Mackinac Island Is For Lovers (A Weekend of Vegan Travel Around Northern Michigan)

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What to do, where to stay, and where to eat for a plant-based filled weekend on Mackinac Island.


To say goodbye to Michigan and to celebrate our one year of marriage, my husband and I ventured up to Mackinac Island for a romantic getaway at the Harbour View Inn.

Even though I’ve been to Mackinac Island many times, and during all seasons, I never get sick of going.

If you’re not familiar with this 8-mile long island in Northern Michigan, it is free of all cars, which makes one feel as if they’ve traveled back in time. All transportation is run by foot, bike, or horse.

Summer in Northern Michigan is always a toss up because tourists flock from all over the world to enjoy the natural beauties of the land. Even though I’m moving to Scotland in six short weeks, I will always respect and appreciate the beauty that is Northern Michigan. And Mackinac Island, steeped in history, is one of my favorite places to visit Up North, as we Michiganders say.

It’s not all fudge and horse poo, though that does seem to be the fragrance of the island…

*Scroll to the bottom for places to grab tasty vegan eats.*

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A boat making its way across the Straights of Mackinac to the island.

Day One — Thursday: The Island at Night

We took a 6 p.m. Shepler’s ferry over the Straights of Mackinac to the island and arrived just before 6:30 p.m.

We walked down Main Street, passing tourists and the dinner crowd by on our way to Harbor View Inn.

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Harbour View Inn
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Gorgeous pink blossoming peonies outside the Inn.

Once we checked in, we were surprised to find our hotel room did not have air conditioning, but the fans in the room helped. It was an 80 F degree day.

I, who usually never drinks alcohol except on very rare occasions, bought a bottle of this biodynamic, organic, sulfite-free wine, Field Blend, for us to try. (Apparently sulfites are what give you a hangover.)

Our room had a view of the city and the harbor from the bathroom, and since we were so hot, we stripped down to our skivvies and sat on the cold bathroom floor looking out at the harbor enjoying a glass of red wine. #Classy

(It was actually really fun.)

Once we cooled off, we headed out on the town.

We really wanted to sit on the water, so we dined on the back patio at The Pink Pony. We split their Thai salad for our starter and each had their quinoa burger for our entree. (Why is it always a burger for the vegan option, by the way?)

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Left to right: Some rosemary-lime-whiskey cocktail my husband ordered & a house margarita for me. Both were awesome!
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Ze veggie burger at Pink Pony  *UPDATE: Ask your server if this burger is actually vegan — because even though two waiters assured us it was vegan, somebody told me they were there 1 month ago and there is egg in the burger. So double-check!

I had my burger sans-bun and sans-potato chips.

It was sub-par. (Sorry if that sounds snobby — I’ve just eaten a lot of veggie burgers in my day and this one was eh.)

(Also, side note: did you know Heinz ketchup has both high-fructose corn syrup AND corn syrup in it? I don’t usually eat/buy ketchup — and when we do, it’s never Heinz — but my husband does, and was super bummed to find that out.)

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The view of the harbor from the patio at The Pink Pony.

There was also a concert (some young jazz-indie fusion band was playing) in the park across the street, so we listened for a bit, then walked along the water to watch the sun set.

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Cute houses along the water. This one reminded me of Ireland.
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Dress: Mink Pink; Bag: ASOS; Sandals: DSW; Jean Jacket: Anthropologie; Scarf: White House Black Market

Then, after dark, we traipsed around the grounds of the Grand Hotel. Little known fact: If you’re ever on Mackinac, check out their secret gardens hidden within the “forest” surrounding the hotel. It’s really beautiful, and every time I’ve been to the island with my husband, we sneak away there.

It really does feel like you’ve traveled back in time.

We made our way back to our hotel just after midnight and fell asleep to the sounds of hooves clopping and water lapping against the shore.


Day Two — Friday: Into the Woods

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Breakfast of watermelon and banana — make sure you eat melon on an empty stomach and by itself, because it digests so quickly.

We awoke Friday morning to a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, we enjoyed a breakfast of fresh fruit on the Inn’s wrap-around porch watching horses and bikers pass us by.

After brekkie, we headed to Doud’s market (the only one on the island) to grab some food for a picnic lunch later that day. I wasn’t very impressed by their options for vegans. I ended up with some cut up fruit — which turned out to be rancid.

Then, we decided to bike around the island on a tandem bike.

We’d done it before, and had a great time doing it, but this time was different.

We got the $10 an hour bike — the cheapest we could find — and it was a big mistake. We felt like at any moment the bike would collapse — so instead of taking our time, we biked the 8 miles in under an hour and promptly returned it.

Don’t go cheap, is the lesson, I suppose.

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It was noon by the time we got back, so we shared a salad at The Gate House, situated right outside The Grand Hotel as my lunch was not edible.

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Salad at the Gate House

My hubby was still hungry and had food he wanted to eat from Doud’s, so we snuck onto a hilltop hole of the golf course across the street.

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Hidden picnic on the Grand’s golf course
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Us in our matching U.P. hats

It was a perfect picnicking spot.

After we were finished eating, it was time to burn off all those calories!

So we ventured into the middle of the island, away from the hustle and bustle. We worked up a sweat and by the time we got back to the Inn, we had walked almost 10 miles on top of our 8-mile bike ride.

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The forest was absolutely covered in these yellow flowers. It was so magical.

Drinks & Apps at Bistro On the Greens

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Given that there are a limited number of vegan-friendly places to dine on such a small island, we wanted to try them all. So we decided to grab appetizers and cocktails at Bistro on the Greens, right outside Mission Point, on the water.

I ordered the lavender lemonade with tequila and my husband ordered an Italian whiskey cocktail with orange.

My lavender drink may be the best cocktail I’ve ever had in my life.

The lavender was not overpowering, as lavender flavored things tend to be. The flavor was subtle and just the right amount of sweet. Plus, the adorable blossom on top was perfection.

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For apps, we got the two vegan-friendly options — both of which were pretty good. I don’t eat a lot of hummus — but my husband adores it.

So we indulged.

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Mediterranean Plate 
Hummus, Babaganoush, Marinated Olives,
Roasted Red Pepper, Olive Tapenade, Caponata,
Grilled Pita Bread
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Vegetable Meze Platter 
Assorted Seasonal Garden Vegetables, hummus

Afterward, we walked down to the lake and watched some baby ducks and tadpoles swimming about.

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Baby ducks are the best! You can see Bistro On the Greens in the background.

Once the sun started to set, it was time to head downtown for dinner.

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On our walk on Main Street from Mission Point to downtown.

Dinner at Millie’s On Main

For dinner, it was another veggie burger for my husband and a salad for me. But Millie’s was actually pretty impressive.

My salad was made of island-grown baby kale, which was supple and delicious.

The veggie burger was homemade and to avoid the bun, we just asked for extra lettuce and made lettuce wraps out of it. (The truffle fries were really tasty, too!)

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Kale salad with fresh fruit and a blueberry vinaigrette
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Homemade sweet potato veggie burger with truffle fries on lettuce, no bun.

After dinner, the wind had picked up and the island had cooled down considerably. But we weren’t ready for bed. So we went back to our room, bundled up and walked around along the shoreline until we were ready for bed.

It had been a really active day full of hiking, food, and fun. Mackinac Island never disappoints — no matter the weather or temperature.  I love it because it is the perfect destination for outdoorsy adventure and luxurious living. IMG_1075.JPG


Day Three — Saturday: The Voyage Continues (Off the Island and Onto the Mainland)

On Saturday we awoke ready to leave the island. After two full days of fun, we were heading to Prudenville to spend the night with our friends who live there. (About a 2-hour drive from Mackinac City.)

So, we packed up, caught the 11:00 a.m. boat and were on our way.

We took the scenic route from Mackinac City which led us around the coast through Petoskey and Charlevoix to Traverse City. One of our favorite grocery co-op’s in Michigan, Oryana, is located there. So we stopped to get some “real” food.

Lunch at Oryana in Traverse City

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My husband ordered the sweet potato bowl with tomato, rice, avocado, red bell peppers, and a vegan creamy, Green Goddess dressing.

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I got the garden wrap made into a salad, as I was craving something raw and organic. It was so satisfying after having so many veggie burgers (which I normally never eat!) on the island.

We also picked up some treats for our friends in Prudenville and family back home. It is seriously such an awesome store. I highly recommend stopping here if you’re ever in Traverse City.

Cali’s

Our car thermometer read 98 F by the time we were done with lunch. But I had one particular stop on my mind before we could continue our adventure: Cali’s.

If you’re a linen lover like me, this store is just the best. Every time I’m in Traverse City, I always stop here because they sell the most unique clothing.

Given that it was almost 100 degrees F, we made it quick. My husband was sweet enough to indulge me and watch me try on these overalls which I fell in love with.

Needless to say, I took them home and they are coming with me to Scotland. They are so airy and fun.

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Next, we headed to Higher Self Bookstore to check out their crystals and books. We left with Shamanic Quartz and Tiger’s eye pendants.

By this time, it was so hot we had to leave as we had a raw chocolate tart in the car that we didn’t want to turn into a sugary mess.

So we left Traverse City, our last time there in who knows how long — and headed to Prudenville for the night to visit our friends.

We ended Saturday in Houghton Lake on floaty rafts watching the sun set over the trees.

It was a relaxing end to a wonderful summer vacation and a pleasant way to say “goodbye” to Michigan.


Vegan Dining On Mackinac Island

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Grocery

Casual

Upscale Dining


Have you ever been to Northern Michigan? Let me know in a comment below!

Until next time,

xx

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