• Traverse City to Mackinac Island, Michigan-Unexpected Treasures

      118 miles - about 8-10 hours

      This classic road trip takes you along the northern coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan from Traverse City all the way to Mackinaw City. You will discover many treasures of sight and sound, have a great meal at an eclectic restaurant, and then take a ferry ride to one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Michigan, if not in America.

      Here are some attractions to look for along the way.

      Traverse City, Michigan (Starting Point)
      Traverse City is a wonderful place to stay and explore for a few days. Famous for its verdant and plentiful cherry orchards, Traverse City is also a popular retirement community. It offers easy access to attractions in all directions, including Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park, Grand Traverse Lighthouse, and Mission Point.

      The Music House Museum (mile 8)
      Near Acme is the Music House Museum, a converted dairy barn that now houses one of the best collections of musical 'players' in the world. I've always been fascinated by mechanical players, and I also come from a musical family, so the Music House Museum is right up my alley. Take a look at several player pianos, a Wurlitzer organ, a monkey organ, a complete cathedral pipe organ, and a huge Mortier Amaryllis Band Player.

      Charlevoix (mile 50)
      The drive up the coast of Grand Traverse Bay culminates with the town of Charlevoix. The town's colorful water tower shows the way to the memorial to 'the World’s Largest Cherry Pie.' The actual pan used to bake the 17,420-pound pie, a faux slice of pie, and a sign telling the story of the giant pastry are on display along Highway 31. In season (spring to fall), Charlevoix also offers several boat cruises on both Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. In town, pick up a map from the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce at 109 Mason Street and take the time for a walking tour of the Earl Young Homes, a collection of over two dozen whimsical stone cottages often called 'Hobbit Houses' or 'Mushroom Houses' built in the 1930s and 1940s.

      Petoskey (mile 67)
      The resort town of Petoskey is a lakeside community with a 100-boat marina and several luxury resort hotels and condos. Keep your eye out for Ernest Hemingway memorabilia - the author spent much of his youth here. There are several championship golf courses nearby, and the town is a ski resort during the winter months.

      Tunnel of Trees (mile 77)
      Just outside the town of Harbor Springs, is the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route which offers some glimpses of Lake Michigan. Watch for wildlife and enjoy the feeling of leafy seclusion.

      The Legs Inn (mile 99)
      In the town of Cross Village is the Legs Inn, a restaurant known for more than its fare. This stone building is graced by white, upside-down, old-fashioned stove legs along the roof (hence the name), and the interior is further enhanced by strange carved figures and many stuffed and mounted animals. The cuisine is Polish-American and plentiful, but the ambiance of the place is its main draw.

      Mackinaw City (mile 118)
      Mackinaw City is at the southern end of Mackinac Bridge (pronounced Mackinaw Bridge), the five-mile span which spans the Mackinac Strait to St. Ignace. Both of these cities are take-off points for three ferry lines to world-famous Mackinac Island.

      Mackinac Island
      No motorized traffic is allowed on Mackinac Island. Leave your vehicle in the free parking lot by the boat dock while you visit the island. The three modes of transport on the island are horse-and-carriage, bicycle, and 'shank's mare' (your feet). Take or rent a bike if you want to roam on your own, but the carriage ride stops at all major attractions. Stroll some of the streets, especially around the luxurious Grand Hotel. If you stay at one of the many hotels on the island, you'll have plenty of sights to see, including Fort Mackinac, Arch Rock and the historic colonial town.

      The three modes of transport on Mackinac Island
      are shown here, horse-and-carriage, bicycle and walking.