If there’s one thing I love more than traveling, it’s writing about traveling! My travels lead me at least twice a year to Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, one of Michigan‘s most beloved destinations for those who enjoy the finer things in life. Without fail, each year I’m left wondering what to pack for the various adventures my week away has in store for me, so I decided to create a list of what I bring with me every time I go. From formal dinners and dancing to golfing and cycling around the island, this list covers it all. Let me know if I left anything out in the comments below!
When it comes to clothing, I always pack a few extra options because the weather in Northern Michigan can change in the blink of an eye. Even in the middle of summer I bring a light jacket, an umbrella, and a sweater or cardigan with me to layer if I get too cold in the early mornings or late at night. In my experience, it’s best to plan out a loose itinerary of what I’d like to do during my time there such as bike riding, golfing, swimming, hiking around the island, and playing tennis. This determines what I’ll pack, but no matter what I plan on doing I always bring a comfortable pair of shoes with me because I love getting outside and enjoying the cool breeze from the lake every morning! Be sure to check the weather forecast for your stay so you’ll be able to pack the most appropriate clothing for the weather.
Deck of the Esther Williams Swimming Pool at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI
The Grand Hotel’s dress code requires a certain standard of attire, and dinners at the hotel also require a certain level of formality, which you can read about on their website by clicking here. I personally prefer wearing dresses more than I enjoy wearing pant suits or skirts, so I bring a dress for each night I’m staying at the hotel, along with coordinating shoes and jewelry. My husband brings his suits, ties, shirts, cufflinks, and shoes. We’ve seen gentlemen sporting anything from neon seersucker suits or printed suits that match the wallpaper of the hotel, to top hats and tuxedos, so whatever your personal preference is, feel free to express yourself! Rather than seeing the dress code as restrictive, we look at it as a way to celebrate and get all fancied up for the evening. How many other places do you visit where you know you won’t be overdressed when you’re looking your best?
Examples of what my husband and I wear around the hotel (above).
Keep in mind that Grand Hotel does have a dress code on its porch, at dinner, and in all other public areas of the hotel after 6:30 pm each day. Items of clothing such as jean shorts, crop tops, sweatpants, tee shirts, flip-flops, tennis shoes, and other casual wear are not permitted. Instead, guests are encouraged to luxuriate in one of the last remaining places where good taste and elegance walk hand in hand and enjoy the ritual of dressing up.
I typically select either a more formal Lilly Pulitzer dress, or a floor-length dress in a seasonally appropriate fabric, and wear pearl earrings, a coordinating necklace, tennis bracelet, and Tieks, other flats, or heels. My husband wears a three-piece suit with a French shirt, cufflinks, tie, and his favorite pair of leather dress shoes, and looks forward to visiting (a few times) each summer. We enjoy the hotel’s off-season by casually browsing for fun outfits to wear at Grand Hotel throughout the colder months, and curate our wardrobes so that when the time to visit again arrives, we need not stress at all. Be sure that whatever formalwear you elect to pack is something you are comfortable in and feel confident in – that’s most important!
Since a majority of the hotel’s activities are done out of doors, such as golfing on the Jewel golf course, walking the trails of the island, cycling into town or around the island, playing tennis or other sports, swimming, etc. I find it prudent to pack sunscreen and tanning oil, a hat of some sort to keep the sun out of my eyes, sunglasses, and loose athletic clothing that will keep me cool by keeping the sun off my skin. A swimsuit is an absolute must, especially in the middle of the summer! If you plan to ride bikes often while visiting, visitors to the island are welcome to bring their own bikes on the ferries, and there is ample room to park your bikes when you’re not riding them. My husband and I prefer to bring our own bikes since we find them more comfortable, and we bring with us a tire patch kit, an air pump that attaches to the bike frame, and a basket for each of our bikes to carry our purchases, snacks or water with us. If you plan to golf, you can also bring your own golf clubs or rent your own at the golf course! As far as I know, visitors must bring their own equipment if they wish to play tennis, although there isn’t much that can’t be purchased on the island or before getting on the ferry if you’ve forgotten yours!
I also always bring my camera, extra batteries and memory cards, my laptop, charger, and related cords and accessories so that I can keep on my blog and edit photos on the go to share with everyone over on my Instagram account! Be sure to bring something to keep you occupied on the ferry ride over, and during downtime like a good book, games for your family, or an iPad.
I hope this helps you decide what to pack when visiting one of my favorite places in Michigan!