Step Back in Time at the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Discover the charm and history of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, an iconic destination that has welcomed guests since 1887. Located on Michigan’s most visited island, this famous hotel stands as a testament to the past while offering visitors an unforgettable experience. Visitors can revel in the beautiful views of Lake Huron, grand architecture, and an atmosphere that transcends time, making it the perfect choice for romantic getaways, solo travel, and family vacations.

The Historic Round Island Lighthouse just after sunset, as seen ferrying back to Mackinac City from Mackinac Island, Michigan's Lower Peninsula, USA

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Boasting nearly 390 uniquely designed rooms and suites, the Grand Hotel accommodates groups of any size and offers a range of amenities to please every guest. With a full-service spa, diverse dining options, and various shops, travelers can engage in numerous delightful adventures during their stay.

The hotel’s dedication to preserving its historical character is evident in the beautifully maintained gardens and vintage decor, skillfully crafted to transport guests into a bygone era. For those seeking a Michigan travel experience that seamlessly blends luxury, history, and natural beauty, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island awaits as the ideal destination.

About the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel

American flags proudly hang in front of the Grand Hotel in Northern Michigan that has been welcoming guests since 1887.
Photo credit: lembi/Shutterstock.

Hotel Design & Building

An iconic landmark established in 1887, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island was conceived by a group of investors spearheaded by R.D. Musser. Enamored with the island, Musser envisioned an opulent resort for the upper class. Architect Charles Casassa designed the hotel in the prevalent Victorian style, featuring a striking white facade and red roof. Its yellow-canopied porch is “The World’s Longest Porch” and is visible from the mainland on a clear day.

Fame & Distinguished Visitors

The hotel rapidly gained popularity among affluent travelers, including presidents, celebrities, and influential figures. It has had the honor of hosting multiple U.S. presidents, including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and Bill Clinton. The hotel also served as the backdrop for the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

Maintaining Tradition While Offering Modern Comforts

The hotel has experienced multiple renovations and expansions throughout the years while successfully preserving its authentic charm and upscale atmosphere. As a member of the Historic Hotels of America, it continues to thrive today. Offering 388 guest rooms, 14 dining options, a full-service spa, and an array of recreational activities like golf, tennis, and swimming, the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel is a perfect blend of history and modern luxury.

The Grand Hotel Rooms & Suites

Distinctive Room Designs

Each of the 388 rooms boasts a unique design, decorated with luxurious furnishings and contemporary amenities. The cozy interior rooms cater to solo adventurers or budget-conscious guests, while the lakeview rooms offer captivating vistas of Lake Huron. Deluxe suites provide added space and upscale conveniences.

Exclusive Suites

For guests seeking a truly remarkable experience, the Grand Hotel provides a variety of suites, including those named after famous First Ladies:

  • Betty Ford Suite
  • Barbara Bush Suite
  • Nancy Reagan Suite

These ample accommodations feature separate living spaces, private balconies, and stunning island views, ensuring a memorable and comfortable stay for travelers at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Dining at the Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel provides a variety of dining options that cater to different preferences. Options range from casual to fine dining, ensuring that everyone can find something to their liking.  

Reservations are advised for the Main Dining Room and The Jockey Club. Guests should also adhere to the dress code at these two restaurants.

While many guests look forward to the Grand Luncheon Experience in the Main Dining Room, my favorite meal at the Grand Hotel was definitely dinner. Getting dressed up for a live performance by the Grand Hotel Orchestra, a five-course dinner menu, and stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac from our table made the evening an unforgettable experience.

Other popular dining options in the Grand include The Jockey Club (serving steaks, seafood, and fresh ingredients from Michigan farms), the Esther Williams Pool Bar (offering a full menu of drinks, snacks, sandwiches, and burgers), and Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor (featuring ice cream from Guernsey Farms Dairy).

On-site restaurants:

  • Main Dining Room: elegant dining offering a range of chef-prepared entrees
  • The Jockey Club: upscale restaurant serving steak, seafood, and fresh produce from local farms
  • Grand Coffee & Provisions: grab-n-go shop for breakfast and lunch
  • Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor: old-fashioned parlor serving ice cream from Guernsey Farms Dairy
  • Esther Williams Pool Bar: casual dining poolside, offering burgers, beverages, and more
  • Terrace Room: cocktails and dancing in a fun, yet formal setting
  • Audubon Wine Bar: upscale bar offering wine and cocktails
  • Cupola Bar: casual bar with stunning views and fun cocktails
  • Geranium Bar: dressy pre-dinner cocktail bar serving light bites

Off-site restaurants:

  • The Gate House: causal dining with entertainment known for its MAC Daddy Burger
  • Woods Restaurant: sophisticated Bavarian hunting lodge offering burgers, steak, seafood, and more on its menu
  • Fort Mackinac Tea Room: a cozy bistro inside the Fort with light lunch fare
  • Mackinac Island Pizza Company: a casual pizza place featuring Detroit-style pizzas

Room service is also available upon request.

The Grand Hotel Dress Code

Guests at the Grand Hotel are encouraged to wear comfortable resort attire during the day. However, certain items of clothing, such as midriff-baring tops, sweatpants, and cut-off shorts, should be avoided by both men and women.

Every evening at the Grand Hotel is considered a special occasion, and the dress code in the main areas – including the Parlor, Lobby, Terrace, and Main Dining Room – requires ladies to wear dresses, skirts, blouses, dress sweaters, or dress slacks. Gentlemen must wear a suit or sport coat, necktie, and dress pants; no denim or shorts are allowed. Children 12 and older are also asked to follow the dress code.

Things to Do at the Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel's Secret Garden on Mackinac Island.
Photo credit: aunazimmer/Shutterstock.

Explore the Hotel through a Guided Tour

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is a must-experience destination for anyone visiting the island. This Victorian-era gem boasts a rich history, luxury, and elegance. Exploring the hotel is worth the admission fee charged to non-guests as it presents stunning interior decor by the Dorothy Draper Company and boasts fascinating photographs that line the hallways.

Visitors can take a guided tour to learn about its famous guests, including five U.S. presidents. The tour features a visit to the picturesque gardens, the world’s longest porch, and the lavish dining room. Hotel staff are friendly and knowledgeable, providing a welcoming and professional atmosphere.

Engage in Various Activities

The Grand Hotel caters to a wide range of entertainment options. Guests can enjoy a round of golf on the Jewel Golf Course, swim in the Esther Williams Swimming Pool, or unwind at the luxurious spa. Lawn games, yoga classes, and afternoon tea are also available daily.

In the evening, guests can enjoy live music and dancing at the Terrace Room or catch a movie at the hotel’s theater. 

The Woodlands Activity Center offers a range of amenities and activities, including an 18-hole miniature golf course, a nature center, bike rentals, the Cedar Grove Bike Track, and recreation courts for pickleball, shuffleboard, and bocce ball.

Attend a Special Occasion

Consider planning your visit to the Grand Hotel to align with some of the hotel’s exceptional events. For instance, the hotel hosts a Ballroom Dance Weekend in early May, a Spring Food & Wine Weekend in June, and a Somewhere in Time Weekend in late October.

Various holiday events are also scheduled, including Mother’s Day Weekend and Memorial Day Weekend in May, Fourth of July, and Labor Day Jazz Weekend in September.

Browse the Resort Shops

For those interested in shopping for souvenirs and gifts, the Grand Hotel offers a variety of options. The Mackinac Market sells not only souvenirs but also children’s toys, china, books, and bath products. The hotel’s Outlet Store provides discounted housekeeping, kitchen, and other items for purchase.

Furthermore, guests can purchase resort clothing, shoes, and accessories at the Grand Mens and Grand Womens shops. Some hotel shops even sell fine art and jewelry to complete your shopping experience.

Arriving at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Getting to Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island, situated in Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, is celebrated for its natural beauty, Victorian architecture, and lack of motor vehicles. Access to the island is limited to ferries, private boats, and planes. This beach town is simply spectacular. 

Ferries operate from both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace on the mainland, taking approximately 15 minutes to reach the island while offering captivating views of the Mackinac Bridge and the island itself. It is advisable to book Mackinac Island ferry tickets for Shepler’s Ferry or Star Line Ferry in advance, particularly during the peak season from June to August.

Traveling to the Grand Hotel

Once on Mackinac Island, the absence of motor vehicles creates a serene ambiance perfect for exploration by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. For those who prefer walking, comfortable footwear is a must, given the occasionally hilly and uneven terrain of the streets.

Cycling enthusiasts can rent bikes from various locations on the island, with options suitable for all ages and skill levels, including electric bikes for tackling steeper inclines more easily.

Alternatively, a horse-drawn carriage tour offers a relaxed approach to sightseeing and learning about the island’s rich history without exerting oneself. Visitors to the Grand Hotel can even opt for a carriage ride directly from the establishment’s entrance, making it a popular choice for transportation to and from the hotel.

Remember that the magical atmosphere of Mackinac Island is best experienced through its peaceful, nature-immersed alternatives to motorized transport, ensuring an unforgettable stay at the Grand Hotel.

Exciting Activities on Mackinac Island

Explore the Island by Bike

Biking is a prominent activity on Mackinac Island, with over 70 miles of trails for everyone to enjoy. The island’s perimeter road, M-185, spans 8.2 miles and offers a scenic ride that takes 1 to 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace. Multiple rental locations are available, and some offer guided bike tours.

Discover Fort Mackinac’s History

Fort Mackinac is an essential stop for history enthusiasts. Built by the British in 1780, the fort played a vital role in the War of 1812. Experience a guided tour and immerse yourself in the rich history of the fort.

Relax at the Beach

Mackinac Island is home to several beautiful beaches, such as British Landing Beach and Sunset Beach. Boasting stunning views of Lake Huron, these locations are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.

Even in wintertime the beaches are beautiful!

Attend a Festival

Mackinac Island hosts various festivals and events throughout the year. Among them is the popular Mackinac Island Lilac Festival in June, featuring a parade, live music, and delightful food and drink options. Other notable events include the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, the Great Turtle Trail Run, and the Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar.

Engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding provides additional fun on the island. The Grand Hotel can also organize boat tours, fishing trips, and other adventurous excursions tailored to your interests.

Plan Your Visit to the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel

Embarking on a journey to Mackinac Island? The Grand Hotel provides an excellent lodging choice with its remarkable location, opulent accommodations, and a plethora of entertainment selections, making it a favored travel spot in Michigan.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island exudes a sense of enchantment, with awe-inspiring architecture and jaw-dropping vistas offering a one-of-a-kind stay not found elsewhere.

Catering to couples seeking romance or families craving adventure, the hotel presents an array of amenities and activities to ensure an engaging visit and forge long-lasting memories.

So gather your essentials, invite your family and friends, and prepare for an unforgettable experience at the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel!

This article originally appeared on Savoteur.

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Ashley Pichea

Ashley Pichea is the Content Manager for RootedWanderings.com and curates in-depth travel guides and deep-dives on hidden gem destinations across the US for sites like AwesomeMitten.com, VisitMaine.net, and more. When she's not geeking out over SEO, you'll find her exploring the Midwest with her husband and five kids.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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