It’s our last week in Michigan, and as glorious as this month of summering has been, I’m looking forward to the “flow” tide after this much needed “ebb” has restored us. I’ve done very little work the past few weeks, trading my usual creative hustle for long, slow days with the kids where we walk to the lake, intending to return after ten minutes, and three hours later finally make it back. I never knew blessed nothingness could feel so full and take up so much time.
But I miss the creative hustle and am ready to pour time into ideas and work I’ve shelved this month. And we miss Brett, and our home, and our beds, and our friends, and silly little parts of our normal routine that will suddenly feel new and extraordinary when we return home–like making coffee in my own kitchen with my favorite mug, or walking to the neighbors to borrow half & half and remembering how much I love our little life at home.
I’ve been sharing photos of summers in Michigan for years now and don’t want to be redundant with travel posts. If you’ve followed here for long, you know the drill–we go to the same places every year, and I gush about my love for these lakes and these woods and the way watching the sunset from the sand dunes is a storybook experience that will feed your soul. I conclude in fifth grade persuasive essay style with a convincing plea to put Northern Michigan on your bucket list, and I support it with good reasons plus 500 photos of beautiful Michigan things.
This Mackinac Island post is a heartfelt ditto to posts of previous years.
Dash went into his annual Mackinac Island Horse Trance.
…and I prepped him with his own tiny horse name journal this year so he could put his kindergarten writing skills to good use. He yells to the carriage drivers, “What’s the horses’ names?!” as they pass and records their answers in his book so that by the time we leave the island, he has pages full of horse duos–Sporty & Oliver, Kelly & Pearl, Amber & Jude.
Our friends who moved from Naples to Chicago last year came with us to the island this year, and it was so much fun introducing them to all our favorite things to explore.
We’ve been waiting years to ride bikes on the island, an experience we’ll never miss now. You can bike the entire perimeter of the island (8.2 miles), and there are no cars competing for road space.
We biked to Arch Rock, a gorgeous natural limestone formation that sits high (240 stairs!) above Lake Huron.
I always receive a flood of direct messages with island questions when we’re there, so here’s a little 411 wrap-up.
Is it super expensive?
There are several different ways to explore the island on different budgets. You can take a morning ferry, explore all day and return home without staying on the island; but staying overnight is half the fun as once the last ferry leaves, there’s a certain magic about being stuck (and we could never cram in everything we want to do in one day!). You could definitely spend a week on the island with family and have enough to explore, but we usually arrive in the morning, stay overnight and take a late ferry the second day for two full days on the island. We always say we wish we would have booked two nights when we leave though because we’re never ready to say goodbye. Star Line Ferry usually offers a half-off ferry ticket sale 1-2 times throughout the year (If I recall correctly, we’ve purchased half price tickets on Black Friday and Valentine’s Day) which saves us a lot of money for the entire family. A regular priced ferry ticket is $25 round trip for adults and $15 for kids. I follow Mackinac Island accounts on social media so I don’t miss any sales (and Michigan Instagram readers who know I love the island are always so good about messaging me when there’s a Mackinac deal–thank you!) We try and book our hotel March/April for a good deal. The Grand Hotel is the most famous hotel on the island, but it’s very expensive. We’ve stayed at the Island House, Harbor View Inn and Mission Point for anywhere between $200-$250 a night. I’d definitely suggest staying off Main Street (away from the main tourist area).
We did the ghost tour this year, and I don’t know if it was our tour leader or the tour itself, but I wouldn’t recommend it. We all got really bored and thought Poppa could tell way better ghost stories.
This was Nella after the tour (we scooted out early): OVER IT.
Where should we eat?
If you eat at only one restaurant on the island, make it Woods, the island’s best secret. It’s literally hidden up in the woods in the interior of the island, next to Stonecliff mansion and away from the main tourist attractions. It was built in 1915 by one of the mansion owners as a playhouse for their children and is now a restaurant with the most enchanting ambience–fireplaces, candles, tables tucked into cozy nooks, a hunting lodge style cocktail bar and a hidden duckpin bowling alley in the back.
Woods is about a 30-minute carriage taxi ride from the main island road ($7.50/adult one way–half price for kids).
Other new experiences on the island this year…
The new Watercolor Cafe hidden behind the Bayview Bed & Breakfast. It feels like a secret–quiet, tucked against the harbor, delicious food (get the peanut butter and banana toast!), the most beautiful view on the island, and so many things for kids to explore–art supplies, kids books, tables set up for creating things. We stayed for two hours and could have easily stayed longer.
Several island lovers messaged me this year and told me about the Grand Hotel’s secret garden in the woods, so we added that to our list this year as well and, per usual, were not disappointed. We explored the trails in the woods next to the Grand Hotel and not only found the secret garden but a flower-filled greenhouse as well.
Everything feels like a children’s storybook on the island…
…and we’re always sad to step on the fairy the night we leave and watch our enchanting summer place slowly disappear as we go home.
Until next year…