Mackinac Island Events: While it is common to see boats in Lake Michigan during the summer, there is little that compares to the sight of the sailboats competing in the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. Intent on the finish line they glide by at impossible speeds, full sailed and sleek; even from the shore line you can taste the sense of adventure. With only a little over a month until the race begins, we've compiled a list of some of the best places along the Lake Michigan coast line to get optimum views of both the boats, and our breathtaking Northern Michigan water.
The Manitou Islands
Make a day out of your sightseeing and head out out to North or South Manitou Island, where you will be incredibly close to the sailboats crossing the Manitou Straights. Right in the middle of Lake Michigan, there is no poor vantage spot on the islands; consider this your prime seating. Additionally, taking a trip out out to the Islands gives you the opportunity to pack a picnic lunch and spend the rest of the day hiking! Hop on a Manitou Transit boat in Leland, and don't forget to bring your camera.
Known in Northern Michigan as "Whale Back" due to it's shape, this dune offers a birds-eye view of Lake MIchigan and the Manitou Islands. Located right outside Leland, the Whale Back Natural Area has free parking and a number of designated trails to help you find the best angle. Afterwards, head in to Leland for a snack and some sailors gossip at one of the local restaurants!
Part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore, Pyramid Point is one of the most stunning look-outs in Northern Michigan. Find the trail entrance, just outside of Glen Arbor, and take the 2.7 mile hiking loop up to the top. While the terrain is a little hilly, you won't be disappointed when you arrive.
See the sailboats as they approach the last leg of their journey! The Northport Harbor, jutting out into Lake Michigan as the tip of "the pinkie" provides the perfect place to glimpse the regatta and wish them luck from afar. Continue your nautical evening with dinner at Knot Just a Bar, in close by Omena.
Should you be lucky enough to be on Mackinac Island at the end of the race, you can find the best views at several of the hotels and restraunts overlooking the harbor. Watch in comfort from the patio of the Pink Pony restaurant and bar, rumored to be a favorite hang-out for arriving sailors. Or, book a room at the Iroquois and Windermere Hotels, both of which offer prime views of the harbor and Straights of Mackinac in both their restaurants and accomodations. The iconic Grand Hotel porch is the equivilant to a sky box, with panormaic views and a real steal at just $10 admission for non-guests. Multi-task by getting in some beach time while you watch for the boats at the beach at Fort Michilamackinac. Bottom line, the air on the island will be heady with celebration, so stay close to the docks and watch the sailors congratulate each other. No matter who wins, the CYC Race to Mackinac always ends in a party!
For more information on the race, and a detailed map of the course, visit the CYC Race to Mackinac online.