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Trip Report Rule 1: Don't step in the brown stuff.....a long weekend on Mackinac Island

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We just returned from a quick trip to the island. It had been 18+ years since our last visit and high time to make the trip.

The drive from Chicago was uneventful, arriving around 5pm in Mackinaw City. I'd purchased our ferry tickets and parking in advance so the process was smooth. I chose the indoor, valet parking to make sure the car was secure and the wine we bought on the trip north would not spoil (the indoor option is air conditioned as well).

Rather than jumping on the next ferry, we walked a little bit to stretch our legs and stopped for a quick drink. The ferry was fairly empty and has little to no 'boat" feel; the trip takes less than 15 minutes dock to dock. We booked a room at the Mission Point resort which also provides dock to door to dock baggage service for a very reasonable fee which is included when the room is quoted.

We walked to the resort - its on one end of the island, away from the hustle and bustle yet within 10 minutes. Much of the area is exactly as we remembered (well given our ages, we hoped we were remembering correctly). We also arrived late enough that most of the day trippers were gone so it was quiet and quaint.

Our room was a lakeview king - nicely done, no musty smell at all. There is no air conditioning but the weather was cool and overcast so an open window was all we needed; a fan was also in the room for us. We opted to have dinner at the hotel the first night and had a very nice meal at the roundhouse grill. They specialize in BBQ but have a good choice of sandwiches, burgers, etc. The ribs come with your choice of 4 sauces which are brought to the table so you can mix and match.

We got up relatively early the next day and went to the spa for a couple of treatments each. The spa at Mission Point is similar to those I've been to in Northern California; if you are not staying at the resort or want a shower when you are finished, you'll need to tell them beforehand so something can be arranged. Its not like the big name places with waiting rooms, pitchers of water, fruit, robes, slippers and lux dressing rooms. My experience was great. Afterwards, we headed into town for lunch and a 'short' walk that lasted into the evening. Lunch was at Sinclairs Irish Pub; I had the whitefish cake sandwich and DH had the whitefish fish and chips. Both were excellent! Off to the Grand Hotel, some stops in galleries, a quick tour of the Grand's carriage museum (free to the public, tucked away and well worth the 15 minutes). We sat on the Grand's porch for nearly an hour and had a glass or two of wine, soaked in the view and relaxed. Then it was back to the walk - this time along Market street to see more galleries, the city museum and buy the requisite fudge. We had about an hour before our dinner reservation and decided to forego the busy Pink Pony bar on the water and found a nice, quiet one in the Island House with a water view. The bartender had some excellent suggestions for our bike ride the next day and mixed a mean chocolate martini to boot! Dinner was at the Village Inn and the famed planked whitefish did not dissappoint. It it served fresh off the grill surrounded by piped mashed potatoes and whatever fresh vegetable is in season. Amazingly fresh and tasty. After finishing dinner, we trudged back to Mission Point and camped out at the gazebo. Its a small bar/restaurant that overlooks the executive putting course and bay. Very serene (except when someone missed a putt during day-glo golf time). Up to our room and quickly asleep to the sound of horses' hoofs on the pavement below.

Our last day on the island was spent biking. We picked up the bikes, grabbed sandwiches and a bottle of wine for a picnic and started to the road. About that time, the clouds opened up and we quickly decided to eat indoors. Within 30 minutes, the storm had cleared and we headed out. The island is about 8 miles around and an easy ride. There are plenty of places to stop, take pictures and relax. We, however, decided to take the bartender's advice and headed inland up the many hills to the highest point on Mackinac. There are a couple of very old graveyards well worth exploring as well as Fort Holmes. We also rode out to StoneCliffe as we'd stayed there years before and wanted another look around. On the way back, we stopped at the Grand. It was the Festival of the Horse weekend with shows, carriage parades, exhibitions, etc . We saw some really beautiful private carriages and one display of 'dancing' horses with costumes resembling tuxedos. They danced to "puttin on the ritz' -- very cute. We returned the bikes, showered and headed back into town for our last dinner. We chose the Yankee Rebel Tavern and again, had a great dinner. DH had pistachio crusted whitefish and I had the walleye. Both were light yet filling. Dinners ranged from $40-80 for two, depending on the wine, salad/appetizer or not and entre. With fudge waiting in our room, we didn't even look at the dessert trays! After another stroll through town, a pause at Goodfellows porch to people watch and a quick stop to see where the boats were enroute to Mackinac from Chicago, coffee with baileys at the gazebo bar, we arrived back, packed and listened to the horses.

The ferry left at 8am, we had the car delivered to us and were on the way home by 8:45. All in all, a quick but fun trip. Weather was not the best, but the cool weather was welcome after the recent heat wave in the lower midwest.

Final thoughts: Mackinac is best enjoyed after the ferrys leave each day; the quiet is exquisite and the sense of time stopping is all around. The resorts all have different things to offer so pick one that suits your need for quiet, activities, views, etc and know that you'll find anything you want on the island. Talk to the locals about where to find things to do and see that a normal tourist will miss. The food we had was outstanding and very reasonably priced. Get used to the brown stuff on the pavement and enjoy the lack of mosquitos!

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