Tag Archives: Mackinac Island


Welcome to my blog!

I am a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

My latest posts are from my summer trip to Helsinki, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia and Riga, Latvia.

Before that are my posts from my spring travels to the Upper Midwest, U.S.A., including Michigan and Ohio. In Michigan, I visited Mackinac Island for the third time, the scenic Lake Michigan town of Petoskey, and a stop at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. Previous posts include a link to my story about last summer’s New England cruise, and my visits to Ohio cities that begin with “C” — Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Canton, and a fun time on the Lake Erie Islands.

Next month I travel to Greece and Turkey. Stay tuned!

My updated published clips list with some of my stories from over the years is on the right. To see even more of my published clips, visit my website at http://www.richardvarr.com

Thanks for your continued interest!!

(Header image is my photo from St. Barth, view from the Colombier Lookout; head shot in Krakow, Poland.)


My novel of international intrigue, Warming Up to Murder, is available as an ebook, and in Kindle and Nook formats.  It’s about a TV reporter who finds himself chasing the “big story” spanning two continents.  See the links below.



Mackinac Island Revisited!

Grand Hotel. Photo by Richard Varr

On the porch of the Grand Hotel. Photo by Richard Varr

It was my third time to Michigan’s Mackinac Island last month, and this visit was just as inspiring and exciting as the last two. I have two favorite pastimes there that I spent the majority of my time enjoying on this trip – sitting on the rocking chairs atop the Grand Hotel’s 660-foot-long porch, and renting a bicycle along the scenic shoreline road circling the island. From both vantage points, the views of scintillating deep blue and Caribbean-like green hues of Lake Huron are worth every effort and dollar it takes to return to Mackinac Island.

Bicycling on the bike path ringing Mackinac Island. Photo by Richard Varr

Mackinac Island horses and carriage by Fort Mackinac. Photo by Richard Varr

And needless to say, the five-course dinners in the Grand Hotel’s main dining room were simply fabulous, and popping in and out of the fudge shops on Main Street with their tasty rich chocolate samples was a real treat as well.

Market Street, Mackinac Island. Photo by Richard Varr

Main Street on Mackinac Island. Photo by Richard Varr

During my visit two years ago, I spent a lot more time exploring the island. Here’s my post from that trip.


Richard on the Porch of the Grand Hotel!

AND, I wrote a story for Coast to Coast (RV) Magazine that was published last year (P. 16).




Mackinac Island: Stepping Back to the Gilded Age

Grand Hotel. Photo by Richard Varr

The dreamy 1980 movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour is how I first heard about Mackinac Island, Michigan – one of the Midwest’s most popular resort destinations – and its 1887 Grand Hotel, built during the Gilded Age. It’s the perfect stage for the late 19th century setting where the movie’s characters connect through time travel. The Grand Hotel helps set the tone of yesteryear with its traditional rocking chairs lining the 660-foot-long porch.

The Grand Hotel lobby. Photo by Richard Varr

Grand Hotel. Photo by Richard Varr

Grand Hotel’s porch. Photo by Richard Varr

Horses and carriage. Photo by Richard Varr

Hopping a ferry from Mackinaw City, I arrive in the busy port flanking Huron Street, the island’s quaint but bustling store-fronted main drag. It’s cluttered with bicyclists and echoing with the clip-clop of horse hooves only – that’s because automobiles have been banned here since 1898. Bicycle rental and fudge shops with their deep-chocolaty treats dominate every block it seems, providing some of the island’s favorite pastimes.

Grand Hotel. Photo by Richard Varr

Circling the island. Photo by Richard Varr

Although horse-driven carriages will take you to some of the same locations and sights, I opt to rent a bicycle and pedal along curvy roads and paths circling the island and cutting through forested bluffs. I stop in a few churches and museums on Market and Main streets, but many interesting sights are inland.

Sugar Loaf Rock. Photo by Richard Varr

Unusual stone formations pierce the tree line: Arch Rock, a bridge-like span of eroded breccias carved out of a hillside 146 feet above Lake Michigan’s shoreline; and Sugar Loaf Rock, another breccias mass shooting up 75 feet. The best views of the 2,318-acre island can be seen from nearby Point Lookout and the hilltop site of Fort Holmes.

Fort Mackinac. Photo by Richard Varr

View from Fort Mackinac. Photo by Richard Varr

Fort Mackinac along the waterfront, built by the British in 1780 but falling to the Americans after the Revolutionary War, has interactive displays and period furnishings filling 14 original buildings, while reenactments and gun and cannon firings reverberate within the stone ramparts.

Grand Hotel, view from the porch. Photo by Richard Varr

Mackinac Bridge. Photo by Richard Varr

In the evening, my favorite pastime is sitting on the Grand Hotel’s elongated porch – possibly the world’s longest – and looking out to the water’s edge as the sun sets, with views of the expansive Mackinac Bridge connecting the mainland with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Photo by Richard Varr

For More Information: