As a kid, my family traveled and camped throughout the Midwest during the summer, but having spent the past 19 years married to an Army guy, we have lived coast to coast and have had the privilege to see many amazing places. That being said, there are many so called “vacation” spots that require a vacation afterwards just so you can recover from the vacation you just took. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I am talking about. So if you are looking for a slow paced, relaxing vacation, northern Michigan is the place for you.
We have been up there a few times now and love it. We stayed near Boyne Falls which has plenty of great fishing locations, boating, hiking, bicycling, and a variety of other outdoor activities. And the best part about it is there aren't any “shiny objects” like variety shows, the "mouse" and carnivals that draw your children in and keep you on the run your entire vacation.
And since you are in northern Michigan, you can’t miss out on taking a ferry to the historic Mackinac Island. There are no cars on the island so you need to plan for your preferred mode of transportation: walking, bicycling, horse and buggy, or a combination thereof. The first time we went, we rented bicycles on the island. They have everything you need from helmets, to trailers, to tag-a-longs which can be rented by the hour. The second time we went, we brought all of our own gear which makes the ferry ride a bit more expensive, but in the end saves you money especially if you do quite a bit of riding on the island. There is a paved trail around the island that is just over 8 miles long and is pretty easy for children to negotiate. One time, our oldest daughter (who was six at the time) rode her little bike about 17 miles that day. Around the island, there are several beautiful sights along the way and the water is amazing. There is also a snack stand and restroom about the half way point on the west side of the island.
Okay, truth be told, once you get off the ferry, there are some “shiny objects,” but they are limited to mostly fudge shops and other souvenirs. The main strip is about a mile long and is a couple blocks deep, so grab a map when you get off the ferry. Also, there are lockers available when you get off the ferry in case you need to secure some of your belongings. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from so the family can recover from the bike ride around the island, which I recommend doing in the morning if possible.
Lunch is done and bellies are full, so now what? Now it’s time to walk over to Jack’s Livery Stable, that is if you are feeling a bit daring, so you can enjoy a self guided horse and buggy ride. There are several guided tours as well if you don’t feel like dealing with a horse. If time permits, make sure to check out Fort Mackinac and discover the history of this important land mark during the War of 1812.
Check your watch! You don’t want to miss the last ferry, but if you do or if you simply want to spend some more time on the island than make your way over to the beautiful Mackinac Island Grand Hotel.
Enjoy your summer and if you decide to make your way to up to Mackinac Island you would be glad you did!