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Guide to a Summer Weekend in Mackinac Island, USA

A few years ago, I spent a whole summer on Mackinac Island, in the United States, working at a resort. Although it is a small island of 500 residents the summer time brings in plenty of tourists and temporary workers making the island a buzzing destination. Mackinac Island is in Michigan on the lower peninsula. The closest town is Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, a 20 minute ferry ride away. The island is a perfect destination for couples or families. Read on for your summer guide to a weekend on the island of no cars.

Downtown Mackinac Island

Photo credit: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Day 1:

To get to the island requires a ferry from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, so I would suggest spending some time exploring either or both towns. In Mackinaw City there is the 18th century Fort Michilimackinac (see below), a suspension bridge which connects the lower peninsula to the upper peninsula of Michigan, beaches, and neat little shops. There's also a few lighthouses and a state park. St. Ignace has the same attractions more or less, but there are a few more museums and heritage sites (Museum of Ojibwa Culture and Fort de Baude Museum are the bigger ones).

Fort Michilimackinac

Photo Credit:

At the end of the day, take the ferry to the island and check into your hotel or B&B. Once you're on the island, there are plenty of food options in the small downtown area. My favourite is Horn's Gaslight Bar and Restaurant (they have the most amazing Spinach and Crab Quesadilla's!). Walk the main downtown area and settle down on any of the beaches to watch the sunset.

Day 2:

Because there are no cars allowed on the island, everything is done on bike or by horse-drawn carriages, including tours. You can take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the island and it's hop-on, hop-off. One of the main hop-off location is a natural arch bridge, Arch Rock (see picture below). Unfortunately, you can't walk over it, but you can get as close to it as possible. The tour also goes past a Native American cemetery and a small museum and gift shop. There are also great beach spots around the island and are all not too far a walk from a hop-off location. If the tour isn't for you, you are not short of things to do. You can go kayaking, parasailing, or swimming (yay for beaches! I'm not a beach person actually). If you have some time, squeeze in a visit to Fort Mackinac, but check the opening hours first. If you get all this in, good job! If not, that's okay, take it easy :)

Day 3:

If you have some time on the 3rd day before you leave, I'd suggest visiting Fort Mackinac (if you didn't already on day 2) and The Grand Hotel. It does cost to enter the hotel, unless you are staying there already. The Grand Hotel was where Christopher Reeve's Somewhere in Time was filmed and the hotel is very proud of it! The terrace at the hotel is beautiful and you could easily spend half a day there sitting on a chair, sipping your coffee or tea, and watching the hustle and bustle of the island.


The island caters to all kinds of people, so if most of what I suggested doesn't work for you check out some of the other things they have to offer: a library for bookworms, golfing (or mini-putting for inexperienced people like me), a walking ghost tour, horseback riding, water sports, and many small museums. Alternatively, you may not want to do anything and just spend all weekend lying in the sun (don't forget your sunscreen).

Did I miss something? Let me know below!

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