One of our favorite places in the whole world is Mackinac Island. We try to make it at least once a year. The island does not allow motorized vehicles, and with that the island has a slower way of life. It is truly like taking a time machine to a simpler time. History is at every turn on the island. Archaeologists have found prehistoric fishing camps on the island dating back at least 700 years before the European exploration, around AD900.
The main streets are lined with cool stores and restaurants for the tourists, but get off the beaten trail and you will see that the local’s life simple lives
CROSS THE MIGHTY MACK BRIDGE
In our humble and totally unbiased opinion and nothing to do with being born and raised in Michigan, there really is no other bridge that is as beautiful as the Mackinac Bridge. Not only is it a beautiful structure but the views of the straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet are stunning. The beauty can feed the soul of any nature enthusiast. Check out mackinacbridge.org and read the history. It has an amazing story! If you feel really ambitious, come visit during Labor Day. They close down vehicle traffic and only allow foot traffic and you can walk the entire bridge! It’s an exhausting 5 miles walk but WAY WORTH the feather in your hat!
Take the ferry to the island
This is not much of an option as unless you own a boat that can handle the Great Lakes, your only option to get to the Island is the Ferry. We love getting a seat on the top of the ferry. It’s uncovered so you can take in the beautiful views unobstructed.
Visit the Grand Hotel
Or, stay if you can. You can also pay $5 to kick your feet up and enjoy the views from the world’s longest front porch. You can schedule an afternoon tea. Tea is a very formal event and if you have a little girl would be quite the little treat! But be warned you have to have specific attire to be able to attend! You cannot even enter parts of the Grand without correct attire. If you have the funds, book one of the 393 rooms and stay at the Grand, it is expensive but so worth it. Every single room is decorated differently.Try to soak in the history and feel the generations who have been in the same spot you are walking, over 100 years of history! The movie Somewhere in Time was filmed here. We like to think of what the conversations in each era would have been and what the walls of these old historic buildings have heard and seen.
Duck-pin bowling at the woods
This is a well-kept secret of the island. This is the oldest working duck pin bowling lane in the country. You can find this historic attraction at The Woods restaurant.
Bike around the island
We will warn you this takes energy! Mackinac Island is very hilly! But it is fun. You can rent bikes on the island or you bring your own over on the ferry. Our advice is to not bike the perimeter of the Island. If you want good biking and see some of the interior we would suggest talking to Justin at the Bike Barn or Jim Fisher at Mackinac Wheels. Jim owns both shops and has lived on the island his entire life!
Take a picture in front of the Arch Rock limestone formation
The formation was formed during the Nipissing post-glacial period. Today the arch is 146 ft above Lake Huron, that’s nearly 15 stories! Depending on who you ask, this rock formation was created by the Great Creator when they blew life into the Earth, or wind, water and receding glaciers.
Go on the Legends and Lore Trek Island tour
Take the tour with Dr. Mary Patay. She will take you on a 3 mile hike through the national park where you can visit Skull rock, sugar loaf and our personal favorite, Saint Anne’s Cemetery! (See # 13)
Music in the park
Check out the list of artist and dates for Music in the Park. Maggie’s Best friend plays there every year. If you have family with you, you probably don’t want to attend the bar crawls, so this is a laid back more family friendly way to enjoy some evening or night life on the island. But if you are “kid free” do the bar crawls!
Visit the Mackinac Island cemeteries
OOOOOHHHH boy, you all know how much we love history! This was our favorite part! There are three island cemeteries, two civilian and one military. St. Ann’s Catholic cemetery is the largest, the Protestant cemetery, which is referred to as the Mackinac Island cemetery and military post cemetery. They are all located in the center of the island and are conjugant to each other, super fun to explore.
The post cemetery has both British and American soldiers buried after the conflict of 1812. From what we hear the Scout Honor Troop plays Taps and raises the flag each day, however we have not witnessed that. The post cemetery flag flies half mast, and is only one of four National Cemeteries with this honor. You can see the cemetery from the carriage rides but if you want to really take in the history and read the stories you need to take a separate visit. There is a fun legend that has been told by the locals that the arch entrance to St. Anne’s Catholic Cemetery was built to be the height of a horse-drawn hearse. It is told that they forgot to account for the driver and it resulted in a headless hearse-man that has been seen haunting the cemetery! Oooooooo…. Scary!
Sit at the Adirondack chairs at the mission point resort
Sit and relax. From here you can see people flying kites, watch the ferry boats come in, and enjoy the peace of the island.
Stick your feet in the water
Wade in the freezing cold water of the Great Lakes. There is nothing like it and its very grounding. Sometimes these Michigan girls just need to feel the cool chill of the lake water to make everything right again.