As teased in my Adventures in Food and Word blog, my boyfriend and partner in crime Greg and I spent two days and one night on Mackinac (mack-ih-naw) Island. We caught the Star Line out from St. Ignace on Sunday morning that takes you underneath the Mackinac Bridge, which I had never done before and was really excited about!! At 5 miles long, the Mighty Mac is just such an amazing feat of architecture and so pretty.
There is a TON to do on Mackinac Island. One day was definitely not enough for us, and even with two days we had to cut some things out. We did take the horse-drawn carriage tour (cars are not allowed in the Island) which took us down the trails, up to Arch Rock, and by the Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac. But in our meanderings, we came across a lot of hidden gems, like the garden behind a cottage on the western side of downtown that had a bunch of hidden objects to find, like a live-action Where's Waldo! (We found about half the objects before becoming frustrated and moving on.)
The nice thing about taking the horse-drawn tour is that it drops you at some key points like the Butterfly House and Fort Mackinac. The Mackinac Island Butterfly House is one of the best butterfly houses Greg and I have visited on our various vacations. It is not large, but it is packed with butterflies. There were also a few fairy communities where the butterflies liked to hang out, a fountain, and many lovely plants. It's a great place for adults and children as evidenced by the little girl running around declaring to everyone she came across with the utmost excitement: "Butterflies!!" The butterflies were quite sociable and accommodating. When Greg struggled to get an adequate picture of my favorite blue and black butterfly for me, it decided to land on his hand. Another butterfly, not wanting to be left out, landed on his cap and I snapped a few photos. All I had land on me was a ladybug who caught a ride in my hair to the gift shop where she was intercepted by an attendant and brought back inside. (Nice try, lady.)
After the Butterfly House we headed to Arch Rock with some of the prettiest views from the Island, then finished up at Fort Mackinac, which I have not visited since I was a small child. I remember that I missed the cannon firing back then because I had to use the restroom and couldn't hold it long enough to watch the cannon. This time, I saw the cannon fire! And it was loud. We also watched them fire some antique rifles. We spent a lot more time at the Fort than I had thought we would. It was that entertaining!
I emphatically do not recommend stopping at the Fort's tea room for lunch. The food was overpriced, mediocre in flavor, and we were repeatedly rushed to GTFO when we were only one of three parties seated on the prime location, the balcony. Also, it has about as much resemblance to a tea room as Burger King. Yes, the view from the balcony is spectacular. But it is the exact same view you can get from the Fort walls above where you are not required to fork over good money for a milk-toast lunch. I was not disappointed. I was offended. Luckily, the bed and breakfast we were staying at, Cloghaun, serves tea every afternoon from 3 to 5 and I was able to resolve the bad tea with good tea.
Speaking of Cloghaun, it is not only an adorable 1800s style Victorian home (the bathrooms have clawfoot tubs), it is the best deal on the Island. I have stayed there twice now and would find it difficult to stay anywhere else. They offer a homemade breakfast every morning and afternoon tea (with home-baked snacks) free to all guests. The front porch is oh-so-cozy and the gardens are lovely and well-laid. Everything about Cloghaun is absolutely delightful.
Our first night on the Island, we went on a ghost tour, which was so much fun! Our group was really into it, asking questions, cracking tasteful jokes, and so were a few people who were not a part of the group at all. While the guide was telling us one particular story, someone snuck up behind us and screamed, causing more than a few people to jump and yell themselves. This guide, Lily, was my favorite of the two I've had, though my last guide on a previous trip a few years ago was terribly amusing because he was afraid of bats and would often take off running squealing like a small child in the middle of telling a story because a bat had swooped too close.
Some of the things that we did not do that I had wanted to do were touring the Stone Church and going inside the Grand Hotel. The last time I was up on the famous front porch, they didn't charge for the privilege. It would have been nice to not necessarily bike the whole Island (I've done this twice before), but visit some of the places along that trail. I did finally make it to Harrisonville, the collection of houses in the middle of the Island where the people who live on the Island year-round bunker down. It looked like a lot of neighborhoods near where I grew up, except there were no driveways (no cars, remember?).
Another place you should stop is Draught House located at the end of the Star Line dock. They serve Violin Monster beer! We were pleased to inform the bartender that not only was that a real person, but we knew him personally. I quite enjoyed the draft root beer, soup, and sweet potato fries, and it was nice to sit inside while waiting for our ferry. There is a television screen of the docks so you can see when the ferry arrives and hopefully run out fast enough to catch it.
And catch it we did. The ferry back to the mainland again took us under the bridge, and we were lucky enough to watch a rainstorm raging over Mackinaw City to the south while the skies overhead were mostly clear and blue. It was very cool.
Next up: Munising and Marquette in the U.P. We saw old shipwrecks! And I took pictures.