Those aren't birds, they're bats!
Many tourists notice the tiny winged creatures that inhabit Mackinac's town, but few realize they are actually bats, not birds. If you have a fear of bats, don't worry! Bats are harmless, and are more scared of humans than we may be of them. They eat incredible amounts of mosquitoes and are an important part of Mackinac's ecology. Bats won't get tangled in your hair, and they can actually see very well.
If you like watching bats, there are a couple of especially good places to spot them. Main street at night is usually filled with them, swooping overhead and eating all the bugs that congregate by the lights. There are usually some roosting (resting) underneath the Lilac Tree Hotel, up near the ceiling (they are the little black marks on the purple molding). Small Point Resort also has a healthy population that likes to wing around in their grotto, so if you want to make a short trip (it's about a mile from downtown), it's pretty neat.
Just remember, don't touch or harass the bats. Admire these strange creatures from afar!
- Family Travel
Experience a bit of history
Arguably the worst decision that the American troops stationed on Mackinac made was building their fort so close to the water, and not on the highest point of the island. The British troops, when they attacked, quickly found this out and harnessed the use of the peak themselves, building a crude fort. The current name of this fort is Holmes, and although it's nothing more than a square-shaped wall of dirt and grass, it holds a lot of historical significance.
It's quite a bike ride up to the fort and you'll wish you had gone to the gym a little bit more frequently, but the views and the experience from the top of Mackinac is worth your while. You can watch freighters and other boats pass through the Straits of Mackinac, and you can see for miles. As an added bonus, on the way down you can coast almost all the way back to town without pedaling.
To reach Fort Holmes from downtown, bike up Fort Street and continue on behind the fort. You'll come to a forest with a large sign, and you'll need to take Garrison Road. Ride to the cemeteries and take a right on the first chance you get. The road from there is straight up to the top.
- Horse Riding
- Historical Travel
Don't Miss This!
A trip to the Island must included the following: Bike EVERYWHERE! Grab a map at the Visitor's Center and make a point to visit every trail and path that you can... it is a must. No, don't try to do it in one day....savor the experience. Force yourself to go slow enough in order to really SEE what you are looking at.
I find that I must ride the Island Trails after I 've circled the Island...just to take in the size. I usually ride around twice before I feel like I am truly there and can comfortably head inland.
Bike Around the Island
One of the biggest mistakes people make when visiting this island is that they don't stray very far from the bustling hubbub of downtown.
For a true island experience, rent a bike and take the 8-mile road that circles the island. It's a relaxing ride and offers many incredible views that the city-dwellers will totally miss. This ride will also give you a better feel for the true nature of the island and helps you appreciate how special Mackinac really is.
One of the greatest parts of this road is the lack of hills: the entire road is flat! Halfway around the island is British Landing. Here you can take a break and grab some refreshment at the Cannonball snack shop, where you can pull up at a picnic table and take in the grandeur of the Straits of Mackinac.
There are few things as calming as the sound of a waterfall and birds. Visit Tahquamenon Falls state park to see the upper and lower waterfalls. They are beautiful.
Located in the fitting town of Paradise, MI
Star Route 48
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
- Adventure Travel
Less famous than its counterpart Arch Rock, Sugarloaf is nonetheless quite a spectacular sight. Made of the same limestone as Arch Rock and the rest of the island, Sugarloaf literally looks like a big lump of maple sugar that stretches at least seventy-five feet into the air. The great part about Sugarloaf is that it is ridiculously easy to climb around on, and there are caves as low as three feet from the ground. Personally, I'm athletically challanged, and even I can get at least fifteen feet up the rock without the aid of ropes. Those with more experience in the rock-climbing department often climb all the way to the top. I always make a stop at this place, just because it's so much fun to explore.
Sugarloaf is a little hidden and more difficult to get to because it's not directly on the coast, but signs around the roads will show you the way pretty easily. There are about three different routes to get to the rock.
- Mountain Climbing
Somewhere on the island, tucked away in a little nook of a room, stand matching fox hunting horse riders lamp bases. The peculiarity of these lamps is the taupe paint chosen for the leggings of the standing figures: It makes the pair appear to be NUDE from the waistcoat down.
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Harrisonville, in the center of the island, is where many of the full-time residents of Mackinac reside. The houses here are modest single-family dwellings, and many of them (not surprisingly) have their own stables. If you are strolling out here, also take a look at "Great Turtle Park," just to the east of Harrisonville. It's where the islanders have their own baseball fields.
- Hiking and Walking
The Mackinac Island Cemetery is up on Fort Hill, inland and away from the tourist town. It has graves dating all the way back to the War of 1812; interestingly, both US and British soldiers from that conflict are buried here.
- Historical Travel
This impressive natural limestone bridge, with a 50 feet span, frames the clear blue waters of the Straits of Mackinac, 149 feet below. According to Indian legend it is the gateway to Gitchie Manitow, great and good spirit, Chief of all Indians.
Arch Rock is at the far end of Mackinac Island from the downtown area. A boardwalk and viewing platform lead from a parking lot to the rock. It is a favorite stop on the island carriage tours. Also, bicyclists who circle the perimeter of the island will see the arch soaring above them from where the road hugs the shore. In the photo note the lone bicyclist at the very bottom center of the arch.
"Skull Cave" is associated with the Indian Uprising of 1763. According to the story, the English factor on the island, Alexander Henry, hid out here inside the cave until he was rescued.
- Historical Travel
The Ford Museum (I'm not sure...
The Ford Museum (I'm not sure if that's the actual name, but you get what I mean) is in Deerfield, Michigan and gives a great look into the life of the pioneering company and its founder, Henry Ford.