Our inaugural Small Town Charm article is actually Small Island Charm.  We packed our bags to see the beauty of this most talked about island called Mackinac.  Our travels took us for a long weekend getaway in mid-July.  Other than a one morning storm, the weather was perfect, and the humidity was non-existent.

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island sits in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas. Mackinac Island State Park, with trails, woods and the limestone Arch Rock formation, covers most of the island. Founded in 1780, Fort Mackinac is a walled cluster of military buildings on a coastal bluff.

Fort Mackinac

Of course, the grand dame of the Island is the historic Grand Hotel.   Truthfully, one of our first observations was the online pictures of this majestic landmark do not do it justice. From the beautifully maintained rooms and gardens to the modern-day service, this hotel is simply stunning.    A step back in time, this magnificent sight provides exceptional service to its guests.  From the well-groomed staff to the efficiency of the service this luxury stay brings back the perfect flair of the past.

horses in mackinac island

How to you get around on Mackinac Island

Where can you go on a trip where the main transportation is horse, bike, and carriage?  That’s the beauty of this island, but note, that cash is king here and you don’t want to be caught without it. Tips are very important to the staff on the island, and you will want to tip all your servers for their excellent service.

The shops have fallen to a more touristy and repetitious nature.  That said, the shops are not the focus of the island. (Although fifteen fudge shops were delightful, you MUST visit the Rustic Chic Boutique – the only woman-owned business with an amazing scarf product that is unique and a must-have for your closet.)  Its stunning landscape, historical and cultural significance, landmarks, and outstanding hiking/biking trails far outweigh the typical attractions of today’s tourist towns.

As you know, this is one of the most expensive places to vacation in the US.   If you stay at the Grand Hotel, please note your food package options when you make your reservation.   The Grand Hotel is not your typical dining experience.  Beautiful tablespaces, true linen, and formal china are the norm for the hotel dining experience.   The food is exquisite, and the dining offerings are plentiful both on and off-site.  Dinner at the hotel is more along the formal side.  It is required you pull out your nicer attire for the evening festivities.

Dinner at the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

The Woods was one of our offsite fine dining experiences.  This was not in the package deal but it looked to be a fun adventure.  It did not disappoint.  A two-horse-drawn carriage carried us on a twenty-minute ride to the unique hide-a-away restaurant.  The European & American foods in this Bavarian-style 1905 home, along with the service were nothing short of exquisite.  It didn’t hurt to also dine with the gracious award-winning actor, John C. Riley who was also on a Mackinac Island adventure.

Cycling in Mackinac Island

It’s not an easy journey to arrive on the island, but it’s certainly worth it.  Family and dog-friendly, this island should be on your bucket list to experience with that special someone or a girl’s long weekend.  And…you must take a bike tour around the island – we recommend Mackinac Cycle located in the heart of the town. It is incredibly magical with the smells of flowering lilacs and the
sounds of the lake crashing on the rocks.

Us southern gals give this northern adventure a true charm “YES”.  By the way, if you are traveling anytime soon, make sure you ask for Leon in the Grand Hotel dining room.  And please, stay away from Larry the Horse.  He’s in serious need of a time-out.