The highways and straight and narrow side roads that connect Canada to Michigan’s mitt are some of the most underrated areas of Michigan. Primarily used for farming, most people would choose to overlook this area completely in favour of Michigan’s mitt but we are going to bring you along to find all the hidden gems in this region of Michigan.
Connecting Canada and the USA, we will start in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and end on Mackinac Island, Michigan taking you through the coolest vintage vinyl stores, an organic maple syrup farm, the only whitetail deer exhibit in North America and some magnificent natural wonders on Mackinac Island. So grab your keys and let’s get going!
Starting in Sault Ste Marie, ON head on over to Void Vinyl for a morning coffee and to start record browsing. At Void, of course, they have a huge vinyl selection spanning many genres but they also carry a variety of CDs and Cassette tapes (for those who don’t own a record player – yet). They also support locals by displaying the work of local artists and by also doing consignment deals with local vendors, as well as hosting events and parties for the community. Don’t forget to grab a coffee or tea and a muffin for the road! (Yes they are also a cafe!).
The second record stop is Rad Zone. They opened their doors in 1984 and haven’t looked back since! The owner, Paul, carved a niche out for himself as the lead seller of rare vinyl.
This gigantic record store is almost guaranteed to carry what you’re looking for. If records are not your jam, they also have books, games, retro gaming systems, clothes, skateboards and more! It’s easy to get lost for hours in this store. Did you know this was also the first place you could even buy a skateboard in Sault Ste Marie?
Grab your passports, hit the road and cross the International Bridge into Sault Ste Marie, MI and down Highway 75 to the next stop, Michigan Maple Farms. Here at Michigan Maple Farms, they have a host of maple products including organic maple syrup, jams, salsas and sauces. 30 years ago the owner, Mike, borrowed some taps from his father and began to experiment with making his own maple syrup. He soon discovered a love for it and it grew into the family business it is today! Mike, his wife Joyce and their children all had a hand in tapping trees and making maple products!
After the pit stop, hop back in the car and head down the 75 to Deer Ranch, just outside of St Ignace. Deer Ranch opened in 1950 and is the only whitetail deer exhibit in North America. They feature dozens of whitetail deer that are native to this area of Michigan and have grown to include whitetail deer, white whitetail deer and albino deer. Admission is 6$ per person and you can also purchase some feed for the deer! This is a unique opportunity to get up and close to some native fauna (literally, they have fawns too!).
The final stop of the day will bring you to the famous Mackinac Island! Park your car at the ferry docks and hop on the Star Line Ferry. Mackinac Island is very famous and is a huge tourist destination but we are going to bypass all the tourist stops and check out some of the beautiful natural wonders the island has to offer, all while getting in some exercise!
Once you get to the island, head on over to Mackinac Cycle to rent bikes and then start your cycling journey around the island. Some of the best natural wonders on the island are Skull Cave, Cave of the Woods, Sugarloaf, Eagle Point Caves, and Arch Rock.
Mackinac Island was formed as the glaciers receded during the last ice age and it left many interesting geological features.
Arch Rock is a breccia rock formation that was formed by winds eroding away the softer rocks around it over time, similar to Sea Lion rock in Lake Superior Provincial Park.
In Ojibwe legend, the arch is the gateway through which the Great Creator entered to get to his home in Sugar Loaf (the other dramatic breccia on the island).
There are plenty of things to see and do along the Sault Ste Marie – Mackinac Island route and this article only scratches the surface! Check out the other Weekend route featured routes for some more quirky ideas for your next road trip, but don’t forget to return your bike first!