Michigan - Holland and Mackinac Island

Old May 29th, 2009, 08:17 PM
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Michigan - Holland and Mackinac Island

My husband and I are planning a trip to Michigan from Chicago. We're interested in Holland and Mackinac Island. The intended time frame is the latter part of June or early July. We only have 4-5 days (including 1 weekend), and we're wondering whether we should spend the weekend in Holland or save it for Mackinac Island. Our consideration factors are: 1) crowds, and 2) business hours for shops & attractions.

Secondly, we're also looking for accommodations recommendations.

Anyone with experience who can share some thoughts to help with our planning? Thanks in advance!
corduroy is offline  
Old May 30th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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How much driving do you want to do? Holland is an easy[2-3] hour drive from Chicago, Mackinac Island would be closer to a full days drive.

The Island will be crowded during the day but quiets down after the last ferry leaves. We love riding bikes and visiting the fort. The only time I've stayed on the Island was at the Grand Hotel which is very expensive but includes breakfast and dinner.

Holland gives you more choices for activities, including Saugatuk & Grand Haven. When visiting this area we usually camp.

Good luck with your planning.

ST
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Old May 30th, 2009, 07:40 PM
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We're planning to leave on a Friday and then come back the following Wed or Thurs, so we have time to go to both places (Holland/Saugatuk/Grand Haven as well as Mackinac Island). Would it be better to go to Mackinac first and spend the weekend there, or go to the Holland area first?

Is the Holland area generally less crowded than Mackinac Island?

I've heard good things about the Grand Hotel as well, but it is extremely pricey (~$600 / night).
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Old May 30th, 2009, 08:07 PM
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Might I suggest going to Mackinac Island not on the weekend - traffic to and from the UP is terrible on weekends!!
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 04:53 AM
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I agree with Sunnyshine's statement above - traffic to and from the Bridge area (Mackinac Bridge) is pretty rough on the weekends. Not impossible, but if you really want to enjoy the area, better to do it on a weekday.

Just a note here - both Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City are pronounced the same way (with an "aw" at the end) - they're just spelled differently.

Mackinaw City is a great little town with lots of touristy gift shops, a rich history (there's a lighthouse and fort to check out), so don't just drive through it and head for the island. You'll find lots of shopping and scenery in the town as well. Just a warning though - pretty much everything you wish to see will cost you money - the fort, the lighthouse, crossing the bridge, traveling to and from the island on a ferry boat (very pricey), eating on the island, etc.

With that said, the island itself is a fantastic place to visit, with a rich Native American & military history, fabulous hotels (The Grand Hotel can be seen from the mainland - that's how big it is), beautiful gardens and landscaping, quaint little shops and restaurants, etc. No cars are allowed on the island, with the exception of emergency vehicles (fire truck, etc) - and one time when a movie was filmed there - "Somewhere in Time", starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. Travel on the island is on foot, horseback, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. There are guided tours to the entire island, which will highlight the natural land formations and locations of important events in the island's history. Be sure to take a tour and to visit the fort on the island. There's also a butterfly house on the island that's really cool to visit. Wear a bright colored shirt, and the butterflies will land on you!

Bring sunscreen and jackets - the Mackinac area is very fickle when it comes to weather - it can change in a moment. You can count on it being several degrees cooler by the water than it is further inland, and wind is often a factor. (Being from Chicago, I'm sure you know that, though!)

All in all, even though expensive, the island is worth the trip - even if you only do it once. Just try to go during the week instead of on the weekend, and you can avoid the crowds!

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 04:55 AM
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Oh, just a remark about the Grand Hotel - yes, it's VERY pricey. They pride themselves on their history and quality of service - but you'll pay for it. It's better not to stay the night on the island at all, but to find a nice hotel in Mackinaw City, or across the bridge in St. Ignace.

You used to be able to walk on the hotel's porch for free, as it boasts one of the longest porches in the world - but no longer. Now they charge you to even set foot on the porch.
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 05:30 AM
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What a great trip you're planning. We love Saugatuk, Grand Haven and Mackinac Island. We stayed on the Island while there. We would have loved to afforded the Grand but instead just had lunch there which I recommend. You can then go out on that huge porch and sit and rock and look at the scenery and activity below. We stayed here at the Chippewa Hotel which is located in the middle of town and on the harbor waterfront where you can watch the ferries come and go http://www.chippewahotel.com/ If interested, do not get a room in front that faces the street...too noisey and they are small. Take a harbor view room with a balcony. Also, recommend renting bikes and biking the island. The path runs right next to the water.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 08:01 AM
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Oh, just another heads up about an event going on late in June in St. Ignace, which is across the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City. I don't know if you're interested or not, but there's a major antique car show that goes on the weekend of the 25th of June in St. Ignace. It means increased traffic in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, but it's also a neat event to attend if you like that sort of thing.
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