Mackinaw City- What Not To Miss !

Gateway to Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City is an ideal destination for offbeat travelers. Located on the northern most tip of lower peninsula this city provides an abundance of attractions & activities, but here are few which we covered on our trip and surely shouldn’t be missed:

1. Mackinac Bridge

An 8 km long suspension bridge standing 552 feet above is part of Interstate Highway 75, which connects Upper Peninsula to the mainland and is the way ahead for entering Canada. First opened in 1957, a wonderful drive through this 4 lane bridge takes you between Mackinaw city and St. Ignace. Check out the video img_4355

2. Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Oldest working lighthouse of Lake Superior, with history beginning back 1849, this lighthouse has observed greatest shipwrecks and so is also known as graveyard of shipwrecks. Located next to the largest freshwater lake of North America in Paradise, Michigan, here one can visit Shipwreck Museum and Lighthouse, sit besides the Lakeshore spending some quality time with mesmerizing lake. We got enthralled by the beauty of Lake Superior and spend hours relaxing while walking along the deserted beach.

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Whitefish Point Lighthouse
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Lake Superior

3. Ferry Ride To Mackinac Island

Ferry is lifeline of Mackinac Island, the only way to commute from Mackinaw City. The ferry to Island is a 20-min ride and on way back 30 min. Beautifully located in midst of Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is one of the most famous attraction of Michigan. The Island is quaint, historic and lively, which can be explored only by bicycle or buggy ride. On the way back to Mackinaw City it’s a great experience as ferry drives down below Mackinac bridge and you can get a closer look around the bridge along with some historical information about it.IMG_4282.jpg

4. Sunset at the Mackinac Bridge

Don’t miss the chance of experiencing sunset along the Mackinac bridge. Ideal for photographers and nature lovers, the surrounding area provides breathtaking sunset views from either ends Colonial Michilimackinac Park in Mackinaw City or Staits State Park in St. Ignace.IMG_4088.jpg

5. Mackinac Island’s Fudge

The trip to the island is not complete without having the mouthwatering fudge. As Mackinac island is better known as America’s Fudge Capital and offers countless fudge flavors which no one can resist. Must try Joann’s Fudge, selling famous fudge since last 35 years.

6. Scalawags Whitefish & Chips

Scalawags WhiteFish & Chips is Mackinaw City’s famous food joint serving quality seafood. On the shore of freshwater lakes this city offers ample seafood options. Don’t miss this place located in corner of Downtown, it might take a while to order the food due to it’s popularity, but it’s definitely worth a wait. Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

7. Downtown

Walking down the streets in downtown is a true delight. There are shops of fudge, souvenirs, apparels and one can find many local eateries. If you get lucky as us, you might end up enjoying bands and music show late in the evening.img_4216

8. Robert Shangle

While strolling around Downtown if you get across a human size statue just give it a closer view, you might be looking at Robert Shangle, the world famous “Live Statue”. Most of the time people cannot sense that he’s real person & get stunned with his sudden blinks. img_4409

Travel Tips:

  1. While visiting Upper Peninsula try to get to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
  2. For Ferry rides to Mackinac Island opt for Starline or Shepler’s ferry links are below: http://sheplersferry.com/ or http://www.mackinacferry.com/
  3. Summers are the best time to visit Mackinaw, otherwise keep some warmers as it may get cold.

5 Day Road Trip Through “Pure Michigan”

Being the only state with two peninsulas and borders with four Great Lakes (Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior & Lake Erie), we made a trip to State of Michigan. We always had a strong desire to explore this heavenly place, so we took an additional two days off on Labor day Weekend.

Day 1

We started from Columbus, Ohio towards Mackinaw City which was a 472 miles long drive. It took us nearly eight hours to reach there and we barely made it before sunset. After getting re-energized witnessing the gorgeous sunset, we were all set to take a stroll around Downtown.

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Mackinac Bridge

Day 2

Next morning we drove to Whitefish Point Lighthouse located in Upper Peninsula connected to the mainland through Mackinac Bridge. We drove 80 miles from city through Lush green Scenic drive (one of our best long drives), just to experience majestic Lake Superior.img_4097

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Lake Superior

After spending a good time there we drove back to Mackinaw city and took a 16 min Ferry to Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island is connected only via ferry with Michigan mainland and is popular for its awestruck viewpoints, fort, fudge and famous buggy rides, the only public transport available on island.

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StarLine Ferry
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Makinac Island

Day 3

As we had to make a good 150 miles drive we started early morning for our next destination Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We landed before 11:00 am driving through beautiful Traverse city and took a hike into dunes for next 4 hours. The initial Dune climb looked fine, but the next 4 miles in sand dunes steep uphill and downhill totally drained us out.

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Dune Climb

Worn out and starving  we dropped our plan for Silver Lake(2 hrs drive from Bear Dunes) and headed straight towards our hotel 169 miles away in city of Holland by nightfall.

Day 4

After getting our muscles back in shape with a good overnight sleep, next day (The Labor Day) we kept it light and decided to enjoy Labor day Truck Parade in Holland Downtown (read it here). Labor day in Holland is a special occasion and the whole city of Holland and neighboring Zeeland gather to say thanks and acknowledge the local labors and service providers.img_4491By noon we made our move towards Windmill Island Gardens, famous for De Zwaan, the only authentic working Dutch windmill in USA. Also this place has got many Dutch cultured artifacts and details.img_4653

In the evening we headed towards Holland state park beach along Lake Michigan to enjoy the sunset next to the big Red Lighthouse. It was one of the most memorable sunset and came out as a perfect end of our trip.img_4858img_4868

Day 5

Final day we left after breakfast for Columbus. A good 6 hours drive and we were back in our city.

As we really like offbeat locations and try to avoid big cities, so we skipped Detroit, Grand Rapids and Traverse city on our trip to Michigan. We will be back soon with more detailed posts on Michigan, so stay tuned.

Our Travel Map:

route

 

Travel  Tips

  1. Hiking in sand is seriously a bad idea if you haven’t done it beforehand.
  2. Carry loads of water if you are hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
  3. Always keep a low day after 2 hectic days, it just get you back on track.
  4. If you are driving to Upper Peninsula keep your gas tank full, as there are only a few on the way.

20 Things to do in Leh-Ladakh

Indian Bloggers

Travel far enough, you meet yourself..

Travel is life changing affair..True !!! Our trip to Leh-Ladakh changed our perspective towards travel forever. It was in month of July 2012 ,we headed towards Himalayas and rediscovered the true beauty of nature in its diverse form.

We spent 9 days in Ladakh exploring Buddhist culture & heritage, experiencing varied landscapes, passing by high altitudes & eating thupkas and momos.

Here are things to do in Leh-Ladakh:

  1. Experience Peace & Serenity with Scenic view at Shanti Stupa–  White domed stupa situated on top of the hill offers breathtaking panoramic view of city. Built in 1991, Shanti stupa symbolizes peace and harmony & is one of the major attraction in Leh.  IMAG0558IMAG0566.jpg
  2. Discover 39ft Shakyamuni Buddha in Shey Monastery-Once the capital of Ladakh, Shey now holds ruined palace and a monastery known as Shey Monastery, originally built in 1655. Make a visit to experience “Shey” era &  39ft Shakyamuni Buddha gold-plated copper statue placed in monastery.078
  3. Visit Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh- Thiksey Monastery is associated with Gelug and one of the prime monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. Located at 11800 ft, this monastery has 12 storeys which includes assembly hall, temples, nunnery, Maitreya Buddha statue & is home for more than a hundred monks063047.JPG
  4. Must see the wealthiest monastery- Hemis Monastery situated 45 km away from the main city has been in existence before 11th century and was re-established by King Singay Namgyal in 17th century, it holds copper statues of Buddha, Stupas of gold and silver as well as holy thangkas. One should not miss the extravagant Hemis festival in month of July, which we did sadly.029.JPG019.JPG
  5. Spend time in Lamayuru Monastery-Located on Srinagar-Leh highway, with stunning landscape this should be on your list for sure. With its existence dating back in 11th century this cave monastery(one of a kind), leads the way to 50 monasteries in the lower Ladakh.089080
  6. Visit Alchi for exquisite artwork –  Known as Alchi Choskhor, the monastic complex has detailed wood carvings and artistic wall paintings. An ideal place for art lovers, but no photography is allowed inside the monastery. As it is dark inside one should carry flashlight with him/her. alchi
  7. Confluence of Indus & Zanskar river- It sounded surreal to us before witnessing the two colored confluence of Indus and Zanskar river. The picturesque sangam is one of the best experience of our trip, still fresh in our memories. 164.JPG
  8. Experience Moonland landscape in Lamayuru- When we reached Moonland ,it took us a while to come around the fact that this place actually exist !!!! Located on NH1-D, jaw dropping landscape gives an impression of some other planet as it resembles moon like surface due to it’s peculiar terrain.  106
  9. Strange but worth a try-We did tried this, putting our car in neutral, it feels car is pulled uphill by Magnetic Hill, which is believed to defy gravity. Scientific or not, reality or illusion…it’s an interesting place you come across with. 170
  10. Stop by Gurudwara Pathar Sahib25 miles away from Leh, this Gurudwara stands at the spot where Guru Nanak tamed a mighty demon, who tried to crush him by rolling a boulder(big rock) downhill, while he was meditating. It is believed that the rock softened without hurting Guru Nanak. Sacred rock can be seen inside the Gurudwara with the impression of Guru Nanak’s back.gurudwar
  11. Drive through highest motorable road Khardung La We started feeling amazed by snow covered mountains all around us in the month of July while heading towards Khardung La. The road conditions are not the best but Army and Border Road Organisation try to keep the pass accessible. It was a pride moment for us to be at Khardung La as it’s a once in a lifetime experience. Don’t forget to have black tea & Maggi at Rinchen Cafeteria. IMAG0684.jpg
  12. Make a stop at Chang La PassLiteral meaning ‘A pass in the south’, known for it’s great height lies on the way to Pangong Lake. Special pass is required to get through, as China is in close proximity. Enjoy a cup of tea in mighty Chang La in bone chilling wind. 239.JPG241.JPG
  13. Contemplate the clear blue water lake Pangong TsoLocated in vicinity where it is least expected, Pangong Tso is 134 kms long with 1/3rd part in India & 2/3rd in China, spreading across 3 countries India, China and Tibet. After a good 5 hrs drive and moving through rough roads and barren lands, we got a glimpse of lake getting through the last mountain. This blue water lake is serene & heavenly. Couple of hours spend there, we were hypnotized by the mere fact of its existence.200196
  14. Camel Safari in Nubra Valley- We have never heard of sand dunes in Ladakh before our visit, and Camel Safari just bewildered us (specially me). A short ride on double humped Bactrian Camel should be a definite on your itinerary. 312328
  15. Kali Mata templeGoddess Kali temple located on hilltop near the airport, gives another aspect of the cultural diversity. It is advisable to admire the view & spend some time in tranquility. 188190
  16. Enjoy coffee next to Druk School from “3 idiots”With 3 idiots, Druk White Lotus School gained popularity (school shown in last part of movie), now a tourist spot with a cafe named Rancho’s Coffee Shop. Have a coffee and take a walk around the school. 066.JPG
  17. Book a cottage Planning your visit to Leh-Ladakh?  Apart from visiting major tourist attractions, book a cottage in Nubra Valley or Ulleytokpo on the bank of Indus to inhabit with nature .116.JPG
  18. Meet locals and make friends–  People of Ladakh are very generous and friendly.  What we learnt from our trip. “Life is about meeting new people & the things you create with them”. Leh-Ladakh will leave you mesmerized in many ways for sure, but one thing we still cherish about, our little poser friends from Ulleytokpo, Thiksey and Pangong. The moment they saw camera with us, they started posing. Finally we became friends by exchanging the only word they knew..JULEY !
  19. Take time-off with nature Travelling and exploring the unparalleled beauty of Ladakh might be tiring. Try to take some time-off to re-energize. While staying in Ulleytokpo we spent our day on the bank of Indus river, watching mountains and rejuvenating ourselves for the remaining trip. ban of
  20. Capture MomentsLast but must.. Take pictures, Make memories and be a storyteller !!!

     

Shakyamuni Buddha-An Idol Of Serenity

Buddha Dordenma is famous Shakyamuni Buddha Statue of 169 ft, overlooking  Thimpu Valley. It is made of bronze and covered in gold. Few miles from main city this statue is located in hills of Kuensel Phodrang, offers breathtaking view. One can feel the aura of divinity in the presence of this gigantic statue.

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I had been to this place few years back when the construction was still going on and only the main statue was put in forth.

Spending some time around this place, serenity and calmness bounds you and upon looking down you see the majestic view of forests.

If you are visiting Bhutan, then Buddha Dordenma should be on your “Must See” list.