Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere

Strait and narrow

Want to walk on water? Sort of? Head for St. Ignace, Michigan for the 53rd Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. Labor Day (Monday, September 6th) is the only day of the year when you can walk the scenic span high above the Straits of Mackinac. The five-mile walk across the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere starts in St. Ignace in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and ends on the other side of the 26,372-foot long bridge in Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula. (Be prepared to swing if the weather is gusty: The center span between the bridge’s two towers can move 35 feet east or west in strong winds.) For $5, shuttle busses will take walkers from designated parking lots in St. Ignace to the starting line and ferry walkers from Mackinaw City back to St. Ignace post-walk. The walk begins at 7 a.m.; no entry after 11 a.m. Walkers have a shopping incentive: Participants receive a numbered certificate after finishing the walk, and numbers matching those posted in any of the store windows in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace are good for prizes from area merchants.

For lodging, try the Colonial House Inn (90 N. State St., St. Ignace, Michigan; 906-643-6900,; rates range from $94 to $155. Or, the Mackinac Straits Bed & Breakfast (399 Graham Ave., St. Ignace, Michigan; 989-573-1000,; rates start at $150.

GO 53rd Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk; 906-634-7600,

O Blues Brothers, Where Art Thou?

Le Mars, Iowa is about nine hours away, but if you’re a fan of bluegrass music, it’s worth the drive. From August 30th through September 5th, the tiny town becomes a folkie mecca during the 35th Annual National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival. More than 600 artists perform on 10 stages scattered over the Plymouth County Fairgrounds. This year, Le Mars (which claims title to the Ice Cream Capital of the World and the largest ice cream factory in the world) welcomes headliners Patti Page, Cindy Cash (Johnny’s daughter), and Whispering Bill Anderson; events also include music workshops for aspiring fiddle/banjo/harmonica players and nightly dances, culminating on Saturday, September 4th with the Saturday Night Sandhills Cowboy Dance (if you want to learn the Texas Two Step, here’s your chance). Stay at the Holiday Inn Express (1285 Sleepy Eye Dr., Le Mars, Iowa; 712-546-1700;; rates range from $109 to $129. Or, try the Heavenly Bliss Bed & Breakfast (410 1st Street, SW, Le Mars, Iowa; 712-253-8188,; rates start at $68. Lastly, we like the Grace Corner Bed & Breakfast (123 E. Main St., Lawton, Iowa; 877-944-5696,; rates range from $65 to $85.

GO 35th Annual National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival, Le Mars, Iowa. $15 daily tickets; seven-day pass, $60. For information, call Bob Everhart at 712-762-4363 or go to


Photograph: Brian Walters/Michigan Economic Development Corporation