First, let’s get the pronunciation correct. It looks like it should be pronounced mack-i-nac….but it really is pronounced ma-kuh-naa (naw).
The only way to get to the island is by boat and no cars are allowed on the island. You get around by foot, bike or horse drawn carriages which also act as their taxis. It is also around a fifty minute drive from Petoskey to the City Dock in Mackinac City where you get tickets and board Star Line. They leave every fifteen minutes so you don’t have to worry.
It was slated to be a rainy cool day; however the humidity level was high (I can always tell by the curls forming on my head). We don’t let a little rain (or a lot) stop us from exploring so we threw on our rain jackets and headed to the dock.
The boat ride was a very easy ride that took around 18 minutes one way. Our boat was relatively empty going to the island. In my head I was envisioning getting off the boat in this quiet, quaint little town where I would feel like I stepped back in time. Instead, we got off and I felt like I exited a cruise ship and was bombarded with tourists everywhere. And if it wasn’t the people you were dodging it was the horse poop in the road! The smell was a delightful first impression.
Knowing that this island had to have some appeal to it we told the kids we just need to walk and get away from the center of town. So if we went down Main Street which did remind us of Disney’s Main Street a little bit. Between the people, horse poop and puddles of water (that was brown so we were certain in was poop too) we managed to get far enough up where the crowd was certainly thinning out.
We seem to have a pattern of stopping to eat right when we get to the place we are visiting I think to knock it off the list, as well as, it’s approaching lunch time. All the restaurants we passed by the dock were packed so we were excited when we saw Winchester’s with no line Eli and I ran over. I walked in and we were able to be seated right away.
Betsie had pretzel rods and Brussels sprout chips (they were so good), Eli had a burger, AC and I split the same burger as Eli (it was yummy) and Will tried the fish and chips (they are known for their planked whitefish from the Straits of Mackinac Island) and it tasted like fish and chips in England.
After lunch Betsie explored a few shops (Poppies was a favorite) for us and we continued exploring a little further down Main Street. It was disappointing the fog was so thick as it definitely didn’t give you the picturesque vibes we were anticipating. However, you could get a feel for how cute the island was once you got away from all the tourists.
The rain started to pick up so Will, Eli and AC started walking fast towards the Grand Hotel and I walked meeting Betsie halfway to catch up with her. Once we caught up with each other we walked to the Grand Hotel to meet up with the rest of the family. On our walk we kept seeing people with rain ponchos on and I said I need to get one for Anna Cate as her legs were getting soaked in the wheelchair. I asked every person we saw where the bought theirs from and of course not one answer was on the island. However, one sweet girl (she had on a Myrtle Beach sweatshirt…which definitely got this Enneagram 7 talking) offered to give me the one she was wearing for Anna Cate! I said she was incredibly kind but she needed it too and I am sure I would find one soon.
Right after meeting this sweet girl we rounded the corner to the Grand Hotel. What a view, on a rainy cloudy day….I can only imagine it on a sunny day. Being in this part of Mackinac Island was a completely different experience than being at the center where we exited the boat. Wow!
As we were walking up the hill I stopped to take a picture of this sign. The seriously charge you to come in, however, I’m sure you could have gotten away with not paying if you wanted to. We were thankful to get in our of the rain and our first stop was the gift shop to look for a poncho. And they had them!
Not knowing anything about the Grand Hotel other than it used to be one of the most expensive hotels in America, we immediately got The Greenbrier vibes. Dorothy Draper definitely had her hand in decorating The Grand Hotel! When we got the ponchos I asked and they said yes. There were so many similarities between the two places, but this hotel felt more congested than it does at the Greenbrier. I think it’s because of all the tourists who flock up to see it too.
Will and I enjoyed one drink on America’s largest front porch while we let the kids have some downtime inside. One of our kids used her time for a little cat nap!
Right when we decided to explore some more a steady rain started up again. There was one other place, The Arch, I wanted to see however it was so foggy I knew it would be very anticlimactic. Instead we headed back into the center to grab a few things before getting in line for the boat back to the mainland.
Oh my the line! It was long and the rain was coming down. Wills held cover under an area to keep AC dry while the kids and I stood in line. While I would give anything for AC not to have special needs and be in a wheelchair, you do need to find the silver lining at times. Yesterday, it was like getting a fast pass at Disney where you go to the top of the line! A nice guy saw AC and Will and directed them to the front and we joined along. The boat was already pretty crowded, but we all got seats (except Will who stood next to AC).
Will talked with a really nice guy who worked at one of the inns on the island and I talked to the man sitting next to me who has lived on the island for thirty-five years. Both said this weather is not normal for this time of year and the best time to visit is in September when the leaves change and the crowds thin out. The worst time is July 4th or anytime around it.
Once off the boat the kids and I dodged puddles and small ponds to get to the car to drive it around to pick up AC and Will. The whole car ride home (to the RV) Betsie kept reminding us no shoes allowed in the RV and she was going to wash them in the washing machine. No one argued as the streets were pretty nasty, especially with the rain.
I kinda hit the cranky wall when we got back and needed twenty minutes of alone time. I think it was I have enjoyed not being in crowds of people this whole trip and the crowds and final boat ride did me in! AC and Eli had downtime too while Betsie washed our shoes and Will made pizzas for dinner.
Luckily we have a huge awning on the RV which makes cooking outside doable when it rains. Will brought his Gozney Roccbox on the RV for pizza nights. They are always so good!
Our RV resort had a food truck last night so we were able to get Pineapple Dole-whip for dessert. It was delicious and refreshing as well as the perfect dessert since I thought Main Street reminded me of Disney.
By the time we got in bed it was another late night and we knew between the rain coming in the morning and how we would be exploring close to the RV resort we could sleep in in the morning.
Mackinac Island definitely needs a second chance when it’s not crowded!