Mackinaw City, Michigan

Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping

June 24, 2021

After a long, lovely stay in the Upper Peninsula, it was now time for us to venture down to Michigan’s “mitten” – more specifically, Mackinaw City, located at the very tip of the “middle finger.” However, before we could make it down there, we first had to cross the Straights of Mackinac (connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron) via the famous Mackinac Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world!

Once safely across the massive 5-mile long bridge, we made our way through Mackinaw City to our campground on the southern edge of town, Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping. As you can see from the banner picture above, this place was hard to beat when it comes to location as it is situated right on the shores of Lake Huron with a fantastic view of both the bridge and Mackinac Island (more on that later). Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this massive campground, although, it was a little crowded for our liking, but it was understandable given the short camping season in this part of the country – they gotta make their money while they can!

We were only there for a day or so before Sam had to abandon Charlotte and me for the weekend when she made the trip down to Boyne Mountain for her best friend, Samme’s bachelorette party. While Sam was partying it up with the girlies, I took the opportunity to get some exercise and jogged/walked into town via the nearby bike path to do a little exploring around downtown Mackinaw City.

After a fun weekend with the girls, Sam made it back to us in one piece (albeit with a slightly battered immune system after all that boozing) – just in time for my parents to arrive in the area! My dad surprised everyone, my mom included, when he decided to purchase a camper van a few months earlier and after getting their feet wet with a few small weekend trips around Oklahoma, they were ready to go big and drive up to Northern Michigan to hang with us for a week or so.

Unfortunately, Sam had to work for the first few days they were in town (someone has to work around here), so my parents and I had to leave her behind for the initial fun activity of their visit – a long bike ride around Mackinaw City (my parents brought their fancy new e-bikes on the back of the camper while I opted to rent a bike from the campground) and a walking tour of Fort Michilimackinac, an 18th-century French, and later British, fort/trading post.

Following our stop at Mackinaw Mill, it was time for all of us, Charlotte included, to pack up and make our way back north across the bridge to nearby St. Ignace, Michigan for a short stay in a rustic Airbnb for the 4th of July weekend (we chose to leave the camper in a dry camping site at Mackinaw Mill while we were up there). Now that Sam was off work, it was time to really start the activities – the first of which was a trip over to the aforementioned Mackinac Island, a quaint little patch of land right off the coast of St. Ignace that is seemingly frozen in time with all its beautiful Victorian homes and horse-drawn carriages (motor vehicles have been banned since the late 1800s). Although most visitors to Mackinac get across the water via one of the two ferry companies that service the island, we decided to take a slightly different method of transportation – a small 6-seater airplane which took off from the St. Ignace airport and landed on a small airstrip located on the island’s interior!

This ended up being such a good decision! Not only was it such a fun experience (I mean, just look at those views…), but it wasn’t much more expensive than a trip on the ferry. If you’re ever in the area and planning on visiting the island, we HIGHLY recommend taking this route to get there.

Once we had safely touched down, we thanked our pilot and made our way downhill to the shore where all the action is – both in terms of shops/hotels/houses, but also in terms of crowds which were particularly thick on this holiday weekend. After putz’n around the downtown area for a bit, we were ready to distance ourselves from the throngs of other tourists, so we rented some bikes from one of the many rental services and embarked on the bike trail which circumvents the island. This was such a cool little path which provided lovely views of the crystal clear waters of Lake Huron as well as some of the elegant homes which line the shore.

We were pooped after that long bike ride and ready to catch the ferry back to the mainland, however, we couldn’t leave Mackinac without sampling some of the local fudge that the island is famous for. Although none of us are the biggest fudge aficionados, we had to admit that it was some tasty stuff (at least for a few bites before the richness started to wear out our taste buds).

The next day was the 4th of July, and to celebrate the holiday, we decided to go on a little road trip around the eastern side of the Upper Peninsula. The first stop on our day trip was to the Tahquamenon Falls, the largest waterfall in Michigan (in terms of water volume) and the third largest east of the Mississippi. As you can see from the pictures below, the water has a notably brown color from the tannins leached from the nearby cedar swamps, hence the nickname, “The Root Beer Falls.”

Once we had thoroughly explored the falls, we hopped back into the truck and ventured east towards the border town of Sault Ste. Marie and the adjacent Soo Locks which straddle the U.S./Canadian border along the St. Marys River. Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Soo Locks enable ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes, servicing an average of 10,000 ships per year. Although we could all appreciate this impressive feat of engineering, I think it’s safe to say that my dad (the engineer) enjoyed this stop the most!

We eventually made it back to the cabin, however, after a long day of driving energy levels were quite low and there wasn’t much desire among the group to make it back out to see the fireworks show in nearby St. Ignace. Instead, we chose to just grill some brats and hit the hay early that night so we could hit the road again the next morning. Boy, were we lame!

Be sure to tune into the next installment of Putz’n Around when the caravan heads back across the Mackinac Bridge and west along the shores of Lake Michigan to the charming little town of Petoskey.