What is your favorite Michigan destination? From bustling Detroit to the farthest, untouched corners of the Upper Peninsula, there truly isn’t a bad choice. If you ask around, though, there’s one destination that Michiganders believe rises above the rest. World-famous Mackinac Island.
While Mackinac Island is technically open year-round, the tourism season is primarily from May through October. Each spring as the weather begins to warm and plants begin to bloom, hundreds of horses are ferried to Mackinac to make their annual pilgrimage to this motor-less oasis in addition to the opening of the many diverse businesses in town.
This is an exciting time on the island as employees (most of whom are lucky enough to live on Mackinac year-round) busily tune-up the horse-drawn carriages, add fresh paint to the buildings downtown and stock the shops with souvenirs (and ingredients for fudge!) that will be sold throughout the summer.
Once guests begin to arrive in flocks, the fun really begins. Aside from being a popular vacation destination, Mackinac Island is known for its beautiful weddings, challenging golf courses and, of course, the fudge! After one taste, you’ll agree that fudge was perfected on Mackinac Island. The flavors are unworldly and varieties nearly endless, making a little adventure to any of the many fudge stores the right choice for your trip. We encourage you to visit them all, but be sure to stop at Murdick’s and Ryba’s while you’re there.
And with the same amount of interest there is for the start of the island’s tourism season, the annual opening of the Grand Hotel draws similar acclaim. Dubbed ‘America’s Summer Place’, this iconic hotel offers unbeatable views overlooking the Straits of Mackinac while boasting the world’s longest porch. ‘The Grand’, is open six months of the year and has become a bucket-list item for anyone who is familiar with Mackinac, and for good reason. Grand Hotel offers exceptional accommodations, with each guest room uniquely decorated by interior designer Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Co. in New York City. Grand Hotel is recognized as Travel + Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels and the Best Hotel in Michigan, and Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 5 Midwest Resorts.
By Memorial Day, the Island is in full swing. One of the most popular events on Mackinac Island is the annual Lilac festival. This 10-day celebration, taking place June 9 through 18 of this year, is the island’s largest summer festival and attracts thousands of visitors annually. Festivities include the coronation of the Lilac Festival Queen and Court, Lilac Festival 10K, numerous concerts, wine tastings, A Taste of Mackinac Culinary Event, Mackinac Island Dog and Pony Show, the Lilac Festival Grand Parade and so much more.
With so much to do and see, it’s easy to understand why Mackinac Island is one of the most iconic destinations in Michigan. If you’re interested in discovering more fascinating locales around Michigan, be sure to check out our other Empowered Community blogs.