Cross over the Mackinac Bridge to another place in time

By Guest Author, Belinda Brewer

View of Mackinac Bridge from the island

Cross over the Mackinac Bridge to another place in time.  Remember the movie from 1980 entitled “Somewhere in Time”? The movie was filmed on Mackinac Island. The island still remains as it was in the early 1900s, before televisions, computers, or cell phones — when life was simple, without the interruptions we have today. There is no bridge directly to the island, but you cross over the bridge and catch the ferry to the island. Read about the top things to do on Mackinac Island.

Picturesque view of Mackinac Island from ferry

Mackinac Island, an unforgettable trip

A few years ago, I went with three girlfriends on a road trip to remember. One of the favorite places we visited was Mackinac Island, (pronounced mak-inaw) Michigan.

Overlook from the top of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
Overlook from the top of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Travel to an island captured in times gone by

After discovering Mackinac island from the movie, I vowed one day to visit.  The whole idea that a place like that existed today fascinated me. So when the opportunity for a girlfriend trip arose, I was anxious to go!

Journey to Mackinac Island on the Star-Line Ferry

Take the Star-Line Ferry to the Island

After traveling north through Michigan, we crossed over the Mackinac Bridge. The suspension bridge is over the Straits of Mackinac connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan.  Excitement and anticipation came over us as we boarded the passenger Star-Line Ferry to the island.   

Stay at Murray Hotel on Main Street

Upon arrival at the Murray Hotel on Main Street, we entered the door and immediately smelled the freshly-cooked fudge displayed under glass.  

Taste delicacies at the Murray Hotel Fudge Shop
Taste delicacies at the Murray Hotel Fudge Shop

The atmosphere in the hotel transported us back in time.  There were floral wallpapers from bygone days, wooden staircases with photographs from the hotel’s early years, a working grandfather clock, and narrow hallways leading to the rooms decorated with antique furnishings.  

Brightly colored bikes wait for riders along Main Street in Mackinac

Take a stroll or bike ride down Main Street

After check-in, we walked down Main Street, lined with shops where floral baskets were hanging from each street light leading through this enchanted small town.  

There were horse-drawn carriages and bikes everywhere since these were their only means of transportation on the island.  It was easy to imagine you were in the early 1900s. Automobiles, motorcycles, and buses are not allowed.

Little Stone Church along our path at Mackinac Island
Little Stone Church along our path
Picket fences with pastel flowers adorn the town on Mackinac Island
Picket fences painted in Foxgloves adorn the town

Picket fences make the perfect backdrop

The charming picket fences around town made the perfect backdrop for our trip. As we walked through town, we saw small, wood-framed homes shaded by huge oak trees and lush shrubbery. The lawns were vibrant bright shades of green and the flower gardens popped with color. Picket fences were very popular in this era.  Stone-clad churches lined our paths.

Windermere Bed & Breakfast on Mackinac Island
Windermere Bed & Breakfast on Mackinac

The island’s footprint is only 3.8 square miles

We were impressed by the friendliness of everyone we met, and we were just amazed at the sheer beauty of this tiny island.  Mackinac’s total size is only 3.8 square miles with eight miles of shoreline. Most of the buildings and homes were painted in white and pastels, which created a truly captivating background.

Classic view of The Grand Hotel from the ferry
Hostess pedals antique coca-cola cooler along massive front porch at the Grand Hotel
Hostess pedals antique coca-cola cooler along massive front porch at the Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel

One of our first stops was the Grand Hotel on the hill, overlooking the downtown area.  We toured this hotel that was built in 1887. To see things exactly as they would have been in that era was very impressive:  a fresh flower stand, a Coca-cola box sitting atop a pedal bike offering cold colas in glass bottles, and bellhops dressed in colorful uniforms.  An attendant waited near the exit of the restrooms with warm linen cloths for your hands.


Our carriage driver dressed in period clothing on Mackinac Island
Our carriage driver dressed in period clothing

The drivers of the hotel’s horse-drawn carriages wore black top hats with suits and ties.

Lighthouse overlooks the Straits on Mackinac Island
Lighthouse overlooks the Straits

The Cupola Bar

We had lunch and drinks in the Cupola Bar of the Grand Hotel, overlooking the island.  We enjoyed our lunch while sitting at the highest point of the hotel in a room full of windows.  The view of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Mackinac Bridge, and the island left me with memories to last a lifetime. We later toured the grounds of the hotel, finding some of the movie backdrops and special locations used for memorable scenes.

Bike paths line the shoreline of Mackinac Island
Bike paths line the shoreline of Mackinac Island

Rent bikes for an easy ride around the island

Riding bikes was one of the highlights of my day. The biking course was level with amazing views of both lakes and the straits, the shoreline, tall grasses, and wildflowers.  We stopped at several rock beaches and a small park for ice cream along the way. It was an incredible blue-sky day. I felt like the good Lord had created it for us in this gorgeous landscape.

 Pink sky at sunset closes our perfect day at Mackinac Harbor
Pink sky at sunset closes our perfect day at Mackinac Harbor

Fort Mackinac still looks as though it is guarding the island

That evening after dinner, we walked through the park and marina, taking photos and soaking in the memory of the day.  Fort Mackinac, with loads of history, sat atop the hill above. In the park, people were sitting on the grass lawn talking, walking dogs, and laughing. Like us, they seemed to be letting the ambiance of this magical place sink in.

Front door carriage service awaits you at the Grand Hotel
Front door carriage service awaits you at the Grand Hotel

Horse-drawn carriage rides are a must

The next day we enjoyed a horse-drawn carriage ride, winding through wooded paths lined plentiful with wild ferns, military cemeteries, and official town buildings that had been there since the town was founded.  

One of many carriages in the antique museum

Butterfly Conservatory and Antique Carriage Museum are entertaining

We visited the butterfly conservatory, filled with hundreds of beautifully colored butterflies. We toured the antique carriage museum, which displays carriages used before the invention of the automobile. A working blacksmith shop is on site.

Lush vegetation along the paths of Mackinac Island
Lush vegetation along the paths of Mackinac Island

Stop and listen to the silence

I remember noticing the absence of noise.  You could hear the birds singing, the wind moving through the trees, and the horses’ hooves pounding on the road.

A mix of aromas were in the air from the restaurants and the sea breezes.

Make your own pebble stacks along the Mackinac beach trails
Make your own pebble stacks along the Mackinac beach trails

Don’t pass up a chance to visit Mackinac Island

If you ever get the chance to visit Mackinac Island, I promise you will love this enchanting place.  I would like to return soon and share the peacefulness of this island with family and friends. It is a place you can feel “Father Time” actually slowing.  

Old Glory waves goodbye against the blue Michigan sky

Michigan, the “Blue State,” is full of beauty

The State of Michigan is known as the “Blue State” because of so much natural beauty in the parks, and plentiful lakes and rivers.  Whether you are on a girlfriend trip or on a romantic getaway, take the time to go and enjoy this island and what life was like over 100 years ago.



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