Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

One of travel’s greatest joys is experiencing “something different.” In an increasingly homogenized world, “something different” can be hard to find.

But “something different” abounds on northern Michigan’s Mackinac Island and Grand Hotel, a national historic landmark.

The island, a unique venue set in the Straits of Mackinac separating Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, is a walk back in time. With cars prohibited, transportation is via carriage, horse-drawn taxi, bike or foot.

The famous Grand Hotel, one of eight remaining wooden Victorian-era hotels, offers visitors glimpses of life in a bygone era along with views of the straits from its sweeping porch, reportedly the world’s longest.

Day visitors can attend Afternoon Tea which has taken place daily in the hotel’s parlor for the past 100 years.

Tea, sherry, champagne, petite finger sandwiches, scones and pastries are served accompanied by live music.

Another option is luncheon.

Grand Hotel dining room
Main dining room, Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Mich.
Credit: Grand Hotel

“Our legendary Grand Luncheon Buffet is one of our most popular options for groups wanting to come and experience first-class dining in our main dining room overlooking the Straits of Mackinac off our front porch,” said Julie Rogers, marketing director.

The menu has won several awards. “It’s beyond your standard buffet,” Rogers said. It includes a “diverse variety” including seafood, a carving station, cold entrees and pastries freshly made on site. “It’s very, very popular,” she added.

Groups of 20 or more get discounts on the buffet. Grand Hotel provides complimentary meals for tour managers with a minimum of 30 paid adults and a special rate for drivers.

Tea and lunch visitors and those paying a nominal entry fee can take a self-guided tour of the hotel and grounds.

“You can explore the grounds and hotel,” Rogers said. “You may have a drink in one of our bars. It gives you the opportunity to walk around because it’s really a walking museum — the hotel itself.”

Paid motorcoach parking is available at the ferry dock in St. Ignace or Mackinaw City.

For details about Grand Hotel click on grandhotel.com/groups/tours, email groups@grandhotel.com or call the group tour director at 906-847-3331.

Article by Kathie Sutin