Park your car on the mainland and catch a ferry to a kicked-back, relaxing island haven where rapid transit means horse-drawn carriages.
This peaceful destination is Michigan's Mackinac Island, in Lake Huron just off the northern tip of the state's Lower Peninsula.
Visit the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau to get acquainted with this historic piece of land, a resort destination since shortly after the Civil War. Take a look at "History" for highlights of its past as Anishinaabe-Ojibwe holy ground, French fur traders' outpost, British fort and fishing port. Then flip through "Accommodations" to see which of the hotels and inns strike your fancy, such as the imposing Grand Hotel opened in 1887, or cozier spots such as Haan's 1830 Inn "built on the foundations of a trader cabin." Then go to "Getting Here" for directions to the mainland ports of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace and links to the airline and the three ferry services that will deliver you to the island.
Don't worry, there's more to do than sit on a breezy hotel porch. Look to the bottom of the page for the small, hard-to-read-on-a-small-screen links to dining, shopping and carriage tours, plus hiking & biking and things to do on the water including fishing, sailing and sunset cruises. And besides pulling carriages, horses are available for trail riding. If you can't make it this summer, look for the Winter, Fall and Spring calendars. There's also a link to "eSpecials" for packages and discounts, and a detailed map of the island.
See more of the scenery by going to Mackinac Island Tourist Information and checking out their photos section and the "Sunrise to Sunset" video. Scan the events calendar for the weekly Monday night Sunset Cruise, yacht races, blacksmithing convention on Aug. 4, and the annual horse show on Aug. 12.
Most of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park, 1,800 acres of forest, rock formations and hiking trails. It's part of a group called Mackinac State Historic Parks which also includes the island's Historic Downtown, Fort Mackinac, and parks across the water around Mackinaw City.
Before you jump on one of the ferries to the island, explore Mackinaw City home of historic sites, the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, golf courses, shopping (lots of candy shops specializing in fudge) and more places to stay. Take a look under "Adventures" for day trips in the area, such as one across the Mackinac Bridge the world's third-longest suspension bridge, to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The Upper Peninsula is a vast outdoor playground with lakes to fish in, forests for camping and hiking, and so many waterfalls the directory is arranged by county. Try Great Waters for more information on the region.