Looking for a laid-back escape? Consider Mackinac (pronounced Mack-i-naw) Island, Michigan, a quaint slice of Victoriana tucked into the space between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, near where lakes Michigan and Huron meet. It takes some effort to reach, but once there, you’ll be in for some serious relaxation.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Flight time: If you don’t live within driving distance of Mackinaw City, catch a puddle jumper from Detroit to Pellston Airport, take a 20-minute taxi ride to Mackinaw City, then hop a ferry to the island. From there a horse-drawn taxi or luggage porter will whisk you off to your hotel.
Getting around: Bikes, horse-drawn carriages
When To Go: Mackinac Island at its best
Best weather: June to early September.
Best prices: Winter is low season, but many hotels close. You can cross-country ski and snuggle horse-drawn carriage rides but it is extremely cold.
Natural beauty: Eighty percent of Mackinac Island is a state park — Michigan’s first, in fact. Explore 70 miles of trail on foot, mountain bike, or horseback to check out rocky limestone crags, scenic shorelines, and historic cemeteries.
Fudge: This chocolaty slab is the souvenir of choice. May’s is the longest continually operated fudge shop and Ryba’s is probably the best known — the distinctive pink boxes make appearances at the Michigan State Fair every year.
Tour the fort: Fort Mackinac, on a bluff overlooking Mackinac Island’s harbor, is a restored 19th-century British and American military outpost (founded in 1780) and a National Historic Landmark. Watch a rifle or cannon demonstration and check out exhibits in the barracks. Don’t miss lunch at the Fort Mackinac Tea Room, with its amazing view of the bridge and harbor.
Romance: To reach Mackinac you’ll take a 15-20 minute ferry ride through the Straits of Mackinac, affording an amazing view of the Mackinac Bridge — the Mighty Mac — which connects Michigan’s peninsulas. The journey is especially dreamy after dark — on clear, crisp fall nights watch for the Northern Lights. Once on the island, snuggle up on a private horse-drawn carriage ride under starry skies. The clip-clop cadence of the horse’s hoofs will put you under its romantic spell.