Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island Engages the Whole Family
Like so many in Michigan, I grew up road tripping to Mackinac Island for a uniquely Michigan experience. As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of the ferry boat crossing, the fudge shops, and the forts.
As a parent, Mackinac Island speaks to me for different reasons. It’s the timelessness of the place, the visual representation of history, and the unique opportunities the island holds for families to connect with each other.
Last summer I stayed at Grand Hotel for their Family Added Value Days promotion and I must say that everything I love about the island as a parent is encompassed in this iconic Michigan property.
Dubbed “America’s Summer Place,” Grand Hotel’s Family Added Value Days program does an amazing job connecting families and delighting children in unique and memorable ways.
Read on to see my tips for creating magic for your family at Grand Hotel.
10 Tips for the Best Vacation at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island With Kids
1 – Visit Grand Hotel during Family Added Value Days
Family Added Value Days is a special promotion that Grand Hotel runs on select dates in July and August. Everything about this package is focused on the family. The hotel has special dinner options, activities, and pricing catered to families of all ages.
Family Added Value Days isn’t just about the younger kids, but also families with teenagers. Kids 17 and under stay for free and families can get discounts when staying multiple nights.
There are also casual family dining options, evening movies outside in the tea garden, and free golf for children 17 and under. Parents playing with their kids are half off!
2 – Enjoy an Evening Movie Outside in the Tea Garden
At night during Family Added Value Days, the hotel transforms the tea garden into an outdoor movie theater. A large inflatable screen showcases family friendly movies and the setting with the hotel and bridge illuminated in the background, is truly amazing.
3 – Know the Food Options Available for All Ages
Breakfast and a five-course formal dinner are included in your stay, and these are two meals not to be missed. In addition to the standard meal options, Family Added Value Days includes special dining options just for children.
My kids were absolutely blown away by the kids only buffet, which was loaded with their favorite foods and desserts.
While on the island we enjoyed lunch at both The Woods and Jockey Club, which are owned by the hotel and provide unique settings for a meal. At both locations we found the food options to be delicious and reasonably priced.
4 – Snag some Alone Time When You Drop the Kids off for Games and Activities
Grand Hotel offers afternoon and evening kids programs for children 5 or older. These complementary activities allow parents some time to themselves while on vacation.
Afternoon programs vary by the day, but include arts and crafts and tours that take children to see local museums and attractions. Evening programs feature casual dinner options and activities, which include FootGolf, movies, ice cream, bingo, and yard games. Children’s programs typically run from early June through late August.
5 – Go to Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor for the Best Summertime Desserts
Located on the east end of the hotel, Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor is open to all visitors to Mackinac Island. Featuring Michigan made Hudsonville ice cream, customers will find dessert classics like root beer floats, sundaes, milk shakes, and hand dipped chocolate waffle cones.
6 – Bring Your Own Bikes
This was a first for us this year and we loved it. We’ve always rented bikes and taken the typical route around the exterior of the island. We found that by bringing our own bikes it allowed us a ton of flexibility and made for a more adventurous time on the island.
We explored a lot of sites we had never seen before and riding through the interior of the island felt like an adventure with little surprises around every corner.
Interior Mackinac Island Destination Ideas for Bike Riding:
This restaurant has been a favorite for years. This is such a unique spot to stop on a family bike ride and you’ll be rewarded by its Bavarian charm, delicious food, and duckpin bowling.
While waiting for lunch our kids had a blast rolling the softball sized bowling ball down the lane and setting up pins for each other.
Located on the interior of the island. Our kids loved how close they could get to the planes and saw several take off and land.
Cave-of-the-Woods and Crack-In-The-Island
We felt like we were really exploring finding these two geological landmarks. Our kids loved exploring inside the cave and climbing through the crack with jagged walls on each side.
Built in 1814 and located at the highest point on the island. I can’t believe I have been coming to the island all these years and hadn’t seen this fortress!
7 – There’s a Pool, Two Hot Tubs and Free Snow Cones
The Esther Williams swimming pool is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and features a large main swimming pool and two hot tubs. There is food and beverage service at the pool and our kids couldn’t get enough of the complimentary snow cones!
8 – Explore the Secret Garden and Stop for Yard Games
The tea garden is home to expansive gardens, wooded trails, outdoor fitness stations, and yard games.
Our children raced around the trail areas and were delighted to find small wood carvings along the path. The view of the hotel from the secret garden makes this a must-stop while at the hotel.
9 – Try Your Hand at Family FootGolf
Footgolf is a family friendly activity for all ages and takes place on the hotels golf course in the evening. On some holes, we kept track of the number of kicks and on others we simply raced to see who could get the ball in the hole the fastest.
10 – Play a Game of Chess on the Longest Porch in the World
There is an oversized chess set on the eastern end of the porch, which happens to be longest porch in the world. Our children recently took up checkers, but still had a wonderful time playing with the toddler sized pieces and learning the basics of the game.
Visiting Mackinac Island is always fun, but our trip to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island allowed us to experience the island in a new way. We loved how Grand Hotel had an eye on children’s enjoyment and made people of all ages feel welcome.
If you want to do Mackinac Island with kids, I highly recommend staying at the Grand Hotel.
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