Mackinac Island, Michigan’s hidden Gem, has a wealth of fun activities for guests to enjoy when they visit. Maybe you have been to the island several times or never before.
Throughout the years of visiting, things have changed but a lot has remained the same – which is why I think people keep returning to this incredible destination. You absolutely know what you are getting when you arrive on the island and it is nothing short of spectacular.
I put together a list of bucket list items not to miss when visiting Mackinac because you may not know about all of them. The island has so much to offer its visitors.
If you have only one day or only plan to visit the island for a day, there may be some fun little nuggets you did not know about tucked away in here.
Mackinac Island Bucket List
First things first – you can take the ferry, but have you ever flown to the island? This is the quickest way to get to the island and flights come from St. Ignace. This would be the best way to see the island from above. If you are going to fly and coming from the lower state, you also get to drive across the Mackinac Bridge!
Rent a bike and ride and traverse the outskirts of the island at just over eight miles. It is truly a beautiful and peaceful ride as it is not busy like the downtown area.
Enjoy afternoon tea in the parlor at the Grand Hotel. This is a time honored tradition at the hotel and one you should not miss.
Catch the sunrise from the lawn of Mission Point Resort.
Take a Carriage Tour of the island by horse and let your guide share useful information about the island.
Visit the island during the Lilac Festival. Easily one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit and most fragrant!
Take a sunset sail and see the island from a different perspective. Alternatively, you could just take the ferry to the island during sunset hours during high season getting a two for one deal. However, I love sailing – so I would check it out.
Do a bar crawl. Back in the day, Spanky’s Cafe (which is now closed) used to sell bar crawl t-shirts for the island (The Trading Post and The Big Store now sell them). Last count there was more than 15 bars (that may have changed) and you would select a shelf number and bottle number and go into each bar and get a drink made with it. Then the bartender would sign it. I do want to note that it is a heavy day of drinking so please do this with caution and do not feel like you have to go to every bar. Also, take a taxi and do not ride your bike when you are drinking as it is a danger to yourself and others – you can also get a DUI on the island.
Explore the gardens of the Grand Hotel.
Visit Arch Rock. This geological formation 146 feet above the Lake Huron shore line. You can see it on the Carriage Tour or if you explore into the island on your own. For a different vantage point, you can see it on the bike or walk around the outskirts of the island, as it will be above you.
Visit Fort Mackinac. Former military outpost. The 14 buildings as part of the fort are restored and open.
Spend a night at the Grand Hotel and dress fancy for dinner. After 5pm, there is a dress code policy for the entire hotel. It is tradition, do enjoy it 🙂
Love art? Visit the Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum.This three-level museum offers fine and decorative arts throughout time. You will find interactive displays, hands on exhibits and a kids art studio inside.
Visit Sugar Loaf, the largest limestone stack on Mackinac Island, coming in at 75 feet high.
Kayak! Would you believe that areas around the island the water looks like the Caribbean? It is absolutely stunning!
Don’t miss the chance to see a sunset from the longest front porch, the Grand Hotel.
Visit not one but TWO butterfly houses. The Mackinac Island Butterfly House is close to the downtown area and Wings of Mackinac is in Surrey Hill.
Take a walk or a bike ride up into the island where the locals live to see the city area. *Please do not disturb residents.
Take a carriage ride up around the west bluffs for one of the best views!
Indulge yourself in the fudge that you smell the second you get to the island. Fun fact: you can sample as much as you want – so try different stores to figure out which ones you want to buy.
Love adventure? Take your trip to new heights on a parasailing ride with Mackinaw Parasailing.
Take a tour of the Michigan Governor’s summer mansion!
Stop by Threads of Mackinac for original shirts that offer unique styles for everyone.
Love sailing? The annual yacht club races fall in July and that is an exciting time for the island.
Grab lunch from Doud’s supermarket and head across the street to the lawn to enjoy a picnic.
Drop into Sanders Candy for a hut fudge cream puff. A true Michigander treat!
Take in a movie at Mission Point Resort.
Skip rocks on the shore.
Love golf? Don’t miss your chance to Golf on the Jewel. This unique 18-hole golf course is separated by a distance of a mile and a half at the 9 hole mark and you are transported by horse and carriage to the other nine.
One simply can’t visit the island and not eat whitefish. You will find it in various forms, but the hot dip that is baked in a crock and the whitefish oscar is the best!
Visit Fort Holmes. Part of the war history of 1812, Fort Holmes was formerly Fort George, a name given by the British. It was renamed after the American Major Andrew Hunter Holmes, when he passed after trying to retake the fort.
Stroll Main Street and the boutique shops. There is something for everyone in these beautiful shops. Books, souvenirs, lilac smelling everything, special Michigan items, clothing galore, you name it.
Take in a spa day. You are on vacation after all.
Drop in for a drink at the Pink Pony – it was awarded the title of “Most Iconic Bar” for the state of Michigan.
Take a food tour of the island. Some of my favorite dishes are the pecan ball (Grand Hotel restaurants), whitefish, corned beef hash (Chuckwagon), fudge, and burgers (Mighty Mac).
Visit St Anne’s Catholic Church. This Roman Catholic church is over 300 years old! If you are arriving to the island by ferry, you will be able to see it along Main Street. It is a bit further down and on the way to Mission Point. In the basement there is a museum with all the fascinating history.
Visit during the “Somewhere in Time” weekend at the Grand Hotel. This is one of the most famous movies to have been shot on the island and it is still very much celebrated.
Get off the beaten path – the island offers over 140 miles of roads and trails to explore.
Love a good spook? Join the Haunts of Mackinac for a walking tour of the haunted history of the island.
Get married! Now I know this one is a stretch, but if you are already engaged and looking … this is a GORGEOUS LOCALE!
Take in the views of the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac from the Cupola Bar at the top of the Grand Hotel. Nightly entertainment is available.
Visit during the 4th of July and witness the amazing fireworks.
Fancy a fine dining experience and a game of bowling? Then don’t miss your chance to take a carriage ride through the woods to the restaurant, The Woods, for an exciting evening.
Visit the public library.
Get some postcards for friends and family back home and then drop them off at the Post Office on the island.
Visit Marquette Park and bring your kite for an afternoon of fun.
Try your hand at the 18 hole putting course at Mission Point Resort.
Don’t miss a chance to eat at the legendary Grand Luncheon Buffet! This is the lunch to end all others – with rows and rows of buffet style dining. Don’t forget to hit the dessert bar – that is the best.
Visit during the winter and enjoy lesser crowds but beautiful snow laced streets and architecture.
Want to learn more about carriages and see a blacksmith? Then a trip to the Surrey Hills Carriage Museum is in order.
Looking for something exciting? Then you must go see the firing of the cannon at Fort Mackinac.
I am positive I missed a ton of things that I either have not experienced yet or that are fleeting from my mind. But I will update the list as time goes on. <3
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