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Monday, September 21, 2015

Mackinac Island

Mackinaw City,  MI

Today was a fine day to head over to Mackinac Island.   We purchased tickets here at the campground at a discounted rate of $23.00 each on Star Line Ferry.  They provide shuttle service to several locations in the area.  Just make a phone call.  The shuttle depot in the campground is just one very short block from where we are parked.

Pick up was at 8:30 with the Ferry leaving dock at 9:00.  The Ferry leaves on the hour with the 9:00 and 11:00 trips a little longer as they take a side trip under the bridge and back.  Total time about 25 minutes.

First we passed by the Coast Guard Ice Breaker.

The lakes actually freeze over during winter.   Amazing.

Our trip under the 5 mile long bridge.  Water depth about 350 at the center.  This bridge is the line between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

As we approached the Island the famous Grand Hotel stood out from all surrounding buildings.

Beautiful views of the village.   The Island is 8 1/2 miles around.  A large percentage of the Island is a State Park.   At one time is was a National Park, the 2nd in the country being declared a National Park just two years after Yellowstone.

Two light houses sit at the entrance to the Island

When we first got on the Island we walked for about 1/2 hour.  Each house and property was either quaint and beautiful or stately and beautiful.  We were told that properties on Mackinac Island are 99 year leases.  Whatever amount of the lease when first signed, that fee must remain for 99 years. It can not be raised.  However, a stipulation is that every building on property must be repainted every year. If not, it becomes the property of the State.  We saw lots of houses being painted.

Walking along a wooden sidewalk near the water we saw these plants.  Can any one tell me what they are?  Curious.

After walking a while we moseyed back into town and decided to take a tour on the horse drawn wagons.  $28.00 each.   Well worth it.  I wish I had taken a picture of the team on the first phase of the trip.  This is looking out from where we sat.

 This part of the ride took us through downtown where we saw more homes and beautiful gardens.

We were then driven to the Surrey Hills Carriage Museum.   At that point we could visit the museum, get a bite  to eat and then board a 3 horse team carriage to continue our excursion.

This part of the tour took us pass the Governors Mansion.

This mansion is available to the Governor when he so chooses.  Earlier in the week there was a gathering of Republican Presidential contenders there for a day including Rand Paul, Carly Fiorinia, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush.

We passed this road cleaner cleaning up the manure.   No, the two had nothing to do with each other.

Close up of the Grand Hotel.  In talking to two ladies on the tour with us, we found room rates start at around $400. a  night.  There is a lunch buffet ... cost $40.00.  But if you give them the tour ticket stub you get $10.00 discount.   Still,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, $30.00 for lunch?  Plus tip?

After 6 at night all gentlemen guests of the hotel must be in jacket and tie.  Woman guests must wear dresses, no slacks permitted.

We were in the first seat "behind" the driver on the 3 team carriage.  
Riding through the State Park.

In the State Park is a cemetery.  It once was near the area where boats would dock.  Many years ago all graves were moved.  It seems it spooked some people to see a cemetery upon arrival.

A stone mason was contracted to build this arch.  He took careful measurements to assure the hearse pulled by horses could enter.  However, he neglected the height of the driver sitting on the hearse.  Therefore, the actual road into the cemetery goes around the arch.

Now this is a tall arch.  Over 4,000 years ago water would pass under it leaving this formation.  The island is actually a limestone rock of which this arch is made.  Dirt on the island is only from 6 inches to a few feet deep.

This is the fort built in 1780.  We did not tour the fort.  Maybe another time.  Len is getting knee replacement surgery a month from today.  The extensive walking we did was starting to take its toll.

This is the stables for the Grand Hotel.
There are about 550 horses on the Island during the summer season.  At this time about 300 are left but will be located the end of October to a farm off the Island.  Behind these stables we disembarked from the 3 horse team carriage and got on another 2 horse team carriage for our ride back to either town or the Grand Hotel.  The town for us.  Even to walk inside the Hotel would cost $10.00 each.  The place is too ritzy for us anyhow.

About 400 people live on the Island year around.  The Ferry does not run in winter months as the lake freezes over.  These residents use snow mobiles to get around.  As no motorized vehicle is permitted on the Island they get by with a technically.  The snow mobiles do not touch the street, they are on the snow.  Most businesses close in November.   There is one small grocery that remains open. When they need what this store can not supply they ride across the lake to Mackinaw City.
There is a school.  In good weather the children ride their bikes to school, bad weather they bundle up and walk.  It can get to -40 degrees.  And Windy.

In front of the Grand Hotel looking toward downtown on our ride back to town.

When we got back to town we found a comfy spot to eat the lunch we packed.  Tasted just as good as the $17.50 burgers with $2.50 fries we saw advertised.  But we did splurge.  Mackinac Island is known for its 18 fudge stores.   Okay, we succumbed.  Got vanilla pecan fudge, dark chocolate with walnuts fudge, salted caramel chocolate fudge, peanut brittle and salt water taffy. Oh my.

If you have not been to Mackinac Island and have the opportunity.....grab it.  It's worth the trip.


  1. wow you could blow all your vacation money for the year in less than a week at the Grand....great pics of everything. I know when we were on Put N Bay island they do the same close for the winter...I was shocked that the lake freezes over..that just seems inconceivable to me its so huge

  2. Isn't it just an awesome and beautiful island? We loved it. You did a great job on your tour. Glad you are enjoying MI.

  3. Wow what a gorgeous place. thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures. Prices are really out there.

  4. Great tour, it has been years since we were there.

  5. That is a place that we must save up for. Such a beautiful tour!

  6. I worked one of the other hotels on the island the summer between my freshman and sophomore college years. Great place. I never got used to the Coast Guard fog horns.