Imagine your town was 80% state park, didn’t allow motorized vehicles, and had an economy largely based on fudge. Clearly, Mackinac Island would not be a year-round paradise for everyone, but for thousands seeking the good life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it makes for a perfect summer getaway. Vine Vera Mackinac Island aims to capture and enhance the beauty and the benefits of time spent in this northern oasis.
Tucked in a corner of America’s second largest lake (fourth largest in the world), Mackinac Island was first settled by a small Native American tribe that was mostly wiped out by larger neighboring groups. By the 17th century, French fur traders, who ranged far and wide across the continent long before most European settlement, had established a presence on Mackinac. Until the decline of fur trading in the mid-19th century, Mackinac Island remained primarily a fur trading outpost with inhabitants of French and mixed indigenous-European descent. During this time, when the Great Lakes and their tributaries were important transportation and trading avenues, the island held a strategic position in the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and the British took control after the Seven Years’ War, eventually establishing a fort. For the same strategic reasons, the island was the site of battles between American and British forces during the War of 1812.
After the construction of the Grand Hotel in 1887, Mackinac Island became a major attraction for visitors from the surrounding Great Lakes region and elsewhere, particularly elite industrialists from the growing cities of Detroit, Chicago, Erie, and Montreal. Aside from hosting close to 400 luxury guest rooms and the “longest porch in the world,” the Grand has also attracted a roster of guests most hotels would kill for. Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Ford, H.W. Bush, and Clinton have all graced the Grand. So have Russian heads of state — Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev have both stayed there. Thomas Edison and Mark Twain were also frequent guests.
Literary and art history loom large for such a tiny community. Art shows occur on the island every year, and there are several galleries in town. Mackinac was honored with a description by Alexis De Tocqueville in his influential profile of a young United States, Democracy in America, as well as in works by Henry David Thoreau and Herman Melville.
With a luxury hotel of the Grand’s stature and the beauty of the surrounding lake, protected forests, and limestone cliffs and rock formations, it would be difficult to find a vacation destination as uniquely enticing as Mackinac Island. It’s perfect for cyclists, swimmers, sailing enthusiasts, and nature lovers of every stripe, while its well-charted and significant historical background provides a sense of ghostly gravity lacking in many other prime resort locations. At the same time, world-class accommodations give visitors the option to sit back, enjoy top-notch cuisine, and stare out at Lake Huron’s blue expanse. The lack of motor vehicles means there are no traffic-choked village streets, as in many other quaint tourist towns at high season. And, of course, Vine Vera Mackinac Island is on hand to maximize the health and beauty benefits of a relaxing, rejuvenating stay.