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Off the Beaten Path: Mackinac Island, Michigan by Juliet Martini

It’s spring time, and this is usually my time to start thinking about traveling somewhere for a change of scenery and to recharge my writing muse’s batteries. It seems every year my ‘places I must see’ list keeps growing. It’s a big world out there, and as a writer, and my muse as a permanent travel companion, we’re always looking for inspiration in interesting and fun places to inspire my writing as a setting for a plot or a story I’ll eventually type on the computer.

Any place you visit will generate a story. In these newest segments of my ‘Off the Beaten Path’ series, I want to share some destination perfect for inspiring writing and as potential backdrops for your next book. We all know from writing romance, just as it is with traveling, if you walk down an unknown street, turn left instead of right when driving, or even revisit a vacation spot of your childhood, inspiration can be found everywhere.

If you’re a fan of the romance/time travel movie “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour, you’re already familiar with one of my favorite places on the planet filled with both spectacular beautiful, and a romantic feel all its own. Welcome to Mackinac Island, Michigan!

Growing up in Michigan, I spend many summer trips on this resort island. Located just off the eastern tip of the Michigan mitten on Lake Huron, this emerald island is slice of a Victorian New England village with its own Midwest flair. Visitors will need to take a 35 to 45 minute picturesque ferry boat ride to its shores where they’ll be greeted by a extraordinary surprise.

Mackinac Island is one of the only locations in the U.S. that doesn’t allow cars. Say hello to walking, biking or hopping on a horse-drawn carriage as a means of transportation during your visit. Another unique treat for visitors is the Island’s most popular main export thanks to the thousands of tourist who buy by the pound – fudge. Mackinac Fudge is famous all over the world and because tourists buy so much of it, they’ve been nicknamed ‘fudgies’ by the local.

Throughout history this 3.8 square mile island has played an important role in the U.S. and its history. Beginning as a prehistoric fishing camp for Native Americans; a French fur-trading outpost; use as a major military installation with the building of Fort Mackinac; its role during the American Revolution and the War of 1812; to its discovery after the Civil War as a tourist destination for Michigan residents and the wealthy industrialists of the Gilded Age, this island offers anabundance history and historical attractions.

Closed and cut off from the mainland during the winter, Mackinac Island opens for business when the ice melts on Lake Huron and the ferry boats can dock. Along with its reputation for beautiful hiking and bike trails, clean sandy beaches and water recreations, you can relax in a calming environment to unwind, or enjoy paradise at any of its bed and breakfasts and resorts. Yet, a visit to Mackinac wouldn’t be complete without taking a couple hours to visit or stay at Mackinac’s most famous location – the Grand Hotel.

Sitting on the shore overlooking the water, the Grand Hotel, a registered historic national landmark built in 1886, was a summerretreat for railroad employees and their families. Along with its breath taking water views of the Straits of Mackinac, golf course, pool, beautifully decorated rooms and five-star dining accommodations, the Grand is also famous for possessing the longest front porch in the world at 600 feet. Guests visiting the hotel can sit and relax on one of the porch’s rocking chairs, visit its gardens and swimming pool, stroll along its walking promenade or do a little romantic flirting on the ‘flirtation walk.’

So consider something different and off the beaten path for your next vacation or story’s setting. Mackinac Island has everything from the historic to the recreational. Consider all the fun of relaxing and inspiring your muse into a relaxed frame of mind as you dream of all the possibilities and the next road to creativity.

Mary Preston - May 10, 2013 - 4:10 am

I have seen SOMEWHERE IN TIME – years ago. I should watch it again.

I love the idea of no cars & it all looks so beautiful.

Marilyn Baron - May 10, 2013 - 8:55 am

This blog was so well written and now I really want to visit Mackinac Island. I find travel inspirational too. Thanks for blogging with us.

Dianna Love - May 10, 2013 - 8:58 am

This is great, Juiliette, because my husband and I are riding our motorcycles from Atlanta to the Upper Peninsula in June (doing a quick stop in Naperville, IL for a reader event) and I want to see Mackinac Island. I’m really jazzed to go after reading your blog.

pjpuppymom - May 10, 2013 - 9:25 am

Great blog! I’m a native Michigander too (though I live in the South now) and love Mackinac Island. We stayed at the Grand Hotel when I was a teenager and it’s one of my fondest memories. Some beautiful country up there in Northern Michigan!

joysann - May 10, 2013 - 9:55 am

My grandkids and their mom live in the UP so we cross the Mackinac Bridge a couple times a year. Each time I say one day we have to go there, but we haven’t yet had the time. It sounds so lovely, and I will get there one day.

Connie Gillam - May 10, 2013 - 10:05 am

When my husband and I lived in Ohio, we decided to take a camping trip to Mackinac. The state of Michigan is a big state with four children in the car. We got as far as Muskegon State Park on the west coast before the ‘are we there yets’ wore us down.

Tamara LeBlanc - May 10, 2013 - 9:08 pm

I’m in LOVE!!! I must visit one day. My favorite part, no cars.
Thanks so much for the pics and for the great post.
It’s like I was there :)

Have a great evening,

Hildie McQueen - May 10, 2013 - 11:37 pm

I will have to plan a trip. My brother lives in Michigan, but I’ve never been. Definitely on my list now. :laugh:

Sandra Elzie - May 13, 2013 - 11:51 am

This sounds wonderful. It is definitely going on my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing.

Susan Carlisle - May 13, 2013 - 8:01 pm

I love the place. One of the things to do is to stay at the hotel. I couldn’t afford to have the whole family stay so I will have to go back with my husband or a friend one day. It would be a perfect place to write.

Maxine - May 13, 2013 - 10:28 pm

Juliette, Oh, this is one of my favorite places in the world! We went to Mackinac Island, and I absolutely loved it! Somewhere in Time is fabulous but does not do it full justice. Beautiful, cool, and a fabulous place to visit. I loved the small town at the port.

Juliet Martini - May 15, 2013 - 5:18 pm

Glad everyone loved my sharing of Mackinac Island! With the two newer resorts that open over the last 15 years, if such a fun place to relax and even write. I’m hoping to make my way there again this summer when I visit my sister’s cottage which is 45 minutes from the ferry — it’s so worth taking the time to visit. And don’t forget to try the fudge :) Thanks again for all the wonderful feed back! — Juliet Martini

Amy - May 16, 2013 - 2:44 pm

Wow, sounds like a magical place! It’s so cool that it’s all walking, bikes, or horses :) And that hotel sounds spectacular. I will have to add this to my list of places to visit!

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