A gentle clip-clop of horse hooves is a familiar sound on automobile-free Mackinac Island.
Located in the Straits of Mackinac between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula or “mitten” part of the state, horse and pedal power are go-to modes of transportation around the island, including to and from Grand Hotel.
“Mackinac Island’s primary mode of transportation is bicycles. However, let’s not let this take away from the world’s largest horse and buggy livery operation located on our little island,” said Julia Luckey-Ottenwess, director of group tours at Grand Hotel.
An integral part of that mega operation is Grand Hotel Stables, which was completed in 2012. Adjacent to Surrey Hill, the working stable is home to 12 horses. “This building is open to the public for history seekers to view the historical ‘working’ buggies of times past, which at any time may be hitched to a team of horses and used,” Luckey-Ottenwess said.
The hotel welcomes groups to view the horses, speak with a carriage driver, maybe learn how to convert “hands” to feet, and to walk through the Chambers Carriage Museum.
The museum displays 20 antique carriages, owned by Grand Hotel or Mackinac Island Carriage Tours.
Carriages are grouped by type and manufacturer. Reproductions of advertising art, antique ads and artifacts enhance the exhibits.
Studebaker carriages are displayed in one corner of the 8,700-square-foot facility. The Studebaker car company began as Studebaker Brothers, which first made wagons and later became the largest producer of carriages in the world.
Grand Hotel’s group tour staff can arrange or customize horse-drawn carriage tours for groups. For the more adventurous, saddle horses are available too. There are 40 miles of bridle paths on Mackinac Island. To add horseback riding to an itinerary, contact any member of Luckey-Ottenwess’ team.
For more information, call Grand Hotel at 517-349-4600 or visit grandhotel.com.
By Mary Lu Laffey