My interest in visiting this place arose ever since I watched the movie Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The majority of the movie was filmed there with some parts filmed in Chicago. Funny thing is, in the film, Reeve is seen driving up Lake Shore heading north and seconds later he pulls into the hotel driveway with his convertible. There are no cars on Mackinac Island and you have to take a ferry to get there (unless you have a private plane and utilize the island’s small airport). Of course the story was set that way but I always envisioned driving up there myself.
The Boat Ride
We took the Shepler Ferry to the island on a most breathtaking ride. Endless blue sky and blue waters. If you ever go, make sure to sit on the upper deck seating. You may get splashed a bit but it is exhilarating. Going through the Straits of Mackinac with ever-expanding horizons of both Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, I was amazed at the clarity and cleanness. You could see to the bottom when you left port and the air was wonderfully fresh.
Quite charming is the impression you get once you step off the ferry. As you start to meander thru the hilly streets, you notice private residences. They are just as charming and curious. I assume the families who settled there passed on their properties to offspring. I can’t imagine how much it would cost to live there! Of course, the Michigan governor has a summer residence there near the old fort.
And don’t forget the fudge! There’s never not a fudge shop around. After all Michigan is the nation’s fudge capital of the world. There’s plenty of cozy and packed eateries. You’re never far from souvenir shops, bike rentals, a haunted house attraction and several smaller quaint hotels.
You can make your way around on foot, on bike (bring your own or rent) or take a horse taxi. The Grand Hotel offers their own taxis for $5/ride to and from the hotel and downtown. Any way you go is memorable although if on foot, you must be careful not to step on any horse manure! As for taking the horse taxi, well if you sit front row, you may be greeted by the sight of a horse expelling poop. Yup that happened but luckily we were siting in the second row!
History Fact: Michillimackinac is a Native American word that was used for the island. It meant “The Great Turtle” named for it’s shape.
Architecturally the hotel exudes old world style and northern American charm. The hotel boasts of having “the world’s longest porch”. The porch is lined with white rocking chairs where you can sit and order drinks and hors d’oeuvres while contemplating general bliss of life around you.
Inside the hotel is even grander, with beautiful, colorful furniture and bustling staff and chattering hotel guests. There was a harpist inside the lobby drenched in opulent velvety green. On the ground level are small shops, a spa, eateries and an ice cream parlor. I spotted several notables in a photo gallery on the wall, among them, native Michigander, Mitt Romney on his visit to the Grand Hotel.
The landscaped grounds contain a vast array of florals drawing monarch butterflies fluttering against the backdrop of the white and turquoise facade of the Grand Hotel. The staff is seasonal as our server at the Jockey Club told us that it was his fifth season there and that he was from Jamaica.
The Jockey Club
Speaking of the Jockey Club. We decided to eat at the Grand Hotel’s outdoor eatery next to a small pristine golf course. While the dinner menu was extravagantly pricey, the lunch menu was a good deal. We ordered Chicken Salad on Croissant and a Grilled Burger, both served with fries, coleslaw and free drink refills. I enjoyed trying a cup of their Pecan Soup, which was beyond delicious!