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Summer is all geared up and you haven’t spent any time enjoying it yet? Its time to get out there and have some fun! Raising Dick and Jane has scoped out the best places to visit as a family in the great state of Michigan and were sharing them with you. Our first stop on our Dick and Jane Tour Michigan series is Mackinac Island, MI.
If you haven’t yet visited Mackinac Island, MI you are missing out. The kids will love it and the parents will feel like kids again. After all, where else on Earth can you ride bikes all day as your main form of transportation and find a fudge shop on every corner? These are the things dreams are made of. . .
Yes, Mackinac Island is a real island. There are no bridges to or from, but getting there is no problem. In fact, getting there is quite fun (and family friendly). All you need to do is look for the Shepler’s Ferry Dock on either the Mackinaw City or St. Ignas main lands. Shepler’s is all about families and goes out of their way to make your transportation to the island memorable. As we entered the ship the kids were given Shepler’s stickers to remember their first boat rides and we were all surprised to receive an up close tour of the under belly of the Mackinaw Bridge during our ride across. This trip ended up being both fun and educational! Plus, the kids loved it!
Once we arrived on the island the kids (ok, all of us) were smiling ear to ear at the sights and sounds of the island. From the sound of horse shoes clomping on the pavement to the smell of fresh foods and treats drifting through the air. We were ready to have a great day and getting to see the horses was top on our list. No, we couldn’t pet or touch them. These horses had a job to do. We could, however, take a ride on one of famous Mackinac Islands carriage tours and get a behind the scenes look at the entire island. There is more to the island than just shops and fudge (even though the fudge is worth the trip alone). You may not know that Mackinac Island partially consists of a beautiful nature preserve. The untouched wildlife on this island is breathtaking. From the natural wonder of Arch rock to the trees and crisp blue waters you would think that you’ve found paradise. As you relax on your carriage ride through the preserve and listen to the clop clomp of the horses hooves with the cool lake breeze drifting through your hair try not to fall asleep. . there is more to see yet.
About half way through the carriage tour the horses will drop you off at a little secret house. Ok, so it is not so secret, but it is worth taking a peek inside. This little house is also known as The Wings of Mackinac. Do you ever wonder what it would feel like to walk into a flower field and have hundreds of butterflies flutter up around you, landing on your shoulders, head and nose? This is probably as close as you are going to get. Inside this little house is a multitude of happy butterflies ready to show you their majestic colors up close. There are benches to sit and rest on and if you are still long enough you may find a brave butterfly will come perch on you. I had one land on my purse (that little butterfly had good taste, love my Miche)!
After you’ve enjoyed Mackinac Islands natural element, head on over to Fort Mackinac and enjoy learning about the islands historical background. It truly is something different when you step back into the shoes of those that lived and fought there many years ago. The fort is preserved in its natural state and relives the lives of the soldiers and their families with hourly reenactments, songs and activities for the kids. There is also a children’s museum where they can crawl around, touch things, try on clothes and learn a thing or two too.
By now you have probably worked up quite an appetite and your in luck. Mackinac Island has over 43 restaurant options to choose from. Our number one pick is the Seabiscuit Cafe. The food is amazing and you can order anything from burgers and french fries to the local catch of the day. The kids ordered chicken strips (no big surprise there) and they appeared to be hand battered in fresh bread crumbs. Best of all, they tasted great. I ordered the honey nut chicken salad sandwich with sweet potato fries and the hubby had a fresh whitefish rueben. Everything was delectable.
After fueling back up with lunch we wanted to ride solo for awhile. You know, take the road less traveled and see what we could find. Like I said before there are only three modes of transportation on the island. . horses, bikes and your feet. We opted for the bikes. Luckily, you don’t have to schlep your bikes across on the ferry (you can if you want to) because the island has bikes ready for you to use! Just hop on over to Mackinac Cycle and choose your ride. Once you are free to roam the island you can either choose to take the hill paths up to enjoy looking at all of the beautifully kept homes or you can take the scenic route along the outer edge of the island and enjoy the view of Lake Huron. We opted for the lake view ride. . its an easier go.
Once your done with a fun filled day on the island, complete with shopping and eating fudge, you can either spend the night in one of their on island resorts or head back across on the ferry to the main land where you will find several hotels and campsites. Be sure to join us next Friday when we explore things to do in Mackinaw City and over the bridge to St. Ignas!
If your planning your trip to the island be sure to check in with the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau and let them help guide you into a fun filled vacation. They are there to help you get the most out of your time spent on the island. Oh, and be sure to tell them Raising Dick and Jane sent you!
Did I miss your favorite attraction on the island? Tell us about it!
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Disclosure: Raising Dick and Jane was provided with free admission to experience many of the above stated attractions. All opinions of these attractions are our own.