A Guide to Visiting Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island, the prettiest place you (probably) haven’t heard of-yet. 

Mackinac Island is a place of beauty, peacefulness, and fun! Actually, you may have already seen it and didn’t realize it. If you’ve ever watched “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve & Jane Seymour, you’ve seen the grand dame of Mackinac- the Grand Hotel. If you’re a fan of 40’s musicals, like I am, “This Time for Keeps” with Jimmy Durante & Esther Williams also features the Grand Hotel and the pool. 

Travel + Leisure lists the Grand Hotel as one of the “Top 100 Hotels in the World.” It also has the longest porch in the world and is a beautiful throwback in time.

Arch Rock
Arch Rock

Where Is Mackinac Island

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Mackinac Island is accessible by ferry. One of the great things about the island is that no cars are allowed. Only horses, bicycles, horse-drawn carriages and snowmobiles (in the winter) are allowed. Imagine a day of no honking cars, no noise pollution from revving engines or getting stuck at a stoplight. Renting a bicycle for the day, walking around or taking a horse-drawn “taxi” creates such a peacefulness. Sounds nice, right?

Main Street
Main Street
"Horse Taxi"
Mackinac Island Taxi

Things To Do

Did I also mention that the island is STUNNING!? It’s quaint, full of cute shops, Inn’s, delicious restaurants, B&B’s and flowers everywhere. The Lilac Festival, held in June is the largest summer festival.

There are activities for all ages including a visit to Fort Mackinac which was founded during the American Revolution. The British captured the Fort in the very first engagement on American soil in the War of 1812. Inside, 14 original buildings, cannon salutes, bugle music, daily reenactments, and interactive displays speak of America’s infancy.

Rent a bike and enjoy the island as this can be your main source of transportation. Most of the bike rental companies are priced the same so, no matter which you pick, you will have fun!

Definitely ride to Arch Rock. It is a natural limestone arch that formed during the Nipissing post-glacial period. It is beautiful to see and you will be so glad you made the ride.

The Downtown is the beating heart of Mackinac Island and there is an endless array of cute shops, art galleries, souvenir, and specialty shops. Don’t forget to pick up a Christmas ornament for your family travel tree.

Whether on a bike or on a carriage ride, there are many beautiful historic homes that will make you swoon and wish for a simpler time.

One of my husband’s regrets is that he didn’t get to play golf at Michigan’s most historic golf course, Wawashkamo Golf Club. The golf course is the site of an 1814 battle between the British and Americans. While some in your group are playing a round of golf, you could be in the spa or enjoying a bite of fudge.

There are lots of hiking trails, as well as, kayaking. Although it was too chilly the day we went, a guided kayak tour would be beautiful on Mackinac Island during the Summer. There are a couple of guided kayak providers on the island such as Woods and Waters Ecotour and Great Turtle Kayak Tours. Both offer instruction, rentals and stand up paddle board options.

If you have time, afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel shouldn’t be missed. The Grand Hotel has had the tradition for more than 100 years. Each guest can sit in the hotel’s grand parlor and indulge in delicious baked goods, pastries, finger sandwiches and a large selection of tea.

Lilac
Having fun on the front porch of the Grand Hotel
HAVING FUN AT THE GRAND HOTEL
man in a kayak
photo courtesy of Great Turtle Kayak tours

Where To Stay

The big question is where should I stay? While the Grand Hotel is the obvious option, it is a little pricey. However,  the Lilac Tree always gets amazing reviews and the Hotel Iroquois is also one that we have heard great things about. Depending on whether you would like to be off of Main Street or in a more secluded Inn, all of the options are really good.

The Grand Hotel Image by Jason Gillman
The Grand Hotel

Where To Eat

There are a ton of local joints and fine dining options. The Pink Pony is a super popular place with great views and a fun vibe. Your kids will like this restaurant that serves seafood and pub fare.

We ate at Millie’s on Main and it was delicious. It was rainy the afternoon we went, so we weren’t able to eat outside, but the service and food were outstanding.

Mackinac Island is also famous for its fudge – Yummy! We stopped at Joann’s Fudge which was incredible and we even bought some extra fudge to bring home. Seriously, make sure you get some fudge while you are on Mackinac Island- you won’t regret it.

 

water view from table
The Pink Pony - photo courtesy of The Pink Pony
picture of fudge in a case
Joann's Fudge - photo courtesy of Joann's Fudge

Final Thoughts

I had been dreaming of going to Mackinac Island ever since I was 12 and watched Somewhere In Time.  It truly didn’t disappoint and it was even more than I hoped it would be. 

Mackinac Island is great for every type of traveler. Whether solo, family, multi-generational or couple Mackinac Island offers something for everyone. Biking around the Island, walking or renting a bike is a joy and there is a lot to see and do.  Enjoy the traffic free time, grab a bite of fudge and walk Main Street! 

When you come back from visiting Mackinac Island, come here and let us know what you thought! 

Travel Well, 

Nicole

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I had not heard of Mackinac Island prior to reading your article. What an amazing adventure.

  2. Nope, never heard of Mackinac Island but wow it is very picturesque and that hotel, just gorgeous. Will keep it in mind now.

  3. Mackinac Island was probably the prettiest place I hadn’t heard of. I love that you can’t have cars on the island. This island and the Grand Hotel look stunning!

  4. The Grand Hotel looks like it really lives up to its name of being grand. The longest porch in the world? Amazing. Mackinac Island must feel like going back in time with no cars on the roads. I love that. It looks like a beautiful place to visit.

    1. Mackinac Island really is a special place & the Grand Hotel is absolutely amazing to see in person.

  5. It’s so great that you cars aren’t allowed on the island! The fudge looks amazing, which flavours did you try? I will have to watch that Jame Seymour movie!

    1. Yes, definitely watch “Somewhere in Time”. It’s a really good, romantic movie! We had milk chocolate fudge. It’s completely addictive, in a good way. Between walking and biking around the island you
      burn all the calories. 🙂

  6. I’ve never heard of this place but it looks so pretty! Would love to go kayaking, sounds like so much fun. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. The Grand Hotel looks amazing. It’s awesome when a teeny bit of history survives for us to enjoy.

    I can see what you mean that it’s a beautiful area. It is fantastic that the island is car free too. It must be so peaceful.

  8. I love that there are no cars on the island!! That’s one of the things I loved about Venice – there’s something so quaint about a city with no vehicles! I would love to visit during the lilac festival, it sounds incredible!

    1. Yes! It’s so refreshing to be somewhere and not have the sound of honking or cars driving around.
      Mackinac is such a beautiful island. Hope you get to visit soon!

  9. I’ve never heard of Mackinac Island, but it looks like a great place to visit. Your places to eat recommendations look great!

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