Archive for the ‘Mackinaw Island’ Category

Mackinac Island is a jewel in the middle of the Great Lakes and is a port of call for many Great Lakes cruises. The island is located nearly in the center of the Great Lakes waterway, making it an easy stop for Great Lakes cruise ships.

Centuries ago Mackinac Island was recognized by the natives as a holy place, a place to meet and bury their most important and honored chiefs. The first Europeans visited the island in the 1600s. These were explorers, missionaries and fur traders, the famed “Voyageurs” of that era.

Today, Great Lakes cruise ships regularly stop and let passengers visit and tour the island fort along with the host of local shops and businesses that line the main street. There is also ferry service available from the mainland for those who want to visit but have no interest in cruising the Great Lakes. There are several ferry services available and both luxury cruise ships and local ferries regularly stop here.

Mackinac Island is non-motorized, meaning that motorized vehicles are restricted to emergency uses only. So Great Lakes cruisers should plan to walk or rent bicycles, horses, or catch a buggy ride, all of which are readily available on the island.

Great Lakes cruise passengers will find that besides touring the fort or shopping, there is always a trip to sample the world famous Mackinac Island Fudge which is made fresh daily in an island shop. The historic areas of town also host regular demonstrations of early American crafts, and Great Lakes cruisers might find the tour of the island’s reputedly haunted locations interesting.

If passengers haven’t had enough of cruising the Great Lakes, there are higher observation points where one can look down on the harbor area and watch the flow of Great Lakes cruise ships and local ferries as they bring passengers on and off the island.

Then there is the butterfly house. Many people don’t know that the 3rd oldest live butterfly exhibit in the country is located on Mackinac Island. This is an 1800 square foot tropical garden filled with hundreds of different butterflies. A butterfly house is odd thing to find in a Northern climate, and Mackinaw Island is perhaps an even odder location to find it, but this is an exhibit that is well worth the visit. It’s this type of unique flavor that makes Great Lakes Cruises different from any others.

Great Lakes cruisers will find there are four very small malls on the island and a number of other shops. None of these are large stores, and most of them are only open seasonally. The thing to remember about this place is that it closes for the winter and the only way to reach the mainland after the lakes freeze over is by snowmobile.  As with all other ports on the Great Lakes, Summer belongs to cruising the Great Lakes and winter belongs to the more exotic luxury cruises.

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