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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- While visiting Upper Peninsula try to get to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
- For Ferry rides to Mackinac Island opt for Starline or Shepler’s ferry links are below: http://sheplersferry.com/ or http://www.mackinacferry.com/
- Summers are the best time to visit Mackinaw, otherwise keep some warmers as it may get cold.
La Jolla Cove is the most picturesque place we have ever visited. As a cove this is a small circular bay, providing protected area to colourful marine life. Beautifully surrounded by the cliffs, it’s widely famous for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and many more activities. But this cove is much more besides these, here are some free things to do in La Jolla Cove:
Spend the day looking at spectacular blue water and waves – We enjoyed our whole day watching ocean tides on rocks and cliffs of the cove. Daytime can be enjoyed next to ocean water, but as the day progresses tides rise to upper rocks and gushing water push you back to the higher grounds.
Spot coastal birds in abundance : La Jolla Cove is home for many birds like Brown Pelicans, Heermann’s Gulls & most commonly spotted ones are Western Gulls. Western Gulls are the big size white gulls from West Coast with yellow foot and can be seen in bunches hovering all around the cove.
Looking Sea Lions laying on the rocks: Of all the beautiful landscapes and sights around La Jolla Cove, the one which we loved the most was spotting poser Sea Lions. They are very commonly sighted around cove relaxing in sun. Usually they are lazy, harmless and habitual of people wandering around, so one can get really close which most of the public actually does. It’s quite disheartening that instead of leaving them alone people continuously disturb them & choose to take selfies.
Windup your day relishing the vivid sunset- The day came to end with witnessing the most amazing sunset. We spend a good amount of time admiring the sun getting down across the ocean end with vibrant shades all across the sky.
- Park your car on Coast Blvd or in Ace Parking(public parking) at Prospect Street.
- The place smells a lot but you don’t feel it much after a while.
- There are also other activities like Snorkeling, Biking & Kayaking.
- Must visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution, a 10 min drive from the Cove.
Just a few weeks after landing in Chicago, we made our maiden visit to Navy Pier. This 3300 foot long Pier on shoreline of Lake Michigan left us fascinated. A place which attracts all walks of life equally, with uncountable reasons. After our first visit we had a lot many reasons to get back here, to quench our quest and explore it fully. Here are the things, which make Navy Pier so special:
Historical Significance–Looking at today’s Pier, it really feels surprising how it has evolved from being just a Commercial Pier, to a Naval Training center, then a College Classroom and finally as we see it today a place for entertainment and public gathering.
Infrastructure–Navy Pier currently has sections starting from a Park at entrance followed by Children Museum, IMAX theater(Chicago’s largest movie screen), shops and Ball room. In middle there are rides, Miniature Golf Course on upper floor, restaurants at lower level and festival hall at the end.
Rides– Pier Park has most popular rides as Ferris wheel (under renovation to increase its height from 150 to 196 feet), Musical Carousel, Light Tower Ride & Wave Swinger.
Ferris Wheel– Visiting Navy Pier and not opting for Ferris Wheel, one should not dare to do that. It should be on your bucket list while visiting Chicago. Take a 7 minute ride on Ferris for panoramic view of Chicago Skyscrapers & Lake Michigan, in the midst of winds just for $6.
Water Tours & Cruise– Another way to catch the sight of Windy City, opt for Water Taxi from Navy Pier to Shedd Aquarium and Union Station or Architectural Tour to get acquainted with the City of Chicago.
Go for any of the following:
Live Music – After rides, shopping & strolling around the pier, be entertained by the live bands (absolutely free) at Landshark Beer Garden along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Grab a beer,have a good time dancing with people around you or gazing blue water with the breeze at lake shore.
Fireworks– Right through the Memorial Day to Labor Day, Navy Pier gets dazzled around every Wednesday and Saturday with fireworks. But the charismatic view comes across on 4th of July and New Year Holiday when the fireworks dance on music tunes. All looks stunning from Pier but the view from boat is out of this world.
- Plan your visit to Chicago around 4th July, New Year’s Eve to get spellbound by festive fireworks, free of cost.
- Get boarded to Shoreline water taxi(Green Route) which cost around $8 to Shedd Aquarium for most striking view of Chicago Skyline.
- Full day parking costs $21 on weekdays and $25 over weekend including Friday
- On a budget try to eat at Food Court,if not there are many famous restaurants.
- Make a visit in summer for the pleasant weather.
P.S- The pictures in the post are our own except the fireworks one.
Shaw Garden popularly known as Missouri Botanical Garden is an ideal place to get tranquilized by amazing flora collection and some great sculptures..
Continuing on our journey , It was time to explore more of Madison city.
After having breakfast in hotel itself we headed towards our first stop,which was just couple of miles from our hotel.
Olbrich Botanical Garden is famous for its vast landscape and is beautifully located next to Lake Monona. There is a stream which flows from Monona right through the gardens and the view of this Starkweather creek is a boon to eyes. We spend couple of hours in this peaceful environment, it has shrubs and trees from various countries. So,to get the best experience must visit this place in Fall season. I specially loved fall colors in Chinese Maple and liked vibrant colors in Thai pavillion, Wildflower garden and birch walk.
Thai Pavilion- Originally, this pavilion was built in Thailand, then dismantled, took almost seven weeks by sea, then rail to Chicago and finally by truck to reach here. Even nine craftsman traveled to Madison and assembled it.
As we had a visit in later fall, so sadly most gardens such as herb and rose didn’t had a lot to offer, but we could see the vast area they have and the diverse flora which might be the reason that its a worth to watch in every weather throughout the year.
Union Memorial Terrace– After Olbrich we headed to Memorial Union, located on the shore of Lake Mendota in University of Wisconsin. There was some construction/ maintenance work going on near Memorial Library and The Pyle Center, so we had to park our car 2-3 blocks away and we took a walk towards the lake. It was a chilly day and to walk in sun felt like the best thing to do. It took us nearly 10 minutes walking by side of Chazen Museum of Art and Kohler art library, through Historical society. We finally reached the bay area by the Union theater and the view was spectacular. It was worth walking down to enjoy the view. We spend nearly half an hour sitting at Memorial Terrace in the serenity.
As we headed back we thought of having a lunch in campus itself. We had our favorite wings(as usual) and Buffalitos with beer at Buffalo wild wings. After having an energetic meal, we headed to Lake Monona.
Lake Monona -It was around 4 p.m when we reached this place opposite Olbrich Botanical Garden. We had a stroll around lakeside and then sat down on benches for nearly an hour before sun finally started going down behind the Capitol.
As the daylight started fading out,it gave us the feeling of contentment.Well it was worth waiting for it in that cold windy day.
Travel Tips :
Where to stay- East side, near East towne mall. Budget hotels, good restaurants nearby.
Duration of stay– 2-3 days.
Attractions- Wisconsin Capitol, Dane County Farmers’ Market, Olbrich Botanical Garden, University of Wisconsin, Lake Mendota,Lake Monona, Henry Vilas Zoo..
Every attraction has ample parking space and paid public parking is very cheap($1-$1.50 per hour).
Well this was our 2 day trip to Madison and we tried to get familiar with this city. If you liked this post,do let us know. Click here for pictures