Growing up in Michigan I could write about many places around the state to visit, but there’s nothing quite like Mackinac Island in the summer! It’s one of the most beautifully unique places in all the United States. Where else can you take a ferry and cross over back in time to a land of no cars… only bicycles…. and horse and buggies?!?
Michigan has a slogan, Pure Michigan, which focuses on the beauty and tourism of the state, and in my opinion there’s nothing more Pure Michigan than Mackinac. It’s definitely a summer destination that just can’t me missed!
Yes, Mackinac is really an island! The island, itself, is about 13 km (8 miles) around and known for its bicycle tours around the island. In fact, the only transportation (besides walking) on the island are bicycles and horse and buggies since automobiles have been prohibited since 1898. During the summer months, thousands of tourists can be seen running or riding around the island while taking in the beauty and history of the Upper Peninsula. Stops along the way tell of the historic making of the area.
No, cars aren’t allowed! The only forms of transportation on the island are bikes, carriages, and of course – your own two feet. We highly recommend renting bikes for the day. You can’t miss the bike rentals – they’re literally EVERYWHERE on the island!
Make sure you add the Grand Hotel to your list of things to see at Mackinac! It’s a Landmark on the island, with it stunning views and entrance filled with horse and carriage arrivals. The main road is lined with old-fashioned stores for the inner shopper in all of us. The ever-so famous Mackinac Fudge is a delicacy you just can’t leave the island without – completing the package of this incredible destination. And the ultimate Mackinac Island experience is renting bikes and trekking around the island. It’s the best way to learn the history while seeing the sights. It was our favorite activity of the day!
Round out the experience with a camping excursion of views of the Bridge and the islands lakeside. There are many different campgrounds with lodging options from tents, campers, and even cabins. Cook up some smores, play a little badminton and enjoy family time around the campfire.
To get to the island, the only way is by taking the ferry over. If you prefer a day trip to the island, take the ferry over in the morning, returning at night. The Mackinac Island Ferry Company ride to the island costs between $20 – $40, depending on what package you choose. The short trip (under 30 minutes) includes a tour underneath the Mackinac Bridge with many opportunities for some amazing pics on the water.
Once you’re on the island the only way to get around is by bicycle, horse and buggy, or by foot. Renting a bike once you get to the island is the best (and cheapest) way to get around. I highly suggest renting bikes and taking the trek around the island. It’s not only great exercise, but educational as well. You can learn all about the history of the island with various stops and educational signs and even historical relics along the way. Not to mention the amazing views as well!
Although Spring and Fall are beautiful times of year to visit the island, there’s just nothing like a trip during the summer! The weather is better and you have less chances of rain, snow, or cold. You’ll be doing a lot of walking or riding so make sure you wear a comfy pair of shoes. Flip-flops if they are strapped-in or tennis shoes – pick your choice of weapon. Either pair, make sure you’re little piggy’s are enjoying your time as much as the rest of your body is.
Camping near Mackinac Island is a popular way to stay near the island without staying on it (which can be a bit pricier). We stayed at Mackinac Mill Creek Camping in one of their cabins. There are also options for RVs with full-hookup sites and tent campsites as well. We loved the cabins – perfect for enjoying the camping experience with style. The campground is located right on Lake Huron with spectacular views of the Mackinac Island bridge.