Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island
If you haven’t visited the beautiful Mackinac Island MI, it should be at the top of your Michigan bucket list.
We believe there’s nothing quite like Mackinac Island for making vacation memories that last a lifetime.
Start with the magical feeling that comes with the first step off the ferry dock and never leaves the entire time you’re on this enchanted, historic island.
Mackinac Island is the crown jewel of Michigan: rich with a mix of Victorian charm; stunning natural beauty; Native American culture; and early American history.
The, add in the shocking blue lakeside views while biking along the Lake Huron coast – at times thisclose to the water.
Add the mouth-watering fudge on virtually every corner of the island; the quaint, downtown main studded with history or the dramatic age-old rock formations of this Michigan island gem.
Our Mackinac Island Michigan guide will help you plan your vacation and be ready to explore Mackinac without missing anything.
Whether you’re getting ready for a solo trip to Mackinac or you’re visiting Mackinac Island with kids and other family, there is an endless supply of things to do and enjoy during your stay.
Also, if you’re looking for Mackinac Island date ideas, you’ve come to the right place!
We’re sharing our Mindblowing Mackinac Adventures: TOP 11 Things to Do on Mackinac Island, MI, so clear your schedule, book your Star Line ferry ride, and find yourself in Mackinaw City, ready to launch off into your next Michigan adventure.
A Mackinac Island carriage tour is the perfect way to start off your Mackinac Island vacation. Carriage rides are great for families with children, honeymooning couples, or even a group of friends.
You can pick up your carriage ride in downtown Mackinac; you’ll find many options for tours in Mackinac island. While riding in a horsedrawn carriage, you’ll experience a narrated tour of the island while viewing the highlights in a creative, authentic way.
You’ll pass some famous Mackinac Island attractions like Trinity Church, constructed in 1882 and still holding services, and beautiful Marquette Park at the foot of Fort Mackinac.
Even if horses and buggies aren’t your thing, exploring the island by carriage is a fun and relaxing way to learn about Mackinac and get off your feet.
[Image: things to do on mackinac]
Explore the History of Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is packed full of fascinating historical sites. With a historic downtown and historic buildings around every corner, there’s more than one way to learn about the unique origins of the island.
Mackinac State Historic Parks is home to the natural and living history of Mackinac Island.
It includes museums like:
- Fort Mackinac
- Stuart House
- Biddle House
- Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum
- The Shipwreck Museum
Within this historic park system you’ll also find Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park and Colonial Michilimackinac.
The museums in Mackinac Island a great way to develop a deeper appreciation for the uniqueness of this Michigan gem.
Other historic landmarks to explore:
- Fort Holmes
- Governor’s Summer House
- St. Annes Catholic Church
- Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum
- Mackinac Island State Park
- Fort Mackinac
Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel of Mackinac Island offers Afternoon Tea in the beautiful hotel parlor, one of the fabulous places to eat on Mackinac Island.
For a trip back to 1840s Mackinac, enjoy the daily afternoon delicacies of tea and snacks while you listen to serene live music played for your enjoyment. This is a great opportunity for a rainy day on the island!
Horseback Riding on Mackinac
Lumbering along the nature trails of Mackinac Island, reins in your hand and a cool breeze in your face, is an essential part of visiting this island. Jacks Livery Stable is a great place to go horseback riding in Mackinac Island Michigan. With a guide to lead you and your friends on horses behind you, what an authentic way to explore.
You can also start your horseback riding tour of Mackinac at Grand Hotel Stables, where you can also tour the 8,700-square-foot working stable.
If you prefer a bike over a horse, the bike tours of Mackinac Island are legendary. The Mackinac Island Bike Shop is a great place to start.
Whether biking is a long-time hobby or you haven’t cycled in years, biking around Mackinac is possible for you, with shorter routes and guided tours all the way around the island (we really suggest that one.)
Mackinac Island isn’t the only island worth visiting in northern Michigan’s waters. Round Island is a small, uninhabited island in the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
Round Island is perfect for a Mackinac visit since it’s so close and offers sights of the beautiful Round Island Lighthouse, as well as other tourist attractions.
If you’re looking for another lighthouse to visit, check out Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City.
By now you may be ready for a touch of natural wonder. Among the incredible rock formations on Mackinac Island are Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf Rock.
Arch Rock forms a tall arch over the pristine waters of the lake far below. It’s easily accessible (you can even walk there if you want) and a safe overlook extends out to the arch itself.
Sugar Loaf Rock is 75 feet tall and surrounded by natural forest. Part of the wonder of Sugar Loaf is the legend surrounding it. Read all about the Legend of Sugar Loaf on Mackinac’s website.
Shopping in Mackinac
There’s more than nature trails and horses to this trip. Mackinac Island tourism also includes dynamite shopping.
To shop on the mainland, go to Mackinaw Crossings. Its buildings are inspired by the Victorian style and offer everything from clothing to fudge to a free laser light show.
For more homegrown shopping, search for farmers markets near Mackinac.
Discover Nature on Mackinac Island
There are a myriad of nature-focused activities to explore on Mackinac. The perfect place to start is Mackinac’s butterfly conservatory. The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insects World includes a beautiful and educational butterfly garden for all ages to enjoy. The delight of the butterfly house and insects you’ll learn about invites imagination and connection with Michigan’s natural beauty.
If you just can’t get enough of the butterfly world of Mackinac, Wings of Mackinac butterfly conservatory is another wonderful place to experience the Mackinac Island butterfly house and insect world.
The butterflies housed here are surrounded by an indoor garden of flowers and if you walk inside, you’ll probably find one flitting over to land on you within a few minutes.
If you’re seeking an adventurous thrill or another great outdoor activity, zip lining in Mackinaw City is your next trip idea! Visit Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park or Adrenaline Falls Zipline to start zipping through the air.
Boat and Kayak Tours
Sometimes you need to just hop on a boat and start sailing. With a Mackinac Island boat tour, you can do just that! Star Line Ferry in St Ignace is just one of the boat touring companies available to you on the other side of the Mackinac bridge!
Maybe you want to be more in the water rather than on it. Mackinac’s Great Turtle Kayak Tours give you the freedom of gliding through the lake on guided kayak tours that will make you fall in love with the island even more.
Places to Stay on Mackinac Island
Whether you’re coming from Grand Rapids, Traverse City, or from the other side of the world, you’ll want a place to stay the night on Mackinac Island. Use our Mackinac Island Lodging Guide to find the best places to stay!
Ultimate Mackinac Island Guide
While we love each of the things on our guide, this is not an exhaustive list of the delights of Mackinac Islands tourism. Once you’ve visited this island once, you won’t be able to get enough. The Mackinac Island ferry is waiting for you to board!
About the Author
Kyrsten Newlon is a content writing and editing intern for mymichiganbeach.com. Growing up in Kalamazoo, she wrote and read everything she could. Now, she is a student at Grace College with Journalism and Communications majors and an English minor. She has been published by Grace College, the Winona Lake Newsletter, Input Fort Wayne, and various online blogs. Kyrsten loves raising puppies to be service dogs, spending time in coffee shops, and adventuring through Michiga
Monday 16th of January 2023
Interested in a booklet on this.
My Michigan Beach Team
Friday 20th of January 2023
Hi Kim, Thanks for reaching out. We are in the process of updating our printed guides and will let you know when they are completed and ready for purchase. In the meantime, please check out our additional information on Mackinac Island Resturants here: https://mymichiganbeach.com/mackinac-island-restaurants/ and our guide to the best places to stay on the island here: https://mymichiganbeach.com/mackinac-island-hotels/.