A few months ago, I took Siella on a mommy daughter trip. It was the sweetest little escape with one on one time and memories we will cherish forever. With three children, I’ve always tried to squeeze in time alone with each, but after that trip, I realized just how special it can be if you actually escape for a few days with just one child at time. Since that getaway, Ryder has been begging for a one on one trip, so with school out it was the time to plan our getaway.
When I first heard about Mackinac Island, I was intrigued by the uniqueness and quaint setting of this island, so I couldn’t wait to check it off my bucket list. For those of you who haven’t heard about this place, Mackinac Island is little, in fact only 3.8 square miles, located at the intersection of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. One of the most notable distinctions of Mackinac Island is that motor vehicles have been prohibited on the island since 1898, giving the island a truly historical character. The primary methods of transportation on the island are bicycles, horse-drawn carriage, walking, and hiking. Based on its location, visits to Mackinac Island have become a tradition of countless families in the United States and Canada, redefining the term “getting away from it all.”
At first the idea of getting there from New York sounded a bit daunting, but travel to the island itself actually added to the adventure of it all. After two flights, NYC to Minnesota, then Minnesota to Pellston, Michigan, we boarded a very short ferry ride from Mackinac City to Mackinac Island.
From the first steps off the boat and onto the island, I could feel something special about that place. It was bizarre and refreshing to not be inundated with the sound, noise and smell of constant motor vehicle traffic. And, the main town is filled with fun little gift shops, ice cream parlors, and lots of fudge shops, adding to the quaint small town charm.
To find our bearings and get use to walking everywhere, by foot we made our way to the Mission Point Resort. Upon arrival, you can feel that escape from even the tiny town into a more quiet and relaxed setting. Mission Point Resort offers the most diverse range of guest rooms on Mackinac Island, including standard rooms, family suites, romantic suites, and luxurious signature suites. While, Ryder and I did not stay in a family suite, I took note for when we return with our entire crew.
Growing up in New York, you may have heard of fudge, but its not engrained in community and culture like it is on Mackinac Island. With this in mind, we had to head back into town to try some of this famous fudge. With so many places to choose from, Joann’s Fudge was recommended by our friends at the resort so that was our first stop. It was Ryder’s first fudge experience, and needless to say, he was immediately hooked. I have to admit, it was probably the best fudge I’ve ever tasted.
After our quick sweet indulgence, our first adventure was cruising around Lake Huron. Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes, and it’s so massive that it felt like we were in the ocean. Coming from NYC, we rarely spend time on a lake, much less one of the Great Lakes, and I was blown away that such a beautiful place exists in Northern Michigan.
Our incredible tour guides from Mission Point, explained the history of the island, pointing out all key attractions, like St. Ingnas Island, the Mackinac Bridge, and two other surrounding islands. All of Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark, with more than 80% of the island preserved and protected as the Mackinac Island State Park.
Yes, Ryder even got to drive the boat, followed by a plunge into the lake. He was notably more cautious than usual, but he clearly loved every minute of it.
This is the view of Mission Point from water.
Later than evening, we grabbed a dinner at one of Mission Point’s three restaurants. From buffet to fine dining, deli style to al fresco, Mission Point offers a taste for every palette and a dining style for every guest. Whether you are an overnight guest of resort or just visiting Mackinac Island for the day, any island visitor can enjoy these food spots. My favorite restaurant while there, Chianti is an upscale Italian restaurant with an extensive wine list and one-of-a-kind martini bar. Other Mission Point options are Bistro on the Greens, featuring lakefront al fresco dining and Round Island Bar and Grill with an extensive beer selection and lake view bar, offering a more casual experience.
We’ve been hitting the mini golf courses at home, so Ryder was so excited about the course on the grounds of Mission Point. Referred to as “Putt Putt” by the locals, we played every single night after dinner. They offered something called Glow Night, in which guests wear glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets, and hit glow in the dark balls into the light up flags. It was a blast!
After our extremely full day of traveling and conquering much of the island, we turned in early for another full day ahead. When we came down from our room in the morning, the team at Mission Point had arranged an incredible horse and carriage tour for us. They even packed lunch for us to enjoy while we sightseeing.
Our tour guide was incredibly informative, sharing pretty much everything there is to know about the island along the way. At certain points during our journey, we pulled off so Ryder and I could walk around, to explore a bit.
Doesn’t this view look like we are in a tropical island in the Caribbean! The lake is so clear and blue, you can see the bottom.
Highlights of our tour included this Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac Avenue of Flags, and the Surrey Hills Carriage Museum.
We were surprised to learn that Fort Mackinac began the island’s military history, and two battles during the War of 1812 were fought here.
After our tour, we spent the remainder of the afternoon at Fort Mackinac, the oldest building in Michigan. Fort Mackinac served as a home for soldiers and their families, and eventually the headquarters for Mackinac National Park.
Believe it or not, this cannon still works, and guests can actually fire it. You are also able to see the staff dressed as soldiers fire rifles, march and really make history come alive.
On our way back to Mission Point, we stopped at the Butterfly House, another famous attraction on Mackinac Island.
The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House is the first of its kind in Michigan, and the 3rd oldest LIVE butterfly exhibit in the United States. The world-renowned facility has 1800 sq ft of tropical garden filled with hundreds of live butterflies from four continents.
As if we didn’t do or see enough this day, Ryder insisted on going back into town for a little more fudge before dinner at Chianti. I have to say too, I loved dining at Mission Point, becaue they were very receptive to Ryder’s gluten free allergy. We met with Chef Gabriel Vera, who came to our table each meal, where he indicated which foods were safe. The Chef even gave me this incredible recipe for biscuits and crostini’s, that Ryder was obsessed with during our entire trip. And I’ve made these for him at least three times since we’ve been back!
Pan de Yuca
1 cup Yuca Flour
1 pd Queso Fresco grated
2 tbsp Milk
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 tsp Sugar
Combine ingredients in mixer until smooth. Portion rolls with ice scream scoop and shape into balls by hand. Pre heat oven 375 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy!
The colors of the island were captivating. At every corner we turned, we were greeted by beautiful flowers and landscapes.
And to cap off our last day, Mission Point set up a kayaking and parasailing adventure for us.
I had gone parasailing many years ago in the Caribbean, but this experience with my 7 year old son was unreal. We flew around the island overlooking views of Mission Point and the Mackinac Bridge. I couldn’t get over the massive lake we flew high above.
Our last evening was spent on the grounds of Mission Point.
We walked the grounds during sunset, and stumbled upon a beaver dam. We were hoping to see some of the beaver, but spotted an otter swimming around the lake instead. These, and other wildlife like garden snakes and toads were some of Ryder’s favorite things during our many walks.
The sweetest part of the trip was Ryder continously thanking me for taking him away. It was special time spent with him, and at a pretty special place. He asked to have his sisters back next year, and I couldn’t agree with him more.
The thrills didn’t end on the island. As a result of our super early flight out of Pellston, we flew from the island in the early hours of the morning in neat six seater plane. Too bad is was too dark to see outside, but this experience was so cool, nonetheless. After three flights, we somehow touched down in NYC by Noon. I was shocked by just how close, and yet how far this little paradise is from our hometown.