I love Mackinaw. God, I love Mackinaw. I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with the greatest place in the world to stay when I wander up there and some great friends to stay there with.
A few years back, I was invited by my dear friend Katie to come up to her parents cottage, Windswept, in Mackinaw City. My god, this cottage is the BEST. It’s the coziest place ever, boasting tons of cool stuff to look at ranging from the cottage’s history to her family heritage. It’s amazing. Not to mention Mrs. Scallen is always there and is always up for a chat. (Plus she makes breakfast in the morning, so it’s really the best ever.)
Mackinaw City is charming. I mean, everyone knows that Mackinaw Island is charming, with its history, lack of cars, and untouched atmosphere. But there’s something equally as charming as Mackinaw City, maybe because it’s often overlooked. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to meander around the city a bit, and below you’ll read about my findings.
Where to Stay:Â Well, Windswept, obviously. But since that’s not an option for you (you poor soul), I would recommend looking for a nice cabin or cottage on Air Bnb. Sure, you can find a hotel room no problem, but could pay the same amount and have an entire place to yourself. It’s worth a look.
What to See:Â
Where to Eat:Â The Keyhole boasts some delish pub fare, along with some genuinely awesome decor (I mean, keys…everywhere). I like it because it’s not a tourist trap. The outdoor sign simply reads BAR. According to Mrs. Scallen, queen of Mackinaw City, that’s where the locals go.
What to Skip:Â Skip the dairy free fudge. They’ll advertise it like it tastes the same and is good for you. Meanwhile, you’ll want to die.
Best Beaches:Â The supremely beautiful thing about Mackinaw City is that you can see the bridge from virtually any beach that you find yourself on. I’m spoiled with beach access at Windswept, but there are tons of parks in the area that allow you to walk right up to the water. Going in early spring? Watch out for the tiny bugs that are EVERYWHERE, as you will later find them dead in your bra.
Best Shopping:Â I’ve said this before, but I’m not a huge shopper when it comes to little souvenir shops. The best shop that I’ve ever been to in Mackinaw was actually on Mackinac island, and it’s called Little Luxuries. It has a ton of cool stuff, ranging from locally made jams to handmade wool children’s clothes and amazingly clever cards and stationary. This is a must-go.
Who to Meet: The MC Starbucks has some pretty great baristas. I can’t remember the name of my favorite one, but in my defense, I can’t remember anyone’s name ever.
Favorite Part: Mackinaw City is home to one of the world’s few certified dark parks, where you will be able to gaze upon the stars in an uninterrupted, light free fashion. It’s awesome as long as you aren’t terrified the whole time that you’ll be eaten by a bear.
Least Favorite Part:Â The bugs. Man, I’m just not a fan of bugs.
Best Moment:Â We decided to visit the dark park one night at about 11 pm, and were delighted to see that were the only ones there. That is until we came across road signs that were in the cutouts of colonial period small children. I get it, these signs were meant to be helpful and informative on your hike to the beach, but at midnightish in the pitch black, you are pretty positive that you’re about to be stabbed by a girl churning butter.
Worst Moment:Â As if that moment wasn’t terrifying enough, my friend Katie then went on the scare the bejeezus out of us when she yelled, “Get back in the car” once we began our hike. She thought it was funny. Nobody else did.
This is one of my favorite trips, and I look forward to it every year. If you haven’t made it up there, you need to asap.