For over 125 years, Mackinac State Historic Parks have given visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. The parks are located in Mackinaw City on the Lower Peninsula and Mackinac Island in the Upper Peninsula. They are living history museums and nature preserves that attract travelers from all over the world.
One of the most popular is Mackinac Island State Park. It was established in 1895, soon after the federal government shuttered the U.S.A.’s second national park, Mackinac National Park. It is Michigan’s first state park and it covers nearly 80 percent of the island, most of it preserved in its natural condition.
This island gem in Lake Huron is renowned for having no cars, its relaxed pace and world-famous fudge. But to really get to know Mackinac Island, take time to visit these seven must-see natural wonders and centuries-old historical sites that awe visitors again and again.
1. Arch Rock
Arch Rock is a natural limestone arch on the east coast of Mackinac Island. This is the most famous geological rock formation on the island and stands 146 feet above Lake Huron and is 50 feet wide. It can be reached by foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage and makes for the ultimate photo op.
2. Fort Holmes
Get ready to burn off all that fudge and hike or bike to the highest point on Mackinac Island. Learn about this historic military fort that was constructed by British soldiers in 1814 during the War of 1812. It was originally named Fort George in honor of King George III but when US soldiers reoccupied the Island after the war the fort was renamed Fort Holmes in honor of American Major Andrew Hunter Holmes who was killed in the 1814 battle of Mackinac Island. If the rich history isn’t convincing enough, the stunning 360-degree view of the island, Mackinac Bridge, and the Straits of Mackinac will make it worth the climb.
3. Sugar Loaf Point Lookout
Just a short walk from Fort Holmes, you’ll find Point Lookout. From here you will get the best view of Sugar Loaf, which is a massive 75-foot tall limestone stack that rises straight up in the center of the island.
4. Fort Mackinac
History comes to life through demonstrations, tours and games at this military outpost founded during the American Revolution. Hear the cannons blast, rifles fire and watch live reenactments of Revolutionary War events.
5. The Grand Hotel
This 1887 hotel lives up to its name. With 397 uniquely different rooms, modern amenities and original architecture everything about it is grand. The views are nothing short of that either. Rocking in the rocking chairs on the world’s longest front porch, at 660 feet long, will give you a spectacular view overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. See a sneak peek here.
Literally a crack in the limestone foundation of the island, it is another must-see geological formation and fun tourist favorite. The crack is located off State Road between Wawashkamo Golf Club and the Mackinac Island Airport.
7. Butterfly House & Insect World
Explore 1800 sq. ft. of tropical gardens filled with hundreds of beautiful, exotic butterflies from all over the world. This is the third oldest live butterfly exhibit in the U.S. and the very first in Michigan. How many different species will you find?
Which of these seven sites will you visit this year? Plan your trip today and celebrate 125 years of Mackinac Island State Park with us!