Whether you’re a history fanatic, wilderness explorer, fudgie in the best way, biker or souvenir searcher, Mackinac Island is the place to be. With so much to do on the jewel of the Great Lakes, any visitor will find themselves wanting to return again and again! Here are some of the top things to do on Mackinac Island.
Rent a bike
Once you spend just a few minutes on the Island, one thing is not hard to miss — there are no cars. Besides emergency vehicles, transportation operates via bicycle or horse. That includes you, visitors. You’ll quickly see how refreshing and fun getting around is. You can either bring your own bike or rent. Along Main Street, you’ll find several places to rent by the hour or for the day. Rates vary. You can decide which rental location is best for you and learn more about the rules of the road. The Island has 1,400 bikes for rent!
With a bike, you can go anywhere. Journey around M-185, the 8-mile perimeter of Mackinac Island. Climb up to Arch Rock for a stunning view over Lake Huron. Ride into the center of the Island to discover the many trails of Mackinac Island State Park — which covers over 82% of the Island. A lesser-known botanical trail connects the Scout Barracks of Fort Mackinac to Arch Rock. Ride or walk underneath the trees and read up on the species you see along the way. Lastly, make sure to peruse the hills and valleys of East and West Bluffs. You’ll see beautiful cottages on one side of the road; a watercolor painting come to life on the other.
Explore Fort Mackinac
Walk through the many original buildings inside Fort Mackinac, which was built by the British during the American Revolution. Observe cannon and rifle firing demonstrations and talk to historic interpreters to gain insight into what life was like in the fort. Make sure your kids swing by the Kids’ Quarters! Admission to Fort Mackinac also gives you access to the Biddle House, American Fur Company Store and Dr. Beaumont Museum, Benjamin Blacksmith Shop, McGulpin House and The Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum.
Discover other popular Mackinac Island sites
Mackinac Island has several quick stops perfect for photo ops, learning more about the Island’s history and seeing its natural formations. Make sure to check out Fort Holmes, the highest point on the Island. You can walk inside the fort to read about its role in the War of 1812. Also visit the Crack in the Island, Sugarloaf Mountain, the cemeteries, Anne’s Tablet, British Landing (and Mackinac Island Historic State Park British Landing Nature Center), Devil’s Kitchen, the Michigan Governor’s Summer Cottage, Skull Cave and Brown’s Brook.
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours
If getting around on bicycle or foot isn’t going to be enjoyable for you, there are still ways to see popular spots on the Island! Take a horse-drawn Mackinac Island Carriage Tour, which will mix facts of the past with education about the city of Mackinac Island. Each tour will take you through the Historic Downtown, to Surrey Hills Museum — where you can buy a pack of fresh donuts to enjoy during your tour, through Rifle Range and to Arch Rock with drop-off points at Fort Mackinac and Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. If you’re lucky, the driver may have some carrots for children aboard to feed to their horse teams.
Self-guided horse tours
Cindy’s Riding Stable and Jack’s Livery Stable: For the visitor who likes to take the reins, this is a unique twist to transportation! Ride a horse around the island on a guided tour, or steer your own carriage. Don’t worry, the horses know where they are going and travel this path daily.
Get to know the town
Mackinac Island is home to 500 residents year round. Much like any other city, it has a post office, UPS delivery service, emergency services, City Hall, school and newspaper. You’ll spot most of these businesses along Market Street, and the school is close to Grand Hotel. The newspaper, The Mackinac Island Town Crier, charges $1 per paper. You can buy it or subscribe to it inside their office to catch up on the local news. It’s one of the cheapest souvenirs you can purchase on the Island.
Visit Grand Hotel
See the world’s longest porch at Grand Hotel! Admission costs $10 if you aren’t staying at Grand Hotel. This fee gives you access to walk on the lawn (look for the Secret Garden!) and take a self-guided tour through the hotel. Some rooms have placards signifying celebrities who have stayed at the high-end resort. Admission also gives you access to the porch and Cupola Bar, where you can relax and enjoy a drink among beautiful scenery.
Tour the Governor’s Summer Residence
Each summer Wednesday, you can take a guided tour of the cottage where Michigan’s governor stays when visiting the island. The private summer cottage was built in 1902 by Lawrence A. Young, a prominent Chicago lawyer. It was one of the first cottages built on state parkland as Mackinac Island transitioned from a military hub to a tourism destination. In 1945 it became the Governor’s Summer Residence, owned by the state park. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997. Guests who have visited include Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Gerald R. Ford, John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman. Tours run from June to August from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays.
Between sailing races, a decades-old stone skipping competition on the Fourth of July and the gorgeous Lilac Festival, there are so many exciting events each year. And those are only the summer ones! Check our events page before your trip to see if anything is happening during your stay.
Dive into movie history
Although Christopher Reeve was Superman and Jane Seymour was Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, the two also starred in a movie that was filmed on Mackinac Island — Somewhere In Time. Fans of this flick can visit the Somewhere In Time gazebo, the very spot along M-185 where Elise McKenna and Richard Collier speak for the first time, Mission Point Theater where McKenna performed her play (the seat Reeve sat in is marked with a plaque) and see other memorabilia in Grand Hotel. The movie plays every Tuesday night at Mission Point Theater, which is free to guests.
Downtime along the main drag
In downtown Mackinac Island, you’ll find plenty of stores and restaurants. Try pecan balls, and purchase t-shirts, mugs, other souvenirs and locally-made art to remember your trip!
Take a fudge crawl
All who visit the island are affectionately referred to by locals as “Fudgies.” And with good reason! One of the first things you’ll notice when you step onto the main drag is the growing number of fudge shops down the stretch. As you pass by each one, you’ll catch the delightful, wafting scent of fresh treats being made on marble table tops. You can usually stop in to watch the process, too. Friendly employees will sometimes even give a warm fudge sample to the wide-eyed, watching children.
What is unique about the fudge on Mackinac Island is that this tradition and the many storefronts are all intertwined while being owned by separate people. Some of the fudge makers learned from each other, then opened their own store fronts. Many recipes and shops have been passed down through several generations, too. Check out the fudge shops listed on Mackinac Island’s website to explore the variety of flavors. Some places play it safe with traditional chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla, while others throw in dark chocolate and cherry chip, butterfinger, lilac and espresso — talk about a pick-me-up!
You’ll also find several of these shops make chocolate turtles, ice cream, caramel corn, sugar-free fudge, salt water taffy and so much more. Samples are free, so we suggest a fudge crawl before you buy. This just means stopping in each place to grab a sample, then going back to purchase your favorites. Don’t forget to ask about ongoing deals, too!
You can store your fudge on the counter for about a week once it is opened or freeze it for up to a year. You never want to put it in the fridge though because it will dry out. Once you’ve finished your stash, it’s time to come back or purchase some online.
Golf the island
Food on Mackinac Island
Most restaurants have tables to sit at inside, but on a sunny day, grab food to-go and picnic at Marquette Park or Windermere Point, overlooking the Straits of Mackinac under the fort. Here are some popular food options: Island Slice Pizzeria, Watercolor Cafe, Seabiscuit Cafe, the Chuck Wagon, the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac, Lucky Bean Coffee House, the Pancake House and Grand Hotel’s buffets and served meals.
Kid friendly activities
Check out Putt Putt at Mission Point Resort (at night, it becomes glow-in-the-dark), The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World and the I-spy garden at the corner of French Lane and Market Street. Your kids will love these activities!
Book your Mackinac Island vacation now!
Experience this magical island for yourself! Whatever you choose to do, be sure to explore some of the land away from town in the middle of the Island. There is plenty to see and plenty of reasons to come back and try something new. Book your vacation below!
- 7165 Main St
A landscape characterized by high limestone bluffs, beautiful vistas of sparkling water, vibrant forests, and mystical geological formations. With automobiles banned since 1898, here exists a quieter way of life away from interstate noise of cities. Over 80 percent of Mackinac…
- Arch Rock Road
Arch Rock is a geologic formation on Mackinac Island in Michigan. It is a natural limestone arch formed during the Nipissing post-glacial period, a period of high Lake Huron levels following the end of the Wisconsin glaciation. To this…
- 2234 Fort Holmes Road
Fort Holmes sits atop the highest elevation on Mackinac Island. This recent reconstruction is free and open to the public during normal operating hours May through October. Fort Holmes is a small, wood and earthen fort on the southern end of the highest ridge on Mackinac Island…
- 7278 Main St
- (906) 847-3307
Prepare yourself for a tour like no other! What you will experience is by far the most enjoyable and authentic way to view the island. Keep in mind there are no set departure times. You will be on the next available carriage once you have purchased your ticket at the ticket…
- 7447 Market Street
The "Horse is King" on Mackinac Island, Michigan! Enjoy this lovely and historic island on horseback. Cindy's Riding Stable provides riding horses and guides to help you enjoy the beautiful trails in the Mackinac State Historic Park. The park covers 2500 acres and 83 miles of…
- 7754 Mahoney Avenue
Tour Mackinac Island with your own horse and buggy! Let the horse do the work while your family rides in comfort. The Mackinac Island State Park covers 82% of this beautiful and historic island and we can direct you to a route which will take you along scenic Lake Shore…
- 286 Grand Ave
Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is America’s Summer Place. Dine at the main dining room, Jockey Club, Woods Restaurant or the Fort Mackinac Tea Room. The Jewel, one of Michigan’s most scenic golf courses. And shopping, pool, spa, and other amenities.
- 286 Grand Ave
Awarded Editor’s Choice “Best Grand & Boutique Golf Hotels” by Golf Digest, The Jewel is one of the most unique courses in Northern Michigan and the United States. As the only course in the country with horse-drawn carriage rides between nines, it truly is a Grand golf…
- 1 British Landing Rd
The Wawashkamo golf course is a par 72 course. Play is governed by the rules of the USGA. To maximize the playing conditions of this course, Wawashkamo is a non-metal spike facility.
- 7200 Huron Street
Photo credit: @katharinerosewitt Marquette Park is a beautiful greens cape located at the foot of Fort Mackinac. It is part of Mackinac Island State Park and stands on the edge of Mackinac Island’s harbor just east of downtown. A perfect picnic location or meeting place.
- 7234 Main St
Quintessential old-style pizzeria. Serving traditional and gourmet pizzas, calzones, garden salads and more. Friendly family atmosphere. Children’s menu. Large groups and parties welcome.
- 7337 Main St
Adorned in honor of its champion namesake, Seabiscuit Café is a quaint, yet popular watering hole in the heart of downtown Mackinac Island. A unique atmosphere, innovative menu, & creative cocktails make a winning stop for breakfast, lunch, & dinner.
- 7127 Huron Road
Fort Mackinac Tea Room is one of the most delightful and scenic settings on Mackinac Island to enjoy luncheon or a late afternoon snack. Tour the historic site, then relax afterward with a delicious meal and exceptional views of downtown Mackinac Island and the harbor.
- 6750 McGulpin Street
The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House is the 1st of its kind in Michigan, and the 3rd oldest LIVE butterfly exhibit in the United States. The world-renowned facility has 1800 sq ft of tropical garden filled with hundreds of live butterflies from four continents. Insect…