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Scenic, Serene Mackinac Island

A getaway that time forgot



 



Mackinac Island is a small oasis in the blending waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron – between the mainland of Michigan and its Upper Peninsula. The island offers a spot of respite in a world that seems increasingly chaotic. It’s a place where Christopher Reeve’s spirit still lives … and the 21st century doesn’t.
 

The British built a fort here in 1780, and following the War of 1812, the island became a center of the American Fur Trading Company, founded by John Jacob Astor. Later in the century, a steamship company plus two railroad companies decided to build massive accommodations. They began in the dead of winter in hopes of being complete in time for summer tourists; with hundreds of laborers and 1.5 million feet of lumber, the work was completed in 90 days. The hotel opened on July 10, 1887.

 

Grand Hotel became the place for wealthy families from Detroit, Milwaukee and Chicago. The era was characterized by a desire to revel in economic success, so many built huge “cottages” on the island; many more made annual pilgrimages to Grand Hotel. Many descendents of these early visitors are still making this pilgrimage – and so can you.

Grand Hotel may be elegant, but it’s definitely not stuffy; she wears her 130 years well. Her pristine, columned exterior proclaims dignity, but her saucy side shows with yellow and white striped awnings and brilliant red geraniums. One family has owned the hotel for 85 years – four generations. In 1977, designer Carlton Varney brought a color palette to the staid lady that has become a hallmark of the hotel. Public areas now feature a brilliant blend of bright hues and extraordinary accessories.

Nothing is “standard” at Grand Hotel. Accommodations range from guest rooms through suites up to a luxurious cottage, and each of the 393 rooms is individually decorated. Just walking into my room made me smile; it was like walking into a lush garden. Three walls featured wildly colored wallpaper, the fourth, a luscious pink, and white furniture sported the signature red geraniums. The Rosalynn Carter Suite is pink perfection, while the Lodge of Teddy Roosevelt sports trophy heads – naturally – and a masculine air.

The public rooms are equally delightful. The dining room, which seats 1,000, bustles with white-coated, bow-tied servers and senior staff in sedate black tuxes. One wall of windows overlooks the lawns and lake. Mirrors multiply the formally set tables and, at dinner, a small ensemble serenades guests. Check the hotel’s dress code before you pack.

The gardens and grounds of the hotel are not only beautifully landscaped, but sites for bocce and croquet, as well. The Esther Williams Pool (she made a film here in the ’40s), sauna and hot tub attract swimmers and sunbathers. A small, wooded labyrinth offers quiet meditation, while golf, tennis, pickleball and bikes provide other options for more active guests. Boat cruises, walking tours, kayaking, fishing, parasailing and paddleboarding are available.

 

Vehicles on the island range from wagons to a variety of carriages.


 

There’s usually a fresh breeze off the Straits of Mackinac; it frequently carries an essentially earthly aroma. There are no cars on the island, so no exhaust fumes, but the main source of transportation offers its own distinct scent: at the peak of the season, there are approximately 600 horses on the island. Horse power pulls carriages taking guests from place to place, and wagons used for moving luggage, supplies and packages. Riding horses, bicycles and feet will get you around, too. There are emergency vehicles on the island – but I’ve never seen one.

Ferries take visitors to the island from Mackinaw City to the south or St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. I’ve used Shepler’s for all three of my visits, and they have the whole process down pat: Leave your car and check your luggage on the mainland, and board the boat – it only takes 16 minutes to travel back 100 years.

 

Tourism is the No. 1 industry on the island, with the season lasting from May into October. While Grand Hotel is the premier accommodation, there are plenty of other choices. B&Bs and small hotels predominate – there are no chains.

Shopping is a major activity, ranging from souvenirs to fine art. The island’s most popular purchase is fudge – so much so, that day-trippers are referred to as “fudgies.” The historic Fort Mackinac is a must-see. Costumed interpreters add to the ambiance and do rifle and cannon firing demonstrations regularly. With advance reservations and a fee, you might even get to fire the first cannon of the day before the fort opens to the public.

Most of the island is state park land, with several of trails for hiking or biking. Many bikers take the outer road circling the island – an eight-mile trip past grand lake-front homes, pristine forests, iconic Arch Rock and a small monument marking the location of a pivotal scene in Grand’s accidental advertisement, the film Somewhere in Time. Starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, it introduced the island to a wide audience. Movie buffs from all over the world are drawn here because of it, and they return because the reality is so much more than the fantasy. The last weekend of each season, guests dress in period costumes, closing each year with a tribute to their favorite film and its Grand location.

 

Take a Virtual Tour: grandhotel.com, mackinacisland.org, mict.com (carriage tours).

 

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Calendar

May 2019

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

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Start your Sunday morning by perfecting your practice during our outdoor yoga class. Enjoy the beauty of yoga outdoors in the glow of the Ferris Wheel lights! This class welcomes all levels, from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wheeler Ferris Wheel
1701 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »

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James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

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MILLER IN MAY HOME TOUR HIGHLIGHTS CHARACTER AND CHARM The 20th anniversary of Miller's beloved home tour Miller Neighborhood's most popular event is back for 2019… and...

Cost: $10 - $30

Where:
Miller Neighborhood
NW 10th to NW 16th, N Villa to N May
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
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Sponsor: Miller Neighborhood Association
Telephone: 405.642.5982
Contact Name: Elizabeth Beard

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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

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OKC's premier chamber orchestra, the Oklahoma Virtuosi, presents their season finale concert.  Concert will include: St. Paul's Suite Op.29 No.2 by Gustav Holst,...

Cost: Free

Where:
21C Hotel
900 W. Main St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
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Website »

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As the first anniversary of her sixth album Conversation With A Ghost approaches in June, Italian-born and Austin-based singer-songwriter Giulia Millanta possesses a...

Cost: $15-$20

Where:
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
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Sponsor: The Blue Door
Telephone: (405) 524-0738
Website »

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James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Piedmont Airlines will be hosting a Information Session for ramp agent jobs at Embassy Suites in OKC. Please plan to spend up to 3 hours with us, as we will have you fill out applications, listen...

Cost: Free

Where:
Embassy Suites
1815 South Meridian Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
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Sponsor: Piedmont Airlines
Telephone: 704-359-2477
Contact Name: Nick Calo
Website »

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James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

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More than 90 visual artists will line the streets of the Historic Paseo Arts District, selling original artwork in a wide variety of media, from painting and photography to wood and jewelry, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Paseo Arts District
3022 Paseo
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: Paseo Arts Association
Telephone: 405-525-2688
Contact Name: Paige Powell
Website »

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Enjoy all your favorite activities at the Orr Family Farm for a special price! Admission is only $8 per person on this day only.

Where:
Orr Family Farm
14400 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73170
View map »


Telephone: 405.509.9312
Contact Name: Lauren Daughety

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass this Memorial Day Weekend! Get a full day of fun at Andy Alligator’s Fun Park and Water Park for only $29.99. A Dual Park Pass includes Unlimited Rides &...

Cost: Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass!

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Place
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

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