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Mackinac Island’s Old School Charm

Want to relax? I mean REALLY relax? There’s an island that I found more soothing than Jamaica, Hawaii or Greece.  It’s Mackinac Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Like all islands it has the allure of a separate world cut off from the rest–and yet it’s what it doesn’t have that becomes the real draw.  Automobiles. There are no cars on Mackinac Island as they’ve been banned since 1896. Talk about forward thinking–Ford’s Model T wasn’t introduced until 1908.

When you arrive on an island with no cars you feel their absence immediately and realize that all the time waiting in holiday traffic, searching for parking or just looking both ways before you cross is so much better spent surrendering to an island’s pristine forests and trails, grand Victorian cottages and 7 fudge shops.  The island is home to 600 Clydesdales, Morgans and Percherons and getting around is mainly done by horse and buggy, bicycle as well as your own two feet.

What the Fudge? The island is so known for the confection that Fudge is its own clickable category on the tourism website, second only to Getting There and Accommodations. 


Tip: June 7-16th is the annual Lilac Festival.  I have ALWAYS wanted to travel for lilacs.

Have you vacationed on Mackinac Island?  Share your favorite flavor of fudge in the comments section!


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This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. I’m from Michigan so most of my first traveling memories are here with my parents and sister. I always liked the almond chocolate fudge because my dad did. Go figure.

  2. Samantha You are amazing! I want to talk to you more about traveling and your experiences!


  3. So glad you finally went to Mackinac! I always wished you would do the Grand Hotel on Great Hotels. This island was one of my favorite places growing up. I’ve tried all the fudge companies and my favorite is Joann’s; flavor: all of them.

  4. Loved our visit to Mackinac Island several years ago. We had no idea there was such a gem. Thoroughly enjoyed our short day trip. Hope to go back and spend more time, would love it during the lilac festival. Must be heaven with that fragrant odor filling the air!

  5. I have heard of this place and I’m so glad you went there and wrote about it.. I definitely plan on going there. I love Jamaica, so if it’s more relaxing than there, I’ll never want to leave.

  6. Had the pleasure of going to the island and staying for two nights about 15 or so years ago. It is a wonderful get-there-by-boat, car-free, travel-by-bike place! There were issues with the main underground electric cable from to mainland while we were there and having almost no electricity while there made it even more magical, somehow! Would love to go back sometime…

  7. I grew up near Mackinac and the locals would call the visitors fudgies because they would always leave with fudge!

  8. The first time we stayed at the Grand Hotel was July 3rd, 1979. That turned out to be quite memorable indeed. Unknown to us at the time they were filming the movie Somewhere In Time. The most memorable moment occured when the extras came into the dinning room to eat lunch and were followed shortly after by Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer. They sat right next to us.

    1. Yes, it is in Lake Huron between Michigan’s upper peninsula (UP) and lower peninsula. The island is part of Mackinaw County which is in the UP.

    2. David, it’s right in the straits of Mackinac! You can see the island from the Mackinac Bridge and the Bridge from the island!

  9. I’m from the U.P. and I go to the isand almost every summer.
    Ever since the movie “Somewhere in Time” with Jane Seymore and Christopher Reeve came out, I’ve wanted to stay at the Grand Hotel. It’s just a bit above my travel budget, though.
    PS. I love all the flavors of fudge!

  10. We honeymooned there 40 years ago and go back every five years to celebrate. You are right about the relaxation factor. When that last ferry leaves the island in the evening, it is so peaceful. An overnight stay is a must. Sitting there listening to the clip clop of the horses or walking through the trails… Ahhh! Can’t wait to go back this summer!

  11. As a native of Michigan but a resident of Virginia, we love to vacation in Northern Michigan and the UP. Mackinaw is a favorite especially as 85% of the island is a State Park. This summer we’re going to travel “around the mitten.” Can’t wait. Favorite flavor of fudge: chocolate peanut butter.

  12. We stayed on the island a few years ago. Of course, the fudge was yummy, but we loved renting a bicycle and riding around the whole island. It was so quiet and no cars to worry about! We liked passing and seeing some of the houses, but our biggest thrill on the ride was seeing an otter swimming along in the lake and then coming ashore to use the “otter potty”. We want to have more time some day to walk up to the fort, and hike some of the trails. And definitely will not miss another bike ride!

  13. I am from Michigan and spent three nights of our honeymoon Lake Michigan Circle Tour on Mackinac Island. Love that you discoved it and are promoting it!

  14. we live in Michigan, love the Lakes, especially Superior. We have spent two short weekends on the Island. It’s so peaceful when you spend the night and things quiet down. Then in the morning you get to hear the horses clopping and the place waking up again. Bicycling around the island is simply great.

  15. I just spent a few days on the island this summer and I loved how peaceful it was. We couldn’t get a hotel on the island so we stayed in Mackinaw City and took the ferry over in the morning. The lunch in the Grand Hotel was the highlight for us! We also stopped in Frankenmuth, MI which is a quaint German village with a large Christmas shop and fabulous food.

  16. After waiting 24 years to finally get to Mackinac Island. I fell in love with it. We were there for two days which was long enough to see everything we wanted to see. Being a fudge lover, I was in heaven with all the fudge shops. I can’t wait to go back!

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