Looking to escape the humidity of Cincinnati this
summer? Then you might want to dust off your digital camera and head to
Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. Visiting the island is like
taking a stroll back in time, replete with horse-drawn carriages, quaint
Victorian architecture and a charming community of 500 permanent
residents, where the focus is on rest and relaxation.
"It's so incredibly beautiful here," says Mary
McGuire Slevin, the director of the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau.
"It's peaceful, it's pretty, and you can mosey."
Mackinac Island is also known as The Island of the
Great Turtle because of the shape of the island. Be sure to bring your
walking shoes. Cars are restricted. The best ways to get around are
walking, bicycling, horseback or horse-drawn carriages. The island is
home to more than 600 horses.
Each July, the island hosts the Mackinac Island
Festival of the Horse where visitors can tour historic Victorian barns,
watch an antique carriage show, let the kids ride a pony and hear
lectures on the role of horses in Mackinac Island's history. This year's
festival is July 20-24.
Mackinac Island has many types of architecture to
inspire visitors, including: French Rustic, Colonial Revival with The
Grand Hotel (the location of Somewhere in Time, a feature film starring
Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer), the Stick
Style, and Carpenter Gothic.
For folks who like to stay active there are
opportunities for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding in Mackinac
Island State Park, with more than 70 paved and unpaved trails available.
Golfers might want to try the Wawashkamo Golf Club, a
par 72 course that was named one of America's Historic Golf Landmarks
by Golf Digest magazine in 1996.
Enjoy a taste of Mackinac's famous fudge, a
delicious combination of sugar, butter, chocolate and cream. Mackinac
offers many fudge shops, including Murdick's, the oldest fudge shop on
the island (they have been serving fudge since the late 1880s), with
fudge options ranging from chocolate to amaretto to coconut to raspberry
According to McGuire Slevin, fudge lovers should try
May's Blueberry Fudge, a special item that appears for a short time
during the summer. If you are a vacationer obsessed with fudge
("fudgies" as the locals say), The Mackinac Island Fudge Festival is
For history buffs, Mackinac Island has many options to explore.
Take a stroll inside Fort Mackinac, where you can
witness a court martial re-enactment, hear a cannon blast and soak up
the history of an 1880s era fort. Immerse yourself in Historic Downtown
Mackinac, where visitors can enjoy examples of 18th-century
French-Canadian architecture, blacksmithing and wool spinning
demonstrations, and hear plenty of storytelling.
The allure of Northern Michigan doesn't end there. Also, consider these enticing attractions:
Mackinaw City offers the traveler a convenient home
base with access to museums, an amusement park and three historical
sites. Visit the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse for its spectacular view
of the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Bridge and the beach.
The Historic Mill Creek is a working water-powered
sawmill with interactive exhibits and access to nature trails. The
Colonial Michilimackinac, a re-creation of a 1770s fort, is a great
place to engage children in history.
It offers a number of hands-on activities, re-enactments and slides in the Kids' Rendezvous Interpretive Playground.
ISLAND LILAC FESTIVAL
This 10-day festival celebrating the beauty of
lilacs has been around since 1949. Mackinac locals and visitors will get
the opportunity to explore the world of Mackinac lilacs with activities
that include afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel, live music venues, the
coronation of the Lilac Festival queen, the Lilac Festival 10K for
adults and the Lil' Lilac Run/Walk for children, walking tours, the
Mackinac annual book sale, wine tasting and more from June 10-19.
If sitting on the beach and soaking up rays is your
idea of a great time, check out the beaches of Traverse City. With more
than 180 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline open to the public, Traverse
City is sure to be a top hit for beach lovers.
"Traverse City has always been known for its amazing
natural beauty, with our crystal-clear lakes and rivers, sugar-sand
beaches and green hills featuring orchards and vineyards," says Brad Van
Dommelen of the Traverse City Travel and Visitors Bureau. "Combine this
with our legendary friendliness and small-town charm that is seasoned
with just the right amount of sophistication, and you will see why we
have become a popular destination for people who keep coming back.
Traverse City is well known for our boutiques and galleries, our
championship golf and our arts and culture scene."
Traverse City's reputation is growing as a
destination for foodies and wine lovers, as well. "You must come see
what all the fuss is about," Van Dommelen says.
Another way to enjoy the waters of Northern Michigan
is by taking a boat ride on a Tall Ship. The Traverse Tall Ship Co.
offers many types of packages on their schooner, Manitou, including day
and evening trips, a bed and breakfast experience and specialty cruises.
Once you're finished with water activities, Traverse City offers casinos, museums, and art galleries.
NATIONAL CHERRY FESTIVAL
The annual eight-day National Cherry festival (July
2-9) in Traverse City celebrates everything "cherry." Known as America's
Cherry Capital, Traverse City throws a giant shindig with activities,
food, beverages and performances dedicated to the love of cherries.
Activities include a Family Sand Sculpture Contest, Cherry Pit Spit
Contest, air shows, cherry pie eating contests, volleyball tournament,
arts and crafts fair and Cherry Idol Contest.
OLD MISSION PENINSULA
If you are a lover of wine, Old Mission Peninsula,
located in the Grand Traverse Bay, is just the spot. Old Mission
Peninsula boasts seven wineries that host tasting events year round.
During Blossom Days (May 14-15), local wineries give guests the
opportunity to taste unreleased wines. Barrel and Reserve wines will be
showcased from each winery.
Take a ride along the Sturgeon River, the
fastest-flowing river in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Big Bear Adventures
offers rafts, canoes, tubes, kayaks and catamarans for your adventure. A
few minutes away, take a chance on spotting an elk by visiting the park
at dawn or dusk. Indian River is a great area for fishing in Crooked
and Pickerel Lakes, hiking along the North Central State Trail and
golfing at the Indian River Golf Club.
FESTIVAL ON THE BAY
The Festival on the Bay is a three-day festival Aug.
19-21 at the waterfront in Petoskey, Mich. Activities include music, a
Jiimaan Race (canoe race), Keweenaw Star Sunset Boat Cruise, an arts and
crafts show, food vendors, magic acts and juggling.
TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL
Are you a film lover? Then you might want to investigate the seventh annual Traverse City Film Festival.
The event, July 26-31, is one of the largest film
festivals in the Midwest and focuses on foreign films, American
independent productions and documentaries, sure to please any film buff.
FOR DETAILS, CHECK OUT:
The following web sites contain more information on Northern Michigan travel.