Mackinac Island Travel Guide

  • Lilacs in full bloom at Marquette Park
    Lilacs in full bloom at Marquette Park
    by Gypsygirl05
  • Early Morning View West from Fort Holmes
    Early Morning View West from Fort Holmes
    by ciaobellamici
  • Take in the beauty - Stop often!
    Take in the beauty - Stop often!
    by ciaobellamici

Mackinac Island Highlights

  • Pro
    OffshoreWI profile photo

    OffshoreWI says…

     Outstanding bars, amazing beauty, crystal clear water 

  • Con
    GuitarStan profile photo

    GuitarStan says…

     Expensive to visit or stay. Main street crowded! 

  • In a nutshell
    Sylva profile photo

    Sylva says…

     Take a bikeride around the Island and you get this great feeling that you´re the only one on the Island and it belongs to you. 

Mackinac Island Things to Do

  • Visit Fort Mackinac

    Do a self-guided tour of the old fort, dating back to 1780. Walk through 14 original buildings, watch regularly scheduled rifle and cannon firings, and get great views of downtown Mackinac Island.$11 admission for adults, $6.50 for children

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  • Rent a bike

    Stop by one of many bike shops on Market Street and get a self-guided biking tour map along with your rental. The tour takes you to a number of the key attractions on the island including Littlestone Church, Grand Gold Course, Governor's Residence, Island Cemeteries, Skull Cave, Sugar Loaf, Arch Rock, and Fort Mackinac. Additionally, bike the 8...

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  • Trinity Church (Episcopal)

    Up the hill a little bit, and just to the west of the Fort Entrance, Trinity Church is a handsome 19th century structure that has been the scene of many of "perfect" Mackinac Island wedding. It is also a year-round church for a year-round community on the island.Built in 1882, Trinity features a dark wooded interior that is occasionally lit with...

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  • Swim in the Great Lakes

    A few of the hotels on Mackinac have pools, but if yours doesn't, don't sweat it. You're surrounded by water, after all! However, there are dangerous currents in the Straits of Mackinac (most notably at Windermere Point - there is a large warning sign posted). If you are looking for a nice place to swim, head out of town to the north or south....

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  • Night putt-putt at Mission Point

    Mission Point Resort has a new nighttime activity for all ages: glow in the dark putt-putt! The holes, tee offs, and golf balls all luminesce. It is a bit pricey, but it's worth it. Even if you're a seasoned putt-putter, chances are you'll like this version, just because it's a very different experience.

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  • Just relax...

    This is the place that can keep you hopping from one fun activitiy to the next - if you allow it! To completely relax might be a challenge but it is worth it. Breath...the aromas are all around. The flowers. The fudge and sweets, fried foods and cookouts. The horses...'nuff said! (Personally,I love it, but it can be overwhelming right in the middle...

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Mackinac Island Hotels

Mackinac Island Restaurants

  • Excellant Portabella mushroom "burger"

    Very colonial atmosphere inside with very friendly staff. Clean & not too crowded inside. Place was busy but not noisy at all. Portabello "burger" was awesome. Grilled squash & humus along with lettuce & tomato made the dish very yummy & different. For the upscale dishes it wasn't too pricey compared to the other restaurants on the island.

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  • Good food fast

    Mighty Mac is more or less a local McDonald's/Burger King type of place. The food is good, service is really fast, and the menu is fairly varied (burgers, fish sandwiches, fries, hot dogs, and breakfast sandwiches make up the bulk of it). It's not an upscale place, but it gets the job done and they are located on the water, so you can sit and view...

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  • A fun Irish bar with fantastic food

    The Irish Pub is a great place for laid-back fun. They have oodles of paraphanilia involving the Irish, and there is often live entertainment. This is quite possibly my favorite restaurant on the island, just because of its lively atmosphere and the friendly wait staff. It's even one of the few restaurants open during the winter, and the people...

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Mackinac Island Nightlife

  • Don't drive your bike if you've been...

    On Mackinac, operating your bicycle while drunk is a serious offense. Police officers WILL "pull you over" and may take legal action, so be careful. If in doubt, walk to and from your hotel if you're going to hit the town.

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  • Patio drinking and dining

    "Euro" Garden Cafe? I don't know exactly how "European" this place is, but it's certainly pleasant to sit out on the patio on a pleasant day. At the Mission Point Inn, the eastern end of the island.

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  • At Cupola

    Resting on the roof of the Grand Hotel is a two floor piano bar. Hanging from the ceiling and seen from both floors is an itricate glass and crystal chandelier. The view of the Straits of Mackinac on a clear, starry, moon lit night is spectacular. Formal. Men must be in jacket and ite, ladies in dresses or gowns.

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Mackinac Island Transportation

  • The Island is Famous For...

    HORSES! Hundreds of them...shipped over in early spring through October, when they return to the pastures of the Upper Penisula. You will everything from personal, awward-winning Dressage horses, fancy carriage horses or those strong workhorses who haul the freight! Horse lovers, beware!

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  • Well, You COULD swim...

    I love the ferry ride to the island! You cross the Mackinac Straits...imagining what it must have been like for the Native Americans and, later French Traders. While the boat ride now takes a quick 15 minutes, it is not hard to sense that real danger was present at every crossing for those not fortunate enough to be in a high powered, temperature...

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  • Boat Ride to get There

    Obviously you need to take a boat across the strait to get to the island. The ride takes only 20 minutes by hydrofoil. Cost is $24 for the round trip, but if order on line ahead of time, the cost averages $21 per person. There is the Star Line, Sheplers, and Arnold lines of boats, and all have docks at Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Boats leave...

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Mackinac Island Shopping

  • THE place to go for books

    The Island Bookstore is one of my favorite stores on the island, even after working there for three months. People are often surprised by how up-to-date the titles are and how wide the variety is. The store is especially great if you want to learn about Mackinac. Island historical and fiction books are two of the most popular categories, and there...

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  • Where do I buy those great kites I see...

    Great Turtle Toys is more than a toy store. They are most famous for their kites, which are one of the first things that visitors notice as they come to the island (the shop flies the kites from Windermere Point most days). Aside from the biggest display of kites you've probably ever seen, they also have all sorts of games and oddities, puzzles and...

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  • Fudge for the Fudgies

    Mackinac Island (and northern Michigan in general) is known for its fudge. They make the fudge in a variety of flavors and you can watch them make the fudge in most of the shops on Mackinac Island. To me, all of the fudge tastes the same (not a big fan of fudge), but I always buy some when I'm there. So - what is a fudgie? Anyone who buys fudge...

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Mackinac Island Local Customs

  • Motorized vehicles on the Island?

    Riding lawnmowers _are_ permitted on Mackinac Island.Golf carts, too - as long as they stay on the golf course.

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  • Respect the horses

    Those guys and gals work hard. For them, Mackinac Island is certainly no resort! So treat Mr. Ed with the respect he deserves, and remember to make way - especially on hills. (The brakes don't always work so well!)

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  • 'Fudgies'

    While on the island, you may hear the term 'fudgie' being tossed around. This basically a term of endearment that locals have given tourists, mostly because almost all tourists buy fudge while on the island. Just a fun little tidbit of information.

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Mackinac Island Warnings and Dangers

  • Important Bike Tips

    First bike tip: PAY ATTENTION WHEN YOU'RE ON A STREET. Pay attention to everyone, including walkers, bikers and roller bladers (outside of town). You would not believe how many people do not pay attention to the mass amounts of people on the streets, especially walkers, who will cross the street without even stopping for horse-drawn carriages....

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  • Beware the 'Fudgie Streak'

    Whenever the roads are wet, whether from a recent rain or last night's street cleaning, avoid riding a bike until the roads have dried. Since horses roam the island freely, road apples are consequently everywhere-- and when it rains, the roads become uniformly (for lack of a better word) dirty. Riding a bike, even if it has a tire guard, will send...

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  • Ripcurrents

    Swimming on the island is great fun, but watch out for signs posted about currents. At a few points on the island (like Windemere Point) there are conflicting currents that can carry unattended children or objects away. I can attest to this fact: I once watched my soccer ball get carried out into Lake Huron just by the currents a few summers ago. I...

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Mackinac Island Tourist Traps

  • Fudge

    You can't possibly go to the island and not hit a fudge shop. I guess the warning here is not to set great expectations. We thought we were going to be walking from store to store, sampling fudge and watching it being made. Of the 6 or so stores we hit, there was only one "live" creation going on. We must have been there at a bad time. Also, only...

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  • Downtown Shops

    As much as I hate to admit it, most of Main Street is one big tourist trap. Regrettably, many tourists don't even make it out of town, which is where everything worth seeing is. Many of the shops on Main St. are filled to the brim with items from China that aren't even remotely related to Mackinac Island. If you know where to go, though, there are...

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  • Who Isn't Curious?

    Every tourist on Mackinac Island HAS to visit the Grand Hotel. This hotel is the most famous one on the island and affordable only to the rich and famous (and lucky), but for $10 anyone can go on the porch and into the lobby to look around. Suites in this hotel run approximately $1500 per night, depending on which one you are staying in. If you...

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Mackinac Island What to Pack

  • Medical Items

    There is a small hospital on the island, as well as an ambulance and plane service for those in need of immediate care that is not available on the island. However, there is no pharmacy. Tylenol, Advil, etc. are readily available at many stores (and are quite expensive), but it is advisable to bring any medications you think you may need.

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  • Comfort and Style

    Travel Light - Allow one for the many porters to move your luggage to your hotel. Tip generously! Comfort and style - enjoy yourself, but prepare yourself for all kinds of weather. July is capable of 40 degrees. Check the weather and add a jacket. No worries, you can purchase everything you need on the Island. Be prepared for steep prices - they...

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  • Bring a sweater

    Even in the summer northern Michigan can be chilly and Mackinac Island is no exception. You will not need a sweater while biking around the island but if you eat anywhere outside, I recommend you have one.

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Mackinac Island Off The Beaten Path

  • 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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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...

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Mackinac Island Favorites

  • best time to visit

    To experience the best go during the week! We went to the island on Thursday thru Sunday & Saturday was the most crowded. You don't get the full experience of the historic town when you feel like sardines on the sidewalk. Plus the wedding parties seem to take over the nightlife & become quite noisy at 2am when you are trying to have a romantic...

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  • Marquette Park

    Marquette Park - at the base of the Fort - is a good place to catch some rays on a sunny day. The lawn is very inviting, and the grass is guaranteed to be a soft bed if you need to catch a nap in between fudge shops.Father Jacques Marquette really got around the Great Lakes in the 17th century! You'll find in Milwaukee on a downtown University...

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  • City Hall and Police Center

    The simple white building on Market Street (7374) was originally the County Courthouse for all of Mackinac County. It now serves as the City Hall and Police station for the island.

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