Fun Things to Do on Mackinac Island (2022)

Mackinac Island, Michigan is the perfect family vacation or weekend getaway.The island is located at the northern tip of Michigan and is the gateway to Michigan’s picturesque upper peninsula. Vehicles are not allowed on the island so it is very safe to bike and walk with small children. There are so many fun things to do on Mackinac Island, all ages will love it.

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Best Things to do on Mackinac Island with Kids

Adding to the mystery and excitement to your trip, Mackinac Island is only accessible by boat or commercial ferry. It only takes about 20 minutes by ferry to arrive on the island from Mackinaw City so you can easily make the island a day trip which is beneficial if you have small children.

It is no wonder the island is such a popular spot with locals and visitors alike as it is a picturesque, adventurous and a safe vacation spot during the spring, summer and fall seasons.Mackinac Island is also a popular destination for photographers, bird watchers, kayakers and hikers due to the extreme diversity, numerous trails, clear waters and beauty of the island.

It’s also one of the most romantic weekend getaways in Michigan (remember this for when the grandparents can watch the kids).

(Video) Mackinac Island Best Things To Do In | Top 10 Best In Mackinac Island, Michigan | Travel Video

1. Explore Mackinac Island’s Main Street

When you first arrive on the island, begin by exploring scenic Main Street. If you bring day bags or lunches, you can store them in the blue lockers at Shepler’s Ferry docks.There is a nearby token machine where you deposit dollar bills in exchange for tokens and a key to the lockers.

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Take some time to enjoy exploring all the eclectic shops along Main Street. You will find a wide variety of Michigan and Mackinac Island souvenirs, delicious taffy and boutique shops. It is fun to sit on one of the many benches along the busy street to watch horse drawn carriages filled with tourists pass while narrating tours of the island.

You will also gain a better understanding of how much work goes into transporting luggage, supplies and goods (only by horse drawn carriages) to the dozens of restaurants, shops and hotels on the island.

Must See Places on Main Street

While exploring Main Street, be sure to peek inside the spooky Haunted Theater. The theater was built in 1885 by Charles Caskey who also built the famous Grand Hotel.This building began as a roller rink, was later transformed into a dance hall and finally became the Orpheum Theatre.

History indicated the ground was once part of a Native American burial ground which may answer why locals report a spooky never-ending wailing at night.

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Main Street also offers a great chance to sample delicious Mackinac Island Fudge. One of our favorite fudge shops is Murdick’s as many times you can watch fudge artisans mix the creamy fudge on cold slabs of granite.

(Video) Our Top 10 things to do on Mackinac Island, Michigan (Best tourist attractions in 2022)

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It is fascinating to watch the fudge transform into delicious chunks right before your eyes. Of course, it is impossible to not buy a slice to take along during your Mackinac Island adventures.

Further to the east on Main Street is the beautiful Mission Church.This picturesque church is Michigan’s oldest surviving church building.It is also the earliest surviving example of a New England Style church in the Midwest.Due to its fascinating history and beauty, this church is popular for weddings during the warm summer and early fall months.

One of the most beautiful churches on the island is Ste. Anne Catholic Church. Its pointed steeple and intricate stained-glass windows are breathtaking. This church was built in 1827 and is stunning to visit and photograph, especially during a sunny day.

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2. Find the “Somewhere In Time” gazebo

While exploring all the nooks and crannies of Mackinac Island, we discovered several secret hidden places on Mackinac Island.One of them included the “Somewhere in Time” Gazebo that we finally found after searching for it several times.This beautiful white gazebo was featured in the 1980 movie, “Somewhere in Time” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

Did you know “Somewhere in Time” was shot almost entirely on Mackinac Island? Several scenes were filmed around the island, including the Mission Point Resort and the elegant Grand Hotel.

This gazebo was used in a romantic scene between Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in which the two shared a steamy moment together on screen. Once you find the gazebo, it feels like you are reliving a nostalgic moment of movie history!

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3. Mackinac Island Bike Rental

The scenic paved perimeter of Mackinac Island is 8.3 miles.Due to the significant distance, biking this route is a definite must-do. Visitors to Mackinac Island can find bike rentals at several locations including Mackinac Island Bike Shop and Mackinac Bike Barn.

This bike and hike trail has water views the entire way and there are lots of chances to swim or wade into the clear, yet rocky water.Another fun thing to do is to look for shells and beautiful rocks along the shoreline as a reminder of your adventures on Mackinac Island.

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While hiking or biking the flat perimeter trail, keep an eye out for fantastic views of the Mackinaw Bridge.Sunset Rock, McGulpin’s Point (food and restrooms), and Arch Rock are popular destinations.

Arch Rock is a geologic arch formation of natural limestone that stands on the Lake Huron shoreline. It soars 146 feet above the water! Arch Rock is a popular spot for photography as the views are outstanding; but be prepared to walk about 200 stairs to reach the top! It is definitely worth the effort.

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Skull Cave, Cave in the Woods and the Crack in the Island are also popular scenic destinations in the interior of the island.Be sure to take a map with you as the interior of the island has lots of intersecting roads.Also note, the interior is very hilly and requires strenuous biking or hiking to reach many of the popular destinations.

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(Video) Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island, Michigan

4. Visit the Grand Hotel

When visiting Mackinac Island, you must visit the historic Grand Hotel. This lavish hotel was built in 1887 and Mark Twain even delivered a lecture there in 1895. Be sure to enjoy a drink and appetizer in one of their lavishly appointed lounges and relax in a rocking chair on the world’s largest porch.

The Grand Hotel’s porch is a great spot for scenic photos as it is lined with several American flags and nostalgic rocking chairs.Horse drawn carriages frequently arrive to deliver guests to the hotel, providing excellent photographic opportunities.Kids will love a scoop or two of cool, creamy ice cream from Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor.

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It is also noteworthy to mention that five presidents have stayed at the Grand Hotel!While visiting the hotel, check out the scenic gardens that contain edible flowers and herbs used by the Executive Chef and his staff to prepare meals for the hotel guests.

Mackinac Island Tips (Know Before You Go):

  • There are two ferry lines, Shepler’s and Starline, that leave from either Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.
  • You may wish to spend time in Mackinaw City as there are ziplines, restaurants, fudge shops, boat tours and fabulous views of the Mackinaw bridge.
  • There are restrooms on the ferries. Many have an upper open deck (great views!) and a lower enclosed deck for more windy or chilly days. Take note that you can get wet while riding on the upper deck, especially on windy days.
  • Parking at the ferry is free. If you park in an outer lot in Mackinaw City, a covered open-air shuttle with take you from your vehicle to the ferry docks.
  • Those traveling on a fixed budget or strict diet, might want to bring their own snacks, drinks and lunches. Consider bringing a bike bag that attaches to the handlebars of your bikes to carry everything. If you rent a bike, they come with baskets that are large enough to hold a small bag.

Author Bio: Sherry Trautman, founder of Traveling Michigan, loves to explore every inch of the Mitten State by hiking, biking, kayaking and getting lost! Connect with Traveling Michigan on Instagram.

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If you are looking for related articles, consider the best things to do in Traverse City with kids and What Not to Miss on Indiana’s South Shore.

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FAQs

Is 1 day enough for Mackinac Island? ›

With a land area less than 4 square miles, it won't take you long to explore the island. In fact, one day on Mackinac Island is plenty of time to see the main attractions. Its quiet streets, local restaurants and natural beauty may beg you for a longer stay, though.

What are some fun facts about Mackinac Island? ›

MACKINAC ISLAND IS HOME OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST PORCH

At 660 feet, it's the largest porch in the world. In the 1890's it served as the main promenade and is now lined with rocking chairs for visitors and guests to sit and take in the view.

What is the first thing to do on Mackinac Island? ›

5 things to do the first (or next) time you visit Mackinac Island
  1. Enjoy a Horse-drawn Carriage ride on Mackinac Island.
  2. Bike around Mackinac Island.
  3. Visit Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel.
  4. Sample fudge on Mackinac Island.
  5. Tour Mackinac Island's Historic Fort Mackinac.
15 May 2019

What is not allowed on Mackinac Island? ›

Since 1901, cars have been banned in Mackinac Island State Park. There are numerous accounts of early automobiles causing problems with horses and carriages. The ban was incorporated into state law in 1960. There are few exceptions to the use of motor vehicles regulation, the biggest of which is emergency vehicles.

What is the best month to go to Mackinac Island? ›

The best weather on Mackinac takes place in Late Spring/Early summer, as well as the fall. Late spring and early summer mark the beginning of the tourist season. The weather is phenomenal between mid-May and early July. Once it gets to late September, Mackinac Island is a wonderful place to be.

How much time should I spend on Mackinac Island? ›

If you want to see it all: You will need a full day to explore the perimeter and downtown area. If you want to bike the interior of the island, go kayaking, visit the museums, fort and anything else, you will need three days.

What's so special about Mackinac Island? ›

ABOUT MACKINAC ISLAND, MI

For centuries, visitors have enjoyed this national treasure that's home to historic Fort Mackinac, world-famous Mackinac Island fudge and car-free streets full of horse-drawn carriages.

What's Mackinac Island known for? ›

Mackinac Island is one of Michigan's most popular summertime resort towns, situated in Lake Huron along the Straits of Mackinac. More than 80 percent of the island is a State Park, offering beautiful scenery of high cliffs, ravines, natural bridges, caves, and rock formations.

Who owns Mackinac Island? ›

While all of Mackinac Island, the landform, is located within the corporate limits of the City of Mackinac Island, today 82 percent of the island's landmass is owned by the State of Michigan and managed by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission (MISPC).

What is the best day to go to Mackinac Island? ›

The best time to visit Mackinac Island to avoid the hordes of tourist is during the month of June. However, weather can be quite unpredictable at this time. If you seek a combination of the best weather and manageable crowds, plan your visit in the first half of July.

Do you tip on Mackinac Island? ›

It is customary to tip the driver. Mackinac Island Carriage Tours and Jack's Livery offer private carriages.

How long is the walk around Mackinac Island? ›

The eight mile walk around the island will offer gorgeous views of the water, surrounding islands, the Mackinac Bridge, and offers a number of stops along the walk describing historic events or people of the Island's influence.

Do any celebrities live on Mackinac Island? ›

They include actor Vince Vaughn, actor and director Ron Howard, and Michigan's own Bob Seger.

Can you swim in Mackinac Island? ›

Of course, Mackinac Island is surrounded by beautiful blue water so you technically can swim in the Straits of Mackinac, too. But you should know that the shores around Mackinac Island are rocky, so be sure to pack some water shoes if you want to take a dip in the Great Lakes.

What are people from Mackinac Island called? ›

Mackinac Island's visitors became known as "fudgies" because their main reason to travel to the island was for their famous fudge.

Are there mosquitoes on Mackinac Island? ›

The location's weather patterns over the past several months can determine how many mosquitoes emerge. The risk for mosquito activity is extremely high. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time outdoors to prevent bites. The risk for mosquito activity is high.

How cold does it get on Mackinac Island? ›

The temperatures rarely fluctuate above freezing with the average around 27 degrees and lows that dip even further than that.

Can you rent golf carts on Mackinac Island? ›

Can we rent golf carts to get around on the Island? No, golf carts are only permitted on the golf courses.

How late can you go to Mackinac Island? ›

Mackinac Island is always open! The peak season for visitors runs from late April through the end of October, when ferry companies offer daily service with several trips back and forth.

Is it better to stay in Mackinaw City or island? ›

We received mixed suggestions from veteran travelers: stay on the island for the full experience, stay in nearby Mackinaw City or St. Ignace for lower rates, find a nearby campsite off the island . . . the list went on and on.

Which ferry is faster to Mackinac Island? ›

Star Line is the only Fast, Frequent, Fun and Friendly, Hydro-Jet Ferry service to Mackinac Island.

Is smoking allowed on Mackinac Island? ›

Smoking is Prohibited both in Mackinac Island.

How many cars are on Mackinac Island? ›

Perhaps the most noticeable first impression visitors get of Mackinac Island is the absence of automobiles! Visitors and residents travel by foot, bicycle or horse drawn carriage. This tempo is more comparable to the 19th century.

How long does Mackinac Island fudge last? ›

Consume within ten days of purchase. If you expose fudge to too much air, it will start to dry out. But that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy it. Trim the dried edges, and the inside will still be creamy and delicious.

What animals live on Mackinac Island? ›

There are fewer species of land animals on the island than on the mainland. However, you can still spot squirrels, chipmunks, bats, and snowshoe hares. Less common residents include red fox, raccoons, gray squirrels, muskrats, and weasels.

Is it worth it to stay on Mackinac Island? ›

Mackinac Island is a charming resort-like retreat, full of history and natural wonders. Located in Lake Huron between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, this special place has served as a vacation spot for generations of families. Its far-flung location and quirks (no cars allowed!)

Can you see Northern Lights from Mackinac Island? ›

See the Northern Lights in Michigan's Lower Peninsula

Whether you make a trip of it by touring Mackinaw City or journeying through Mackinac Island, this is the perfect area to enjoy the days while waiting for the night to usher the lights across the horizon.

How many full time residents live on Mackinac Island? ›

How many people live on Mackinac Island year-round? Approximately 500-600 people reside on Mackinac Island on a year-round basis.

Are there schools on Mackinac Island? ›

Mackinac Island School is a public school located in Mackinac Island, MI, which is in a distant rural setting. The student population of Mackinac Island School is 59 and the school serves K-12.

How much does it cost to live on Mackinac Island? ›

Mackinac Island cost of living is 115.2
COST OF LIVINGMackinac IslandMichigan
Health103.884.8
Housing160.171.2
Median Home Cost$466,900$207,800
Utilities85.1100.1
4 more rows

What is the best day to go to Mackinac Island? ›

The best time to visit Mackinac Island to avoid the hordes of tourist is during the month of June. However, weather can be quite unpredictable at this time. If you seek a combination of the best weather and manageable crowds, plan your visit in the first half of July.

How long is the walk around Mackinac Island? ›

The eight mile walk around the island will offer gorgeous views of the water, surrounding islands, the Mackinac Bridge, and offers a number of stops along the walk describing historic events or people of the Island's influence.

Is it worth staying on Mackinac Island? ›

Mackinac Island is a charming resort-like retreat, full of history and natural wonders. Located in Lake Huron between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, this special place has served as a vacation spot for generations of families.

How long is the ferry ride to Mackinac Island? ›

How long is the ferry ride to Mackinac Island? 16-26 minutes. Direct departures are typically 16 minutes from both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.

Do you tip on Mackinac Island? ›

It is customary to tip the driver. Mackinac Island Carriage Tours and Jack's Livery offer private carriages.

What do people wear for lunch at the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island? ›

Since Grand Hotel is a resort, we want you to feel at ease and dress comfortably. During the day, casual resort clothing is appropriate. Prior to 6:30 PM, please no midriff-baring tops, sweatpants, or cut-off shorts for ladies. For gentlemen, no sleeveless shirts, sweatpants, or cut-off shorts.

How much do you tip a porter on Mackinac Island? ›

We provide porter service from the dock to the hotel. A suggested gratuity is a minimum $2.00 per bag. Ask for the Windermere Hotel porter when you get off the ferry.

What makes Mackinac Island so special? ›

Mackinac Island is one of Michigan's most popular summertime resort towns, situated in Lake Huron along the Straits of Mackinac. More than 80 percent of the island is a State Park, offering beautiful scenery of high cliffs, ravines, natural bridges, caves, and rock formations.

Can you swim on Mackinac Island? ›

Of course, Mackinac Island is surrounded by beautiful blue water so you technically can swim in the Straits of Mackinac, too. But you should know that the shores around Mackinac Island are rocky, so be sure to pack some water shoes if you want to take a dip in the Great Lakes.

Can you rent golf carts on Mackinac Island? ›

Can we rent golf carts to get around on the Island? No, golf carts are only permitted on the golf courses.

Which ferry is faster to Mackinac Island? ›

Star Line is the only Fast, Frequent, Fun and Friendly, Hydro-Jet Ferry service to Mackinac Island.

Is Traverse City or Mackinac Island better to visit? ›

I would recommend both Traverse City and Mackinac Island to anyone looking for a trip. I would recommend only 2-3 days on Mackinac Island since it's so small (and pricey!). But if you're looking for beautiful water, fudge, and a little bit of a simpler way of life . . . check it out!

Is it better to stay on Mackinac Island or in Mackinaw City? ›

Definitely stay on the Island. Except for a water park and misc. shops and fast food places, there isn't much to Mackinaw City except hotels and ferries to the Island. As another mentioned, most bicycle rental outlets also offer the electric carts for those who have difficulty walking.

How much does it cost to take a carriage ride on Mackinac Island? ›

For adults and seniors, the carriage tour is $30.50. Children 5-12 years old are $11, and children under 5 are free if held on a lap. You can also purchase a Combination Ticket, granting admission to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory.

Can you bring coolers to Mackinac Island? ›

We will not allow pizza boxes, popcorn, coolers, to-go boxes from restaurants and other items as such on board. Ultimately, it will be left to the crew's discretion if a questionable item is allowed, taking into consideration if it may hinder the other guest's experience.

What is the cost of the ferry to Mackinac Island? ›

$30. Save $2 off the regular adult ticket price of $32 by purchasing online in advance of your Mackinac Island visit! Tickets valid for any date and departure during the 2022 season.

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