The Mackinac State Historic Parks encompass a collection of properties telling the storied past of the Straits of Mackinac. The sites are Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island State Park, Historic Downtown Mackinac, and The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum on Mackinac Island, and Michilimackinac State Park, Colonial Michilimackinac, Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City. A three-pronged approach to interpretation—original restored buildings, exhibits and living history—tell about fur trading, local exploration and conflicts dating back to the American Revolution.
The original backdrop makes learning about history all the more effective, whether it’s a fortress decked out with the cannons once used to salute the king's birthday or the store in which a medical digestive breakthrough was inspired after a man was accidentally shot in the stomach and the wound never closed. Adding costumed actors to the mix enhances the experience. In Mackinac City, waves lap on the Lake Michigan shoreline while interpreters in period dress cook pigeons (really, Cornish game hens), dip candles, churn butter and even get married by priests doubling as British Redcoats.
New and increasingly interactive events interpret daily life in the forts, as well as the "murder and mayhem" that have occurred here through the years. A zip line at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park adds a thrill option to guided explorations through and around a vintage sawmill.