My husband surprised me by planning a visit to Mackinac Island for our wedding anniversary a couple of weekends ago. We hadn't been there in 10 years and so were looking forward to it. We drove up to the region that Friday and used the Hampton Inn in Petoskey as our base. This hotel has a nice location: on a hill, so you can see the blue waters of Little Traverse Bay if your room, like ours, faces the water. If not, you can still see the bay from the breakfast dining area. Very nice!
We went up to Short's Brewery in Bellaire for dinner. My husband's a huge craft beer fan so that is the main draw for him, though he likes their pizza as well. I'm not crazy about their pizza, and the rest of the menu is rather limited. So I got the soft pretzel app with three dipping sauces (queso, peanut butter and homemade jam, and spicy mustard). Plenty substantial! Like most microbrewery eateries, Short's has a cool vibe.
You can learn more about Short's here.
Saturday morning, we hustled over to Mackinac City, hoping to make the 11:00 ferry to Mackinac Island. We made it with a few minutes to spare.
The view from our Star Line ferry boat:
Passing by the Mackinac Bridge. The water was quite choppy, so I was grateful that the ride was a short one.
First order of the day after docking on the island was getting lunch. We split a small pizza at Island Slice Pizzeria. The last time we were on the island, I think there was a pizza place in the same location but with a different name. It appeared that the menu was basically the same as before, and the pizza's pretty good. Website is here.
In case you didn't realize it, no cars are allowed on Mackinac Island, so people get around via bikes, carriage tours, renting their own carriages to drive, or by walking. My husband and I did the latter, so what follows are various pics along the route we took.
An empty carriage pulled by horses, followed by one filled with tourists.
The iconic Grand Hotel; always well-known in Michigan but became even more well-known after being featured in the 1980 movie Somewhere In Time. Fun fact: my husband and I saw this movie while living in East Lansing, MI. In the scene in which the Christopher Reeve character arrives at the Grand Hotel, he's shown driving up in a car. The movie audience immediately booed since cars aren't allowed on the island (obviously an exception was made for the movie filming). We enjoyed that dissent as an only-in-Michigan moment.
Pretty cottage with picket fence.
The Windermere Hotel, one of several lodging options on the island. Have never stayed there, but doesn't it look charming?
Yes, I didn't take many photos, but that was in part because we did so much walking. My Fitbit showed that I had logged almost nine miles by the time we were ready to board the ferry back to the mainland. I was tired enough that I didn't even go into any of the shops. Perhaps that was just as well, as the downtown area was crawling with visitors. Even though the summer tourist season was over, the weather was pleasant that weekend (sunny and in the low to mid 60's), so apparently that brought out the hordes. Yes, Mackinac Island's downtown gets crowded, and it's pricey, but we've always found it well worth an occasional visit.
Back in Petoskey, dinner was on the horizon. Via Yelp, my husband had scouted out Freshwater Grill, a place known for good local fish. Alas, it was unexpectedly closed when we arrived. A search of their website revealed that the owners were taking a well-deserved vacation after the busy summer season. So instead, we went to yet another craft beer-centric place, Beards Brewery. Since I'd been looking forward to seafood at Freshwater Grill, I got the fish and chips here. It was pretty good and I also enjoyed a black cherry cream pop (I was designated driver, after all) from Northwood Soda, a company in the region. My husband had the red curry bowl and, of course, more beer. Beards Brewery is nicely decorated inside and has a good view of the bay as well.
If you'd like to know more about Beards, check here.
As I'd said, my fish and chips dinner was good, but I wouldn't have ordered it if I'd known my husband had fish in mind for lunch the next day: Scalawags Whitefish And Chips on the edge of downtown Traverse City. This place looks pretty basic on the outside, but I loved the fishing-theme interior decor and took several pics:
A lineup of used (vintage?) outboard motors.
Old bait buckets turned into lamps above our booth.
And to go along with those bait buckets (at least, I think that's what they were), a grouping of old fishing poles.
Some fishy details on our table. Note the bobber-like salt and pepper shakers. I appreciate such attention to details!
My husband and I both got the whitefish sandwich baskets, which included fries and coleslaw. Other types of fish are available, but as whitefish is in the name of the restaurant, we felt that was the logical choice. And it was! An employee explained that the fish comes in freshly-caught from the region (Charlevoix area) and definitely tasted it. The whitefish had a subtle sweetness and was expertly prepared. I can highly recommend this place! Their website is here.
If it sounds like we mainly ate, drank and walked around on our excursion, you're correct. Even though we were visiting the region on a weekend, it was definitely a slower time of year. Most shops were closed in Petoskey by the time we hit downtown both evenings, and we simply didn't have much time in Traverse City since we stopped there on our way back home. But we'd had a very nice time anyway; it was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.
And it sure beat the trip I've just returned from, a visit to our daughter for a marathon cleaning session of her apartment. Her various grad school duties keep her quite busy, so I was being a nice mom to do some cleaning for her. Not sure if I'd do that again, but I'd certainly welcome another northern Michigan getaway!