Horse Drawn carriages, absence of cars, Fudge, and a plethora of bikes, are some ways to describe Michigan’s Mackinac Island. On the shores of Lake Huron, sits Michigan’s most visited island as well as Trip Advisors #1 rated island in the states. So with all these accolades what makes this place so worthwhile to visit? Let’s figure out the draw to Michigan’s jewel of the Great Lakes.
Getting to Mackinac Island – Ferry, Plane
The Mackinac Island Ferry runs daily from 7:15 am – 8 pm. Board from Mackinac City or St. Ignace. The first and last ferries vary upon days and season. Check either of the two companies, Star Line & Shepler’s, for the most up to date schedules.
You can also take a Pirate Ship from Star Line with an increase in cost by about $10.
The Roundtrip ferry ticket to Mackinac Island costs $27 and takes about 20 minutes. The ferry trip takes slightly longer if you are lucky enough to take the scenic route that goes under the Mackinac Bridge.
The Best time to visit Mackinac Island is June through September as more businesses are open and more activities are available. Although things can quiet down significantly, winter can be a wonderland for those who enjoy snow activities.
Best Things to do on Mackinac Island
- Eat Mackinac Island Fudge – It’s impossible to visit here and not sample or buy this island staple. With more than 13 fudge shops on Mackinac Island, you’ll have a hankering once you start window shopping.
Best Fudge on Mackinac Island? Try one of these :
- Joann’s Fudge
- Murdicks Main Fudge Shop
- Ryba’s Fudge Shop
- Biking – Biking is the lifeblood of any trip to Mackinac. The island offers guests the the MUST DO, easy and paved, 8.2 mile M-185 Perimeter Tour. This ride is designed for every and anyone and needs to be put on the top of your visitors list. If you decide to bike the The interior of the island, (which you should) some paths are very steep and you will most likely end up pushing your bike.
If you didn’t bring your bike don’t worry, there are plenty of Mackinac Island Bike rentals at your disposal.
- Hiking – Don’t just bike when you’re here, take a hike. The options are abundant and very enjoyable. Make your way to Arch Rock, the islands most popular Instagram spot.
Other Trails to Check Out:
- Pontiac Trail
- Sugarloaf Rock
- Sunset Rock – This is the best place for sunset on Mackinac Island. It requires a bit of effort to get there but it’s well worth the views.
- Carriage Rides and Carriage Tours – The Islands secondary transportation behind bikes are by horse drawn carriages. You will not only notice the sites but the smells as well.
- Horseback Riding
- Visit the Forts – Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes play important roles in the history of this island. Fort Holmes also offers THE BEST VIEWS of the island.
- Get Married – Destination Weddings are a major visit for people and you’ll understand why when you arrive. The scenery is gorgeous and venues know how to make sure your day is extra special.
- Golf – Mackinac Island has two golf courses that are available to golf enthusiasts. Wawashkamo Golf Course – The Wawashkamo Golf Course is a public 9 hole links golf course. The other course available for visitors is the Jewel Golf Course! The Jewel is a private 9 hole course apart of the Grand Hotel, that has the nationally recognized Hole #7 Par 3.
- Visit the Grand Hotel – One of the most noticeable aspects of Mackinac is the Grand Hotel. An unmissable site as you arrive on the ferry, this is the essence of opulence. If you want to visit as a non guest, $10 will allow you to experience the glamour of this hotel.
Eating and Drinking on Mackinac Island
Eating on the island can vary dramatically depending on where you dine. For the majority of places you choose to dine, there will be an inflation of prices to keep in mind. Here are some Mackinac Island Restaurants to consider eating at:
- Chuck Wagon – This place makes a killer burger and is one of the best Breakfast options in town. Spacing is VERY Limited so expect to wait if you don’t show up early for breakfast served till 11
- Kingston Kitchen
- Great Turtle Brewery
Bars On Mackinac Island to Know
- Mustang Lounge
- Broken Spoke
- Pinky Pony
Coffee Shops on Mackinac Island
Like anywhere else, the island has some fantastic places to grab a cup of coffee. Lucky for you, I know those spots so you don’t have too go wasting your money at the place you aren’t sure about. Here are the best spots to grab a cup of Coffee on Mackinac:
- Lucky Bean Coffee House – Get your Lucky mojo going with at a stop at this small coffeehouse slanging exceptional coffee.
- Good Day Cafe – Ever heard of Moomers ice Cream? Well pair your daily indulgence with a cup of coffee from here and you’re set for your day!
- Watercolor Cafe – One of the islands easy to miss spots that should be included on your itinerary. Situated behind one of the islands bike shops on the shores of Lake Huron, Watercolor is a solid spot for your coffee and food needs!
Where to Stay on Mackinac Island
The island is small but your location does play a major role in how enjoyable your time on the island will be. Most visitors will stay right in town and near the ferry where most of the tourist shopping and dining is.
- Grand Hotel – The most grand hotel the island and possibly Michigan has to offer. Expect to be paying north of $500 in high season.
- Mission Point Resort – Another upscale hotel on the eastern side of the island that is adjacent to the popular “Great Lawn”.
- Lilac House – An unmissable lilac colored Bed and Breakfast that will have your cameras snapping photos immediately.
- There is NO CAMPING ON MACKINAC ISLAND. The closest campsite is in Mackinac City.
Mackinac Island Events to Add to your Calendar
- FORT 2 FORT 5-MILE CHALLENGE, SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2021
- ZOO-DE-MACK BIKE RIDE, SATURDAY, MAY 22, 2021
- MACKINAC ISLAND LILAC FESTIVAL, JUNE 4-13, 2021
- W. T. RABE STONE SKIPPING CONTEST, SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2021
- CHICAGO YACHT CLUB RACE TO MACKINAC, JULY 17 – 20, 2021
- BAYVIEW MACKINAC RACE, JULY 24-27, 2021
- MACKINAC ISLAND FUDGE FESTIVAL, AUGUST 27-29, 2021
- GRAND HOTEL LABOR DAY JAZZ FESTIVAL, SEPTEMBER 3-6, 2021
- EIGHT MILE RUN & WALK, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2021
- GREAT TURTLE TRAIL RUN & HALF MARATHON, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23
Winter on Mackinac Island
You might be as shocked as I am but Mackinac remains open for the winter season. Although the island has a dramatic drop in visitors and open establishments, you can visit Mackinac in the winter. Don’t get your hopes up for endless Fudge samples or an endless accommodation list, as only a handful of places will accommodate guests
How do you get too Mackinac Island in the Winter? There are a few options for the adventurous who want to experience this place in the winter.
- Ferry from St. Ignace – The ferry remains open during the winter months only from St. Ignace. Operating days are Monday – Saturday and are all on a weather permitting basis!
- Snowmobile across the ice bridge – Ride your sled across the straits when the ice bridge is deemed safe to cross!
- Hike/Walk/Fat Bike across the ice bridge – Don’t have a sled? Earn your stripes with a human powered mission to the the Great Lakes jewel island
- Great Lakes Air – Fly to Mackinac and indulge yourself with the unforgettable views from the air on your 10 minute plane ride. $35 for one way flights
Budget Tips and other info for the Island
- Cook your Meals – Eating out can drain your pockets quick here. For those who didn’t bring groceries or on an extended stay, head over to Doud’s Market and find an excellent supermarket with slightly pricier food options than the mainland.
- Bring a Bike! – If you are going to bike, bring your own. Yes the boat cost to bring a bike is $14 but you’ll pay for itself after the first hour.
- Choose location or price over aesthetic – Just because the exterior of your hotel is pleasing, doesn’t always mean the interior will match. And because accommodation is so expensive, shell out your sheckles to something more geographically advantageous and economical.
- Winter Tourism is growing – The winter has so many activities that might make it the ideal time to visit. Just because most of the attractions close, doesn’t mean it won’t be a paradise for some.
- Forgot your Fudge? –
Michigan Trip Planner
Have you found everything you’re looking for on Mackinac? Well if not message me and if you need help planning any future Michigan Trips, message me too.
For those making your way to the Upper Peninsula, make sure not to read up on some of my favorite pieces I’ve written about the UP below