Mackinac Island is a popular tourist destination in Michigan. Many people visit the island during the summer months - this is when the weather is at its warmest and it's considered the best time to visit Mackinac Island. The mornings are cool and the afternoons are warm. Because schools have breaks during the summer, Mackinac Island can be a little crowded during this season. The fall months and the spring months are good times to visit if you don’t mind chilly temperatures: the island is less crowded and room rates come down. Winter time is cold and warm clothes are necessary to enjoy the beauty of the island. There are many free things to do during the winter season on Mackinac Island. Photo: Ffooter/Fotolia
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Best Time to Visit Mackinac Island, Michigan, Weather & Other Travel Tips
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25 Best Things to Do in Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island (also often referred to as Mackinaw Island) is located in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas. About 80% of the island forms part of Mackinac Island State Park, which offers over 70 miles of interpretive paths and trails. Visiting the island is a delightful departure from modern-day city life – there is no motorized transport and you will need to explore on foot, by bike, or on a horse-drawn carriage. The majority of visitors come to Mackinac to enjoy walking, hiking, and boating or to simply relax and unwind, but there are plenty of attractions and activities both on the island or in Mackinaw City on the mainland to keep active visitors busy. You can reach the island by ferry from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace between May and October. Winter access is limited.
Dating back to 1780, Fort Mackinac is an impressive defensive fort that encompasses 14 fully restored structures, which tell the story of 17th century military life on the island. You can get a good overview of the fort by watching the introductory video and then watch demonstrations and exhibitions presented by costumed guides. The various buildings have been furnished with period pieces and contain several themed exhibitions, including a very interesting exhibit on military medicine in the erstwhile hospital section. Children will particularly enjoy the Kids’ Quarters area, where they can have hands-on interactive fun. The fort is open to the public from May to October.
Fort Mackinac, 7127 Huron Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, Ph. +1906 847 3328
Alice’s Kandy and Korn
When you feel like a break from the natural beauty of Mackinac Island, you can easily hop on the ferry to visit Mackinaw City on the mainland, where Alice’s Kandy and Korn offers a nostalgic treat for both young and old. Alice’s has been producing lip-smacking candied corn and other sweet treats since 1951, and the store is a Mackinaw City institution. Here you can watch how some of your favorite treats are made, surrounded by the tantalizing aromas of caramel, fudge, and butter. The store also produces a range of delicious chocolates and other candy, including sugar-free options. If you can’t bear to leave the island for a visit you can order online.
Alice’s Kandy and Korn, 512 S Huron, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Ph. +1 231 436 6054
Biere de Mac Brew Works
Located on the Michigan mainland just south of Mackinaw City, a quick 25-minute scenic ferry ride from Mackinac Island, Biere de Mac Brew Works has long been delighting visitors and locals alike with a great selection of hand-crafted artisanal beers. The company intends to continue in their quest to produce their very own version of every popular type of beer on the market, so regular visitors will find that the beers on tap are constantly changing. In addition to producing some great brews, Biere de Mac also offers visitors a tasty and innovative menu of food to be enjoyed alongside your favorite brew.
Biere de Mac Brew Works, 14277 Mackinaw Hwy, Mackinaw City, MI 49701,
Ph. +1 231 427 7007
Colonial Michilimackinac is an 18th century fort and fur trading post located on the Michigan mainland close to Mackinac Island. A visit to the fort will appeal equally to history buffs and young adventure seekers, who can enjoy seeing history brought to life by a team of costumed guides. The Visitor’s Center Theater presents a short introductory video that will give you a good overview of the 16 carefully restored buildings within the complex, all of which feature period furniture and several interesting historical exhibits. Children can spend some time exploring fur trading routes at the Kids’ Rendezvous area, while budding archaeologists can watch continuing excavations during the summer months.
Colonial Michilimackinac, 102 W. Straits Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Ph. +1 231 436 4100
Father Marquette National Memorial
Mackinac Island visitors who would like to learn more about the history of the area should try and make time to visit the Father Marquette National Memorial, which is located overlooking the Straits of Mackinac in Straits State Park. The memorial recalls the life and times of Father Marquette, a 17th century missionary/explorer who was instrumental in forging bonds between the French and Native American cultures several hundred years ago. The site encompasses an interpretive trail with 15 stations and offers visitors exceptional views of the impressive Mackinac Bridge. In summer, you can bring a picnic to enjoy overlooking the straits.
Father Marquette National Memorial, 720 Church St, St. Ignace, MI 49781, Ph. +1 906 643 8620
Headlands International Dark Sky Park
Headlands International Dark Sky Park is officially one of the best places in the world to lie back and do some serious stargazing. However, you do not have to wait for the stars to appear to visit the park, which is equally attractive in the daytime. By day you can take a walk along a choice of scenic nature trails that wind though mature forests and ponds, and at night the Dark Sky Discovery Trail will thrill visitors with unique interpretive stations describing our relationship with the universe. If you visit around the time of the equinox, you will have an increased chance of witnessing the Northern Lights, one of Mother Nature’s most astounding shows.
Headlands International Dark Sky Park, 15675 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, MI 49701,
Ph. +1 231 436 4051
Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park
You can bring the whole family to visit Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, located on the mainland east of Mackinaw City. Part museum and part adventure park, there is something to interest and entertain everyone at this seasonal historical park. You should start your visit by viewing the introductory video at the visitors center before setting off to explore. On the educational side, you will have the chance to see how the waters of Mill Creek were harnessed to saw enormous logs and learn how a water power station works, while on the fun side you can follow the Adventure Trail, which includes a canopy walk, a thrilling zipline, and an impressive climbing wall. There are also interactive exhibits for younger children.
Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, 9001 W. US Hwy 23, Mackinaw City, MI 49701,
Ph. +1 231 436 4100
Hunt’s Mackinaw Pastie and Cookie Company
When you have walked or cycled up a good appetite it makes good sense to head to one of Mackinaw City’s favorite eateries, the Mackinaw Pastie and Cookie Company. The company has been making delicious and nutritious meat and vegetable pasties (pies) since 1964, following an old tradition passed along from Cornwall, England, where miners’ wives would prepare a hearty stew wrapped in pastry for their husbands to take to work for lunch. These days there are a variety of interesting pasties to sample, including pasties featuring innovative sauces, garnishes, and accompaniments. Recently, the company opened a third outlet across the straits in St. Ignace
Hunt’s Mackinaw Pastie and Cookie Company,
514 S Huron, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Ph. +1 231 436 5113
117 W Jamet St, Mackinaw City, MI 49701 Ph +1 231 436 8202
Ice Breaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum
Your visit to Mackinaw City would be incomplete without touring the famous Ice Breaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum. Here, you have the opportunity to step aboard what was once the largest icebreaker on the Great Lakes. The vessel was built to serve in World War II and was in use for 62 years before being decommissioned in 2006. Highlights of your tour of the icebreaker USCGC Mackinaw will include seeing the mess deck, the bridge, the engine room, and both the captain’s and sailors’ quarters. At the end of your tour, you can pick up some maritime souvenirs at the Ships’ Store. The Ice Breaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum is open to the public from May to October each year.
Ice Breaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, 131 S. Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701,
Ph. +1 231 436 9825
Jack Pine Lumberjack Show
You can learn about Michigan’s logging heritage by joining in the fun at an entertaining Jack Pine Lumberjack Show. The shows are suitable for all ages, and you will leave with a new-found admiration for the skills and talents of the lumberjacks, who compete with each other to earn your cheers. The shows are competitive and interactive, with tough lumberjacks showing off their log rolling skills as well as other manly activities such as axe throwing, wood chopping, and cross-cut sawing. You will also be treated to a chainsaw carving demonstration. The shows are presented from May to September each year.
Jack Pine Lumberjack Show, 10510 W. U.S, 23, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Ph. +1 231 436 5225
The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum
The impressive Mackinac Art Museum is one of the must-see attractions on Mackinac Island, housed in what was once the Indian Dormitory Building. As you stroll through the exhibits, the remarkable photographic collection will take you on a journey through historic Mackinac Island as it was in the early 19th century, all the way through to the late 20th century. There are two galleries devoted to showcasing Native American beadwork and other decorative art. Besides the permanent collections, the museum also features visiting exhibitions and children can create their own artistic masterpieces in the Kids’ Art Studio. Like most Mackinac Island attractions, the museum is open to the public from May to October.
The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, 7070 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757 Ph. +1 906 847 3328
Dominating your view across the Straits of Mackinac, the remarkable Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in America. When the bridge was built in 1957, it was considered to be an engineering marvel, and it is still the third-longest bridge of its kind in the world. The bridge links Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas over the Straits of Mackinac and rises a massive 200 feet above water level at its highest point. To enjoy a scenic drive over the bridge you can approach it along Interstate 75 from St. Ignace on the northern peninsula or from Mackinaw City from the south. If you would like to walk along the bridge, you need to time your visit to coincide with the Mackinac Bridge Walk, which is held every September.
Mackinaw Bakery and Tea Company
For more than 40 years, the Mackinaw Bakery and Tea Company has been Mackinaw City’s go-to place for delicious cakes, baked goods, tea, and coffee. The bakery is known for its variety of doughnuts, but it also serves a wide selection of other sweet treats, including fruit tarts, cakes, muffins, and more. There is an indoor seating area where you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee to wash down your doughnut, and they also serve light breakfast bagels. Many of the pastries are available frozen so that you can stock up with your favorites to take home. They also stock a good selection of teas and coffees and even interesting tea sets.
Mackinaw Bakery and Tea Company, 110 Langlade Street, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Ph. +1 231 436 5525
Mackinaw Bridge Museum
Located above the Mama Mia Pizzeria you will find a quaint little museum dedicated to “Big Mac,” as the impressive Mackinaw Bridge is known to the locals. The museum has been a free attraction in the city for over 33 years and was conceived by J. C. Stillwell, one of the iron workers who was part of the bridge construction team (and who also happed to own the pizzeria). The museum was established to honor the dedicated steelworkers who risked their lives to build one of the world’s longest and highest suspension bridges. Many of the artifacts and relics have been donated or replaced by fellow steelworkers after a fire in 2005 destroyed much of the original museum pieces.
Mackinaw Bridge Museum, 231 East Central Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701,
Ph. +1 231 436 5534
Mackinaw Historical Society Heritage Village
You can get a true idea of what life was like on the historic straits shores during the late 1800s and early 1900s by visiting the Mackinaw Historical Society Heritage Village. The village occupies a large area of 143 acres and was started in 1997, which means it is still a work in progress, but it already attracts significant numbers of visitors and is open daily during the summer months from May to October. You can stroll around at your own pace or visit on the weekends, when docent-led tours are available. Highlights of our visit will include a restored 1880s single-room school house, an original log farmhouse dating to 1883 as well as a storeroom, general store, and community garden. An historical machine shed, homestead, and church are due to be completed soon.
Mackinaw Historical Society Heritage Village, 1425 West Ventral Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Ph. +1 231 436 5351
Mackinaw Pirate Cruises
A Mackinaw Pirate Cruise is the perfect way to have a whole lot of fun while sailing the beautiful Straits of Mackinac on the jolly ship Good Fortune. Younger sailors will not only learn how to talk, act, and look like pirates but will also have the chance to practice essential pirating skills such as deck swabbing, sword fighting, and even cannon firing. Adults can relax and enjoy the experience of sailing beneath the impressive Mackinac Bridge while they sip a cool beer or soft drink. The family cruise takes around 75 minutes following a route from Fort Michilimackinac to Mackinaw City.
Mackinaw Pirate Cruises, Star Line Dock #1, 801 S. Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701,
Ph. +1 800 638 9892
McGulpin Point Light
The great rock at McGulpin Point served as a navigational aid to the French explorers who plied the peninsulas of Lake Huron for over 395 years and was known and used by Native Americans much earlier. Much later, a lighthouse was built on the site and was in service from 1869 to 1906. You can learn all about the significance of the great rock and the McGulpin Point Lighthouse by taking a walk along the interpretive five-station trail that leads from the lighthouse to the shore of the straits. The lighthouse is open to the public free of charge during the summer months, and you will enjoy sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge from the point.
McGulpin Point Light, 500 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Ph. +1 231 436 5860
Old Mackinac Point Light
History buffs and maritime enthusiasts will enjoy spending an hour or two exploring the historic Old Mackinac Point Light, to which many an ancient sailor owed his life. The waters that make up the Straits of Mackinac are notoriously treacherous and were the site of many shipwrecks before the Old Mackinac Point Light was completed 1892, complete with a fog-horn, and its bright light could be seen for over 16 miles. Today, you can tour the lighthouse tower, see the original lens, and learn all about the maritime history by watching the audiovisual presentation entitled Shipwrecks of the Straits. Free guided tours are offered throughout the day.
Old Mackinac Point Light, 526 N. Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Ph. +1 231 436 4100
Hopping aboard a Shepler’s Ferry is by far the fastest, most comfortable, and most scenic way for visitors to get to Mackinac Island. You can choose either St. Ignace (on the Upper Peninsula) or Mackinaw City as your departure point and then sit back and enjoy unsurpassed views of the beautiful Mackinac Straits and Mighty Mac (Mackinac Bridge). The ferries run from late April to the end of October, and during peak summer season you will never have to wait more than 30 minutes between departures. Your trip only takes about 25 minutes, which makes it really easy to enjoy all the attractions of Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, and the Mackinaw City mainland.
Shepler’s Ferry, 556 E. Central Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, Ph. +1 800 828 6157
Straits State Park
If you are planning an excursion to St. Ignace, you should not miss the chance to pay a visit to Straits State Park on Church Street. The park is home to the Father Marquette Memorial, where you can gain some insight into the part played by the famous French missionary and adventurer who introduced Native American tribes to western culture as far back as the 17th century. Central to the park is the interpretive nature trail, which features 15 stations telling the story. In addition to a history lesson, you can also enjoy amazing views out over the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge.
Straits State Park, 720 Church St, St. Ignace, MI 49781, Ph. +1 906 643 8620
The Island Book Store
Vacations are the perfect time to curl up with a great book and The Island Book Store is the perfect place to find your ideal holiday read. The book store started life as a tiny antiquarian book shop over 40 years ago. Today, the Island Book Store specializes in books with a distinct local flavor, and you will find plenty of books about local history and local people. However, if you prefer something more modern, you will also find the latest bestsellers on the shelves. The Island Book Store has opened a second branch on the mainland in Mackinaw City, and when you go back home you can order your favorite books online.
The Island Book Store, Mackinac Island, MI 49701, Ph. +1 906 847 6202
Wilderness State Park
Occupying over 10,000 acres along the shores of beautiful Carp Lake, Wilderness State Park beckons nature lovers to come and enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities. The park offers the chance to explore over 26 miles of shoreline, and there are numerous hiking, walking, and biking trials. If you would like to stay overnight for some brilliant dark-sky star gazing, the park offers log cabins, tent sites, and trailer and RV sites, many of which are so close to the shore that you can hear the gentle lapping of the waves. Although the park appears to be really remote and untouched, it is just 30 minutes from Mackinaw City.
Wilderness State Park, 903 Wilderness Park Dr, Carp Lake, MI 49718, Ph. +1 800 447 2757