Vacations can be daunting when you’re traveling alone or even as a couple, but add kids to the mix and it’s a whole different ballgame. Our recent trip to Michigan’s beloved Mackinac Island had me appreciating our stay in a much different way than I did 9 years ago for my cousin’s wedding when the packing took place the night before and consisted of throwing things in a bag haphazardly. That’s it. There was no consideration of snacks, outfits for different weather – because, let’s face it- at 22, you don’t really think much about ‘what if I get cold?’ and ‘what if it rains?’ Food can happen on the go and the biggest concern on your mind is – did I pack my curling iron? Did my makeup make if safely off the ferry? Caution to the wind and blissful spontaneity – that’s what travel was at 22.
Things are different now, traveling as a family, and so the planning, execution and enjoyment of this trip was approached differently too! For one, I was craving that family time. The anticipation before the trip had me truly planning out every move. There was A LOT of premeditated outfit coordination and research done on what the kids NEEDED to see! Being that we are Michigan natives and reside in Michigan, it’s not like we can’t ever go back, but I wanted this trip to be special, memorable and to be the ONE that turned Mackinac into an annual tradition and not a story told in passing. No pressure, right? So without further ado, here is my Mom-Friendly Mackinac Island Guide.
Scope out package deals for locations on the island well in advance. Spots will fill up without a doubt. This time of year is so perfect! Fall weather and the beautiful colors just can’t be beat! I swear you breathe better “Up North.” The most family friendly location after careful consideration was Mission Point Resort.
We got a great deal on a family suite where each of our two girls had their own twin bed, sink area, closet and drawer storage as well as their own T.V. separate from our side of the room. Upon check in, we were gifted some plush toys for the girls and welcomed with fresh homemade cookies and fruit shortly after we arrived in our room. Needless to say this created a bit of an excited giggle fest. The bags were brought directly to our rooms without a hitch. Concierge was friendly and welcoming.
Our package also included complimentary breakfast for the children (12 and under) and passes for breakfast for the adults for the first couple days of our stay. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. -11. a.m. complete with a made-to-order omelet station, oatmeal bar and delicious selection of fresh fruit, bagels, eggs, breakfast meats, pastries, juice and coffee/tea. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the dining area or outside with a lake view.
The breakfast area transforms into Round Island Bar and Grill for lunch and dinner. Chianti is another option for an in-house for dinner and opens at 5 p.m. Also on the grounds is Bistro on the Green, situated adjacent to a miniature golf course just down the hill from the lodging area. Staff made sure to leave daily specials at the various restaurants on site for your convenience after cleaning the room. Our stay there felt like home, nestled in a cozy side of the hotel encompassed in green foliage. The cottage feel was in full effect. Also available are views of the lake which are equally breathtaking.
MISSION POINT LINKS
Package Deals: http://www.missionpoint.com/packaged_getaways/ (Make sure to visit close to booking as deals may be subject to change.)
ISLAND MUST-DO ACTIVITIES
Half Day Bike Rentals for Touring the 8.2 Miles around the Island and taking in well-known sites like Arch Rock (Half Day is 4 Hours)
*Mommy Disclaimer: Bring some Aleve and Icy Hot if it’s been awhile since you have biked that much. Also consider you may be hauling ____ lbs. extra depending on which kid may or may not be attached to you. Come prepared. In all seriousness, though, the experience made me go out and buy myself a bike despite my sore bum. You can snag some seriously memorable pictures along the way. Mackinac is like the Capri, Italy of Northern Michigan – no joke.
Located a short distance outside of the Mission Point grounds via bike or walking, you will find the 207 steps that lead up to Arch Rock. There is a certain satisfaction to climbing all the way up there and the view is well worth it as you can see! There are also some beautiful trails in this area, pure Michigan water-front views!
My kids loved using the guide to find and identify the different species of butterflies. It kept them thoroughly entertained. Just around the corner as you exit, there is a cute gift shop and a few live creatures for the kids to enjoy including a tarantula, gecko, live bees making honey, and turtles!
Below is a link where you can get information on rates, hours of operations and special features of historic Fort Mackinac! Kids Quarters is a special area that features interactive games and hands-on activities for the little ones!
Mackinac Island Fudge
On the island, you have your pick of fantastic fudge places. We liked Joann’s Fudge so much we even ordered more when we got back! Take in the sites from a carriage ride at least once while you are there! The kids will love it and where else can you do that? It was anywhere from $3-$5 per person and well worth it for the giddy faces it produced.
The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel’s historic charm conveys a story all its own. We went there for brunch and toured the grounds. It serves as a fantastic place to capture some beautiful family photos as well.
If you are traveling with another family or in laws and you are able to sneak away for a date night, it makes for a romantic view of the island as well. There are many restaurant options for a romantic dinner. Check out Mary’s Bistro on the water. It is the right mix of quaint and romantic. You can dine outside overlooking the lake and watch the sunset. There is nothing more perfect than that in my book. Finish the date off with a horse-drawn carriage ride around the island for some amazing views and time cuddling with your date!
And the best part was….TIME…take lots and lots of walks and just enjoy time together. The fresh air on Mackinac Island did these kiddos some good and the big kids too!