If You Have More Time
While you can certainly see all the highlights of Mackinac Island in two days, you may be tempted to stay a big longer in this Victorian time warp. And I wouldnt blame you!
If youre staying 3 or 4 nights, you could spread out some of the above activities, and maybe add one or two more. Like:
1. Explore the islands center
Most people stick to the outside edge of Mackinac Island, but there ARE roads that lead up through its center, too. Rent a bike or simply set out on foot, and you can walk from downtown to British Landing, cutting through the center of the island.
Points of interest along the route include Fort Holmes, Skull Cave, and a couple old cemeteries. This is also the road you need to take if you want to visit the battlefield where the British and American forces fought a battle in 1814.
2. Go kayaking
Summer is the perfect season for kayaking in Michigan, and there are options to do so on Mackinac Island. Great Turtle Kayak Tours offers guided tours around Mackinac Island, as well as kayak and paddleboard rentals.
Kayaking was already done for the season when Elliot and I visited in October, otherwise we probably would have tried to squeeze it in!
Relax On The Lawn & Playground At Marquette Park
|7200 Huron St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757|
The flat area below the fort, used as a vegetable garden by soldiers long ago, is now a giant lawn that serves as an open space for concerts and picnics.
Set off to the side is a small playground that parents will be happy to know about.
Small Playground Located at Marquette Park on Mackinac Island
We packed a lunch and ate it at the park it was a great place to rest and recharge for the rest of our day.
Have More Questions About Mackinac Island Dont Hesitate To Ask
While planning your trip, you can contact the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau for answers to any questions that pop up. Once youre on Mackinac Island, if you have questions about getting around, places to eat or things to do, stop by the Mackinac Island Visitor Center at 7274 Main St. for printed maps and guides and local advice.
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Make A Plan For Getting Around Mackinac Island
Whether you take a ferry to Mackinac Island, a private boat or charter a flight, every visitor has the same basic means of moving around by foot, by bicycle or by taxi.
Note the quotation marks around taxi. Motor vehicles are prohibited on Mackinac Island, so the taxis are horse-powered, literally. You can order up a horse-drawn taxi 24 hours a day in season. Be sure to have cash on hand because drivers dont accept credit or debit cards.
Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation around town and a great way to experience the miles of trails through Mackinac Island State Park that makes up more than 80 percent of the island. Here are the rules of the road for riding bikes on Mackinac Island.
Because it measures less than four square miles, Mackinac Island is very walkable. You can even walk all the way around Mackinac Island in just a couple hours if you want. Many Mackinac Island attractions are close to town and can be reached on foot from most lodging facilities. Electric wheelchairs are available to rent from most bike shops.
Where Do The Horses Stay On Mackinac Island
Time to put your hooves up guys! This time of the year marks the islands off-season and the departure of the horses means that fall and winter are just around the corner. During the winter, Mackinac Island Carriage Tours keeps a majority of its 400 draft horses in a barn off of the island in the Upper Peninsula.
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Shopping On Mackinac Island
Theres no way to visit Mackinac Island without checking out its diverse assortment of local boutiques, galleries, and shops. Youll need a good pair of shoes to explore the downtown storefronts and four small malls. Even the hotels have shops inside of them! We really love Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island, which sells Michigan-made treats, bath products, beer and wine, and home accessories. Great Turtle Toys is a fantastic shop for kids and the kids at heart, and Maeves Arts is a gallery that sells Maeve Croghans oil paintings, jewelry, ceramics, and other artistic items.
Spring & Summer Service Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry
Board the barrier free main decks of a Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry and enjoy a panoramic view of the Straits that includes the Mackinac Bridge.
NEW, You Ride, Your Way!
Hydro-Jet, Catamaran and Classic Ferry service to Mackinac Island. Let speed , comfort, leisure and price factor help you decide. You will love the Heroic Service and Mackinac Memories our employees have been providing since 1878.
Star Line Services
- Secured Overnight, Indoor & Valet Parking
- Free Luggage Handling
- Largest Modern Fleet Serving Mackinac Island
- Only HydroJet Ferry Service On the Great Lakes
- Glass Enclosed Lower Deck & Open Air Observation Deck
- Handicap Accessible
- Clean Restrooms & Enclosed Waiting Area at Docks
- Major Credit Cards Honored
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Weather Conditions On The Ferry To Mackinac Island
Weather can be unpredictable, as we all know. I have taken the ferry to Mackinac Island on the most beautiful days of the year and also in pouring rain, high winds and freezing cold weather.
Your ferry to Mackinac will go unless it is unsafe. I have never felt unsafe taking the ferry.
If the weather is gorgeous and there is access to the top of the boat, I highly recommend taking in the views up there. There is nothing quite the like the wind blowing in your hair while witnessing the magic of soaring over Lake Huron.
How Much Does It Cost To Go To Mackinac Island
How much does it cost to visit Mackinac Island? Well, that depends. You can stay in the luxurious four-bedroom Masco Cottage at Grand Hotel with a personal chef, fully stocked bar and a private outdoor hot tub for $4,675 a night. Or a discounted rate of $27,400 a week.
On the other hand, you can find a room elsewhere on Mackinac Island for a mid-week stay in spring or fall for under $100 a night.
Theres a variety of ways to experience the charming beauty of Mackinac Island, and at a variety of price points. But to give you a general idea of the kinds of costs you might incur on a trip to Mackinac Island, heres a rundown:
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Mackinac Island Visitor’s Centers
While I hope this page provides you with all of the information needed for a spectacular Mackinac Island vacation, I highly recommend a stop at one of the two visitors center. At the visitors centers, tourists can check on the dates and times of special events, ask specific questions unique to their trip, and grab maps of the bike and walking routes.
The Mackinac Island State Park Visitors Center also has the cleanest public bathrooms on Mackinac Island. This visitors center is located directly in front of Marquette Park at the corner of Fort Street and Main Street.
The second visitors center is the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. Their kiosk is located on Main Street near the Mackinac Island Carriage Tours.
Getting To The Terminal For The Ferry To Mackinac Island
First you need to decide which ferry to Mackinac Island you want to take and which side of Michigan you are on. Since there are ferries in Both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, this gives those in the upper peninsula and lower peninsula access without having to cross the Mackinac Bridge.
Coming from the south on I-75 North, you will see signs to exit for Mackinaw City at 337, 338 and 339. All of these exits will have signs directing you to the ferries.
If you choose Sheplers as your ferry to Mackinac Island, they are located less than a mile off of 75 at: Sheplers Mackinac Island Ferry, 556 E Central Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701.
If you choose Star Line, they are located less than half a mile off 75 and located at: Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Mackinaw City Dock #1, 801 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701.
Coming from the North on I-75 South take State Street Exit and follow signs to Mackinac Island Ferry Docks.
If you choose Sheplers as your ferry to Mackinac Island, they are located less than a mile off 75 at: Sheplers Mackinac Island Ferry, 601 N State St, St Ignace, MI 49781
If you choose Star Line, they are located less than a mile off 75 at: Star Line Ferry, 587 N State St, St Ignace, MI 49781
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Day 1 On Mackinac Island
1. Arrival and check-in
I recommend catching a morning ferry over to Mackinac Island if possible so you can have most of the day today to explore. Once disembarking the ferry, youll probably want to make your way to your accommodation to drop off your things.
Some of the bigger and more luxurious hotels on the island , include luggage service with your stay, meaning your luggage will be automatically loaded onto a carriage and transported to your hotel.
If your luggage is being transported for you, then you can either catch a horse-drawn taxi, or simply walk to your hotel. Most of the hotels on the island are within walking distance from the ferry docks. It took us 10-15 minutes to walk from the Sheplers dock to the Island House Hotel.
If your luggage isnt being transported, then youll probably want to grab a carriage taxi unless youre staying at one of the hotels right on Main Street downtown.
Youll probably be too early to check-in to your room, but you can drop your bags off at reception and head back out to start exploring!
2. Visit Fort Mackinac
No matter where youre staying on the island, chances are youre just a short walk from Fort Mackinac. You cant miss this historic fort, perched on top of a cliff-like hill above Marquette Park.
Elliot and I entered from the front entrance, which does include a relatively steep walk up the hill. But the views out over the town are just incredible!
4. Art Museum and/or Biddle House
5. Downtown walk / drinks
Mackinac Island Ferry Faqs
Q: How do I get Mackinac Island ferry tickets?
A: You can buy tickets when you get to the dock or buy Mackinac Island ferry tickets online and then bypass ticket lines at the dock. Tickets purchased online are good for any day and time, so you can catch the ferry that works for you. Both companies run several boats a day to Mackinac Island in season, with rides departing as often as every 15 minutes in the peak summer season. If theres a particular boat you want to catch, be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early to make sure you can get on it.
TIP: When buying ferry tickets, take a look at the special deals that package a ferry ride with Mackinac Island attractions such as horse-drawn carriage tours or Fort Mackinac admission.
A: If youre staying overnight on Mackinac Island, the ferry company will take your luggage and transport it to Mackinac Island free of charge. Some of Mackinac Islands lodging facilities work with the ferry companies to deliver your luggage right to your room, while others have dockporters who can transport your bags once you claim them upon arrival to the dock.
Q: Can I bring dogs on the ferry to Mackinac Island? How about strollers?
Strollers are welcome on ferry boats free of charge and are stored on the boat during the ride as children sit in their own seat or on a parents lap.
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Ugly Anne Boat Tours Mackinaw City
My name is Captain Chris West, and I started Ugly Anne Boat Tours in 2011. My wife, Heather, and I found Ugly Anne in a lobster boat shipyard south of Portland, Maine, and knew she was the proper boat to bring back to the Great Lakes. My Mom runs the office, and Dad is a deckhand on the boat most days. We give a very personalized tour of the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Bridge, and all things in between while giving you a brief glimpse of life in northern Michigan and the Mackinaw area. We only take 30 people out on tour, so there’s lots of time for questions and plenty of amazing pictures to take while out with us on the 1-hour cruises.âWe look forward to meeting you and appreciate you considering us for a cruise under the Mackinac Bridge. Whether it be the history cruise or sunset cruise, you will fall in love with our little piece of northern paradise.
This was hands down the BEST part of our entire trip to MI! The cruise was perfect. We lucked out and had a great sunset to watch because the weather cooperated, but it was still well worth the money paid even if that wasnât the case. Crew and employees are incredibly kind and outgoing. They give you information on the cruise but not so much that you feel numb from the history lesson. Safety is their priority and even in this time of COVID we felt safe and had the best time!
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours
One of the best ways to experience the charm and history of the island is with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. The company offers comprehensive narrated tours of the island that include trips past the Grand Hotel, through downtown, and to other landmarks. The tours take less than 2 hours. Taxi service is also available 24 hours a day during the summer and by appointment between November and April.
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Wings Of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory
Closed for the 2021 Season
Discover lifeâs most beautiful insects! Enjoy a unique experience, strolling among hundreds of butterflies dancing and chasing each other in our climate controlled conservatory filled with lush flowers. 200 different species are represented.
Additional Admission Fee
Mackinac Island Bike Trail
When we travel without the young kids, my husband and I prefer to head out on the paved bike trail that circles the island. This 8.2-mile path is breathtaking with a constant view of the lake on one side and wooded natural beauty on the other. Since not as many people choose to venture out this far from the main strip, the ride can be relaxing with only the sounds of seagulls and the smell of fresh cedar to distract you from your peddling. Plus, if you get tired along the way, there are always places to pull off the path and sit on the beach until youre ready to ride again. Just be prepared that food and restroom stops are not available again until you reach the halfway point.
While the third path option is not something Ive tried yet myself, I do know of several people who constantly tell me Im missing out. Throughout the interior of the island are mountain bike paths woven between the trees. These are non-paved trails and better navigated by a serious off-road biker. However, along interior trails are some of Mackinac Islands best-kept secret places like Sugar Loaf, Skull Cave, Fort Holmes and even the islands historic cemeteries.
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Can You Rent Electric Bikes On Mackinac Island
The short answer is no. However, guests with disabilities can rent an electric wheelchair from Rybas Bicycle Rentals. Also, guests with disabilities may use an electric bicycle on Mackinac Island only if they are a qualified person with a mobility disability and only if the E-Bike is a Class I electric bicycle. Find more information on electric bikes on Mackinac Island by reading this announcement from the Mackinac Island Police Department.
How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Bike On Mackinac Island
There are several bicycle rental spots on the island and they can almost all be found on Main Street close to the ferry docks. If youre planning to spend only 1 day at Mackinac Island, these places close to the docks are usually the best choice. However, if youre planning to overnight on the island, check with your hotel or lodging first to see if they have bicycle rentals of their own. The Grand Hotel and Mission Point are two hotels that offer bicycle rentals right from their property. By renting directly from your hotel, you wont have to make the walk back on foot once youre done riding.
When looking at cost, most bicycle rental places are between $7-$15 per hour depending on the type of bike youre renting. Almost all of them also offer a full-day rental, but only a few will offer a half-day rental or evening rental for a discounted price. Unless youre really into bike riding, an hourly or half-day rental is usually what my family chooses. It takes about 60-90 minutes to ride all the way around the entire island, adding a few extra hours to explore British Landing or stop for photos of the Mackinac Bridge along the way. After that, my legs are toast anyway and Im ready to give the bike back.
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Ferry To Mackinac Island
To help you plan and book ferries to Mackinac Island, weve answered the most important questions below.
How much does it cost to take a ferry to Mackinac Island?
The roundtrip price starts at $27 per adult and $16 for children between the ages of 5 and 12. There is an extra charge for strollers, bicycles, and burleys.
Whats the best ferry to Mackinac Island?
Theres not really a right answer to that question. Both Sheplers Mackinac Island Ferries and Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry are well-established and reliable. Which one to take depends on your personal requirements.
How long is the ferry ride to Mackinac Island?
This depends on which ferry you take. Hydro-jet ferries to Mackinac can get you across the straits in 16 minutes only. If you opt for a scenic detour under the Mighty Mackinac Bridge it will take a bit longer.
Have you visited Mackinac Island? What did you love the most about the island?What was your favorite activity? Let us know in the comments below!