Mackinac Island, Michigan, has very easy access to Detroit and Chicago but really is a world away. It's an island full of history and charm. Many see it as the absolulte epitome of an American family vacation, with its summer vibes and its unique quirks (like the fact that there are no cars!).
The island has some really special features, firstly there are only horses and bicycles, no cars. Secondly most of the island is parkland with 70 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding making it easy to explore the woodland and back country roads.
Top historical attractions include Fort Mackinac, a museum now but once an active military outpost during the American Revolution. You can tour the barracks and see battle reenactments.
Essentially the island is all about being outdoors, with various activities. Hiking is always popular, why not try the trail out to Arch Rock? It is a limestone structure on the Lake Huron shoreline and forms a perfect eye hole. Horses and bikes are the other best ways to get around and explore the natural beauty of these seemingly infinite trails.
There's always a horse drawn carriage for those who feel lazy, or just want to sit back and gaze at the view with as little effort required as possible.
The island is famous for its mouthwatering fudge so come during August and the annual fudge festival! In early summer they celebrate the Lilac Festival with concerts and a parade plus the lilac queen's coronation!
Mackinac Island has been lovingly dubbed the ‘all natural’ theme park of America. The fact that it is surrounded by water and that transportation is limited to horse, bike or foot means that the town has very much managed to escape the changes that time brings. There are only 500 permanent residents, and much of the space is dominated by the picturesque Mackinac island state park. When you arrive by stepping off the ferry, it will almost be like you have stepped into a Victorian village.
The Mackinac State Park is an area made up primarily of high limestone bluffs. The coastline offers stunning views of the sparkling waters below and the forests are vibrant and full of life. The park makes up 80% of island, and with free admission all year round, you can see for yourself the many true natural gems of the island. On the southern bluff you will find Fort Mackinac, used by British soldiers during the American Revolution. Today, the fort has been restored to its original splendour, and is a National Historical Landmark.
Staying on the island is part of the experience, and there are a number of vacation rentals to choose from. Condominiums, suites and hotel rooms are a great option for couples and families, while the cottages make a good vacation home for groups of friends. No matter your budget and preferences, you will be sure to find the best place for you to rest your head at night.
Downtown Mackinac is home to a number of Mackinac vacation rentals, shops and art galleries. As well as high street shops on Market Street, there are also four malls which are worth browsing. The galleries have an array of work, featuring the paintings and sculptures of both regional and island artists. If you are interested in trying your hand at art, the Mackinac arts Council holds regular workshops throughout the season. Also, in downtown you will find a few fudge shops, a tradition that has been around since the late 19th century. The island is famous for its fudge, with over 10,000 lbs of the stuff leaving the island every day.
A great way to see the island from another perspective is via an organized kayak tour. You are likely to be taken to some of the most popular landmarks, such as the Arch Rock, Mackinac Island harbour and Mackinac Bridge. There are also many island tours that can be taken on foot, bike or horseback, either guided or on your own.
One of the most popular activities on Mackinac Island is visiting one of the two butterfly houses. These conservatories offer visitors a unique chance to see some of these exotic and native species up-close. Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect world can be found downtown, while the wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory is a little out of town.
Rentals in Mackinac Island get snapped up fast, especially in the summer months when the weather is warm and all attractions are open, so it is worth booking yours in advance.
Between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas in Lake Huron, you will find charming and family-friendly Mackinac Island cabin rentals. Depart for Mackinac Island at Mackinaw City dock where you’ll be transported back in time; no motor vehicles are permitted on the island and spanning only 3.8 miles, the island is easily walkable. Take a carriage ride and admire the charming town of Victorian houses and shops or spend a day on one of two golf courses. Explore Mackinac Island State Park, which encompasses 80% of the island and features Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park.
Whether you’re a history buff or an outdoorsman, Mill Creek Discovery Park has an activity to suit your interests from historical reenactments and cooking demonstrations to biking trails and zip lines. At night, dine at the Island House Hotel and enjoy their evening bonfire and picturesque waterfront views on the veranda or terrace.
In search of entertainment? Take the short ferry ride to Mackinaw City and watch the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show. Find your vacation home today.