Visitor Information, News, Guide, Videos, Photos, History
I have a big update after our visit to the island last week. Every year I take a look at what’s new on the island and this year there is quite a bit to report.
Downtown is seeing lots of changes, most for the better, in my opinion. One thing that can’t be denied is that business owners are spending money making improvements, upgrades or changes to their businesses. After several years of stagnation, it’s nice to see fresh coats of paints and new businesses opening their doors.
On Market Street, Mackinac’s Little Gallery opened in the space once occupied by painter Richard Wolfgang, who closed his shop in 2010. The new gallery is filled with Mackinac art and is worth a visit.
Several changes in food operators have also occurred this year. The Village Inn, a perennial favorite is now Cawthorne’s Village Inn and is operated by Grand Hotel. There are also 4 suites above the restaurant available for rent.
Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub (I always thought that was a funny name considering Sinclair was Scottish) is now the Huron Street Pub and Grill and is operated by the same folks that operate the Mustang Lounge. We had dinner at Huron Street and enjoyed both the atmosphere and our dinner selections.
Eating healthy on Mackinac has never been particularly easy, so I was pleased to see the owners of the Cannonball at British Landing open Twist–n-Sprouts. It’s an interesting mix of a salad bar (with a nice selection of items) with a frozen yogurt store. Two thumbs up for this operation, which I understand will soon offer a selection of sandwiches as well. I’ve always thought someone should make it exceptionally easy to make a picnic lunch and it seems Twist–n-Sprouts may be doing just that. Yes, the frozen yogurt is good, too!
Just east of the harbor is J.L. Beanery Coffee House which has one of the best views of the harbor with it’s large windows. It’s been in operation as long as I can remember and has changed owners a couple of times. I’m happy to report the new owners have updated the interior and seem to have a better grasp of the operation. It’s once again a favorite for us to visit for a light breakfast and a great cup of coffee.
Departing from the Yoder Dock behind the Beanery is the Ugly Anne. Formerly a lobster boat, visitors can now take a one hour tour enjoying a different perspective of the island. Operated by a former member of the Mackinac Tourism Bureau, the tour includes details on the island and it’s history. Video monitors and a pre-recorded narration supplement the tour. My only complaint is that the boat stays a good bit off-shore. I would have enjoyed seeing Arch Rock and Round Island Lighthouse from a closer perspective. I’m sure there are navigation rules to follow, so barring a change in course, bring a DSLR with a decent zoom lens. That said, I’d still recommend the tour, especially on a warm sunny day!
Baxter’s Coin Shop was closed for some remodeling and painting, but reopened on July 4th. Nearby Frank Shama Gifts also closed last year and has reopened as a more typical tourist gift shop.
Work continues on The Bicycle Inn where McNally Cottage stood this time last year. It is scheduled to open next season, though construction has been nearly completed on the front exterior. I’m not wild about the Colonial feel of the building or the very high first story. It feels out of character with the surrounding buildings.
As many of you know, I was highly disappointed to see the small park at the front of the Arnold Line dock get bulldozed early in the year to make way for a large bike rental shop. I’m not against progress at all, but I do not like it when progress on Mackinac removes either park space or contributing structures to the island’s National Historic Landmark designation. This area now feels especially congested during peak times of the day.
If there’s one bit of good news regarding the park, it's that the large boat anchor that once stood near Main Street in the park is now located at the opposite end of the Arnold Dock. Hopefully it can find a permanent home where it’s a prominent fixture.
The view on Cadotte (Grand) Avenue looks considerably different this year now that all the large, old trees have been removed and replaced with young Maples. The old trees were removed after some received storm damage and when large branches started falling due to their weakened condition. While I realize this was a safe and practical step to take, I still feel a bit of disappointment every time I walk down the street. The upside is that you can get some great views right now that haven’t been seen in 50+ years.
The Detroit Institute of Art has installed outdoor reproductions of great art from their collection in a program called Inside|Out. There are nine pieces installed around the downtown area and feature information on the art/artist.
Grand Hotel celebrated its 125thbirthday on July 10th and the Mackinac Art Museum in Marquette Park is featuring an exhibit with Grand Hotel art, artifacts and history. If you’ve never taken time to visit this Mackinac-only art museum, it’s worth your time. Besides the permanent collection, there are rotating exhibits and the Kid’s Art Studio, making the museum fun for the whole family. If you're an island history buff like I am, you'll enjoy a visit here.
That wraps up this long update. I’ll be back with another update in a few weeks with more news, changes and July 4thactivities on Mackinac Island. In the interim, enjoy your summer and I hope you have some Mackinac time in your schedule this year!