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October 7, 2020

Mackinac Island Travel Guide

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If you are looking for a relaxing getaway destination full of charm and beautiful scenery, Mackinac Island, MI just may be the perfect place. I first visited Mackinac Island when I was around 10 and have returned several times in the last few years. As you will see in the photos below, this year I was lucky enough to visit this northern Michigan island twice, once in the summer and once in the fall.

One of the most unique features of Mackinac Island is that there are no cars on the island and no connecting bridges to the mainland. Therefore, the main form of transportation to get to the island is by a ferry boat ride from Mackinac City in the lower peninsula or St. Ignace in the upper peninsula. Once you are on the island, the best ways to get around are by bike or horse-drawn carriage.

If you are familiar with the weather in northern Michigan you know the winters get very cold and the water is likely to freeze. For this reason, many things on the island shut down from November to May and the locals rely on snowmobiles to travel to and from the mainland when the surrounding waters of Lake Huron freeze over. Tourism to Mackinac Island peaks in the summertime but if you are looking to avoid the crowds, spring and fall are also great seasons to visit.

Depending on your pace and itinerary, Mackinac Island can make a great day trip destination or be enjoyed over a long weekend. In this post, I will be breaking down my top recommendations for things to do, see, and eat on your next trip to Mackinac Island.


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Where to stay

Grand Hotel – If you are a history buff, you will love experiencing the old-world hospitality and traditions that have taken place at the Grand Hotel since 1887. From afternoon tea to formal dining, you will feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time during your stay.

Chippewa Hotel – This waterfront hotel is located right on the harbor and is home to the must-see Pink Pony restaurant.

The Mackinac House – Centrally located to the main strip, The Mackinac House is a charming boutique hotel that offers continental breakfast and many other amenities.

The Inn At Stonecliffe – This historic inn is tucked away in a secluded area which is perfect for relaxing and taking in the views of the Mackinac Bridge.


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Places to eat

Joann’s Fudge – You can’t visit Mackinac Island without getting some freshly made fudge. The main strip has more fudge shops then you will believe and you can’t go wrong with any of them but Joann’s has the cutest storefront in my opinion so I figured I would shout them out in this post.

The Gate House – This casual bar and restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and specialty drinks. I highly recommend the fish and chips!

Ice House BBQ & Bar – For classic home-style smoked barbecue favorites the Ice House is a great afternoon option with lots of outdoor seating.

Pink Pony – This one of a kind restaurant has waterfront patio dining serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Good Day Cafe & Coffee Bar – For a quick pick-me-up this cute cafe offers coffee, smoothies, baked goods, sandwiches, Moomers ice cream, and more.


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Things to do

Bike Rentals – As I mentioned above, one of the best ways to get around the island is by bike. If you want to get some exercise and great views, take a bike on the paved path along the perimeter of the island.

Downtown Shopping – The main strip of the island has lots of cute shops to explore with everything from home decor and clothing to children’s toys.

Golf – There are three gold courses on Mackinac Island, each with unique features from historical battlegrounds to a mile-and-a-half, horse-drawn carriage ride between nines.

Historical Sights & Museums – From Fort Mackinac to the Carriage Museum, there is tons of history to learn and soak in.

Carriage Tours – A carriage tour is the easiest and most informative way to see the island that will take you from downtown to Surrey Hills, Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac, and Grand Hotel. 


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Sights to see

Arch Rock – This beautiful natural limestone arch formation is well worth the hike and includes a great view of the vibrant blue Lake Huron waters.

Kite Flying – Fly a kite or watch others do so at Windermere Point.

Wings of Mackinac – This butterfly conservatory is great for families and makes a perfect rainy day activity.

Mackinac State Park – The state park is home to several historic landmarks, rock formations, nature trails, and more.


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Mackinac Island truly couldn’t be more charming and should definitely be on your travel bucket list if you have yet to visit. There is something for everyone from the horse-drawn carriage filled downtown to the quiet nature reserves.

If you have visited Mackinac Island or have an upcoming trip planned and know of an attraction or hidden gem I missed in this guide, please leave a comment down below. I hope you found this Mackinac Island travel guide helpful and feel inspired to plan your next getaway to northern Michigan.


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Other post you may be interested in:

Traverse City Travel Guide

Fall Capsule Wardrobe 2020

Home Decor For Fall

Family Photoshoot on Lake Michigan

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