ackinac Island is like a time capsule from the 19th century, said Rosemary McClure in the Los Angeles Times. Located between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, this island is “one of those rare places that gives you a glimpse into a simpler life.” Many of the Victorian-era homes and inns feature long verandas and quaint turrets. Flower boxes brighten not only front porches but also street lamps. Horses clip-clop along as they pull carriages, because motor vehicles were banned in the early 1900s. “What more could a summer vacationer want?”
The centerpiece of Mackinac (pronounced MACK-ih-naw) is the Grand Hotel, a “stately hillside hotel built in 1887.” At this family-run establishment, no two of the 385 guest rooms are alike. In keeping with the island’s old-fashioned ways, the hotel requires gents and boys older than 12 to wear coats and ties after 6 p.m. Non-guests must pay a $15 fee for the privilege of just looking around. The hotel’s magnificent veranda—“called the largest porch in the world”—extends 660 feet, or more than twice the length of two football fields. Genteel leisure activities include croquet, afternoon tea, and ballroom dancing. At suppertime in the elegant dining room, “harpists play, tuxedoed waiters serve dinner, and demitasse is poured nightly into fine china cups.” Some guests even dress up in period costumes.
The six-square-mile island is situated in the Straits of Mackinac, which links Lake Huron to the east and Lake Michigan to the west. In 1875, it became the second national park to be established (after Yellowstone). Later, the park—now covering more than 80 percent of the island—was deeded back to the state of Michigan. Ferry service to the island runs from May through October, and a popular eight-mile bike path runs along the island’s perimeter. At its halfway point, I hopped off to order a Polish hotdog at a stand. No sooner had I set it up on a picnic table than a sea gull plucked it from its bun and flew away.
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