horse_1024The clip clop of horses’ hooves, melt-in-your-mouth fudge and scenic views of the lake are the sounds, tastes, and sights I associate with Mackinac Island. Want to make your own memories on the island — or any city your family plans to visit? Enter Goby (pronounced GO-be), an online- and smartphone app-based search engine.

Invented in the MIT labs, the search engine lets travelers find places to eat, shop and have fun in cities around the031-HDamericanfurcompanystore-2he U.S. Categorized into Family Fun, Arts & Culture, Outdoor Recreation, Events, and more, the app lets families and other travelers find exactly what they’re looking for.

I recently used Goby to plan a family vacation to Mackinac Island, Mich. – a charming island between the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan accessible by boat or plane. It’s also a place my husband and I visited pre-kids that we hope to return to as a family.

Where to Stay in Mackinac Island

The most well-known hotel on the island is the Grand Hotel — a historic white clapboard structure built in 1887 and situated on a bluff with sweeping views of the water. The movie “Somewhere in Time” took place at this hotel. Guests can enjoy fine dining, a pool, and spa, as well as many other activities. The hotel also offers children’s programs, which include activities such as bowling, croquet, playground games, rock collecting on the beach, and more. Nonguests can also make reservations for breakfast, the luncheon buffet, or dinner at the hotel.

For a more intimate feel, visitors to the island can choose from a number of cottages, vacation homes and bed-and-breakfast-style properties, some of which offering views of water.

What to Do in Mackinac IslandGrand_hotel-resized

Summertime activities like golfing, biking, and boating are popular in and around the island. In addition, several venues offer family fun for everyone.

A stop at the Butterfly House is a must – with hundreds of butterflies fluttering in the air, one is sure to land on you!

Take a hike around Mackinac Island State Park  most of which is free of charge and open to the public year-round.

Visit Fort Mackinac, an 1880s-era property with 14 original buildings filled with interactive displays and period furnishings. Visitors can watch the reenactment of a court martial, play Victorian children’s games and more.

Many spas are also offered — visit Astor’s Salon at the Grand Hotel, Lilac Tree Spa or Mission Point Resort’s Seventh Heaven Spa and Salon.

Horse photo courtesy of the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau.
American Fur Company Store photo courtesy of Mackinac Island State Park Commission.
Hotel photo courtesy of the Grand Hotel.

Teresa Shaw writes about family travels in and around Southeast Michigan. Follow her on Twitter at @Teresashaw or visit her website at