Mackinac Island Carriage Tours

Jul/20/2011 4 Malia Lane
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

July 18, 2011

During my first trip to Mackinac Island, I walked around till my feet hurt, then biked around till my butt hurt, so this time when I went back, I opted to let the horses of Mackinac Island Carriage Tours cart me around for a while…

Your carriage awaits M’lady!

It was especially great to have my friends, Sandy & Ken, join me for another MI adventure.  It’s so handy to have a great photographer and security detail on board – LOL!

The drivers were friendly, fun and full of historic facts about the sights we were seeing.  Beth is a relatively new driver, so she doesn’t have her permanent team yet.  With drivers being responsible for washing down their horses at the end of the tour, I think that’s great and gives them the opportunity to really bond with their team.  Another interesting fact: horses on the island contribute 4,000 – 5,000 pounds of manure each day, most of it going to the Grand Hotel for composting on the flowers and grounds there.

The covered carriage ride kept us cool while we passed glorious gardens framing the elaborate Victorian architecture of the houses, hotels and B&Bs.

But I literally gasped as we approached what I consider to be the crowning jewel of Mackinac Island – The Grand Hotel!  All who know me have heard how obsessed I’ve been about seeing this hotel since 1980 when the movie Somewhere in Time was released.  The most romantic film ever in my opinion, it was filmed here and I’ve been fantasizing about setting foot on that porch ever since then.  As all you know me can’t believe, I’m being patient and waiting for just the right time to spend the whole day there – just as soon as I see the movie at least one more time before my visit.

I liked how you can get off and back on at your leisure at some of the stops.  At this stop, Surrey Hill Square, you can grab a bite to eat or drink, but don’t pass up the displays of the antique carriages, the Mackinac Island Hearse, “the official hearse used by Island residents…since 1875.”  Also seen is the Steam Fire Engine Pumper, used on Mackinac from the mid-1800’s.

Also at this stop is Wings of Mackinac, a place I enjoyed so much (I had butterflies all over me)!

At the Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery where the earliest interments likely date to the mid 1820’s, we learned that this is only one of four cemeteries that is authorized to fly the flag at half mast permanently.  This is a pop question on the tour, so if you want to go to the head of the class, the other ones are Pearl Harbor, Gettysburg and Arlington.

You can get out briefly at Arch Rock, and in my opinion, this is a must-stop-and-see!  It’s a natural limestone formation that rises 146 feet above the shoreline of Lake Huron.  You can see the walk/bike path at water’s edge way down below and I remember seeing the steps that you can take from there, and hearing a guy say there are over 140 to get to the top, so I definitely think I prefer getting to it this way!

This panorama of crystal clear waters of differing hues of blues and greens, topped off by an incredible sky and interesting clouds was one of my very favorite views.

Being greeted at Fort Mackinac by the Avenue of Flags and a lovely lady in Victorian garb, we got off the carriage ride here to enjoy this tour and I’ll be posting more about this fantastic fort soon!

I really enjoyed my tour of the island by Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, and was glad to be part of their history of being the world’s largest, oldest and continuously operated horse and buggy livery.

You can buy separate tickets for individual parts or combination tours on the island, but a package that includes all the “must-see” stuff is the best deal.  However, it must be purchased at least 7 days prior to arrival, so check it out at Mackinac Island Experience Package.  Here’s what it includes – the rates in brackets are regular adult rates if purchased separately:

  • Round Trip ticket on the ferry of your choice.  [$19 + $8 if bringing a bike] (prices if ordered online)
  • Ticket for Mackinac Island Carriage Tours – 1-3/4 hour narrated, horse drawn tour with stops at Surrey Hill Museum, Arch Rock, and Fort Mackinac.  [$23.50]
  • Admission to Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory at Surrey Hill.  [$6.00]
  • Admission to Fort Mackinac [$10.50] (includes admission to 5 historic downtown buildings)
  • Admission to Grand Hotel before 5:00 PM.  [$10.00 just to tour the hotel]

Price is $59.50 for this package, but must be purchased online with a credit card, with an additional handling fee of $9.  Click here for more info.  So basically you save $8.50 per person with this option.

However you choose to do it, just do it – you won’t be sorry!