The meeting of the Upper and Lower Peninsula sits a ferry ride from Mackinac Island, a famously Victorian and car-free destination that continues to lure generations of travelers.
Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Michigan
Grand Hotel
| Credit: Starboard and Port

Preserved history creates a soul-reviving escape on Mackinac Island and gateway ports like Mackinaw City. For a more budget getaway, set up home base in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace and take the ferry for the day to Mackinac Island, but to experience all the magic that Mackinac offers, splurge for at least a night or two in one of the island's historic lodgings.

Arch Rock, Mackinac Island
Arch Rock
| Credit: Starboard and Port


Arch Rock 

The natural limestone arch is one of Mackinac Island's most-photographed sites. It's easy to access from carriage rides or bike and foot trails.


Cycling is the best way to explore auto-free Mackinac Island. An 8-mile paved trail circles Mackinac. Inland, 140 miles of carriage roads, bike trails and footpaths knit through a hilly and wooded landscape, past limestone outcrops. Bike rentals are available throughout downtown; no reservations necessary.

Carriage tours on Mackinac Island
Credit: Jason Lindsey

Carriage tours

A horse-drawn carriage ride gives a good overview of the island's interior and state historic park; operators line Main Street. Hire a horse-drawn taxi, or you can drive a rented horse and buggy outside downtown.


Two lines shuttle visitors to the island. Look for discounted tickets online from Shepler's or Star Line.

Icebreaker Mackinaw  

Tour the Coast Guard's steel-hulled workhorse that kept Great Lakes shipping lanes free of ice from 1944 to 2006. Open seasonally; in Mackinaw City.

Mackinac Bridge Walk

On Labor Day, tens of thousands of walkers gather in St. Ignace for the annual 5-mile trek across one of the world's longest suspension bridges, which links the Lower and Upper peninsula.

Mackinac Island Butterfly House

See hundreds of butterflies in an indoor tropical garden exhibit.

Mackinac Island State Park 

The park surprises visitors with its faraway-woods feel, despite being a few hundred yards from downtown. More than 80 percent of Mackinac Island is within the state park. Hike, bike or ride a horse through forests, past geological formations and along limestone bluffs.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park 

Far from hazy light pollution, celestial reflections ripple across Lake Michigan in this park 2 miles west of Mackinaw City. During the day, hike through forests and to bluff views.

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, Michigan
Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park
| Credit: Jason Lindsey

Mackinac State Historic Parks 

Kids can dress up like soldiers at Fort Mackinac, a historic military outpost on Mackinac Island. In Mackinaw City, Colonial Michilimackinac keeps visitors engrossed watching cooking and crafting demonstrations, as well as musket and cannon firings. This reconstructed fort sits near the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse; climb to the top of the 1889 tower. These sites, nearby Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park (with ziplines and a climbing wall) and other attractions combine to make Mackinac State Historic Parks.

Mackinaw Crossings

In Mackinaw City, browse a complex of more than 50 shops and eateries. Mackinaw Crossings on Facebook

Shepler's Lighthouse Cruises 

Three- to five-hour cruises are available May through mid-September; reservations recommended.

Kayaking in Mackinac Island area
Round Island Lighthouse
| Credit: Jason Lindsey

Great Turtle Kayak Tours 

Kayak and paddleboard around Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City. Options include sunrise and sunset tours, a Round Island retreat, an Arch Rock excursion and SUP yoga.

Wilderness State Park 

Nine miles west of Mackinaw City, you'll find camping and rustic cabins, plus hiking and scenic drives on a 10,000-acre park with 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.

Woods and Water Ecotours 

Sign on for guided hiking, biking and kayaking tours or rent equipment from this Hessel outfitter.

Eat and Drink

Audie's Restaurant

In Mackinaw City, dine in the casual Family Room or the upscale Chippewa Room on fresh, well-prepared local whitefish, lake perch and steaks.

Bessie's Original Homemade Pasties 

The St. Ignace cafe claims a loyal following for its hearty, traditional meat pies. Bessie's on Facebook

The Chuckwagon of Mackinac

For a fast and inexpensive breakfast or lunch while you're on the island, stop by this long-time favorite for omelets, French toast, burgers and sandwiches.

Joann's Fudge 

This is just one of the places to find the quintessential Mackinac treat, with more than 20 flavors.

Mary's Bistro Draught House 

Choose from 50 craft and local beers to go with your crispy pan-fried whitefish, thin-crust pizza or truffle fries.

Scalawags Whitefish and Chips 

Fresh perch and walleye fill baskets with fries, creamy coleslaw and crispy hush puppies.

Sea Biscuit Cafe and Grog 

The casual pub-style restaurant serves hearty options that include whitefish Reubens and French Creole jambalaya.


Run by the Grand Hotel, this Tudor mansion serves dinners of local and Bavarian-style specialties.

Yankee Rebel Tavern 

Savor great homemade soups and sandwiches, plus unforgettable slow-cooked pot roast.


Chippewa Hotel Waterfront

Balconies take advantage of the refurbished 1902 hotel's location facing the marina. The Pink Pony patio serves casual fare.

Grand Hotel 

For an unforgettable experience, stay at this Victorian-Era landmark, with its 660-foot porch overlooking the straits.

Hotel Iroquois

Surveying the water from the edge of town, this luxurious Queen Anne-style hotel on Mackinac Island feels like an oasis.

The Mackinac House 

The 19 guest rooms at this hotel all feature luxury furnishings plus amenities like afternoon snacks and breakfast.

Metivier Inn

Want some character but not too much? Consider this charming (and air-conditioned) B&B on the island.

Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mission Point Resort
| Credit: John Noltner

Mission Point Resort 

Lounge on the lakefront lawn, relax with a lilac facial in the spa, or join activities such as flower pressing or bocce ball on the 18-acre property. A $10 million renovation freshened the property. 

Mackinaw City lodging

A variety of hotels and motels, many right on the lakeshore, typically offer lower rates than properties on Mackinac Island. Get more information here.

For more information: 

Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau

St. Ignace Visitors Bureau