This is going to be a major photo dump again, my apologies! But there were just so many opportunities for fun moments on our trip across the Mackinac Bridge. I wrote last time about our trip up to the bridge while my aunt was here from Vancouver, but that day we also went over the bridge and into the U.P. (upper peninsula, for you non-Michigan folks) for a few other mini adventures.
Our first stop is a must see! The Curio Fair in St. Ignace is your typical, vacation souvenir shop. Knick knacks, Davy Crockett hats, t-shirts…you name it! They also have this awesome seashell wall outside that my kids are fascinated by.
For a dollar per person, you can ascend the stairs up into the “lighthouse” for an awesome view of the bridge and the forest below. It makes me super nervous, because I’m afraid of heights. Plus it’s attached to the ground by cables and you can feel it swaying in the wind.
Then we got back in the car and headed over to one of James’ favorites sights that he has fond memories of from his own childhood, the Cut River Bridge. It’s mong Michigan’s largest and most well-known historic bridges is the iconic Cut River Bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge includes a total of 888 tons of steel and its height over the Cut River is 147 feet. Just below the bridge is a stone tunnel, complete with a door where the troll lives…
We headed down the stair pathway, which felt like a million stairs, but the kids walked every bit of it! Well, aside from a few flights where my aunt and I swung the kids down. It’s a good thing we hiked back up the other side, because I’m not sure I could have made it back up all those stairs!
When you reach the bottom, you’re greeted by the most pristine, undisturbed coast line along Lake Michigan. It’s beautiful. The day we were there was a windy one, and there were big waves lapping the shores. the river that runs through the gorge bleeds red with minerals from beneath the Earth and it flows out into the lake in shades of orange.
The hike back up to the bottom was stunning! So many spots where the sunlight was barely peeking through and we stopped to toss rocks into the river at several spots to break up the hills. It’s a steep climb back up, but Lark managed to hike back up the entire way. Arlo, not so much…this mama was tired after carrying him over half the way up…leg day was brutal that day…who am I kidding?! That was my first “leg day” in like 10 years…
We stopped in St. Ignace on the way back and took a stroll through the Museum of Ojibwa Culture and learned about some local tribes to this area. We have a lot of Indian and First Nations heritage on both sides of the family, not Ojibwa specifically, but it was cool to learn some local history and take in some of the artwork and lifestyle. They had an entire section dedicated to kids with puzzles, books and coloring pages. The kids had a blast!
We got lucky that day, because it happened to be Heritage Week and we were able to see some tribe members in their encampments and take in their beautiful drum chants and bits and pieces of their culture.
We headed back over the bridge, towards home, but it was dinner time and we decided to stop in Mackinaw City to grab dinner. I looked up a few places, trying to something suitable where the kids could have safe options to eat. I found a place I’d never heard of, Beire De Mac, and we literally stumbled upon a treasure! It’s sort of off the beaten path and I was happy to find out that they had several safe options on their menu for my kid’s allergies, plus some really good beer and cider for us, of course!
I shared the pulled pork nachos with the kids, cheese on the side to make it dairy-free, and they were delicious! My aunt was able to find some items that were gluten-free as well. TIP: order a side of the aioli with a basket of fries…heaven!! The building and decor were so awesome, a little 60s mod with a few modern updates. Plus the designer in me is kind of a sucker for their logo!
Once we got back to Petoskey, my aunt suggested ice cream, which is always a pain for us, because there isn’t always dairy-free options. But we stopped into the America Spoon Cafe and were so happy to find they have dairy-free gelato!
Arlo was a bit unsure about the lemon gelato, but eventually he gave in and both kids loved it! I’m always so grateful when my kids can enjoy a “normal” treat while out and about. We sat and ate our gelato in the park, the kids ran around between bites and made themselves good and messy!
Another successful Michigan adventure in the books!