Kath Usitalo, author of travel books on Michigan’s U.P., Mackinac Island book signing

Bi-peninsular Kath Usitalo grew up, attended college and worked in Detroit but vacationed every year in the Upper Peninsula, where her parents were born and she now lives.

This weekend, on Mackinac Island, Author Kath Usitalo will be holding a book signing for her two travel books, 100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die and 100 Things to Do on Mackinac Island Before You Die.


This event will take place at Island Bookstore, 7372 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, on Sunday, May 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die

Touring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) is like taking a two-week trip by station wagon. Not in terms of time—you can sample plenty if four days is all you have. It’s about stepping back and appreciating a place of raw scenic beauty dotted with roadside attractions, blinker-light towns, rustic cabins and hand-painted signs advertising smoked fish and homemade jam.

With 100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die, discover a land mostly surrounded by the Great Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior, linked to the state’s Mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula by a five-mile suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac. The U.P. surprises with Victorian- era and car-free Mackinac Island, millions of acres of forests, waterfalls, wildlife, remnants of the prosperous copper mining era, and 1,700 miles of spectacular shoreline. It’s home to about

320,000 hardy Yoopers (U.P.-ers), just 3% of Michigan’s population across a third of the state’s territory. Cell phone service can be spotty and the top speed along two-lane highways is 55 mph—all the better to slow down and embrace the U.P., whether you’re in search of extreme sports experiences, soft adventure or a simple slice of solitude.

100 Things to Do on Mackinac Island Before You Die

To the Anishinaabek-Ojibwa people it was a gathering place, a sacred burial ground, and the home of the Great Spirit Gitchie Manitou. Throughout the 1600s French voyageurs, explorers, missionaries, and fur traders arrived at Mackinac Island. Its strategic location in the straits between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas made it a military outpost the British and Americans found worth fighting for through the War of 1812. By the late 1800s Mackinac was a destination for city dwellers seeking fresh air, scenic beauty, recreation, and amusements. Today, passenger ferries transport visitors to the car-free island, where getting around is by foot, horse-drawn carriage, or bicycle, the air is still clean, and the scenery spectacular. Most of Mackinac is a state park, fringed with grand Victorian cottages and the whitewashed fort overlooking the compact village of pastel-colored hotels and shops (including the famous fudge makers). 100 Things to Do on Mackinac Island Before You Die helps you make the best of a day trip and reveals dozens of reasons to spend a night—or longer—at this captivating spot.

About the Author:

Bi-peninsular Kath Usitalo grew up, attended college and worked in Detroit but vacationed every year in the Upper Peninsula, where her parents were born and she now lives. From her home in Naubinway, at the northernmost point of Lake Michigan, Kath writes about the Great Lakes State for a variety of print and online publications and her own e-zine, GreatLakesGazette.com.



  • From its beginnings as a sacred Native American gathering place, Mackinac Island has been an important military outpost, center for the fur trading and fishing industries and, since the late 1800s, a prime tourist destination.
  • In 1875 Mackinac Island was named the second national park in the US, following Yellowstone. Twenty years later, the federal government transferred control to the state and it became Michigan’s first state park. The park occupies more than 80 percent of the 3.8-square-mile island.
  • Located in the Straits of Mackinac between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, where the Great Lakes Huron and Michigan meet, Mackinac Island is recognized as a part of the UP.
  • Automobiles have been banned on the island since 1898, when sputtering vehicles frightened the four-legged horsepower. Residents and visitors must rely on walking, bicycling, horse-drawn carriages and, for a few months, snowmobiles, to get around (emergency vehicles are allowed).
  • The 8.2-mile paved road that circles the island is officially known as M-185, and is the only state highway in the country that prohibits motor vehicles.
  • Visitors to Mackinac Island are known as “fudgies” for the thousands of pounds of fudge that they consume and carry away as souvenirs. The tradition began in 1887 with the Murdick family of candy makers; Murdick’s Fudge is still in business, and is one of several shops that turn out fresh slabs of the sweet treat every day.
  • The romantic 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve was set at Grand Hotel and shot largely on Mackinac Island. Each fall, fans dress in period garb and gather to celebrate and watch the movie, visit film locations and enjoy social events at Grand Hotel.