The GypsyNesters a RoamRight Blog Author

Time Travel to Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is an island and resort area, covering 3.8 square miles in land area, in the U.S. state of Michigan.

For a quick getaway that really succeeds in getting away from it all, it’s hard to beat Mackinac Island. Pronounced Mack-in-awe, the island sits in Lake Huron between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, and seems to have been frozen in a simpler time. Stepping off the ferry is like stepping into the 1880s.

It may seem strange to be offered a ride by horse drawn carriage when exiting the terminal but, since motor vehicles have been prohibited since back in 1898, it is perfectly natural here. No need to hurry off though, a stroll along Main Street is an ideal way to start the day before riding away in a coach or on a bicycle.

Follow Your Nose

Just follow your nose, the smell of cooking sugar and chocolate will draw almost every visitor toward town, there’s no point in fighting it. Mackinac is famous for fudge, and no visit is complete without dropping in on one, or several, of the shops.

Murdick's is the granddaddy of them all, a Mackinac staple since 1887. That’s when father and son opened the shop making ship’s sails in the back and fudge in the front. Folks loved to stop and watch the fudge being spread and cooled on the huge marble table--they still do.

No Cars Allowed

There is plenty to see beyond the little town, too. The entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark, and more than 80 percent of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park. Bicycles may be the best way to get around, they are available to rent by the dock, or they can be brought along on the ferry for a small fee.

Perhaps the best bike route on the island is the road that runs along the shoreline. The official state highway, Michigan 185, is an easy--and gorgeous--eight mile ride on the only state route in America that doesn't allow cars.

Living History

For history buffs, a stop at Fort Mackinac is a must. Built by the British during the American Revolution, the fort changed hands a few times before the end of the War of 1812. When the war ended, the Americans held it. In 1875 it became part of Mackinac National Park, the second national park ever designated in the United States. In 1895 the park, and fort, were turned over to the state of Michigan.

Today, costumed interpreters greet visitors at the fort and portray life in the 1880s. Some play music, while others answer questions, pose for pictures, and lead tours. Items are on display from the days when the fort was manned, and some of the soldiers carry original 45-70 Springfield Model 1873 rifles, the type used at the fort during the 1880s. One not-to-be-missed highlight is the demonstration and firing of a Civil War era 1841 model six-pounder cannon that takes place several times each day.

For those wishing to spend more than a day on the island, the Grand Hotel is the ultimate address. The stunning Victorian inn has hosted five presidents, Thomas Edison, and Mark Twain, as well as serving as the setting for the films Somewhere in Time and This Time for Keeps.

The place to be in the afternoon is the Grand Hotel's famous front porch for refreshments and conversation. Proclaimed as the longest porch in the world at over six hundred feet, it was where Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated the phonograph.

If riding up to such elegant lodging on a bike seems out of place, call on one of the Grand Hotel’s fancy carriages. Arriving at the Grand in a horse-drawn coach could complete the escape to an earlier, elegant place in time.

Have you been to Mackinac Island? What was your favorite part of the experience?

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About the Author

The GypsyNesters

The GypsyNesters, a RoamRight Blog Author

When their youngest child left home for college, David & Veronica experienced the collision of Baby Boomer and Empty Nester. Their response was to grab life by the horns, sell the nest, put on their vagabond shoes and become GypsyNesters! Along the way they rediscovered the fun-loving youngsters who fell in love three decades prior.


They are the authors of Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All  .


Follow their escapades on GypsyNester.com, Facebook,  Twitter,  Pinterest,  YouTube and  Google Plus.

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