We looked forward to Mackinac Island for most of our Great Loop voyage. We planned that this island would be our re-entry to the USA after enjoying a few weeks in Canada’s Georgian Bay and North Channel, but Canada closed its borders to recreational boats until August 9 (sorry, too late). We “made lemonade” and tasted Drummond Island, an anchorage in Harbor Island, Detour Village, Cedarville in the Les Cheneaux Islands, and St. Ignace, before cruising six miles from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island Marina.
Mackinac Island is among our favorite stops on the Great Loop! It combines natural beauty, rich history, top notch architecture, award-winning gardens, and very good restaurants and shops.
The island’s prohibition of motor vehicles takes you back to an era when horsepower really meant horse–power! We traveled by taxi in a horse-drawn carriage, and twice hired a “private livery” carriage to tour different parts of the island. We saw horse-drawn hotel shuttles, private carriages, taxis, package delivery wagons, garbage wagons, and more!
And bicycles are everywhere! One afternoon I took a bicycle ride through town and out to the island’s perimeter road, past well-maintained cottages, resorts, B&Bs and historic church buildings, to the edge of town where I and many others sweated the 207 steps to Arch Rock. Along the shore was a kayak tour group taking in the clear blue water and rocky lake bottom. Beautiful!
One night we shared a horse-drawn taxi with Ray and Diane from Radian Journey, to dinner in the formal dining room of the Grand Hotel, built in in 1887 by Michigan railroads. The Grand Hotel is the world’s largest summer resort hotel, has the longest front porch in the world, and is a Great Lakes landmark. It was a unique experience to horse-taxi to this beautiful hotel, walk the halls, enjoy an exquisite dinner, and stroll back to our marina.
Our daughter Erika and her husband Matt drove to St. Ignace and took the ferry to Mackinac Island. We met them at the ferry dock for a short but very fun visit. After brunch, touring the island, dinner and games, and a rock-n-roll night aboard R&R in the island’s unprotected harbor, we cruised back with Erika and Matt from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace and drove to the nearby Father Marquette National Memorial (one more NPS stamp for Rhonda and Erika!) and Castle Rock, a UP tradition since 1927. Such a good time to share with family!
Mackinaw Island is incomparable!