Mackinac Island Tourist Attractions – What to See and Do

Mackinac Island is located on Lake Huron, right between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. The island’s history is extensive – Fort Mackinac was built during the American Revolutionary War and it was even the site of two battles during the War of 1812. Today, the island is a combination of interesting historic sites, museums, unique shops and restaurants, all packed into four square miles of fun.

Top 7 Mackinac Island Tourist Attractions

1. Prepare for a Two-Wheeled Adventure

bike on the shore of Mackinac Island

There are no cars allowed on Mackinac Island. Even the residents’ mail is delivered by horse and carriage. This allows everyone on the island to truly experience the Victorian homes and historic beauty of the island. It might seem like a problem for tourists, but the island allows all visitors to rent bikes to explore the island.

Not equipped for a day of bike riding? Or looking for a more relaxing day? There are horse-drawn carriage tours for anyone as well. Plus, this way the drivers will make sure you don’t miss any of the best Mackinac Island tourist attractions.

2. Check out the Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, one of the most popular of all Mackinac Island tourist attractions

A visit to Mackinac just wouldn’t be complete without taking in the Grand Hotel, easily the most famous of the Mackinac Island tourist attractions. The hotel has been hosting visitors to the island since 1887. It has kept so many traditions alive including nightly dancing and extravagant meals. Also, the hotel offers afternoon tea every day. Enjoy pastries, champagne, finger sandwiches and your favorite tea flavor for a truly memorable experience.

If you can stay overnight, you should expect only the best in your accommodations at the Grand Hotel. All 393 rooms in the hotel are filled with the finest luxuries and thirty of those rooms are “Named Rooms” and dedicated to prominent historical figures and time periods. Be sure to get your room reserved early, the hotel is in high demand.

3. Take A Scary Tour

the hounted theatre on mackinac island

Visit the Haunted Theatre to have a truly frightening experience. The theatre building was built in 1885 and was first used as a motion-picture theater. After years of strange occurrences, the building was turned into the Haunted Theatre in 1974.

Legend has it the theater was built on an ancient Indian burial ground and visitors could hear wailing at night and see dozens of bats. Today, the history is brought to life due to the fact that the theater has been turned into a real haunted house, filled with monsters based on the island’s history. See a list of all the island’s monsters and their stories here.

4. View a Natural Wonder

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

Interested in hiking on the island? Definitely take in the Arch Rock. The limestone natural wonder stands 146 feet above the shoreline. The rock was formed during the Nipissing post-glacial period and is a very rare formation for the area. There are different trails to bike or hike up to the arch or you can take the 200-plus wooden stairs up the steeper cliff side along the shore.

Once you reach the top you will be rewarded not only by seeing one of the natural Mackinac Island tourist attractions, but also beautiful views of Lake Huron and Canada. The waters are a pristine teal color and truly a sight to behold.

5. Taste a Delectable Treat

slices of fudge from the Mackinac Island

The fudge on Mackinac Island often tops lists of the best fudge in America. In fact, it’s the island’s most popular souvenir. Don’t expect to explore the island without seeing and smelling it. And, if you try a piece, don’t expect to leave without wanting to have more to eat later.

The tradition of fudge making on the island dates back to the Civil War and there are still a multitude of places to pick up fudge on the island. As you walk down the main streets you can even look in the store windows and see locals making fudge by hand on their marble slabs. There is an endless variety of flavors to try.

6. Explore the Water

people kayaking near mackinac island

Ferries travel back and forth from Mackinac Island to Mackinac City throughout the day. So, while you may have gotten a good shot of Mackinac Island tourist attractions on the way over, you just can’t experience it the way you do on a kayak tour. Great Turtle Kayak Tours allow you to see any or all of the best natural sites of the island including Arch Rock and Devil’s Kitchen. You can adventure off the beaten path as well and see the neighboring islands – Bois Blanc Island and Round Island.

Never tried kayaking before? The group offers ample instructions and a guide assists each group that goes out. Go ahead and reserve your tour and you can see which tours intrigue you most.

7. Get a View from Another Angle

Mission Point Observation Tower

The Mission Point Observation Tower has five floors of exhibits for visitors to check out. See the spots in town that you may have noticed in Somewhere in Time, which was filmed primarily on Mackinac Island. Other exhibits cover different aspects of the Great Lakes, the construction of Mackinac Bridge and the various local lighthouses.

The best part? Each floor allows you to see a new view of the island, all culminating at the top. While you’re up there you may just notice another corner of the island you’ve got to check out.

Be sure to keep this list in mind on your visit to Mackinac Island. The island is packed with fun and interesting things to see and do; it can be overwhelming to know which of the Mackinac Island tourist attractions to see first. Most importantly, enjoy your time away, you’ve found the perfect place to do so. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

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