Two places where we have never seen so many fudge stores! As a matter of fact, the residents of Mackinac Island are called “fudgies.” Yes, fudgies! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We started with a day in Mackinaw City which is a small little town. In our opinion, the draw of this town is the Mackinac Bridge with views of both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and the ferry to Mackinac Island. For us, there isn’t a lot to do in the city, and I don’t know how, but we managed to leave without even sampling a piece of fudge.
We stayed at a fantastic campground called Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground which has been run by the Rogala since 1964. This campground was the largest one we have ever stayed at, but it felt surprisingly small; it was also the one of cleanest and nicest campground with plenty of staff around to take care of business. Mill Creek has campsites for all types of people – on the beach, on the lake, in the woods, primitive, full hook up, and cabins. There were easily over 700 campsites. They had playgrounds, a pool, a beach, mini-golf (though it could have used a serious face lift), and a huge camp store. The best part for the kids was an old time fire truck, re-named the fun truck, which drove kids around most of the evening. We had a lake front campsite, made friends with fellow Apex owners, and enjoyed a couple nights around the campfire by the lake visiting with them. I seriously love camping on the lake, it is so relaxing just listening to the water.
On our first full day we decided to walk in to Mackinaw City from our campsite. The town was 4 miles away and I believe we walked about 7 miles that day. We planned to walk on the bike trail but it was a haven for mosquitoes so we had a nice walk on the shoulder of the road, really it was nice because we could see the water for much of the walk. We spent the day wandering in to gift shops, smelling the fudge, visiting the pier, and watching the sailboats come in. Then we took a free shuttle back to the campground which was fantastic, thanks to Star Line Ferry!
The next day we rode our bikes in to town and took the Star Line Ferry to Mackinac Island. This island is one of a kind with no motorized vehicles on the island (except for a fire truck and an ambulance). You can get around the island on your bicycle or a horse drawn carriage. I was told there are 600 horses that reside on the island in the summer and there are 492 permanent residents on the island.
You can stay busy with one day on the island as there are gift shops, fudge shops, a state park, you can have afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel, wander through the historic fort, and of course, make the 8.2 mile trek on your bike around the island. I have to pause here and tell you that I will not do this island justice in my blog post. I can only tell you it is gorgeous. It is a step back in time and will mesmerize your soul. The buildings, homes, and hotels are in pristine condition and all belong on a post card. I could easily see spending a quiet, romantic weekend on the island.
We decided to start our visit by riding our bikes around the island. It is an easy ride if you only consider the terrain. However, they rent bikes to anyone and everyone. They rent tandems, mountain bikes, small bikes, and regular bikes. No biking experience required. Every single visitor wants to rent a bike and ride it around the island – which is a big challenge. The perimeter loop is set up like a road with a yellow dashed line down the middle. The problem is that tourists think since there are no cars they can ride where ever they want on the road, even 5 people wide, with no regard for oncoming bike traffic. They also randomly stop on the road without warning. Needless to say I had two very close calls and I was done with biking the island ever again. I don’t need that kind of stress on my bicycle.
Once we put our bikes up we enjoyed a fantastic lunch outside at the Pink Pony overlooking the marina. This was the highlight of our day as we watched the sailboats come in. The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac was going on and sailboats were coming in all day long. This is a 333 mile distance race from Navy Pier in Chicago to Mackinac Island. About 300 boats participate with more than 3,000 sailors. Needless to say, we left the island before the parties began that evening. 😉 After lunch we once again wandered the gift shops and smelled the fudge before we left the island. All I can tell you is if I don’t see anymore gift shops or fudge shops on this trip, I will be just fine.
We are heading to the Upper Peninsula next to see the fifth Great Lake to complete our tour of all five of the Great Lakes! We are excited to see Pictured Rock National Lakeshore again, it is a true natural wonder!