A Mackinac Island Family Reunion

Sometimes life gets so busy that it’s tough to take a timeout and just enjoy your surroundings. John Truscott knows that feeling well, but was able to take a break last summer and enjoy what Pure Michigan has to offer during a Mackinac Island weekend getaway with his family. Today he shares his experience with us.

When I get to Mackinac Island these days, it’s typically for work. A conference, a meeting, or something that keeps me from truly appreciating the beauty and tranquility of this jewel. While the ferry ride is always nice, once I hit the Island, it’s time to go to work. No time to ride around the island, stop for fudge, or just relax and enjoy.

Except for last summer. My family went to Mackinac Island like we used to – as a family. It was my parents’ 50th Anniversary; and I was a tourist!  What an incredible weekend. With my brother and sister and nieces and nephew, we enjoyed the Island like it’s supposed to be enjoyed.

The weather was absolutely perfect – warm sun and cool breezes. It was heavenly. One of the evenings, we just grabbed some pizzas and hung out in the park below the fort. Lying in the grass, appreciating the family time and letting the young kids run. This incredible memory will last a lifetime.

And I was able to ride bikes with my teenage nieces around the Island. When you don’t have time for that ride, it’s easy to forget how beautiful it is. The blue water was like a mirror and warm enough to wade in. It had been a while since I had skipped rocks in the big lake. I felt like a kid again.

But we surely didn’t miss out on some adult time at the Pink Pony bar, located on the water at the Chippewa Hotel. The Caribbean has nothing on this spot.  Better yet, we didn’t have to worry about driving home. The automobile was banned on Mackinac Island in the later 1890s.

That long weekend brought out the kid in me again. We used to take our yearly family vacation to the Island, and it was always magical. Unfortunately, the work of the real world these days had dulled a little bit of the magic. Until that one summer weekend. It was like the younger days as a family, but yet more fun because we had even more family to share this incredible experience. It just might have been the best family trip ever.And on the last day – I ran to the ferry, jumped in the car, drove straight to the airport in Detroit – to jet out for another conference. But I did it with a big smile on my face and great memories to cherish.

Go to mackinacisland.org to plan your next family reunion.

John Truscott is a President and Principal of Truscott Rossman, a bipartisan public relations firm, and a huge fan of Mackinac Island.

11 Michigan Attractions and Destinations Included in FamilyFun Magazine’s 2013 Travel Awards

What are some of the best vacation spots for families in America? FamilyFun magazine recently found out in their 2013 FamilyFun Travel Awards. By surveying 2,000 moms with children ages 3 to 12, they determined the top destinations, nature escapes, amusement parks, family-friendly resorts and more. We’re proud to see 11 Michigan spots listed and wanted to share a roundup below.

Did your favorite Pure Michigan destination make the list? Share with us in the comments section!

Favorite Family Destinations

Listed as one of the top 10 favorite family destinations by FamilyFun, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire, Michigan offers a breathtaking symphony of water, sky and towering sand dunes on our Lake Michigan shoreline. Its 64-mile curve of stunning beaches, forests, meadows and lakes is a sight to see any time of the year. Whether you’re looking to dune climb, hike one of the park’s many trails or just relax and take in the view, Sleeping Bear offers something for the whole family.

It’s no surprise that the area was also listed as one of the top 10 nature escapes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes was also named “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America in 2011.

Top Tourist Attractions

Not one, but four Michigan favorites made FamilyFun’s list of the top tourist attractions around the country.

Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City made the list at number four. At this 1770s-era fort and fur trading village, every day is kids’ day.

Coming in at number nine, The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn is often referred to as “America’s greatest history attraction.” From exploring rich culture at the museum to walking through the village or seeing something onscreen at the IMAX Theatre, there’s a multitude of history to uncover.

Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island rounds out the top 10. At Fort Mackinac, history is alive and every visitor is a part of it. Step inside and hear bugle music, rifle fire, and a cannon blast or dance to a 19th century tune, drill with soldiers and play Victorian children’s games. At Fort Mackinac you’re sure to step back in time to the 1880s.

Listed as a regional favorite by FamilyFun readers, Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie have been referred to as one of the great wonders of the world and are still the largest (and one of the busiest!) waterway traffic systems on earth. Watching huge vessels pass through the Locks is a unique experience that cannot be seen anywhere else in the United States.

Top Tourist Towns

Mackinaw City, Michigan is listed as the number one tourist town in the country by readers for its charm, history and many family-friendly attractions. Located in Cheboygan County at the very top of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Mackinaw City is known as the gateway to the Upper Peninsula. While visiting, there’s no shortage of things for families to do and see – from taking in history at Colonial Michilimackinac, the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse and Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, seeing stunning views from the Straits of Mackinac and enjoying famous Mackinac fudge.

Traverse City and Frankenmuth were also listed as regional favorites.

Top Nature Escapes

Sleeping Bear Dunes wasn’t the only Michigan-based destination listed as a top nature escape. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore also made the list as a regional favorite.

From multicolored sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, inland lakes, streams, forests and wildlife, the scenic area on Lake Superior that is Picture Rocks is certainly a sight to see. Activities include sightseeing, camping, kayaking, backpacking, hiking, fishing, hunting, picnicking, boating, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, a maritime museum, a lighthouse and a visitor’s center.

Family Resorts and Amusement Parks

The Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City was listed among regional favorite family resorts. The Lodge is a full-service, log cabin style Michigan resort with 281 northwoods-themed rooms that features a 38,000 square-foot indoor water park with 8 waterslides, 5 pools and a 4-story Tree House Water Fort. What more could your family ask for?

Another regional favorite is Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon. As Michigan’s largest amusement and water park, Michigan’s Adventure offers more than 60 attractions including seven rollercoasters and over 20 water rides. Whatever level of excitement you’re looking for, it’s offered here for all ages.

Thank you to FamilyFun for including these Michigan attractions and destinations in your awards this year! For more things to do and see around Pure Michigan, please visit michigan.org.

Will your family be visiting one of these destinations this year?