After walking the 5-mile span of the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day, we got to sit down and relax on the ferry to Mackinac Island. This has become a family tradition for us, walking the bridge and visiting the island on Labor Day, with a stop at the Mackinaw Bakery in between. Not only is it a way for us to get from the opposite end of the bridge that we started on without having to turn around in the middle, but it also allows us to avoid the traffic that builds up while the bridge is closed for the annual walk. Even though it’s a holiday, the island is not too busy since most visitors start heading home on Labor Day.
Once we got off the ferry, we headed for Jack’s Livery Stables which advertises Drive it Yourself Carriages. My brother and sister-in-law are both into horses so we let them drive. Before we could get behind the horses, we picked out a route based on the amount of time we had (and how much we wanted to spend), and then they got a short lesson in driving. Before doing it, I assumed this was one of those things where the horses have a specific route they walk and you are just kind of along for the ride, but that really wasn’t the case. Our horse used to be the left horse on a team and he kept pulling to the left and when we corrected him, he went too far to the right! There were a few moments I thought we might go off the road.
This was a fun experience and one you can’t have very many places, but I would not recommend it to a first-time visitor. The traditional, large-group carriage tour gives you a lot more information about the history of the island and a better lay of the land. If you like horses, have been to the island before, and you’re looking for a way to see it differently, this is a fun way to do it and it is less work than riding a bike (you’ll notice that in our two years of walking the bridge, we haven’t decided to rent bikes after). If you are interested in trying it yourself, check out Jack’s Livery Stable!
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