Living in the suburbs of Chicago for a couple of decades now, common conversation with friends and colleagues often focuses around family road trips to various Midwest destinations– Mackinac Island being the first and foremost…with an abundance of oohs, ahhhs and starry-eyed stories of this dreamy far-off Michigan land. When I dared mention that I had yet to experience Mackinac Island, looks of disbelief, disgust and dismay abounded. How was this possible? To be honest, Mackinac has been on my bucket list for many, many years now, but life just didn’t allow me to find my way to this charming storybook location …until this glorious June week.
Now that I have seen the Mackinac light, I am furious at myself for robbing my family (and myself) of one of the most beautiful destinations in the United States, if not the entire world. But we cannot live in the past; I am profoundly elated that we made this trip, for it has positively impacted our lives forever.
For those who are unfamiliar with the location of Mackinac Island, as we were, here is a map to assist.
As you can see, Mackinac Island is located between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The island is quite small, measuring 3.8 square miles with an eight mile perimeter. What excited us most of all was the fact that no cars or motorized vehicles have been allowed on the island since 1898. Horse-drawn carriages and bicycles will magically transport you back in time.
From our home in Naperville, Illinois, the drive to Mackinaw City took us just under seven hours. We left around 7:00 am CST, accounting for the time change from Central to Eastern Standard. We arrived and parked at Shepler’s Dock at 3:00 pm EST and took the 16-minute fun Ferry ride across.
From the moment we stepped off the ferry, we felt like we weren’t in the United States anymore. Brooke’s first comment being–this feels just like the Caribbean. I completely agreed.
Mission Point Resort
Choosing the right hotel for our stay was just as significant as the trip itself, and honestly it was the resort, which in fact, allowed our family to reconnect and experience the perfect balance of tranquility and quality family-fun-time we greatly needed. In fact, after now touring Mackinac Island and seeing many of its hotels, Mission Point Resort will forever be our only choice.
We had two options to get to Mission Point from the dock–a horse and carriage ride or our feet. We chose to walk so as to get a feel of the island and stop along the way if we so chose to indulge in the abundance of scrumptious fudge shops and quaint ice cream parlors. Your luggage will be immediately delivered to the resort which was another reason walking was the perfect option. Along the stroll, the aroma of lilacs was intoxicating. There are over 160 varieties of lilacs on the island and I honestly think we breathtakingly inhaled them all.
The walk is only 15 minutes from the dock to Mission Point Resort, but with our chocolate addictions, the lilacs and tulips bursting about, and the multitude of horses (and dogs) that we had to stop and pet every two minutes, it took us at least triple the amount of time to arrive at Mission Point.
When we approached the Mission Point Resort property, there was a transformative feeling in the energy–from the bustling town life of Main Street to a serene and zen-like setting. The property is an absolute dream. There are a total of 241 rooms and we stayed in a beautiful appointed family suite in the Main Lodge. Besides the expansive 18 acre setting and sheer elegance of the resort, the entire staff was so welcoming, helpful and truly went out of their way to make our stay flawless. Our deepest gratitude to Liz and Sarah for making this one of the best vacations our family has ever experienced.
Pat, the concierge, is so knowledgeable and charming. Pat can take you on an historical tour of the resort and you can enjoy her adorable companion, Nick, who loyally stays by her side.
Mission Point is a seasonal resort open from the end of April through the end of October. The feel of the resort is charming, elegant, cozy and relaxed. You will see families sitting by the fireplaces playing Backgammon and cards, reading books from the library, and just spending quality relaxation time.
We highly recommend spending a full week here if you have never been or are the adventurous type, because three days just wasn’t enough time to explore and experience everything the island has to offer. Below is our busy three day itinerary to give some idea of all there is to do/see on Mackinac Island.
Our Adventure-Packed Three Day Itinerary:
We arrived at Mission Point Resort around 4:00 pm and toured the breathtaking property. Here are some wonderful facts about Mission Point: The Resort has 241 rooms, three full restaurants including Chianti, Bistro on the Greens, and Round Island Bar and Grill. There is also a beautiful wine bar known as The Reserve and Boxwood Coffee Shop and Cafe, a health club and gorgeous full service spa, an incredibleturn of the century movie theater (the only theater on the island) where Somewhere in Time was actually filmed, an arcade, bike rentals, an outdoor pool and hot tub, a kids club, an 18-hole-executive putting course, tennis courts, an adorable boutique, and a massive 38,000 square feet of event space. Mission Point Resort holds close to a hundred weddings per year and we can clearly see why. This is a dream wedding location. In fact, Brooke said when she marries, this will be the venue. It is also the ideal spot for corporate gatherings and conferences. Talk about an unforgettable event. There is just too much to list about this resort, but we hope you see that there is truly something special for everyone here.
The resort is also pet friendly. There is a separate building just for pet owners and their pet children. There’s also a family of beaver that live at the resort. It was incredible to watch them at work and play.
At 7:00 pm we headed to dinner at Chianti, Mission Point’s upscale Italian Restaurant. They make their own pasta and sauce which is outrageously delicious. We gave this restaurant a 10/10 rating for the atmosphere, service, delicious cuisine, tremendous wine list, stunning views, gifted pianist, and overall elegance and charm. Everything was ideal.
After dinner, we headed to the 18-hole executive putting course for Glow Golf. We had never heard of this and had such a blast. Besides glowing golf balls and flags, we were given glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets. This is a must-do activity for everyone while staying here.
Here are a few photos of the course before dark:
Once the sun goes down, the neon party begins!
At 10:00 pm, you can hear Taps being played from Fort Mackinac, a beautiful nightly ritual. We were quite tired at this point and decided to turn in. The beds could not have been more comfortable, and we slept beautifully with our lungs full of fresh and pure Mackinac Island air. (No cars=no pollution) And on a side note, the Lilac Blossom toiletries sealed the deal for me!
Day Two began with a beautiful breakfast at The Round Island Bar and Grill where a delicious and substantial buffet is offered along with a fresh omelette station. My favorite breakfast in the world is a veggie omelette, yogurt with fresh fruit and a flaky croissant, so I was one happy camper.
After breakfast, we headed to Fort Mackinac where Brooke was given the opportunity to shoot off the daily 9:00 am cannon. She didn’t even know shooting a cannon was on her bucket list but she was able to add it and then cross it off all in the same day! LOL! What an awesome experience! We learned so much about the history of the fort, thanks to Dominick Miller. His knowledge and friendly demeanor made this experience unforgettable. Taking a guided tour at Fort Mackinac is the most enriching experience. Do not miss out on this.
We spent a little over an hour exploring the Fort and then headed out for a woodland hike to Arch Rock.
The tranquil hike to Arch Rock from Fort Mackinac is only half a mile through the woods and was so peaceful. If I lived on the island, this walk would be my daily routine for sure. When you arrive at Arch Rock, you will definitely feel you’ve landed on a Caribbean island. Magnificent doesn’t begin to describe the beauty of this natural structure and scene. After many photo ops at Arch Rock, we returned to town for lunch, and of course more fudge and ice cream. A bit of advice: When you visit Mackinac Island, leave your will power home.
Why is watching fudge making so intoxicating?
After our sweet tooth indulgences, it was time for some rejuvenation at the Lakeside Spa and Salon, Mission Point’s full service spa. After all of that walking, our tired feet needed some TLC. (There has to be a legit reason we’re called Pedis-n-Passports, right?)
Following our mani/pedis, we had to allow for some drying time, so the only logical thing to do was head to the Great Lawn for some sunshine and enjoy the spectacular views.
Biking Around the Island
With plenty of relaxation time on the Great Lawn, we hopped on the resort bikes for our adventure around the entire island! With several stops to explore, it took us just under two hours to make it all the way around the island. When we first pulled out onto the highway, my mom instinct kicked in and I screamed at everyone to look out for cars. We all had a good laugh at my senior moment!
We returned to Mission Point around 5:30 pm and headed to The Reserve Wine Bar while the kids rested in our room (rested is a synonym for chill out with WIFI)
I think I found my favorite spot on the property!
For dinner our second night, we wanted to eat at Bistro on the Green, but it was quite chilly so we decided to dine indoors at The Round Island since we had only experienced breakfast here. After a cozy and comforting meal, we headed to the courts for a game of tennis. The courts are open until 10:00 pm and before we knew it, Taps was playing and we headed in for the evening, absolutely exhausted from a full Mackinac day.
Our final day on Mackinac Island began with a sunrise kayaking adventure with Great Turtle Kayak Tours. We had to wake at 4:00 am which was quite a challenge for all of us but we decided prior to the trip that we didn’t want to miss a single moment and seeing the sunrise from a kayak was definitely on our bucket list, so now seemed to be the ideal time to go for it. We were literally the only people out on the lake. There was not another soul in sight. Perhaps we were completely insane, but we didn’t care. The stillness and silence was pure serenity–only to be broken by a lone seagull and the soft ringing of a distant buoy bell. The color and texture of the water resembled that of velvety stained glass with swirls of indigo, azure, emerald and crimson pouring down from the sky perfectly reflected in liquid form. It was surreal. If you ever want to experience a spiritual moment, try floating on a kayak as the sun stretches over the horizon.
As we docked our kayaks in silence, we realized something had changed. It wasn’t anything we verbally discussed but it was something we all felt. I am certain of that.
We headed back to Mission Point for our final few hours, said our goodbyes to the staff members who now felt like family and headed back to the ferry. Along the way, we realized we had one more item on our list that we hadn’t completed–The Butterfly House. Of course, we had to make this pit stop. With our kayaking metamorphosis experience, what could be more symbolic?
Original Butterfly House
The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World is definitely worth visiting. It was magical!
We cannot say thank you enough to everyone on Mackinac Island. You have a beautiful home that we were honored to share for a few days.
Thank you Liz Ware and Sarah Ombry from Mission Point for making these days the most memorable our lives. Words could never express our gratitude.
All good things must come to an end:(
Have you been to Mackinac Island? This weekend is their Lilac Festival! Can’t imagine how amazing that will be.
This post is written in collaboration with Mission Point Resort, but as always, opinions are entirely our own.