Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What NOT To Do In Mackinaw...

Now that we are home from Mackinaw City (and, by the way, wishing we were back up there again already!), I have a bit more insight to some of the things we had planned to do, or things I recommended.

First Up:

The Haunted Theater on Mackinac Island

The cost was the advertised price of $5.00 per person. The advertised opening time was 11am. We finally saw someone opening up shop at 11:30am. We heard from a few people that they often open late, and some days, by an hour or more past the scheduled opening time.

One thing that irked me- it's cash only, and says it NO where. The website, the window, the brochures... nothing warned us that we needed cash only to enter. That was an annoyance, as we were on a small island, with no access to a bank. Luckily, my husband had some cash tucked away, because I had only brought $20 cash with us, as I figured the only time we might need it was for snacks.

The actual theater was not great. Not bad- but it was on par with the out dated, cheap set up you find with traveling carnivals. There was very little interactions. Most of the theater relied on scenes of "horror" that were built at least 20+ years ago.

All and all, when you consider the lack of a concrete opening time, the lack of forewarning that they only take cash, and the lack luster overall experience inside? I do not recommend this place at all. It's scarier looking on the front steps than it is inside the theater- which, by the way, is not set up to look like a theater in any way, shape, or form.

End grade? D

Suggestions to the Haunted Theater? Show up on time, or change your opening time. During the off season, do a rehaul on your set up. Get new sets, change it around. Theme it towards the whole "Theater" concept you use for a name. Get people involved- there was very minimal people interaction. During the time when she was interacting, no one was able to pay to come in because she was the only person working.

The Weird Michigan Wax Museum in St. Ignace

The biggest disappointment here is that they, too, are lax in their posted hours. Namely, they were supposed to re-open for the tourist season in Mid-May and just never did. We were meeting some people there, and when we pulled in, there were 3 cars there. It never crossed my mind that with cars in the parking lot, that it might be closed. When I noticed the OPEN sign wasn't lit, I figured with cars parked, it would be opening soon.

No, upon closer inspection, we saw a sign that read, "Closed for the season". Upon further inspection, one of the vehicles in the parking lot had a rear window smashed out. We did not inspect it any closer to see if things were missing inside of it. There was even a van emblazoned with the Weird Michigan Wax Museum logo all over it in the parking lot.

Now, if you are just not able to re-open, you really should take the website down, or update it to say when you WILL be open. Or, if you will NOT be reopening your doors. We noticed everything inside was covered in plastic, but it was still full of souvenirs to purchase- when ever your doors finally open.

End Grade: E

Suggestions to Weird Michigan Wax Museum: Update your website, & get your location open again, because you are missing out on prime tourist season in Mackinaw.

Maze of Mirrors 3D in Mackinaw City (Might also be called House of Glass??)
(note- there is one on the island as well, which is apparently larger, but this one has to do specifically with the one in MC)

This one wasn't bad, actually, but again- minor annoyances that I felt should be shared. I didn't know it was there at all, until we stumbled on it. When we did, there was a note in the door: "Back soon!" All right, no problem. We shopped around for almost 30 minutes, and swung back by. The note was still firmly in place, so we left.

On our second outing to the area (it's located in Mackinaw Crossings, an outdoor, old time village feeling shopping center), I noticed the sign again- it was in a different spot, but still on the door. I checked back about 15 minutes later- still there. We did more shopping, checked back again maybe 30 minutes later- still there. We gave up.

On our last day, we stopped by the center just to grab 1 specific thing, and low and behold- it was open! I dragged the family over before they had a chance to shut down for "a few minutes".

The 'maze' is extremely small, and makes more use of clear panels than mirrors, which made it really easy to navigate. I have done a mirror maze before, and it was a LOT better than this one.

For the $5.00 per person, it wasn't a bad time, but with the constant closed during business hours annoyance, and the short time it took to get through it, it is debatable on whether or not I would spring to do it again any time soon.

End Grade: C-

Suggestions to the Maze: First off, be professional, and be open during your posted times. If it's a matter of running to the bathroom for 5 minutes, sure, close the door. But being gone for extended periods of time during your open hours, and doing it several times in 1 week is just inexcusable. I would also recommend enlargeable your maze, and adding more mirror panels, and removing some of the clear panels.

Those were the three biggest dissappointments on our trip, because they all sounded like a lot of fun, and just were not what we hoped for.

A few other changes/minor complaints.

Curio Faire is listed as being $.50 to climb (this is a tourist stop in St. Ignace, west of town) on all tourist website info I could find (they do not have a site themselves). The sign out front said $1.00.

Totem Village in St. Ignace is listed on various sites as $5.00 per family. It was $10.00 per family. One major complaint- it's listed as a wild life zoo, but the 'cages' they keep the wild life in were deplorable. Handmade, barely held together rusted looking metal fence sections held together lord only knows how. There were some foul smells that were not attributed to animal feces. We felt so bad for the deer, that we fed them weeds- their enclosure had only hay in it, and no grass on the ground at all, just mud.

Castle Rock has gone up in price, and no longer lists ANY price on their website. It was $.50 2 years ago. It is now $1.00 per person.

Over all, though, we had a great time. The things listed above are my own thoughts and takes on the places we went. Please feel free to come up with your own thoughts!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mackinaw City: What To Do, PT 3 - Mackinac Island

This post is a tad on the late side- I had the other two done and posted last month, but had not yet written this one. The trip is imminent! We leave this week, and I'm excited, and on packing over-load! The car is half way packed. Still have to install the roof rack and the car top carrier, though.

If you've never been to the Mackinaw area, you are certainly missing out- it's gorgeous! Mackinaw City is the very tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan, and is connected to St. Ignace in the upper peninsula of Michigan by the Mackinac Bridge- just a 5 mile drive across the gorgeous Straights of Mackinac, which connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron together. As you cross the bridge, you'll pass the beautiful Mackinac Island. 

I'll repeat this one little blurb, because it's something a LOT of people get wrong- even those silly Michiganders (both trolls and youpers!).

For those who have ever wondered, there are 2 spellings of the word Mackinac.  The city is spelled Mackinaw City- spelled phonetically. The city was spelled this way due to the British occupation of the city. The rest of the biggies are spelled with an -AC at the end: Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island, Straights of Mackinac. The AC is still pronounced -AW. It's spelled -AC due to the French period of occupation. Regardless of spelling, pronounce it Mackinaw.

Today's post is going to focus on Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island: What to Do

First off, it will cost you money to even get ON the island. You'll be taking a ferry, but leave the car behind! This island is unique in 1 feature. There are NO motorized vehicles allowed on the island (with a couple of notable exceptions- there IS an ambulance, and there are 2 fire trucks, even the police use horses and carriages!). To get to the island, you have a few choices- Sheplers, Starline, and Arnold ferries. 

Personally, I've only ever used Sheplers- they're the best! (In my totally biased opinion). There are few discounts to be found, but there are some. First off, buy your tickets online, as they are discounted a couple bucks each. You can print them off right at home, and hand the tickets over when you arrive. No need to schedule a time- they have boats leaving from 7:30am in Mackinaw City, and from St. Ignace. The last boat leaves for the island anywhere from 8:30pm to 10:30pm, depending on the day of the week, and the time of the season. For the most part, through the bulk of the day, boats leave every 30 minutes.

The boat ride is cold- if you ride, plan to either sit in the enclosed space down below, or wear a sweat shirt if you are up top. I recommend the up-top part ONLY if the departure is a "Mighty Mac" departure which goes under the Mackinaw Bridge. Or, if it's REALLY hot- then it would probably feel pretty good. 

  • Cost (Online prices): Adult tickets are $19.00 each. Children 5-12 are $10.00 each. Bike's & Bike Trailers are $8.00 each. Adult 3 Packs are $55.00 each ($18.33/ticket). 2 Adults and 1 Child tickets are $44.00. 

If you plan to take a carriage tour (described below), you can combine your tickets. 
  • Cost (Online prices): Adult Carriage & Ferry: $41.00, Child 5-12 Carriage & Ferry: $18.75
  • Time: The ferry takes just under 30 minutes to reach the island. After boarding, boating, docking, and unloading, figure on taking around 45 minutes. Some departure times are busier than others- the Mighty Mac ones can be busy. Check the website for all the times before heading out, so you know how long you will wait if you can't get on the boat you want to be on!

As I said earlier, there are no motorized cars on the island. The way you get around is via horse, carriage pulled by horses, bikes, or good old fashioned walking. One very popular way to tour the island, and get a little bit of history for the place, is to do a Carriage Tour. The carriage tours are very popular, and take some of the walking out of the day. The carriages are large, and drawn by 2-horse and 3-horse teams, depending on where you are in the tour.

These are fun tours, lead by the tour leader driving your carriage. The guides are funny, though they are reading from a script- if you've been on the tour before, the script does not change. It is funny, though, when you get a new person, because they don't have the timing down yet, and have to stop a lot more often to explain things.

I do recommend it for anyone who has never been to the island, or if you just enjoy getting further back onto the island than people tend to go otherwise. It brings you past a lot of historical sites you may not otherwise see, or know about.

Cost: Adult tickets are $23.50, Children 5-12 are $9.00
Cost when purchasing a Combo Ferry/Tour ticket: Adult Carriage & Ferry: $41.00, Child 5-12 Carriage & Ferry: $18.75
Time: The tour lasts roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes. There is a stopping point where you unload, and wait for a different carriage. This can add to the over all time frame.

I have never done the butterfly house. It is located on Surrey Hill, which is where the stop off on the carriage tour is. The butterfly house is pretty popular, and as you have unlimited time between carriage stops, you are free to peruse the house at your own leisure. 

  • Cost: $6.00 for adults, $3.00 for children 5-12
  • Time: Unknown

This is a Mackinac State Historical Park. This fort is the original fort, still standing from when it was built in the 1880's. This fort is similar to Colonial Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, but if you love history, it's a great stop. This fort offers re-enactments, hourly canon firings, and a fantastic view of the village, and Lake Huron. 

  • COST: Adults are $10.50, children 5-17 are $6.50. Children 0-4 are free. You can also buy a family pass, which will get you into all of the historical parks for just $65 per family. The pass is good for the entire summer.
  • Time: If you are a history buff at all, or like old fashioned parks like this, you could easily stay for several hours exploring the buildings, listening to the presentations, and such. But, you could also get through the entire park in about an hour.

Historic Downtown comprises of 5 historic buildings in downtown Mackinac Island. 
  • Biddle House - 10a - 6p
  • Benjamin Blacksmith Shop - 10a - 6p
  • American Fur Company Store & Dr. Beaumont Museum - 10a - 6p
  • McGulpin House - 10a - 6p
  • Mission Church - 12p - 4p
These buildings are set up as a recreation of what they looked like in the 1800's. I have not yet had a chance to explore these, though I do hope to this time around.

Cost: Admission is included with your Fort Mackinac ticket.
Time: Unknown

Bike Rentals

There are several shops that offer various bikes for rent, including tandem bikes, bike carts, tag alongs, child carriers, and more. You can also rent strollers and double strollers at the bike rental shops for use through out the day. 

I have not used one of these services, but there are 3 shops that offer this. Below are the links to their websites. The pages show the same price at each shop, so it's simply a matter of finding the one you want!
Costs: Bike rentals start at $5.00 for a 1 hour rental, and start at $30.00 for an all day rental. Priced depend on bike style. Strollers are $3-$5 for an hour, and $20-$30 for all day use. 

The Haunted Theater is located right on the main 'drag' of downtown, and is fun even just to look at. We have not yet gone, but plan to go this year for the first time. This theater brings to life the "monsters" of Michigan's history. The building was originally built in 1885, and used as a Roller Rink, followed by a dance hall a decade later. In the early 1900's, it was turned into a theater showing "moving pictures". The theater was turned into the Haunted Theater in the 1970's. 

  • Cost: $7.00 per person- Active military are FREE, and senior citizens are half price. They discourage children 6 and under.
  • Hours: 11am to 6pm
  • Time: Unknown- hour or under estimated.

Looking to do some horseback riding? Try Cindy's, which allows you to take a tour of the island without exerting yourself on a bike.

Cost: $40/hour per horse
Time: You can rent by the hour

You can visit the world famous Grand Hotel. The hotel boasts the worlds largest covered porch, and can be seen from great distances, due to it's high stance on the island, and it's long, white body. Built in the 1880's, this hotel has long been a hotel that prided itself on excellence. The movie Somewhere in Time was filmed on the island, and largely, in the hotel.

You can not, unfortunately, just wander the hotel. You can, however, pay a small admission to enter the hotel at certain times without staying there. I can not, unfortunately, seem to find that info on the website. You may wish to call and inquire about this before going! Should you wish to dine at the Grand, please be aware that there is a dress code after 6pm.

Interesting tidbit- you'll notice that the ceilings in all the balcony's, and on the covered porch, are painted Robin's Egg Blue. Before this, the hotel had a lot of problems with birds nesting and creating a large mess. When they first painted them blue, they realized the birds no longer nested. They think it's because the birds think it's open sky.

There are more things to do, however, this is the bulk of the major things to do. My favorite past time on the island? SHOPPING! There is a large shopping district downtown, and you'll find a lot of bargain shops.

Quick tale of WOE:

On our last vacation, I wanted to buy a tie-dyed sweatshirt. On day 1, I looked, and found one. I was hustled! It was a t-shirt stand where you buy a blank t-shirt (for a really high price), then purchase the design you want, and have it added to the item. There is at least 1 in Mackinaw City, and 2 or 3 on the island. Walk away! The sweatshirt I wound up buying, I paid over $40. The BLANK hooded sweatshirt was $25, and I thought that was the price- $25. I was OH SO WRONG.

On our last day, we wound up on the island, and I found a souvenir shop that had a lot of everything. Including tie-dye sweatshirts embroidered with "Mackinac Island" on them. I paid $14.99 for it, and I like it better! It's true to size (the other was an XL that fit like a M), and it's rainbow tie dye (the other was pink/green/white). I love both shirts, but had I seen the $14.99 one first, I never would have bought the other. Shop wisely! And don't listen when the shops in Mackinaw City tell you that everything is more expensive on the island. It's not!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More Winners!!

Good Evening!! I've been a little bit behind on getting winners announced for all the cool prizes given away over the past week. 

Tonight, I am wrapping up the last of the giveaways. I would like to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful sponsors who gave items away this week. I hope you all enjoyed the giveaway as much as I have!

Today's first giveaway is from PickleMama Designs on Facebook. PickleMama makes fun printable party items- invitations, cupcake toppers, and more!

This prize is for a printable set of 4th of July Cupcake toppers! Perfect for the holiday BBQ's and parties!

And the winner is....

Mama Lusco said...

I like PickleMama on FB and left her some love. Thanks! mamalusco at BLAH dot net

Congratulations Mama Lusco!! PickleMama Designs will be in touch with you shortly to deliver your gift!

Our next prize comes from Stina's Stuff on Etsy. Stina is a metal working student who loves to use recylced objects, and helps support Habitat for Humanity!

The prize is a copper and brown glass pendant to use on a chain or ribbon.

And the winner is....

Vicki in UT said...

I love the large copper fold-formed earrings.

Congratulations Vicki! Stina will be in touch with you shortly regarding your prize! I hope you enjoy it!

Last up is a prize from Bowards on Facebook. Bowards creates hair bows, and bow boards to help store all of your bows!

 And the winner of this set is....

Anonymous said...

I liked her page

Congratulations Ceciiliia! Bowards will be in touch with you shortly regarding your prize!

I would like to give a huge thank you to all of the shops that participated, and all of the people who entered each contest!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Good Afternoon!

Tonight, I have 1 sponsored items to giveaway! Don't worry- if you are not the winner, there are still more items listed to giveaway over the next few days! Links are at the bottom!

Today's giveaway comes from Mama Lusco Handmade from Facebook. The winner of this great giveaway will be able to select their prize.

Prize A: A Flower ring and 2 pairs of Flower Earrings

Prize B: A fun Eco Friendly reusable tote bag!

And the winner is....

Vicki in UT said...

My favorite in her shop is the Barn & Birds tote.

Congratulations Vicki!! Mama Lusco will be in touch with you soon about your choice of prize!

Not a winner yet? Stop by and check out my remaining giveaways! Many have low entries, so stop by, you could win something!!

Good luck! Hope you get your name in to win something fun for Summer!

Monday, June 6, 2011

More Winners!!

Good Evening!

Tonight, I have 2 sponsored items to giveaway! Aren't giveaways fun? It's always nice to get a little something special in the mail. And don't worry- if you are not the winner, there are still 4 more items listed to giveaway over the next few days! Links are at the bottom!

First up is a fantastic embroidered shirt from Bass BowsandSews on Facebook.

1 lucky winner will get this fun shirt, in the size of their choice! Pair it with a cute tutu on your little one, or wear it to a 4th of July picnic yourself!

And the winner is.....

Amber said...

Went and friended Bass BowsandSews on FB and waiting for an acceptance response. Once that happens I will show some love and let her know you sent me :-)

Congratulations Amber!! I hope you enjoy your new shirt! Amanda from Bass BowsandSews will be in touch with you soon!

Next up, we have a fun set of Magnetic Bottle Caps with a necklace- these are super fun, and can be swapped out easily! This fun set comes from Cecilia Lyne of Crafty Cousins on Facebook! 

1 lucky winner will receive 1 tie dyed bottle cap necklace, and 3 magnetic Taylor Swift bottle caps, 1 is even accented with a gem!

And the winner is....

karen einsel said...

And then I forgot to leave my email!

Congratulations Karen!! Cecilia will be in touch with you soon to get your prize to you!

Not a winner yet? Stop by and check out my remaining giveaways! Many have low entries, so stop by, you could win something!!


Good morning everyone!

I was supposed to announce 2 winners yesterday, but unfortunately, someone in the area got in a car accident, which tore down two poles, and severed the fiber optics line that lead to a major internet black out for a very large portion of our area. Hopefully the people involved were all right!

So here I am to announce the winners of 2 great giveaways!

The first giveaway was my own:

1 lucky winner will receive 3 hair bows, and 2 headbands from my own shop.

And the winner is.....

Melissa said...

Love your page! And I liked it!

Congratulations Melissa! I will be emailing you for your address to get your bows out in the mail. Thank you so much for participating in our Hot Summer Giveaway!

Next up, Wild Sisters Bowtique on Facebook generously supplied as a set of Heart Shaped Hair Clips to giveaway.

And the winner is....

Jenna said...

Told Bowtique Critique you sent me and already a fan.

Congratulations Jenna!! I will be passing your email info on to Wild Sisters Bowtique so she can contact you for shipping details! Thank you so much for participating in our giveaways!

Not a winner yet? Stop by and check out my remaining giveaways! Many have low entries, so stop by, you could win something!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

WEEKEND GIVEAWAY!! Hello Kitty Hair Bow & More!

Welcome to HOT SUMMER GIVEAWAYS! I will be hosting 5 days full of great giveaways from various crafters around the internet!

Missed the other giveaway posts? There's still time to enter! The date next to them is the last date to enter that particular giveaway!

Today's 1st giveaway comes from Bowards on Facebook. Bowards creates hair bow boards (get it?) to help keep the bows taken care of!

The Prize: 

1 Winner will receive both a $5.00 gift certificate towards a purchase from Bowards, and an adorable Hello Kitty bow!

Nitty Gritty Details:
  • Check out Bowards on Facebook and LIKE the page.
  • Post on her wall that My Frugal Family sent you!
  • Leave a comment letting me know you liked her page, and include your EMAIL address. If there is no email address, I can't contact you!!
Additional Entries - To enter additional entries, please leave a new comment, otherwise, your entry only counts as 1 entry.

There will be 1 winner drawn on Thur, June 9th from all the comments. 

Good luck!!!