If a famed 131-year-old hotel located on a small island could be the embodiment of Independence Day itself, it would be Michigan’s Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Today, modern travelers can literally turn back the hands of time with a visit to Michigan’s Mackinac Island to stay at the Grand Hotel. The island is filled with horse-drawn carriages as they are the primary mode of transportation—no cars allowed! In fact, the 600 year-round residents only outnumber the horses by 100.
The streets are lined with stately regal homes, a few even looking like miniature White House replicas, many boasting gingerbread-house detailing and fantastic, lush floral landscapes.
Known as the jewel of the Great Lakes in Michigan, this island and Mackinac Island hotels are just enchanting, even moreso punctuated by the Grand Hotel. If you love traditional architecture, vintage homes and period-correct renovations, this is the place for you. The streets are lined with stately regal homes, a few even looking like miniature White House replicas, many boasting gingerbread-house detailing and fantastic, lush floral landscapes.
At ICONIC, we love exploring charming and historical locales, like Italian Tuscan estates and Parisian street front eateries, but here on the island there is a stateside charm that just can’t be rivaled.
The town itself is a pedestrian delight. See the sights via bicycle, surrey or a horse-drawn carriage for four that you can drive yourself via Rent a Buggy. History comes to life at Fort Mackinac, a former military outpost where you can even fire the iconic cannon. And you can easily spend the afternoon exploring Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.
As you are planning your places to stay and visit while on Mackinac Island, Chocolate-aholics will find themselves in cacao heaven as Mackinac Island is known as America’s Fudge Capital, so be sure to try the samples and take some home as a souvenir (we recommend Murdick’s Fudge Shop). Don’t miss the charming Shepler Ferry that takes passengers from the mainland and deposits them right on the most touristy Main Street of Mackinac.
So much of what you want to see is within walking distance of the historic Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, which opened in 1887 with rates back then ringing in at $3 to $5 per night. For the first decade, Thomas Edison’s phonograph demos graced the longest hotel front porch in the world along with talks by the famous American author Mark Twain. Later, movies starring Jimmy Durante, Esther Williams, Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour would be filmed against the majestic backdrop of the white, wooden hotel. At ICONIC, we love exploring charming and historical locales, like Italian Tuscan estates and Parisian street front eateries, but island hotels here are a stateside charm that just can’t be rivaled.
Upon arrival at Michigan’s Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, you will be taken to a bygone era featuring turn-of-the-century upholstered furniture and ornate wallpapers. If you arrive in the late afternoon, you’ll see ladies dressed for high tea in the parlor and tuxedoed wait staff serving Champagne and tea sandwiches on vintage china. By night, the hotel’s dress code is formal and dancing in the ballroom is a daily affair.
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Every guest room is uniquely designed by interior designer Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Company in New York in bright, summer-vacation colors, and several are named after First Ladies including Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Reagan, Mrs. Bush (both 41st and 43rd) and Mrs. Clinton.
If you can, splurge for the Grand Hotel’s four-bedroom Masco Cottage on Michigan’s Mackinac Island hotels, where you will be treated with dinner service in the cottage, nightly happy hour hors d’oeuvres and wine, breakfast, and a gorgeous patio of its own that allows nightly relaxation to the sound of horses making their way past the hotel. A fully-stocked kitchen and jacuzzi for the entire group adds to the stay.
Photo by Laura Novak
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Your trip to Mackinac Island should also embrace the richer offerings that happen off the Main Street and after the last ferry departs from the harbor.
Bike the island. It’s a complete loop to Arch Rock through Mackinac State Park through town and back to the hotel. The loop is an easy, flat ride, except the detour up to Arch Rock, which is a steep bicycling climb perhaps not for everyone, but worth the challenge.
HAUNTS OF MACKINAC WALKING TOUR
The history of Mackinac is rich with military forts, historic churches, and lots of old homes and hotels, ripe for ghost stories and rumors of current-day sightings. You’ll learn some history and enjoy the lively tour guides on the Haunts of Makinac nighttime walking tour.
Upon waking up at the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, enjoy a lunchtime, afternoon, or sunset sail by Sail Mackinac with Captain Dave and his first mate Sam on their 50-foot racing sailboat. Captain Dave formerly raced the sailboat, and now enjoys the life of touring guests through the Straits of Mackinac.
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