestly wasn’t worth the $10 to get on the porch. The gardens were free, which is honestly what I was interested in anyway.

Horses on Mackinac

We also did a painting class at The Watercolor Café (now I’m realizing just how busy we were). It wasn’t the worst thing, but it wasn’t my favorite. It was quite expensive and they didn’t have drinks like I thought they would. The paint was also quite small and made me thing about when we would do watercolor in elementary school. I’m honestly probably biased because I went to art school, but Richard did enjoy it more than I did. It may have been better with a larger group and a larger canvas.

Dinner was at the Mission Point Hotel. What a gorgeous spot, I think we may try to stay here next time (they are pet friendly). We noticed a mini gold course on the hotel grounds, so we spontaneously decided to do that. We were a tad rushed as the sky darkened in preparation for a storm. However, we got back just in time to watch the storm from the porch. We then cuddled up and watched a movie before bedtime.

My Advice for You

If you’re planning a trip to Mackinac I have a few things to help you consider your trip. The first being, I would leave the kids at home. There is a ton of walking since there are no cars. Our adult legs were tired, but Leo wouldn’t have been able to keep up. There’s also not a ton of activities for kids either. There were families with kids, I just wouldn’t recommend it. This is more of a romantic trip for two. They are, however, very pet friendly on the island.

Everything on the island was expensive. I know all trips are, but we probably spent the equivalent to what we spent on our honeymoon in Mexico. If you’re looking for a cheap vacation, this would not be it. I can say that everything was worth the price.

A last few tidbits, don’t pay to get into The Grand Hotel. Rent the bikes, or bring your own. Bring comfy walking shoes. Our cell phone service was awful up there (as a warning) so we were only able to connect when we found wifi. The primary mode of transportation was horses. Which means the island did have a strong odor at times, although they were very good about cleaning it up. Skip Labor Day, the shops were super crowded. Last but not least, you HAVE to try the fudge.

October 6, 2020

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