The Frugal Traveler: Michigans Mackinac Island provides an affordable trip back in time
Free of automobiles and reachable by Shepler’s Ferry for $22 a round-trip, Michigan’s Mackinac Island is the epitome of time travel on a budget. Horse-drawn carriage taxis and delivery carts, period buildings and bicycle liveries abound, making for a couple’s or multi-generational family getaway you won’t soon forget.
Fun: The island’s state park is free of charge, and boasts more than 70 miles of trails for biking, horseback riding and hiking. You can take a carriage tour of the park, taking in a rock arch, historic cave and stunning woodsy views of Lake Huron. Another freebie is the recently opened antique carriage museum. It features a number of restored horse-drawn vehicles and the ability to view the company’s horses and stables up close. Additional destination attractions include Fort Mackinac, several historic churches and a notable butterfly conservatory. If horseback riding isn’t in your budget, bicycle rentals start at $5 an hour for a basic model.
Food: Mackinac Island takes its fudge seriously, as the many family sweet stores in the shopping district demonstrate. The destination even holds an annual fudge festival to celebrate its devotion to this classic confection. For upscale yet casual dining, take a carriage ride to Woods, which offers gnocchi gorgonzola for less than $20, and a moderately sized dessert menu with all items priced at $9. Experience afternoon tea at Grand Hotel. Priced at $25, this decadent diversion comes with a phenomenal view that won’t cost extra.
Splurge: This same hotel was used to film the movie “Somewhere in Time,” and has played host to celebrities and socialites since its opening just over 125 years ago. Weekday prices are notably cheaper, with per-person rates starting at $254 for double occupancy. This price includes all on-site tips, full breakfast, an extensive lunch buffet and a five-course dinner. Changes in departure dates made after you check in will sink you $375, so be advised your budget is best served by sticking to the original plan.