If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly vacation in the Midwest, Mackinac Island may be just what the doctor ordered. Located at the very tip-top of Michigan’s hand, Mackinac Island is an interesting weekend getaway that’ll magically transport you back to yester-year. With no cars allowed on the island, all inter-island transit is done via taxis, bicycles or horse-drawn carriages. Some find this ironic, seeing as Michigan was the state to revolutionize the automobile, but since 1898, this ban on cars has resulted in a clean, noise-free village ambiance that many find a welcome reprieve from the chaotic everyday world.
If you’re picturing a sleepy little historic beachfront, think again. Not just a place to disconnect, Mackinac Island has been called “the Best U.S. Island Destination” by Islands.com, “One of the Top 10 Islands in the World” from National Geographic, “One of the Best Wedding Destinations in the U.S.,” by DestinationWedding.com, “One of the Best Family Vacation Destinations” from Away.com, and “One of America’s Prettiest Parks,” according to Yahoo Travel. That’s a whole lot of accolades for a “small” town.
A perfect weekend getaway, Mackinac Island is just 4 hours from Detroit and 6 hours from Chicago. Park at the ferry dock in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, and hop on board one of the three ferry companies: Arnold Transit, Shepler’s Ferry and Star Line Ferry that serve the island year-round. A quick 15-30 minute ride, tickets cost no more than $25 round-trip, depending on the time of year and your age (kids are often free). Alternatively, you can drive across the famous Mackinac Bridge – the third longest suspension bridge in the world (although there is a toll), and simply leave your car on the other side.
Ideal for any Season
While summer clearly has the biggest draw for the beaches, at the start of October, the horses leave for their winter pasture and seasonal businesses begin to close with the last big hurrah happening Halloween weekend. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid Mackinac in the winter. Mackinac Island Ski Club ensures the trails are groomed for cross country skiing and snow shoeing during the winter months for a quieter, one-on-one place to get in touch with nature. Voted a “Top 10 Christmas Town” by HGTV, their Christmas bazaar is second to none, where January, February and March see a variety of New Years Events, a chili cook-off, and even snow volleyball on St. Patrick’s Day.
By Memorial Day, the Island is in full swing and ready for horseback riding, biking, hiking, sailing, and indoor activities which include art exhibitions, movies, shopping, and of course dining. Two of the best times to come are in June for their annual Lilac festival and August, for the annual Fudge Festival, a celebration of their signature delectable treat with a contest that challenges you to find the “Golden Ticket” a la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.