Mama + 2 Muchachos

Simple advice for parenting babies and other little ones

Mackinac Island, Michigan

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Sunset Condos Accommodates a Big Family

Every year — this is one place we love to go with the whole family in the summer.  It is peaceful and safe for the kids since there are no cars on the island aside from the ambulance and fire truck. 

Everyone may not agree with this if they’ve only been to the downtown part of the island, which in the afternoon is crowded with tourists, bikes, and horse drawn carriages.  If you get there early enough in the morning or get to stay late at night, the island calms down and really is one of my favorite places in the world. 

View in the early morning from the Grand Hotel. Not crowded yet.

One of the ways you can get to stay later is to spend the night on the island.  This option is pretty pricey, especially when you are trying to accommodate 10 people since we like to bring my parents and my sisters’ family along with us.  In the past, we had a great time at the Lilac Tree Suites — you can fit a lot of people in a suite . . . but I was still feeling rushed with check out at 11.  And as I said, with it being pricey, we could really only splurge for one night. 

Same goes for the majestic Grand Hotel.  We have been fortunate enough to do two Celebrate Michigan Packages (which I will post about later) in this historic hotel .  .  . but two nights there would be way out of our budget. 

Los dos muchachos from the porch of the Grand Hotel.

This year I wanted to enjoy myself more by taking time to enjoy some of the hiking trails on the interior of the island, so I searched for condos and came across these:  Sunset Condos.  For almost the price of one night at the Lilac Tree, we could now fit everyone into a two bedroom condo for TWO nights.  And I think everyone agreed when we were checking out, after years of Mackinac Island vacations, this was the best time we had ever had. 

It’s also more economical to rent a condo because you don’t have to eat at a restaurant for every meal.  This requires a bit of planning . . . my mom and I each planned a family meal.  That covered two dinners.  Mine, salsa chicken, comes from my recipes page on Pinterest that I tripled and tweaked to account for everyone.  But it also required that I buy and pack all the ingredients in the cooler to be ready to make it.  My mom also packed ingredients to make hamburgers for everyone, along with a trip to the local Mackinac Island grocery for sides likes chips and a few fruits and vegetables. 

The condo provides coffee for the morning and we also packed some breakfast pastries like muffins, pecan rolls, pre-made pancakes, and granola bars for a quick breakfast. 

We all agreed this was much easier than eating out too, especially with kids.  The condo has a fully equipped kitchen . . . just thankful for my mom who remembered to bring things like butter . . . . I forgot cooking spray to saute the chicken.  Like I said . . . lots of planning, but well worth it. 

But as we were taking the horse drawn taxi ride up to the condos and it was taking about 45 minutes, I could see some worry in the faces of my family.  My oldest stated, “Are we going to the rain forest?,” as we traveled further and further into the interior. 

Heading into “the rain forest.” My youngest checks out the horses during the taxi ride to the West Bluff.

What were we going to do on this cloudy day with downtown so far away?

Well, the kids loved exploring the trails around the West Bluff.  We were able to discover Sunset Rock.  The Woods Restaurant and Bob’s Bar are nearby, so my dad and brother-in-law went to see if they could buy some beer there.  As there was no take-out, in grand Mackinac Island fashion, one of the waitresses and the bartender at the restaurant let Dad and Tom borrow their bikes to visit a convenience store in the interior. 

This is one of the reasons I love the island . . . gracious people, bikes that aren’t locked up. 

Kids who’ve never met previously cheer each other on and wait in line to bowl. Photo courtesy of Mary Drown.

While at the bar, Tom also discovered they had a small bowling alley, with small balls and pins that need to be set up by hand.  At first, I thought he was talking about a video game, but it was real bowling . . . so after dinner, the kids had a great time doing this.  It was amazing as we watched all the kids, other tourists we didn’t know, get in line to play, cheer each other on, and help set up the pins and return the balls.  The adults were having as much fun watching and coaching the kids. 

My nephew shows his bowling skills in Bob’s Bar. Photo courtesy of Ann Kenyon.

Since I don’t drink much, my husband also discovered for me that the bar serves my favorite island dessert, a small Grand Hotel Pecan Ball.  So I felt like I was patronizing the restaurant as my family used the bowling alley. 

The next day, my husband, two boys, and I took the 30 minute hike to downtown and discovered we were faster than the horse drawn carriage everyone else took.  We spent the day shopping, playing at some of the many playgrounds, biking around the island, eating ice cream, fudge, and lunch at our usual spot, the Ice House outdoor dining at Island House Hotel (where dogs are welcome).  We enjoyed each other’s company and even convinced my sister, her husband, and daughter to make the trek back up to the condos with us.  Taking the walk provides plenty of family time, finding snails, waving at the waiters as they bike up the to woods, and the peaceful time I crave.

Peaceful time.

One other point is pets.  In between the time I made the reservations and the actual vacation, my sister bought a dog that was too small to board since she didn’t yet have all her vaccinations.  Sunset Condos allows pets for a $75 fee.  This saved us, and Aspen the dog had a great time too. 

Now stop reading and make your reservations for Mackinac Island, but save some vacancy for me!

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1 Comment

  1. After writing this, I realized I forgot a few important points to consider before booking at Sunset Condos. First, there is no air conditioning, but the island is pretty cool at night. The two bedrooms were also equipped with ceiling fans in our unit and each bedroom area (including the queen bed in the living room) had a portable fan tucked in the closet. The fans worked well at cooling and BLOCKING OUT NOISE. I put this in all caps, because the first night of our stay, our neighbors upstairs were not so quiet. Luckily, they didn’t wake up any of the kids. But they were loud enough to wake up every adult for over an hour and let us know some of their names were Bryan and Doug, and they wanted to jump off the balcony. In a traditional hotel, we could have complained to the front desk. In condos, this is not possible. So use the fans!

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