The First of Many Trips to Mackinac Island

Photo credit - Samantha ElkinsThank you to Kari Shimmel for bringing us along on her first Mackinac Island Trip.

I have lived in Michigan now for almost 10 years and have heard of this magical place known as Mackinac Island but I had never been there. So this summer, my husband and I planned to hop a ferry and experience a place set back in time for a perfect weekend getaway.

We boarded the boat and sat on the upper deck as we crossed the Straits of Mackinac. I had heard that there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island, and we were greeted at the docks by a hotel porter who stacked our suitcases on his bicycle and balanced with athletic precision as he made his way down Main Street to our hotel. I can’t say I am a huge fan of crowds or touristy places, so at first, I found Mackinac to be overwhelming. It was a bustling Saturday and the streets were filled with carriage tours, bicycles and shoppers. So, to avoid the craziness, we grabbed a map (which you can get in about every shop for free), and we started walking toward the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island - Photo credit - Chris Arace

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

The reputation of the Grand Hotel’s porch was calling me. The idea of relaxing in one of the white rocking chairs with the lake breeze on my face motivated a very pregnant me to walk from downtown with a mission in mind. Rock, relax and enjoy the freedom of vacation. We spent a beautiful afternoon admiring the view and vowed to return to experience their 5 course dinner on our next trip to this magnificent resort.

A Downtown Mackinac Island Trip - Photo Credit - Shaunda Mankowski

A Downtown Mackinac Island Trip

For dinner we headed back to Main Street and found a supper with a view of the harbor at the Pink Pony. After a relaxing meal, we noticed that the day crowds had boarded the ferry and we experienced a calm and nostalgic island evening. We walked toward Mission Point and found some lovely Adirondack chairs by the water and watched the sunset with the lighthouse in the distance. It was a perfect crisp Michigan summer night and day to remember.

The next morning we explored our options for the day and decided that biking would be a bit too ambitious this year (being 8 months pregnant) – so we figured the next best way to discover Mackinac was through the fudge shops. We planned our “Great Mackinac Fudge Review” over breakfast at the Chuckwagon and narrowed our scope to the following shops: Ryba’s Fudge Shop, Murdicks Fudge, Joann’s Fudge and May’s Candy Shop. To fairly evaluate our favorite, we purchased plain chocolate and also a specialty flavor recommended by each shop. Before I get into the results, let me say that each shop had their own approach to making this candy and that they were all amazing!

Mackinac Island Fudge Shops - Photo by - Salticidae

Mackinac Island Fudge Shops

Our Great Mackinac Fudge Review:

Joann’s Fudge: Our favorite for their smooth, rich texture. Every bite was sweet (but not too sweet and had a velvety finish) and their peanut butter fudge will be the only motivation we need to be back next year!

Ryba’s Fudge Shop: This fudge has a rich, velvety texture but didn’t taste quite as sweet as some of the others. Maybe my favorite thing was their branding – this place loves the color pink.

Murdicks Fudge: This fudge reminded me of a recipe my mom made growing up, Texas sheet cake. They had a vanilla flavor to the chocolate that provided a pleasant finish. Since 1887 they have provided vacationers’ candy and they definitely have the recipe down to an art form.

May’s Candy Shop: A sugary texture, May’s fudge was delicious with a slightly bittersweet chocolate flavor. We preferred the smoother finish for the plain chocolate but loved their maple nut fudge.

After a sufficient sugar high, we headed for home taking the scenic route along Lake Huron. We used the Pure Michigan site as our guide, stopping by some beautiful lighthouses along the way. We loved our Mackinac experience and can’t wait to get back next year. We already have some activities highlighted for our itinerary: touring Fort Mackinac, a dinner at the Grand Hotel, hiking to arch rock and biking around the island. Do you have a place or activity on island we need to add to this list?

Kari Shimmel is a wife, (soon-to-be mom), friend, traveler, creative director, designer and blogger. Kari and her husband Doug love to explore new places and plan trips that can last for a few hours to a few weeks. They live  right outside of Detroit and have two long haired miniature dachshunds, Cole and Chloe, who often accompany them on their adventures. Their daughter Maggie is expected in mid-October and can’t wait to share their love of travel with her. When she is not traveling, she is a creative director at DBA Worldwide, an ad agency in Rochester. You can contact Kari through her Twitter account or her blog.


9 thoughts on “The First of Many Trips to Mackinac Island

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  2. We have biked the island and loved it. I definitely recommend going back when you are able to do that. We also took the carriage ride which gives you a totally different perspective. It is a magical place. We have not stayed on the island but have considered doing so this fall for our 30th wedding anniversary. Great story!!

  3. I remember going “Up North” to Mackinaw, and the island every Summer as a child. It’s an awesome place to visit, and it’s even more special now that I’m taking my own children up to the island. Brings back lot of fond memories along with so new ones. The island hasn’t really changed a bit, and I love it. Such a wonderful treasure we (residents of Michigan) have.

  4. I have been going to the island for years off and on and NEVER get sick of it. we have a girls weekend every Sept. and we always find something new. you will be amazed when you take your bike ride around the island. we found out about the hauntings there this year!

  5. I have been going to Mackinaw Island all of my life. In 2000, my husband and I were married in the Little Stone Church on the island. I was taken by horse and carriage to the church as were our family members. It was a wonderful and romantic experience. I have recently moved to North Carolina, but I will always be a Michigan woman and I miss our yearly anniversary trips to the island staying in a different Bed and Breakfast each time.

  6. My family is from Mackinac, so I’ve been going there all my life ( 43 yrs) and never get sick of it ! We are lucky to still have our family home there and going there, really feels like Im going “home.” I loved this story…thank you for sharing.

  7. My husband and I took our first trip to Mackinac Island for our 20th anniversary, we walked from the dock and arrived on the main street to see a delivery man riding a bike carrying a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries. We stayed at the Island House which at the time was reported to be the oldest and newest hotel on the Island. We were there in late September. It was beautiful and extremely romantic. Listening to the clop, clop of the horse taxis transported us back in time. We rode bikes around the Island and then took the carriage tour to see the highlights. We went to the Grand Hotel and enjoyed the view. It was so nice we have returned many times since.
    We have also stayed at the Grand, had a fantastic dinner there, saw the movie, “Somewhere in Time”, had demitasse after dinner and then fell asleep to the sound of the breeze in the trees and horse taxis.
    We have since stayed at the Lakeview Hotel, eaten at the Pink Pony, the Mission House Resort, the Iroquis Hotel, the Chippewa Hotel and several other of the local restaurants.
    We have been married for 45 years now and can no longer count the times we have stayed on the Island and enjoyed the ambiance.

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