Stepping off the ferry, I was transported back in time. There are no cars or any type of motorized vehicles allowed on Mackinac Island, a 3.8-mile land mass located between lower Michigan and its upper peninsula.
For real — NO motorized vehicles! Even the fire engine is pulled by horses. You can bring bicycles on the ferry, or rent one from the many bicycle shops on the island.
The only way to get there is by boat. Multiple ferries take off from Saint Ignace, Mich., for a 30-minute ferry ride to the island. Coming into the beautiful harbor you look up to see gorgeous houses on the hills, and Fort Mackinac topping it off. www.mackinacferry.com/mackinac-island-packages-18
I was not prepared for how busy the island would be. There are bikes, horses, and people everywhere. Make sure to look down when you cross the street or you will likely step in horse poop!
We chose the Star Line horse drawn carriage tour. The first part of the tour takes you to the Surrey Hills Museum. It’s an antique carriage museum with horses, food, souvenirs, and the famous Mackinac Island fudge. The kids had fun checking out the horses and playing on the grounds. We loaded up on Murdick’s Fudge and headed back out on our horse drawn carriage. www.originalmurdicksfudge.com/stores/mackinac-island
The next stop was the amazing Arch Rock. We walked up the stairs to look out over Lake Huron and we felt like we were looking out over the Caribbean ocean. I didn’t know the Great Lakes could look that way!
The final stop on the horse drawn carriage tour is Fort Mackinac. They have exhibits on the full history of Mackinac Island, including medical care, and a kid’s quarters. The kids loved the old-time dress up, photo ops, guns, and all the buttons they could push and ropes they could pull. People can also participate in a practice drill with historically dressed officers right in the middle of the Fort. www.mackinacparks.com/parks-and-attractions/fort-mackinac
A must do is the Fort Mackinac Tea Room. It is located on a balcony overlooking downtown Mackinac and the harbor. It gives you one of the most amazing views in all of Michigan! Our waiter was really nice, entertaining the kids by balancing water glasses on his head. www.grandhotel.com/dining/fort-tea-room
Mackinac Island has amazing restaurants, making it hard to pick where to go. And yummy, yummy fudge at every corner! If you’re looking for a reasonably priced meal, then Mighty Mac’s is the place for you. It’s cafeteria style and the food is OK. It has your typical kid food: hot dogs, nuggets, fries. Another option is the Pink Pony. It’s more expensive, but they have a 25 person hot tub on their patio where you can hang out. Yes, you read that right, a 25 person hot tub!
Visiting Mackinac Island was an amazing experience and something not to be missed. You can’t bring your RV on to the island, but there are great campgrounds located in Saint Ignace. However, crossing the 26,372-foot long, 200-foot high bridge to get into Saint Ignace is a nail biting trip. Especially if you are sitting in the passenger seat of your motorhome looking over the edge of the bridge! But it is worth it.
Castle Rock Campground was really nice. The sites were easy to get into, with lots of trees, a beach and a playground. They also have sites that look out over Lake Huron. The city of Saint Ignace has plenty of shops, a few museums, and a beach area. www.castlerockcampark.com
If you are planning a trip to Michigan, make sure you add Mackinac Island to your list of stops! For more information, visit the Mackinac Visitors Bureau at www.mackinacisland.org