When booking your visit to enjoy the small town feel of Michigan’s Jewel, consider looking into one of the famed Mackinac Island carriage tours. At the heart of travel is seeing, hearing, experiencing, and living in a new world. Online searches will yield agencies, tour groups, curated lists, and all kinds of resources to help you identify what’s worth discovering on your next adventure. You’ll learn so much about the town’s historic sights and feel its unique charm through the lens of your animated tour guide on the carriage tour.
Mackinac Island, Michigan, also known as “The Jewel of the Great Lakes”, is accessible primarily by ferry. Since you won’t find any automotive vehicles permitted on the Island, it makes alternative methods of transportation like a unique horse-drawn carriage ride that much more enticing.
Many use bicycles to travel throughout Mackinac, but where else can you find horse-drawn carriages as the preferred form of travel and leisure? In a day and age where we can open our phones and have a car ready to pick us up within minutes, there’s something nostalgic and charming about the slower pace of a guided horse-drawn carriage leading your way. Putting Mackinac Island Carriage Tours at the front of the pack for activities.
Like the idea of traveling without much of a plan? Booking a Mackinac Island carriage tour will give you all the can’t-miss sights to see, neatly curated for you to sit back, relax, and enjoy. The Mackinac Island Carriage Tour makes stops at the Surrey Hills Museum, Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory, Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac Avenue of Flags, and the Grand Hotel.
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours generally run approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, just enough time to take in a variety of venues around the Island. The route extends beyond the Island’s Downtown area, so you’ll get a feel for what else is around. You can ask your tour guide for any insights on the tour stops, as well as how else you should spend the rest of your day on Mackinac.
Some of their employees return year after year seasonally, enjoying the atmosphere of leading the horse-drawn carriage tours for visitors to the Island. After your tour, you’ll be on your own to enjoy Mackinac as you see fit.
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours: Finer Details & Stops
For 2019, the Mackinac Island Carriage Tours run through May 4th – October 26th. Tours begin at 9am and run until 3 or 5pm, depending on time of the year. Tours are weather permitting. No reservations are accepted. The starting point is right in the middle of town, and you will see a building labeled “Carriage Tours.”
For adults and seniors, the carriage tour is $30.50. Children 5-12 years old are $11, and children under 5 are free if held on a lap. You can also purchase a Combination Ticket, granting admission to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. These are available for $38.00 adults and seniors, and $14 for children 5-12 years old.
The first part of the tour starts in Downtown Mackinac Island and brings you up to the Surrey Hills Museum. After a brief stop, you’ll board an open three-horse carriage for the second part of the tour. The duration of the tour is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. There are stops where you can get off and explore on your own.
The carriage tours are pet friendly! Mackinac Island Carriage Tours welcomes small dogs on a lap, while they suggest larger dogs may require purchase of a child ticket.
While reservations for general tours are not accepted, if you find that a member of your party requires a handicapped accessible carriage, please call Mackinac Island Carriage Tours at least 48 hours in advance to ensure they can accommodate your request.
The Mackinac Island Carriage Tour takes a precise route, designed to give their guests an enjoyable experience with a variety of sights to see. Below you’ll find what stops the tour includes:
Surrey Hills Museum
After roughly 30 minutes on your first carriage, you’ll arrive at the first stop on your tour, the Surrey Hills Museum. An antique carriage museum with a working blacksmith shop, this small venue is a nice place to walk around. There’s even a horse-drawn hearse still used today as well as an antique fire department pumper. There are on-site gift shops, and you’ll find lunch or snack items available for purchase.
Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory
Butterflies have such a whimsical, entrancing nature. If you’re traveling with children, they’ll love to see these beautiful insects enjoying their natural habitat. If not, your inner child at heart will enjoy the many species that reside here. You’ll generally see 75-100 different kinds of butterfly species in the conservatory, while many different butterflies are received throughout the season. Butterflies have a very short lifespan, some as few as 3-10 days, so the conservatory receives shipments weekly to replenish their exhibit.
Surrounded by natural beauty, you might find love is in the air when visiting the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. The venue is equipped for intimate weddings (under 40 guests, according to their website) with a water fountain, wrought iron gazebo, and more in the beautiful glassed-in conservatory. With space for small gatherings or a special elopement, this is a truly unique wedding venue found on Mackinac Island.
There is an additional admission fee for the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory, which can also be purchased as a combination ticket with your Carriage Tour.
This next stop, a brief one at approximately five minutes, is a photographic landmark on Mackinac Island. A natural limestone formation found on natural works of art and postcards of the Island, you will take in transcendent views of Lake Huron and surrounding scenery at this tour stop.
Fort Mackinac Avenue of Flags
One of several State Historic Parks found on Mackinac, take a step back in time as you enjoy this unique venue. History is epitomized as you hear canons roaring, rifles firing, soldier’s feet stomping, and the grounds evoking the spirit of this former outpost and home for military families. There are a variety of exhibits offered throughout the property’s fourteen buildings, including Military Medicine at Mackinac: 1780-1895 among others.
Admission to Fort Mackinac is separate from the Carriage Tours. Adults enter for $13.00, and children ages 5-12 are $7.75. This admission is also valid for the Historic Downtown Mackinac as well as The Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum.
For your final stop on the Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, you have the option of concluding back at Surrey Hills and again boarding a two-horse smaller carriage back to Downtown Mackinac, or you can continue on to the famous Grand Hotel. You’ll have the option of continuing on your own through a short walk back to town or arranging for a private horse-drawn taxi service.
The Grand Hotel, one of Mackinac’s true luxury resorts, sits on a stately property with gorgeous views of the lakes and Island. You could opt to end your carriage tour with a lovely Afternoon Tea in the Parlor, or an elegant meal at one of their restaurants. For much more information on this gorgeous property, please see my Places to Stay on Mackinac Island post.
- The Mackinac Island Carriage Tours are very popular during peak season (summer). If you’re able to begin your tour first thing in the morning, this is one of the best times. Waiting until mid-day may have you in a 2+ hour line just for the next available carriage tour.
- If you’re staying overnight on Mackinac Island, your lodging venue may be able to make arrangements for your tour. Inquire upon check-in to expedite your experience.
Additional Services From Mackinac Island Carriage Tours:
Carriage Taxi Service
Since you aren’t able to hail a car service from your phone on Mackinac Island (no cars allowed!), you can request a taxi by calling Mackinac Island Carriage Tours directly. Taxi rates vary between which zones you’re traveling.
Appointments can be made to obtain taxi service during the April through November season. Taxi drivers only accept cash, and there are ATMs available throughout the Island as well as at the taxi stand.
Wedding Carriage Rides
Imagine arriving to the biggest day of your life in a historic, enchanting horse-drawn carriage. Mackinac Island Carriage Tours makes your dreams come true with private carriages available. You can arrange for bride and groom transportation, for your wedding party, as well as horse-drawn carriage taxi service for your guests. This is a quintessential Mackinac experience your wedding guests will never forget!
Treat yourself to an enriching, enchanting experience when you visit Mackinac Island by taking one of the horse-drawn carriage tours. Departing from Downtown Mackinac, you can step off the ferry and step into a carriage ride. You’ll take in many popular sights along the Downtown area and have the opportunity to visit lesser-known attractions further away from the center of town.
Whether you travel with your family, a partner, a friend, or on your own, you’ll never feel alone as you enjoy the narration of an engaging tour guide while you leisurely take in the charm and sights of Mackinac Island.
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