Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Horseback riders pass the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Opened in 1887, the Grand Hotel is the largest summer hotel in the world. Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on Mackinac Island, so everyone walks, rides bicycles, takes a horse-drawn carriage or goes on horseback.

This June, I finally visited Mackinac Island, Michigan. I’ve wanted to visited Mackinac Island, Michigan, and the Grand Hotel, ever since I saw “Somewhere in Time,” the 1980 romantic time-traveling movie starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. (Thanks to my husband. He did all of the driving.) What took me so long? The island and the hotel are fabulous.

The island is definitely a trip back in time. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, except an ambulance and a police car and snow mobiles in the winter. People get around on bicycles, on horse back, in horse-drawn carriages and on foot. The island is famous for its lilacs and fudge. The island was the second U.S. National Park, after Yellowstone National Park, but it was turned over to the state of Michigan. Now, eighty percent of the island is Michigan State Park.

Opened in 1887, the Grand Hotel is celebrating its 125th anniversary this summer.  Five U.S. Presidents have visited: Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford (who was raised in Michigan and helped to build cabins on the island as a Boy Scout) George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  Thomas Edison demonstrated his phonograph for the public for the first time on the hotel’s porch, as well as demonstrating other new inventions during Edison’s frequent stays. Mark Twain spoke frequently at the Grand Hotel during his speaking tours. In recent years, Russian leaders Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev have visited.

The Grand Hotel Sign.

The Grand Hotel, opened in 1887, is the largest summer hotel in the world and has the world’s longest front porch. The Grand Hotel is a National Historic Landmark and is considered by many travel experts to be one of the best hotels in the world. We didn’t stay at the Grand Hotel (maybe some day), but we did pay the ten dollars each to visit the hotel and grounds. The fee was instituted last year, probably because without the fee the hotel would be swarmed with the thousands of day trippers from the mainland who could take all of the seats on the porch. It may be the longest porch in the world, but it can’t fit everyone! Links below take you to more information about the hotel and the island, plus there’s a link to my post about Mackinac Island fudge.

Here’s rush hour on Mackinac Island, Michigan. These carriages are passing by the Grand Hotel. There are about 500 horses on the island at peak tourist season in the summer, mostly Percheron and Belgian Draft horses, our carriage drivers told us. The carriage horses work a few hours every other day in the summer and rest all winter on the mainland.

A family plays croquet on the lawn of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Here’s one section of the porch of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, the longest porch in the world. You can see the Grand Hotel’s signature red geraniums in the flower boxes and on the steps.

A pianist entertains guests during tea time in the lobby of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Note the design of large red geraniums in the carpet. Interior designer Carleton Varney designed the Grand Hotel in its late 19th century decor including its Pelargonium geraniums.

A large chess set is ready for play on the porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. On the horizon is the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the Upper and Lower Penisulas of Michigan.

The 1947 musical-comedy “This Time for Keeps” was filmed at the Grand Hotel. The movie starred Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams, and the hotel’s pool is named after Williams. Williams was a frequent guest at the hotel, one of our guides said.

This view from the Cupola Bar at the top of of the Grand Hotel shows the hotel grounds, Mackinac Island town and the ferries making their way across Lake Huron from the island to the mainland.

A restaurant in the Grand Hotel.

A carriage delivers passengers to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Interior Designer Carleton Varney designed the late 19th century interiors of the Grand Hotel. All of the 385 guest rooms have a different design.

A carriage takes guests to the Grand Hotel from the ferry landing on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Summer houses line West Bluff Road just beyond the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Unless you are a registered guest at the Grand Hotel, you must pay ten dollars to tour the hotel and grounds.

Map of Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Scenes from “Somewhere in Time”

About the “Somewhere in Time” movie.

About the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Views of some of the beautifully decorated rooms can be seen here: Official website of the Grand Hotel.

My post about Mackinac Island Fudge.

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13 Comments

Filed under Photography, Travel

13 responses to “Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

  1. Michelle

    I’ve always wanted to go there. Thanks for the sneak peek.

    It really wasn’t as hard or as far as I imagined it would be to get there. I’d love to return. We could organize a group some time. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle! Cathy

  2. Whoa. I’ve seen the pictures of the rockers on the porch before, but seeing the photo of the people playing croquet shows how truly grand aka HUGE the hotel is. My brother lives in Michigan and has been there. I’d love to go.

    Hey, take me with you! I’d love to go again! Cathy

  3. I’m going to try to convince my husband to go there soon! This looks so wonderful.

    Nanette, It’s definitely worth the trip! I know you like to travel. Cathy

  4. I am going to the island next month. So happy to see your post!

    Have a great time! I wish I could have stayed longer. I need to plan a return trip. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Cathy

  5. Wow! It looks amazing! I love the view of the lake. What gorgeous photographs!

    ~Daniél

    Thanks, Daniél! The whole area is very photogenic. It’s hard to take a bad photograph! Cathy

  6. You had me at fudge.

    Thanks to you, I now know that Mackinac Island exists. I’d never heard of it before. Also thanks to you I now want to live there. No cars and lots of fudge. It sounds like a dream come true. Great photos and great information! And I’ve never seen that movie, either, but I’ve heard about it. I’ll watch and look for the Grand Hotel.

  7. You are such a talented writer Cathy, as well as a gifted writer Cather and photographer. Over the past month I’ve read mosts of the great posts on this blog and already have a list of places to visit that will take years to work through. I’m so very grateful you share your talent and your travels with others in this way. Thank you. Rick

  8. Of course! From just looking at your first photo before I read your words, I thought of “Somewhere In Time”. I asked myself, could that be the hotel in the movie? Well indeed it is and thanks so much for the details and all the photos, the virtual tour. It’s just beautiful and I’m amazed how well kept it is after so many years.

  9. Pingback: Old Man Gauntlet « Shouts from the Abyss

  10. I’m so jealous of the weather in your photos. I think I shared this with you before but when I visited 7 years ago, it was pelting sideways the entire time. Still beautiful but far less enjoyable than what you show here.

  11. Love Mackinac Island! Lovely place to spend a day wondering around!

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