Mackinac Island Things to Do

  • Lilacs in June
    Lilacs in June
    by ciaobellamici
  • History Surrounds You
    History Surrounds You
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  • View of soldier barracks
    View of soldier barracks
    by BruceDunning

Best Rated Things to Do in Mackinac Island

  • Gypsygirl05's Profile Photo

    Get inside the Grand Hotel-- for free!

    by Gypsygirl05 Updated Apr 4, 2007

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    The dominating Grand Hotel

    As you approach the Grand Hotel from town, you'll see some cheerful green signs telling you that you have to pay $12 to step foot on the Grand Hotel porch. But if you're sneaky, you can get in for free. Continue on up the hill, and at the top you'll be able to go a couple different ways. Turn left onto Annex road, then at the fork take a left, and at the next fork take another left (so essentially, you go in a circle around the back of the hotel). You'll wind up on West Bluff Road, and you take that down to the porch of the hotel. There are some great views along this road, so make sure to take your time! Park your bike, act like you belong there, and enjoy the free view from the Grand!

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  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo

    The Grand Hotel

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Mar 23, 2004

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    The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

    The Grand Hotel literally defines the word "Grand". Even if you never actually stay here, (like us), at least you have to visit. In fact, there are so many visitors that it is one of only two hotels I know of anywhere that charges an admission just to walk onto the grounds.

    The Grand was opened in 1887 and has ever since been known as the "World's Greatest Summer Hotel." Of its 385 rooms no two are decorated alike. Mark Twain lectured here, Five U.S. Presidents have stayed here, and Hollywood movies have been made here, including "Somewhere in Time," Starring Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour.

    In 2003 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Grand Hotel to its elite list of "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations." Karen and I played a game of croquet on the lawn in front of the Grand, and afterward enjoyed resting on its veranda. At 660 feet (more than two football fields), it is the longest porch in the world. In summer it is festooned with 2,500 brightly blooming red geraniums.

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  • PinkFloydActuary's Profile Photo

    Arch Rock

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Apr 29, 2008

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    Arch Rock

    Probably the most famous natural landmark on the island, this natural arch frames the deep blue lake surrounding the island beautifully. If you're biking around the island, be sure to get a good quality map, because the arch itself is way up on the bluffs, and there is a road that circles the entire island - if you take a wrong turn, you will end up several hundred feet and a painful staircase below it!

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    Horse Drawn Carriage Rides

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Mar 10, 2004

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    Karen in front of a Mackinac Carriage

    One of the most enjoyable ways to see Mackinac Island is to take a horse drawn carriage ride. This will carry you on a 1 hour and 45 minute tour which highlights most of the island's points of interest. Bicycle rentals are also available and would give more flexability to those who are energetic. Being great hikers ourselves, we took the carriage tour, then got off early and walked the latter portion of the route so we could explore some on our own.

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    The Michigan Governor's Summer Residence

    by Stephen-KarenConn Written Mar 19, 2004

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    The Michigan Governor's Summer Residence

    Standing high on a wooded bluff, the Governor's Summer Residence overlooks the Straits of Mackinac. The three-story structure was first built in 1902 as a private "summer cottage". in 1902. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission purchased the home in 1944, and since then it has served nine successive governors and their families as a summer home. Tours are offered only two hours per week, mid-June through August, Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m., and then only if the Governor is not using the house at the time.
    We were lucky to be there when the Governor wasn't and took the tour. Ahh, to be the governor of Michigan. If only I could have a job with perks like that.

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  • PinkFloydActuary's Profile Photo

    Skull Cave

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Apr 29, 2008

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    Skull Cave

    Another of the more famous landmarks on the island. This site has some sordid tales tied to it. It is believed to have once been a burial site for Native Americans during the 1700s. It also was a hiding place for a fur trader as he was being pursued by Native Americans - he ended up spending a night hidden in the cave among the skulls and bones.

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    Arch Rock

    by yooperprof Written Jun 23, 2005

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    looking down to the shore below

    Arch Rock - a "natural bridge" - is probably the most photographed feature of Mackinac Island. It's on the east side, a short walk or bike ride from Mission Point Resort. There are also numerous horse carriages that bring visitors to the site.

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  • Gypsygirl05's Profile Photo

    Butterfly Houses

    by Gypsygirl05 Written May 22, 2009

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    There are two different butterfly "houses" on the island, where exotic butterflies from all over the world are brought in and kept in enclosed gardens. It seems a little out-of-the-blue, but if you've never been to one of these it's quite an experience. More often than not these beautiful insects will land on your clothing, mistaking you for a flower or perch, and they're fascinating organisms. This is a great activity for those days when the weather takes a turn for the worse (which happens quite often on the island) or when you just need a general break from the crowds or all the walking around.

    [Personally, I have only been to the Original, but I would assume they are both about equal to each other]

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  • PinkFloydActuary's Profile Photo

    Missionary Chapel

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Apr 29, 2008

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    Missionary Chapel

    A birch bark chapel that has been reconstructed sits in Marquette Park - you'll pass it as you head up Fort Street to Fort Mackinac. Inside, you'll find what a 1670s Jesuit Chapel might look like. It won't take you too far out of your way to see it, and it is free to anyone to pop in.

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    Fort Mackinac

    by yooperprof Updated Jun 22, 2005

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    commanding the heights

    Forts should be easily defensible, right? So this was a great location for one of the most important trading and defense posts on the great Northern frontier. Fort Mackinac perches on bluff overlooking the harbor where the ferries dock and the fudge shops proliferate. The British began building a fortification here in 1780, when they deciided to move their main Great Lakes base from Michilimackinac on the mainland to this island stronghold. By the terms of the treaty which ended the Revolutionary War (or the "Rebellion of the Ungrateful Colonies, if you prefer), the British were required to relinquish the fort to the new American nation. (The Brits were reluctant to leave and stayed in possession until Jay's Treaty of 1794.) In the War of 1812, the British were able to recapture Ft. Mackinac, and they remained in possession of this strategic hotspot for the duration of the hostilities. While some of the walls and supply structures here date from the fort's earliest years, most of the surviving buildings are from the mid 19th century. But any way you slice it, there's a lot of history here.

    Did you know that "Mackinac Historic Park" was created by the US Congress as far back as 1875, and that it was the second National Park to be created? But in 1895, the Federal Government passed management of the Fort over to the State of Michigan, which has run this site as a State Park for over a hundred years.

    That's a statue of Father Jacques Marquette (1637-75) in the foreground. He founded an Indian Mission here in 1670.

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    Mystery Spot

    by AVG2319 Written May 26, 2007

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    This is one of those tourist activities that we were sucked into looking at. It is interesting though and not too expensive. It is a spot which seems to defy the laws of gravity. The Mystery Spot was found by "accident" by 3 surveyors who came to explore the Upper Peninsula. They stumbled across an area of land where their surveying equipment didn’t seem to work properly. The equipment didn't work in a small area 300 feet in diameter, this is what is now called the "Mystery Spot"

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  • Gypsygirl05's Profile Photo

    BUY FUDGE!

    by Gypsygirl05 Updated May 22, 2009

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    Ryba's famous fudge

    The first scent that will hit you as you arrive to the island is that of warm chocolate: fudge, to be exact. The island (and the mainland, now) is dotted with fudge shops, all selling unique flavors that lure you in. Many shops actually make the fudge right in front of customers, and it's often worth it to step in and just watch the process of folding and cooling (and maybe trying some of the endless free samples they hand out). These shops also sell other types of old-fashioned candy and ice cream, including the famed Mackinac Island Fudge flavor, so if you're craving something sweet, this is the place for you. Fudge is one of the things the island is famous for, so you really don't want to miss out.

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  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo

    Mackinac Bridge

    by BruceDunning Updated Jul 15, 2010

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    Close of the bridge supports
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    The history is fabulous and a much needed bridge for decades. It finally got completed in 1957 and ended up being 1846 feet long with two large bridge spans in the middle. The top of the towers is 552 feet. Total length of the bridge is about 5 miles, and cost each way is $3.50. The water depth at the bridge is 220 feet. There are an average of 4.2 million people cross the bridge yearly. In good traffic backup, if may take about 30 minutes to go end to end

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  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo

    Fort Michilimacinac

    by BruceDunning Updated Jul 15, 2010

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    Sign at entry to fort
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    The fort was formed in 1715 by the French who traded from here for decades. They built a sturdy fort and it stood to meet the needs of the trappers and people that came through the area to trade pelts and buy goods. In 1761, the French gave the fort over to British in the settlement of the French and Indian War. By 1780 the British decided that the wood fort walls were too vulnerable, so then built the fort on Mackinac Island.
    The fort in interactive and displays the every day living of the times back then with exhibits and actual activity of cooking and living life. Cost to enter is $10 and open 9-5 daily

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  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo

    Fort Mackinac

    by BruceDunning Updated Jul 15, 2010

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    View of soldier barracks
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    This fort is a very nice tour for 2-3 hours. It has some interactive areas teaching the history of the fort and the region, as well as historical activities and events and displays of actual life in those old days. It was established before the Revolutionary War and lasted until 1895. During that time, it defended the north intrusion to the US, but also was lost in WAr of 1812, and continually added on and configuration changed to modernize.
    Cost of the tour is $10.50 per adult and the price is a good value in my opinion. It also allows you to go into the Biddle House, the Blacksmith shop and McGulpin house; all good sites to view. These are period houses from the mid 1800's that are well preserved and depicts the times of those who lived then.

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Mackinac Island Things to Do

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