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Pedals, not pistons, propel travellers on Mackinac Island

By Bob Boughner, Special to The Daily News

Mission Point Resort. (Handout)

Mission Point Resort. (Handout)

MACKINAC ISLAND, MICH. - 

Picture a major North American tourist destination without a single motorized vehicle.

There is such a place and it’s a historic island located at the northern tip of Michigan, within eyesight of the mighty Mackinac Bridge in the Straits of Mackinac.

Horses and bicycles take the place of autos, which were banned in 1898. Picturesque horse-drawn carriages have created a unique, charming and historic ambiance.

Most visitors travel by foot power, either walking or peddling. Many of the island's popular sites, including Fort Mackinac, the Manoogian Art Museum, the village business district and Arch Rock are less than a mile from the Visitor's Centre.

Other spectacular sights, including Fort Holmes, Sugar Loaf Rock, the 1814 battlefield and British Landing, are popular destinations for more adventurous hikers.

Mackinac Island is a bicyclist's paradise, especially the road around the island. Eight miles in circumference, Lake Shore Boulevard (M-185) is the only state highway where cars are banned.

The picturesque route takes riders past Arch Rock, British Landing and Brown's Brook and provides spectacular views of the shimmering blue waters of the Straits of Mackinac.

Another great way to see the island is by horsepower. Horse-drawn carriage tours of the island's scenic and historic sites are very popular.

Those who prefer a hands-on approach can go horseback riding or rent a drive-it-yourself carriage. Horse-drawn taxis are also available.

Great Lakes American Indians were Mackinac Island's first summer visitors. They paddled to the island during summer to fish for trout, pike, sturgeon, herring and whitefish.

John Jacob Astor established the American Fur Company northern department headquarters on Mackinac Island and by the 1820s the fur trade was flourishing.

Furs from the company's winter camps in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota flowed to Mackinac every summer.

The rising throng of Victorian visitors produced a tremendous demand for overnight accommodations.

The Mission House, Lake View and Island House were among the earliest hotels serving island visitors.

In 1887 the immense and palatial Grand Hotel opened its doors and established Mackinac Island as the most fashionable summer resort in the Great Lakes.

Summer cottages appeared on the island's cedar-lined bluffs in the early 1880s. By the 1890s, magnificent mansions were constructed in keeping with the new standard set by the Grand Hotel.

Our home away from home for our brief stay on the island was Mission Point Resort, the island's largest and most diverse resort.

It features 243 rooms and is nestled on the southeastern shore of the island, overlooking Lake Huron.

The 18-acre resort offers meeting space, movie theatre, executive putting course, observation tower and historic museum, four restaurants, heated outdoor pool, spa and fitness centre and the Kids Island Club for children.

It has been selected among the “Top 10 Family Resorts'' by Outdoor magazine.

One of the most popular summer packages for families is the “ultimate family getaway package'' which is now available.

This all-inclusive package, which starts at $315, is perfect for families to experience everything the historic island has to offer.

The family package includes two nights lodging, four round trip ferry tickets, four tower museum tickets, four Butterfly House tickets, four gold rounds at Greens of Mackinac and four two-hour bike rentals. Daily breakfast and dinner is also included.

Also available is the “Pure Michigan'' package, a two-night stay priced starting at $140 per night and includes lodging, breakfast, round trip ferry tickets, bike rentals and tickets to Fort Mackinac.

There is also a “Ghost Hunter'' package and an “Island Romance'' package.

The resort is also pet friendly.

For more information visit www.missionpoint.com or call 1-800-833-7711.

Thanks to Kevin Frisch for arranging our island visit and to Stephen Merriman of Mission Point Resort for hosting us.

We've made numerous trips to Mackinac Island over the years and have always been more than pleased with the outcome.

My first few visits were with the late Bruce Bradley, a well-known farmer in Dover Township.

Bruce was heavily involved in the Moral Rearmament Movement, which got its beginning at what today is Mission Point Resort.

Bruce worked tirelessly for the cause and helped build the state-of-the-art theatre on the property. He also donated a team of horses and supported the Up With People singers when they performed in Chatham for a number of years.

HERITAGE CELEBRATIONS IN MOORETOWN

The Moore Museum in Mooretown on the St. Clair River will be the site of a Heritage Festival June 24.

The event runs from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and features steam engines, rope making, candle making, model trains. Ice cream churning, an antique watch display, rug hooking and music by “Three Joes and Bill.''

Admission is $6 for adults and $2.50 for children.

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

How would you feel dangling 365 metres above Toronto?

Exhilarated; scared; in awe?

Like Edgewalk on Facebook, and then upload your best photo of what your face would look like on Edge Walk.

Three lucky winners will win an Edge Walk for them and a friend.

Readers are encouraged to share their travel experiences or questions with Bob by calling 519-354-2000 ext 317, e-mailing bob.boughner@sunmedia.ca, or faxing 519-436-0949.

 


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