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MACKINAC ISLAND, MICHIGAN

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Mackinac Island was one of our enjoyable stops a few years ago on a road adventure up and over the top of Lake Superior. Like we did, I suggest you consider staying in St. Ignace. Motel rates in the month of May (before high season) range from $30 to $50 for two persons. For example, two of them with these prices per my AAA MapNGo program are Budget Host Inn (906-643-9666) and Bay View Beach Front Motel (906-643-9444). We stayed at a nice place called the Chalet North Motel but I don't see it listed, so perhaps it has changed names/ownership.

St. Ignace is where you take the passenger ferries over to and back from Machinac Island at your leisure - - stay all day, for example. It is a short trip by water. For starters, I suggest you take the Official Machinac Island Carriage Tour (about $10 per person) which includes your ferry fees plus a delightful complete tour of the island by horse drawn carriages. At each of several stops you can linger as long as you wish - - just take the next carriage whenever you are ready - - spend the whole day, if you wish. The next day(s) you can ferry across and back on your own if you wish and just freewheel - - rent bicycles or whatever. I hope you are a fudge lover because becoming a "Fudgie" is part of the fun - - they feature it in a profusion of delicious varieties.

Using St. Ignace as your home base, other fun things to do are take a drive north one hour to the famous Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie to watch the huge ore vessels passing through. While you are there be sure to take the rubber tire Soo Locks Tour Train for a fun and informative narrated tour of these locks and this historic city.

As you probably are aware, St. Ignace is at the north end of one of the world's engineering marvels - - the four-lane Mackinac Bridge (five miles long including its approaches) over the Straits of Mackinac. At its south end is Mackinaw City (yes, they spell it differently), a pleasant place to visit - - especially its lovely harbor area.

A short distance farther to the south there are three unusually delightful lakeside communities well worth visiting. One is PETOSKEY (including its enchanting Gas Light District and nearby Harbor Springs). Lovely CHARLEVOIS is another with its drawbridge, shops and restaurants all located along the main street next to its quaint harbor. Have lunch or dinner at an old harbor restaurant to savor freshly-caught whitefish from Lake Michigan. This is cherry country (1/2 million cherry trees) so check out a shop called American Spoon Foods for some taste testing of their delectable delights. LELAND is the third place with its fascinating harbor area called "Fishtown". Old Mission lighthouse built in 1870 at the nearby tip of Old Mission Peninsula is exactly half-way between the North Pole and the Equator. Nearby Traverse City is a major tourism headquarters for this region and is loaded with motels, etc.

One hour south of Saginaw along Interstate 75 there is another place well worth visiting on your way to or from St. Ignace - - FRANKENMUTH which is known as Michigan's Little Bavaria. Many of its buildings feature charming Bavarian schemes. Check out the Frankenmuth Cheese Factory offering free samples and tours. Don't miss enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner at the beautiful and most impressive Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn, and you might enjoy checking out nearby Bronner's Christmas Store (the largest in the world) open 12 months of the year. Its huge parking lot features several unique outdoor Christmas displays.

Along the western side of the peninsula a couple of the other places we especially enjoyed were Holland, Grand Haven (its waterfront fountain and light show is the largest in the world) Ludington (check out its Old Hamlin Restaruant, the town's oldest eating establishment)

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. In our 67,000 miles of North American road adventures these are some of the more memorable places we visited and recall in this region. You are welcome to Email me if you believe I might be of further help.

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