Things To Do On Mackinac Island
Star Line Honors Frontline Medical Professionals & First Responders With Free Trips To Mackinac Island In October
macferry2021-09-30T10:40:02-04:00September 30th, 2021|
Frontline medical professionals and first responders will be able to enjoy a free trip to Mackinac Island throughout the month of October, courtesy of Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet® Ferry. We wanted to find a way to thank those who have done so much to help our families and communities during the pandemic, said Star Line Chief Executive Officer Jerry Fetty. Frontline medical professionals and first …
An Exhilarating Ride To A Fairy
Your Mackinac Island ferry choices are between three companies with long histories in serving tourists and year-round island residents. Its a fun short 15-minute trip and sets the stage for your time on this magical Island.
Keep in mind that once you arrive on the Island there are only horses, carriages or bikes for transportation.
This step back in time makes for a unique and charming setting for your vacation.
The three ferry choices are:
All threeMackinac Island ferries have on-line ordering and also right at the dock.
The round-trip tickets costs are $25 at the ferry dock and $23 online. Children between the ages of 5 and 12 pay $13 for a round-trip ticket at the ferry dock and $12 online. Each ferry allows children under the age of 5 to ride free. Bikes are $9.00 each. There might be some options to save more money, so, be sure to ask.
Dogs ride free but must be on a leash at all times and in complete control. Please be aware if your dog does not care for other dogs, horses, bicycles, crowds or loud noises, such as, cannons or musket shots, it might be best to keep your pet at home.
When Kathy takes her two Corgis to the Island, it is always inevitable that the cannons go off as she walks by the Fort. Well, when that happens, its off to the races with Marty and Hammie dragging Kathy to their Island vacation home.
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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 wouldn’t blame you!
If you’re 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 island’s 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!
Experience The History And Charm Of Mackinac On Your Narrated Carriage Tour Of The Island
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 office. Approximate tour time: 1 hour & 45 minutes
We are pet friendly! Small dogs welcome on a lap. Larger dogs may require purchase of a child ticket.
Reservations are NOT accepted for the regular public tour.
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How Do You Get To Mackinac Island In The Winter
In the winter access to the island is limited. The Mackinac Island State Park facility has a lighted 3,500-foot paved runway and parallel taxiway for propeller planes and small jets. Open all year, it is the only link with the mainland from early January until mid-April when the ferries start operating again.
Cheapest Ferry Option To Mackinac Island
The cheapest option at $18 round-trip, $9 for kids. The others are around $20-$24. Plus this place offers free-parking and baggage transportation to and from the island.The only downside, or positive if you enjoy ferry rides, is that the trip is twice as long as other ferries. It’s 40 minutes each way, whereas other ferries are 20 minutes. But it’s a pleasant ride . They are punctual and leave when they are scheduled to. Trips to and from the island every hour on the hour. Note: if the dock-side parking is full, they direct you to an overflow lot across the street. It’s only a 2 minute walk, but still a minor inconvenience.
Thank you for taking the time to provide a review. We appreciate your support. Have a great summer!
We took the Arnold over this weekend! Yes it’s slow however what’s 20 extra minutes on the beautiful water! I enjoyed the beauty! My only concern was when we arrived to pick up our luggage it was under a big tent! No one asked for our claim ticket and we just walked away with our luggage! I am not sure how long it sat there unattended since we checked out at 11 at mission point and picked up our luggage at 3. Did not seem very secure! Everyone who works there was very nice! More security needed at the luggage pick up! This was our first stay on the island so I can not compare to the other services.
Thank you, Erica! Have a great summer!
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Getting To Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island can be reached from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace via Sheplers and Star Lines ferry service. The ferries start running as soon as the Straits of Mackinac is ice-free. Early on, there are only between 10-15 departures per day. By peak season, the boats run between the Mainland and the Island up to 50 times per day. When on either ferry line, be sure to take in the view of the Mackinac Bridge, Grand Hotel, and the West Bluff of the Island.
Mackinac Island can also be reached by one of the daily flights from St. Ignace Airport to Mackinac Island Airport. During the winter, once the ferries stop running, this is the only method of reaching the Island until an ice bridge forms connecting Mackinac to St. Ignace. Then, it is possible to travel via snowmobile.
Other methods of reaching Mackinac Island include arriving on a Great Lakes Cruise or traveling via ones own private yacht or boat.
Mackinac Island Bed And Breakfasts
Mackinac Island Michigan has at least a dozen B& Bs that offer exceptional vacation experiences. Each one is unique and has its own story. Several of them were built in the 1800s and provide historic accommodations and fresh breakfasts every day. For instance, Haans 1830 Inn is a Greek Revival house that was built in 1830, so some of the rooms share bathrooms. was built in the 1900s and has a cozy atmosphere with affordable country-inspired rooms and suites. The most modern B& B is Cottage Inn of Mackinac, which is a Victorian-style house that was built in 2001.
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Things To Do On Mackinac Island In 2 Days
And now that you know a bit about Mackinac Island’s history, when to go, and how to get there, let’s talk about what to do once you’re there!
Mackinac Island only covers about 4.35 square miles total, so you might erroneously believe that you can see everything worth seeing in just a couple of hours. Obviously, this is not the case!
While you *can* technically visit Mackinac Island for just a day from the mainland, I recommend spending at least 2 nights on the island in order to truly get the full experience.
Here’s my 2-day itinerary for Mackinac Island, which you can feel free to steal!
Pro tip: On your way over on the ferry, if you’re offered a visitor’s guide booklet for purchase, get it! This $2 book is FULL of good tips and historical tidbits for the island, and helped a lot on our own first visit.
Mackinac Island State Park
Mackinac Island and Fort Mackinac Historic Park was established in 1895 but was previously created as Mackinac National Park in 1875. Encompassing 80% of the island, most of the park property maintains its natural condition. It features breathtaking vistas, nature trails, interesting rock formations, and historic landmarks.
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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.
Sheplers Mackinac Island Ferry
Sheplers Mackinac Island Ferry has one dock in Mackinaw City, one dock in St. Ignace, and one dock on Mackinac Island. Sheplers began in 1945 when Captain William H. Shepler started transporting people to and from the Island. Over 70 years later, Sheplers has continued to provide transportation to and from Mackinac Island from both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.
Sheplers boats are all very similar. They do not have rooster tails nor are they catamarans. What Sheplers boats are is fast. Sheplers offers the fastest service to and from Mackinac Island and also has departures every 15 minutes during peak times.
For Sheplers 2021 schedule click HERE. Please note, that due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the schedule is subject to change.
Sheplers sells round trip tickets both at the dock and online. Like Star Line, purchase online to receive a lower price. The 2021 season ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult round-trip ticket: $29.00
- Child round-trip ticket: $17.00
- Children under 5 are FREE!
- Bikes and bike trailers: $13.00 each
Sheplers offers some specials as well. They are only available online.
- 3 Adults: $73.00
- 2 Adults / 1 child : $58.00
Sheplers has many different parking options including free day parking in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. There is a shuttle service connecting the day parking to the dock. The ride from the day lot to the dock takes less than 5 minutes.
In St. Ignace, there is overnight parking available at the dock for $10 per night.
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Visit The Grand Hotel For Lunch Instead
The world-famous Grand Hotel is indeed grand. The Victorian hotel, built in 1887, brags that it is home to the worlds longest porch, which overlooks a spectacular view of the Straits of Mackinac. Inside youll find luxury decor and accommodations, as well as impeccable service. A stay there will also set you back about $360 per person on a weekend night, just for a standard room. If you have the bank, by all means, I recommend making The Grand Hotel, which has hosted U.S. presidents and other celebrities, your home base.
If a stay at the Grand Hotel isnt in your budget, you can still experience a little taste of the good life by dining at one of the Hotels restaurants. I recommend the Grand Luncheon Buffet served in the Main Dining Room from noon to 2 p.m. each day. For $47 per person, youll be treated to a selection of hot and cold entrees, seafood, salad, fresh fruit, cheeses, meats and fresh-baked desserts. Its still pricey, but if there was ever a reason to splurge, the The Grand Hotel is a great one! You can also have breakfast at The Grand Hotel for $30 and dinner for $80. If you go to dinner, theres a dress code after 6:30 p.m. requiring women to wear a dress, skirt or dress slacks and men must wear dress pants with a coat and tie.
Mackinac Island Things To Do
It will take more than one trip for you to experience all the things to do on Mackinac Island. Fortunately, many of the best attractions are open to the public and free because 80% of the island is Michigan State Park property. On top of that, its possible to walk everywhere. Take a look at some of our favorite activities and attractions.
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Confused About Ferry Tickets
Hi, I am looking on-line at Starline Ferry and want to buy tickets. Do you pick a day that you are using the ferry or is it a general ticket that can be used at any time?
You can buy tickets on-line or at the dock … They are good any day/time for any departure during “the season.”
During a “normal” Summer there can be a line at busy times, so normally you’d stand in line and get on the boat first come/first served.
Edited: 1 year ago
I’d buy ahead of time and have it ready to go on my phone. That way you can just to the line to wait your turn.
If you are Covid concerned, Shepler’s has been taking the practicals more seriously.
We just went to the ferry dock there are numerous dock sites
We went to star line dock 3
Parking right by door 5.00 but across road few steps free parking they give you a dash slip
There was one person ahead of us in line
We told them what time we wanted to go
We had found 2.00 each adult each way coupons at hotel and store
It was about 29.00 each to take ferry over and back
Going over we got a close up of bridge
The ride was lovely
Over we sat under covered roof but back
We sat top that was best !
Everyone worse mask entire time and spaced apart safely
Mackinac island was packed on main streets and stores
Most people seen are entire trip
Not much distancing
The staff were super nice
ESP with horse drawn buggy
And fudge shop
You Can Take A Ride On A Pirate Ship To Mackinac Island
Starting June 19, the Good Fortune pirate ship will set sail for passengers to receive daily and nightly tours to Mackinac Island.
Located at 801 S. Huron St. in Mackinaw City, Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry wanted to provide a unique option for people to get to Mackinac Island.
“What better of a place to be out in the open fresh air on a Great Lake in times like these,” said Jerry Fetty, CEO of Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry.
“Whether a person has been to Mackinac Island one hundred times before, or this is their first time, the thing about the pirate ship is you can get a unique experience traveling over to Mackinac Island.”
Social distancing practices will be in place, Fetty said. He said the passenger area on the ship has limited enclosed spaces.
The Good Fortune pirate ship features a pilot house for the captain, eight usable water cannons and a bar. In addition, the ship features a signal cannon, where one guest will be chosen to shoot it off on each tour.
Fetty recommends dressing like a pirate.
A PiratePass for adults costs $35 and $20 for children ages 5 to 12. The pirate ship will run for the season, ending Sept. 6.
To add to the theme, the Great Lakes Pirate Festival will take place June 20 at the Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry dock. The event will start at noon to kick off the Good Fortune season.
Visit the website mackinacferry.comfor other cruise and tour options.
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Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
Every early June, locals and visitors gather to celebrate flowers at the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. The island is home to some of the biggest lilacs in the world. The event lasts for 10 days and includes several festivities grand parade, horse-drawn carriage tours, 10K run/walk, queen coronation, and more.
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, you’ll 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 Shepler’s dock to the Island House Hotel.
If your luggage isn’t being transported, then you’ll probably want to grab a carriage taxi unless you’re staying at one of the hotels right on Main Street downtown.
You’ll 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 you’re staying on the island, chances are you’re just a short walk from Fort Mackinac. You can’t 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
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