Mackinaw City is a village at the northernmost point of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Its location also marks the meeting point of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Visitors can cross the Straits to reach Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by way of Mackinac Bridge or one of the ferry services.

There are many historic landmarks, including lighthouses, forts, and parks to explore. Or relax on any one of the city’s sandy beaches, and stargaze at Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Finally, there are plenty of shopping options and restaurants serving up delicious eats.

1. Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry

Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry
© Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry

In 1945, Captain William Shepler opened a small snack bar for passengers who waited for their ferry to Mackinac Island. He believed a more efficient and faster ferry service was needed, so he started his own company. Capt. Shepler started with one boat and shortly after added a second boat that was piloted by his son, Bill Jr. These two speedboats offered distinguished and efficient service to passengers and were named “Miss Penny” and “The Fiji.” Many decades later the company still flourishes and is run by William’s son and grandchildren. The most recent boat added to the fleet was “Miss Margy”, who provides a first-class riding experience.

311 S. Nicolet Avenue, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701, Phone: 231-436-5023

2. Colonial Michilimackinac

Colonial Michilimackinac
© SunnyS/

Fort Michilimackinac was constructed by French soldiers in 1715. The fort functioned as a fur trade center and refueling post. This area also served as a place where French and British officers met to discuss war tactics. And it was a meeting place for explorers who were setting off to discover the western territory of the U.S. Then in 1781 the fort relocated to Mackinac Island because the British suspected an attack from American soldiers was imminent. Years later a state park was created here in 1909 and it occupies 37 acres of land right along the Great Lakes shoreline.

102 W Straits Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49770, Phone: 231-436-4100

3. Mackinac Island Ferry Company

Mackinac Island Ferry Company
© Mackinac Island Ferry Company

Mackinac Island Ferry Company has been transporting passengers from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace to Mackinac Island since the late 1970s. They have one dock in Mackinaw City and two docks in St. Ignace. The company was founded by five partners, each representing one point of a 5 pointed star. At first, their fleet consisted of slower ferries, which included the La Salle, Nicolet, Treasure Islander, and Flamingo. By 1979 the company bought their first fast ferry and named it the Marquette. Today, Star Line has one of the largest ferry fleets with six hydro-jet ferries and counting.

253 N State St, St Ignace, MI 49781, Phone: 906-643-7635

4. Headlands International Dark Sky Park

Headlands International Dark Sky Park
© Marcel Poncu/

Headlands Park was established during the late 1950s. It has more than 550 acres of woodlands, a few miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and dozens of rare plant species. Visitors of Highlights Park often sightsee and spot animals such as the bald eagle, white tail deer, osprey, coyotes and wild turkeys. During all seasons the park’s nature trails remain open and frequently attract people interested in hiking, biking and cross-country skiing after heavy snowfall. During 2011, Highlands Park became an International Dark Sky Park. With this designation, the park will never have artificial light pollution, making it an ideal destination for stargazing.

15675 Headlands Road, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Phone: 231-427-1001

5. Old Mackinac Point Light

Old Mackinac Point Light
© Paul Lemke/

Old Mackinac Point Light Station was founded in 1889, and operated as a lighthouse from 1890 to 1957. Because Mackinaw Point is situated at the intersection of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, a lighthouse was needed for ship vessels and other boats traversing these waters. Congress considered the proposal to construct a lighthouse on Mackinac Point in 1889, but they only approved the construction of a fog signal. It wasn’t until 1891 when they decided that building a lighthouse here was also necessary. Visitors of the lighthouse can view the tower for a small admission fee and shop in the museum store. More romantic getaways in Michigan

526 N Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Phone: 231-436-4100

6. Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park
© Mackinac State Historic Parks

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park is a nature preserve, and state park that spans across 625 acres. Before becoming a park and a historic site, the land housed a sawmill that began its operation in 1790. When demand for cut timber declined, the sawmill could no longer sustain itself, so it was abandoned in 1839. Then during the 1970s, archaeological investigations took place at the sawmill. A decade later in 1984, the sawmill was rebuilt and later restored in 2007. Those who visit the park can step back into time, or take a walk on the park’s three-and-a-half miles of nature trails.

9001 W, US-23, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Phone: 231-436-4226

7. McGulpin Point Lighthouse & Historic Site

McGulpin Point Lighthouse & Historic Site
© McGulpin Point Lighthouse & Historic Site

McGulpin Point Lighthouse and Historic Site once protected ships from treacherous storms, dense fog, and rocks from 1869 until 1906. Although Congress granted the petition to construct a lighthouse at McGulpin Point in 1854, there were several circumstances that caused severe delays. So, a new petition was presented in 1864 and a sum of $20,000 was allotted for the project. Work started in 1869, and the design of the lighthouse emulated that of Chambers Island and Eagle Bluff lights. The McGulpin Point Lighthouse discontinued use in 1906. And more than a hundred years later, the county bought it and hosted a gala celebration in 2009 to honor it’s reopening.

500 Headlands Road, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Phone: 231-436-5860

8. Del Sol

Del Sol
© Del Sol

Del Sol designs and sells a proprietary brand of color-changing clothing and accessories. Co-founders, Robert Pedersen, and his son-in-law, Steve Schone, had the idea to combine sunshine with clothing. In 1994, they came up with the science for t-shirts that could change colors when exposed to sunlight. Once removed from the sunlight, these same t-shirts changed back to their original colors. Del Sol started as a small time operation in Murray, Utah and now they have locations in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, and the U.S. Their motto is ‘creating fun, joy, smiles, and memories for everyone under the sun.’

128 S Huron Ave Unit 38, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Phone: 952-222-8649

9. North Central State Trail

North Central State Trail
© Alex Green/

North Central State Trail is now a recreational rail-trail that is 62 miles long. It used to be part of the Michigan Central Railroad. The railway was based in Detroit and in 1882 a section of track was constructed to extend the railway up to Mackinaw City. At this time, the timberland industry was booming and the railway made the transportation of timber to other regions possible. This new piece of track also helped to bring tourists to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Decades later, in 1957, automobiles became the preferred mode of transportation and the Mackinac Bridge assisted with travel from the Lower to Upper Peninsula.

10. Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association

Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association
© kichigin19/

In 1981 the idea to create an association for the keepers and aficionados of lighthouses was born. Those who proposed the idea were Donn and Diane Werling, as well as Betty Moore Rinehart. They called it the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, or GLLKA for short. GLLKA held their first meeting in 1982 and by 1983 the organization was officially formed. Then in 1986, the U.S. Coast Guard granted them a 30-year license to restore Saint Helena Island Light Station. Over the years, GLLKA published books, pamphlets, magazines, and produced videos, restored lighthouses, and have been the recipient of numerous awards.

707 N Huron Ave, P.O. Box 219, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Phone: 231-436-5580

11. Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum

Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum
© Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum

The Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum was founded to preserve the legacy of the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw WAGB-83. Known to be the largest icebreaker on the Great Lakes and coined the “Queen of the Great Lakes”, the vessel was decommissioned in 2006 and serves as an educational and commemorative museum to its tenure with the Coast Guard. Board the Icebreaker Mackinaw and take an enjoyable tour of the ship to learn all about its 62-year career. Tours will take guests around the ship’s Mess Deck, the Captains Quarters, and the Engine Room, among others. Visitors will also hear interesting and unique stories about the vessel and the role it played on the Great Lakes.

707 N. Huron Avenue #2, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701; Phone: 231-436-9825

12. Biere de Mac

Biere de Mac
© Biere de Mac

The Ranville family are the proud owners of Biere de Mac, a local brewery and restaurant in Mackinaw City. Their French ancestors settled on Mackinac Island hundreds of years ago and later moved to Mackinaw City to operate a fishing business. After many fruitful and happy years running the business, they decided to follow their dream of owning a restaurant that served the finest beers on tap. In honor of their French heritage, the name Biere de Mac was chosen as the restaurant’s name. Although they are known for their warm hospitality and tasty brews, they also have a good reputation for serving exceptional food.

14277 Mackinaw Hwy., Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Phone: 231-427-7007

13. Mackinaw Bridge Museum

Mackinaw Bridge Museum
© Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau

For 33 years, the Mackinaw Bridge Museum has enjoyed immense popularity from its location right above MaMa Mia’s Restaurant. This free attraction was built by J.C. Stilwell, who is not only the restaurant’s owner but also one of the ironworkers involved with building the Mackinaw Bridge, also referred to as the Mighty Mac. The museum is comprised of a collection of items donated by ironworkers from all over the nation, a copy of the movie made about the building of the Mighty Mac, and one of the spinning wheels used to build the bridge’s massive cables. See a number of items like documents, photos, tools, and even a diving suit related to the Mighty Mac at this free attraction.

231 East Central Avenue, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701; Phone: 231-436-5534

14. Odawa Casino Mackinaw

Odawa Casino Mackinaw
© Odawa Casino Mackinaw

The Odawa Casino Mackinaw is an impressive hidden gem in Mackinaw City. This cozy casino is more than enough to supply endless entertainment for every visitor as it boasts some of the newest and hottest slot machines available in the industry in addition to other classic casino delights. Guests who want to fuel up and replenish their energy for more gaming can head to the casino’s Mukwa Bar and Grill, which dishes up American cuisine staples and offers a delightful drink menu made fresh at its full-service bar.

1080 S Nicolet Street, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701; Phone: 231-344-4433

15. Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows

Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows
© Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows

For visitors looking to experience this one-of-a-kind performance, head over to Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows, the brainchild of the world’s Nine-Time Champion Logroller, Dan McDonough. At Jack Pine, patrons are sure to be awed by the lumberjack skills of world-class competitors who will chop, saw, roll, and speed climb up logs. Throw in some log-rolling action and visitors are pretty much guaranteed an action-packed show with a great display of athleticism, strength, and a good dose of comedy, too. For first-time visitors to Mackinaw City, the Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows are a must-see as the top-rated tourist attraction in town.

10510 W. US Highway 23, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701; Phone: 231-436-5225

16. Mystery Town USA

Mystery Town USA
© robsonphoto/

At Mystery Town USA, each guest will be taken on a mind-boggling exploration of the greatest mysteries of the world! This undeniably unique attraction leaves no great mystery unturned. Enter the world of urban legends such as the Lost City of Atlantis, Area 51, and the Loch Ness Monster. Guests who visit Mystery Town will start their self-guided tour of the exhibits at one of the most stupefying mysteries of the world, the Bermuda Triangle. From there, the journey through six themed rooms will only intensify, culminating at the end of the entire experience where guests will navigate their way through one of the deep spaces' most terrifying anomalies, a black hole.

200 South Nicolet, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701; Phone: 231-427-7030

17. Mind Thrill Escape Rooms

Mind Thrill Escape Rooms
© Mind Thrill Escape Rooms

If you’re looking for a challenge, Mind Thrill Escape Rooms is just what you may be looking for. As one of the city’s most engaging escape room adventures available, Mind Thrill Escape Rooms will push your wits and attention to detail to its maximum capacity. Mind Thrill offers five different rooms with varying levels of difficulty. The Ranger Station, good for up to eight players, and Time Traveler, great for groups of three, are perfect options for escape room beginners. Guests for one of Mind Thrill’s toughest challenges, on the other hand, ought to try out Shipwreck in the Straights, one of the most challenging rooms in this center’s repertoire that needs to be played with a minimum of four players and a maximum of eight.

136 S. Huron Street, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701; Phone: 231-436-6150

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