Things to do

12 Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island

What are some of the best things to do on Mackinac Island, Michigan? Well, Mackinac Island is located on Lake Huron, close to the Straits of Mackinac. It is connected by ferry to St. Ignace and Mackinaw City, found on Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.

1. Why is Mackinac Island So Well-known?

Mackinac Island is well known for having no cars, horse-drawn carriage excursions, bicycles, fudge, caramel corn, and saltwater taffy. Mackinac state historic Parks cover more than 80% of the island. Dense trees surround Fort Mackinac, the Grand Hotel, and the town’s main thoroughfare.

2. Is it Worth Visiting Mackinac Island?

Totally! Mackinac Island is breathtakingly beautiful and offers everything an outdoor enthusiast might desire. Canoeing, kayaking, camping, riding horses, and hiking are great outdoor activities.

Visiting Mackinac Island, located in Michigan’s dazzling Lake Huron, is a true jewel of a vacation destination. The island has more than 80% state-owned territory, with ravines, towering cliffs, fragrant evergreen trees, a natural Mackinac bridge, caverns, and rock formations providing stunning views.

In Michigan, an island is a beautiful place for romance. However, since there are so many things to do on Mackinac Island, you may bring the whole family.

3. Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a unique destination in the United States since it is home to the historic Fort Mackinac. Thus, look at our suggestions below if you’re seeking something fun on Mackinac Island.

3.1. Fort Mackinac

One of the best things to do on Mackinac Island is to visit Fort Mackinac. Fort Mackinac was a military outpost and civilian community for military personnel and their families. It is at 7127 Huron Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, United States.

 Why Go to This Fort Mackinac?

Fort Mackinac, established in 1870, formerly provided shelter for troops and their families and guarded Mackinac Island against hostile visitors. It is now a popular tourist destination with educational exhibits and unusual weapons.

Fort Mackinac is one of the fun things to do on Mackinac Island because it also has exciting places for photographers.

Captured By Aubrey Antles / Unsplash Copyright 2023

The area contains 14 historic structures, one of which is the oldest structure in Michigan. Visitors can hear stories from interpreters describing the history of Mackinac Island and those who resided at the fort.

There is also an area of the museum dedicated to interactive exhibits for youngsters. From May through October, visitors can explore Fort Mackinac any day of the week.

3.2. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Another best things to do on Mackinac Island is to explore “Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.” The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is a decommissioned lighthouse located at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It is in the United States at 526 N Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701.

 Why You Should Visit Here?

In 1889, the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse began its service of directing ships safely through the dangerous Straits of Mackinac. One of the most exciting things to do on Mackinac Island is to explore the lighthouse, which now welcomes visitors and features its original lens, fully restored keeper’s quarters, a movie, and various displays.

The lighthouse was used to guide boats over the river from 1895 until 1947; after that, it was replaced with an electronic machine. Locals on the island have banded together to stop the significant lighthouse from being destroyed.

These exhibitions cover the lighthouse’s history, its original artifacts, and how lighthouses warn approaching ships using sound and optical.

The most incredible option for touring the lighthouse at other times of the year, except attending the yearly open house, is via a private boat. This is because the open house is held at the lighthouse.

3.3. Mackinac Island Carriage Tour

Mackinac Island Carriage is among the top things to do on Mackinac Island. A Mackinac Island carriage trip is an excellent way to begin your vacation on the island. It is situated in the United States at 7396 Market St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757.

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours offers two-and-a-half-hour guided tours of the island that allow visitors to “jump off” and explore some of the attractions en route, such as Fort Mackinac, the Butterfly Conservatory, and a quick stop at Arch Rock.

You can take a narrated tour of the island while riding in a horse-drawn carriage, seeing the island’s top attractions in an original, genuine way. You can also join a walking tour or go on a horseback riding tour to learn more about the island. You can also research daily ghost excursions if family members over 18 are present.

 Best Things to Do Here

One of the nicest things to do on Michigan Island is to ride in a horse-drawn carriage on the Straits of Mackinac. You may unwind in the carriage while exploring the most romantic things to do on Mackinac Island.

Captured By Emily Studer / Unsplash Copyright 2023

The driver will highlight significant locations and entertain you with local legends. There are also riding schools where you may learn to ride and then explore the island on horseback if you’d prefer to hold the handles yourself. Even driving your horse-drawn carriage will give you a unique experience.

Carriage operators line Main Street and provide an excellent picture of the island’s interior and state historic site via horse-drawn carriage rides. You can ride a horse-drawn carriage or a leased horse-and-buggy outside of downtown.

Visitors can request a ride in a horse-drawn taxi to arrive in authentic Mackinac fashion at supper or the airport. A carriage ride around Old Downtown is a great choice when seeking romantic things to do on Mackinac Island at night.

The Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum is located on the grounds of the lighthouse and showcases rescued items and stories of the several ships that perished in the Straits of Mackinac.

3.4. Grand Hotel Stables and Antique Carriage Museum

Visiting Grand Hotel Stable and Antique Carriage Museum is another one of the best things to do on Mackinac Island. The brilliant red Grand Hotel stable houses 12 lovely horses near Surrey Hill and Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. It is situated at Carriage Road, Mackinac Island, Michigan, 49757, USA.

Ideal Place For Horse Enthusiasts

The Grand Hotel stable provides narrated carriage trips to some of the island’s most well-known historical attractions. Those who are feeling adventurous may choose a tour on horseback. Mackinac Island is the ideal location for horse enthusiasts to explore, with more than 40 miles of established bridle routes.

This is the ideal spot to take any of your family members who enjoy horses, and it’s situated in Surrey Hills, close to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. The horses are lovely, and so are the carriages and sleighs from bygone eras that are on show.

This area has 30 carriages and sleighs, and twelve horses live here. This self-guided tour in Surrey Hill is a must-see. This operational stable, 8,700 square feet, is a terrific place to observe the horses and 20 vintage carriages from the Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island Carriage Tours.

Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to see the magnificent horses up close at the stable open for public tours. One of the top things to do on Mackinac Island, this will certainly be a blast for everyone. The Grand Hotel stable also provides guided private carriage rides for visitors who prefer to design their routes.

3.5. Fort Holmes

Visiting Fort Holmes is another place to explore and the best things to do on Mackinac Island. Fort Holmes, built-in 1814 on Mackinac Island’s highest peak, is the smallest and oldest surviving fort. Fort Holmes was first constructed to defend the island’s other military outpost, Fort Mackinac, and is perched atop the highest hill on Mackinac Island.  Although it had a purpose, the fort was useless as the US Army quickly seized control of the island.

 Where is it Located?

It is situated at 2234 Fort Holmes Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, United States of America. Fort Homes is a wood and earth building located on the highest point of Mackinac Island. The current version was rebuilt in 2015.  For spectacular views, climb into the watch tower and the holding cell. If you give yourself the time, you can read all of the fort’s informational markers. There is no entry cost.

The subsequent decades resulted in the fort falling into disrepair. By the time the island was designated a national park in 1875, there was nothing but the viewing towers remaining for visitors to explore. After going through numerous reconstructions, Fort Holmes is currently a copy of the original. For stunning distant vistas, visitors can tour the towers and brick houses.

3.6. Arch Rock

Another best things to do on Mackinac Island is to visit “Arch Rock.” Arch Rock is considered to be one of the natural wonders that can be found in the Midwestern United States. It is also one of the most well-known tourist destinations on Mackinac Island.

Arch Rock is a naturally occurring rock formation with a fifty-foot fifty-foot width at its widest point that may be seen on the island’s east side close to the coastline. Water and wind slowly dissolved the soft limestone rock over thousands of years, leaving only the arch-shaped harder breccia rock behind.

 Where is it Located?

It may be located in the United States at 6131 Arch Rock Road, Mackinac Island, Michigan, 49757. It is a stunning rock formation that is 50 feet broad and rises 146 feet above the river.

Captured By Emily Studer / Unsplash Copyright 2023

The Arch is accessible by the Arch Rock Cycling Path, Arch Rock Road, or Lake Shore Drive, located 146 feet above sea level. Native Americans believe that the arch possesses many supernatural properties, and has numerous legends about it.

Visitors to Mackinac Island, however, should not be discouraged by these myths and are invited to come view one of the most important sights on the island. At its widest point, Arch Rock is a magnificent natural rock formation that is fifty feet (15 meters) long.

3.7. The Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory

The beautiful Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory are in Surrey Hills on Mackinac Island. It is a lovely tropical greenhouse home to hundreds of unusual butterflies that can flit among the brilliant tropical petals.

It is at 7528 Carriage Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA. Visiting this Place is among the best things to do on Mackinac Island.

Why You Should Visit This Place?

The Wings of Mackinaw Butterfly Conservatory is home to many exquisite butterflies ideal for education, photography, and artistic inspiration.

Due to the relaxing humidity and alluring sound of running water produced by the stone fountains, the environment is as nice to these lovely insects as it is to visitors.

The butterflies in this conservatory have been joined by birds, goats, a box turtle, and tree frogs throughout the years. During every season, they even offer children various outdoor crafts and activities.

3.8. The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World

The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World are one of the country’s oldest butterfly exhibits, housing hundreds of gorgeous butterflies worldwide.

 Where is it Situated?

It is in the United States at 6750 McGulpin St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757. This stunning indoor tropical garden, which can be found behind St. Anne’s Church, will open its doors for the new season on May 1 and is an attraction you won’t want to skip.

The Original Mackinac Butterfly House and Insect World, the oldest living butterfly collection in Michigan, is a family favorite and one of the top things to do on Mackinac Island with kids.

One of the first museums of its kind in Michigan and one of the oldest in the country is the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House. The verdant tropical garden takes up 1800 square feet of space on the grounds and is home to hundreds of beautiful butterflies worldwide.

3.8.2 Why You Should Visit This Place?

The Teaching Room features roughly 500 chrysalis cases where visitors may watch butterflies emerge from their stage and provides information about the butterfly industry. Butterfly Garden is an ample, open space filled with tropical flowers where butterflies of all sizes and colors fly around freely while dancing to music and the sound of falling water. The most giant bugs in the world, 16″ walking sticks, are among the hundreds of insects that make up Bug World.

3.9. Great Turtle Kayak Tour

Paddling around the rocky coast of gorgeous Mackinac Island in a kayak or paddleboard is one of the best ways to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the island, whether you’re looking for birds, turtles, or just some peace.

From Great Turtle Kayak Tour

Whether you’re paddling alone or with a friend, this is the best way to experience the island’s natural beauty. It is at 7395 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, United States. Thus, It is the other best things to do on Mackinac Island.

 What Does This Tour Offer?

One of the best things to do on Mackinac Island is take a trip with Great Turtle Kayak Tours, which offers a variety of tours, including the Sunrise & Sunset Cruise, Arch Rock Excursion, Devil’s Kitchen Adventure, as well as many other fantastic tours throughout Haldimand Bay and Mackinac Island.

Each tour is supervised by an experienced and educated Red Cross-certified guide, so visitors may feel secure. There are tours available for people of all ages and experience levels, so those who are new to kayaking and paddleboarding can feel comfortable. A journey on Lake Huron’s calm waters with knowledgeable operators and stunning surroundings will likely be a fantastic adventure.

3.10. Mission Point Resort

Visiting this place is another best thing to do on Mackinac Island. On Mackinac Island, the Mission Point Resort is an excellent choice for a place to stay. It is situated at One Lake Shore Dr, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA. It provides food, wine, outdoor activities, and entertainment for everyone.

The largest family-run resort on Mackinac Island, Mission Point, has 241 guest rooms and suites, as well as three restaurants with outdoor seating. The Mission Point Resort is unlike any other place you have been, and it is situated on the stunning east side of Mackinac Island.

Visit Mission Point Resort, one of the best things to do on Mackinac Island. The resort is perfect for both a romantic retreat and a family holiday, and it is surrounded by rolling lawns, gardens, and breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.

 What Does This Resort Offer?

The resort offers a full-service spa, five restaurants, exquisite rooms and suites, and a health club, among other amenities, to ensure that your stay is enjoyable. In addition, there are tennis courts, bocce and croquet courts, outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs, and many other facilities. There are no cars allowed on this historic island, so you can explore on foot, on a bicycle, or in a horse-drawn carriage as you like.

3.11. Mackinac Island State Park

The history of Mackinac Island State Park is inextricably linked to the history of Mackinac Island itself; the park comprises more than 80 percent of the island itself. When the park was first formed in 1895, most of the area inside it was preserved in its natural state so that it may be explored and enjoyed in the manner mother nature designed. Thus, it is the other best things to do on Mackinac Island.

 Why You Should Visit This Park?

The park is covered by a mixed coniferous and hardwood forest, home to wonderfully aromatic spruce, cedar, paper birch, and balsam fir growing on the damp soil. In contrast, hardwoods like sugar maple, red oak, hemlock, beech, and white pine thrive in better-draining soil.

Captured By Aubrey Antles / Unsplash Copyright 2023

The park is also home to various birds, including bald eagles, hawks, and red-tailed hawks. There are a lot of birds, including sparrows, gulls, finches, warblers, and ducks, but no huge animals on the island. Hikers frequently encounter squirrels, bats, hares, and chipmunks, and a red fox, muskrat, or raccoon can be seen on rare occasions.

The island has 70.5 miles of roads and trails, but camping and hunting are prohibited. Because no cars are allowed anywhere on the island, including the park, the only way to get around is on foot, by bicycle, on horseback, or in a carriage pulled by horses.

One of the best things to do on Mackinac Island is the Mackinac Island State Park, which will unquestionably provide fun for everyone.

3.12. The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum

Visiting the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum is among the best things to do on Mackinac Island. It is situated at 7070 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, in the United States. Visitors can see Mackinac-inspired art at the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum.

 What Does This Museum Include?

The Museum’s extensive collection includes a variety of artistic mediums and expressions, including hand-beaded Native American clothing, maps of the Great Lakes from the 17th and 18th centuries, rare and distinctive ornamental items from the height of the Victorian era, and early photographs of the island from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The works of William H. Gardiner, including his hand-tinted photographs from the early 20th century, are among the most important. There are four collections, including ones for early 19th-century views of the island, early maps, pictures, and Native American art.

The Museum also hosts well-liked temporary exhibitions, contemporary art exhibitions, and a children’s art studio. The Museum is a popular activity on Mackinac Island since it offers kids a fun hands-on exhibit and an insect display.

4. Conclusion

Thank you for reading this article. Hope you found this article helpful. It is a quaint small town with a ton of fascinating top things to do on Mackinac Island.

Mackinac island is a beautiful little place with many exciting things to see and do. Mackinac island is, without a doubt, one of the top destinations in the world to have a vacation or an incredible weekend getaway.

It has everything, including rock climbing, an art gallery, a state park, and sightseeing. On your upcoming vacation, enjoy these top Mackinac Island attractions.

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Pooja Thakur

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