|Subject: Re: Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, the dunes|
Having spent time on Mackinac Island 2 summers ago, I can tell you that you would have your choice of lodgings from standard chain-motels all the way up to the Grand Hotel, which is magnificent, http://www.grandhotel.com/
I stayed at the Island House, and it was quite nice and comfortable. I've also stayed at the Lake View Hotel which was O.K., just slightly dumpy. I was impressed with Mission Point, a resort-like place I toured, but it's perhaps about a mile down the coast. There are plenty of web sites with information on all the (limited) lodging choices on the Island http://www.mackinac.com/content/accommodations/
Although it is nice to stay in the center of town, it isn't absolutely necessary, especially since you will probably want to bring or rent bicycles. There are no cars allowed on the island, only horses and bikes. One afternoon, I decided to ride my bike around the entire island-- it was very easy and took perhaps an hour and a half with a few sightseeing stops. Once you adjust to the quiet, slow pace, it becomes such a charming, step-back-in-time, where the clip-clop of horse hooves on cobblestone is the only sound you'll hear. This is especially true at night once all the day-trippers (not so affectionately referred to as fudgies) have left. For reasons I cannot explain, Mackinac Island apparently has the world's best climatic conditions for making fudge.
Mackinac City on the mainland is another story. It's a complete tourist trap, with cheesy gift shops lining the main drag. And trap it does, since all visitors to the island have to leave their cars parked on the mainland.
I did not visit Picture Rocks or White Fish Point which are in the Upper Peninsula. To get to Mackinac Island, however we did choose to take the single ferry leaving from the north side of Mackinac Bridge, in St. Ignace. It was definitely less of a zoo at this dock, since most of the fudgies never use it.
I do not know the area around Traverse Bay and Sleeping Bear Dunes very well, except to say that it is nicely set up for tourists. I prefer the area around Harbor Springs, which is a beautiful little town with a gorgeous port, lots of artists, restaurants, walks, antique shops, and yes fudge shops. The scenic drive along the coast from Mackinac down to Harbor Springs can take you past Sturgeon Bay which is just as beautiful as Sleeping Bear dunes, and a nice place to camp or picnic. Watch out for poison ivy. I also love the little villages of Cross Village and Good Hart, on Rte 119 down from Sturgeon Bay to Harbor Springs.
Joel, in Chicago