With Lilac Festival winding down this weekend, I thought I would take a minute and share some of the best kept secrets on the Island. Some places where you can go to escape the crowds, because that’s why we all go to the Island, right?  To escape?  On Sunday, when you are waiting for the parade to start, and you have chosen the perfect spot for viewing, take a few minutes or a few hours to explore some of the more tranquil sites on the Island.

5.  Play a round of Executive Golf at Mission Point Resort.

Mission Point photo

Not only will you be able to see the floats and bands line up for the start of the parade on the Mission Point lawn, you might also see a freighter pass by, all with the background of Lake Huron to putt by.

4.  Rent or bring your bikes and ride around the Island to British Landing.

This is the best place on the Island to dip your toes in Lake Huron.  And it is far enough away from downtown that you feel like you are on a secluded beach.  Sit for a while and listen to the waves lap against the pebbly shore.

3.  Skip rocks at any of the public shorelines.

If you are like these kids, it’s really more just throwing rocks, but you can practice your skipping skills and maybe you’ll be good enough to join the stone skipping competition that takes place over the 4th of July Holiday.  Plus that will give you another reason to come back to the Island (as if you need one.)

2.  Take a hike to Fort Holmes.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to hike to the highest point of the Island, Lilac Festival time is a great time to do it, so you can check out the lilacs along the way. Fort Holmes is 320 feet above the water and 896 feet higher than the Atlantic Ocean!  You know what that means, right?  Lot of stairs!  It’s a beautiful hike through the State Park, but take a water bottle with you. It is a great way to get your 10,000 steps in for the day! (Stay tuned for our blog that will focus on Fort Holmes later this summer.)

1. Stroll to the Secret Garden.

My favorite little known place to escape is on a tiny pedestrian street named French Lane.

It is just one street down from the Shepler’s Dock.  As you walk up the lilac-lined path, you will see a lavish burst of flowers behind a white picket fence.  This is the Secret Garden.  The homeowners at this cottage spend their entire summer taking care of their exotic flowers.  I had the opportunity to speak with one of the owners last year, and complimented them on the garden. He said that it takes so much time, but it’s worth it to them to have their own piece of paradise.

Every year, they put up a sign with items to find hidden in the garden.  It’s a fun scavenger hunt, but the end result is that you stand there looking at the reds and purples and yellows and oranges of this little garden and you forget that the outside world exists.  I think that is the real secret of this garden.  Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

Whatever you decide to do with your free time while waiting for the Lilac Parade to start, be sure to savor every minute, because there’s no other place like Mackinac Island with all of its secrets to tell.