Unless you hail from the Midwest or happen to be a huge fan of the 1980 movie Somewhere in Time, you probably don’t know about Mackinac Island. Which is a shame, because you’ve probably just read that as “mack-in-ac,” and all of us native Michiganders are laughing at you.
Lower Peninsula locals and Yoopers alike know that despite the final C in Mackinac, it’s pronounced mack-in-aw. I know, it doesn’t make sense. It’s just how we roll in the Mitten. Blame the French, who nasally bastardized the Ojibwe tribe’s name for the island, mishi-mikinaak. But that’s how you say it. Mack. In. Aw.
(Now is a good time to throw out a free, corny tourist campaign slogan or two for my fair home state. “Mackin’ AWE!” the ads for the island can read, and maybe for Grand Haven they can say “GRAND Indeed!” Yes, Michigan! Anyway.)
Mackinac Island is the sort of place that sounded fancy and faraway when I was a kid, felt special and fun in my adolescence, and now seems to have the right balance between hokey tourist appeal and outdoorsy activities. The island is car-free, meaning everybody walks, rides a bike, or does the horse-and-buggy thing. Quaint, right?
Then consider the cutesy Victorian bed-and-breakfasts, the aroma of fudge wafting through the air, and the little lighthouse on Lake Huron. Or the porch (world’s largest!) of the Grand Hotel. Or the fort that dates back to the Revolutionary War. It isn’t the chicest island destination — there aren’t any five-star spas or foofy cocktail bars — but it’s old-fashioned and fun and 100% on my list of places to return to.