From exploring the historic Ft. Mackinac, carriage tours, bike tours to buying great fudge, visiting shops and galleries, Macknac Island has so much to explore. My top recommendations include:
Ft. Mackinac: This is an historic American Revolutionary War fort, built by the British to control the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The admission includes visiting 14 restored buildings which are furnished with period settings highlighting the building’s particular function or a themed exhibit. Tours and special demonstrations are available. The Tea Room, operated by the Grand Hotel, is a perfect spot to enjoy lunch on the terrace overlooking the city and the harbor.
Mackinac Art Museum: With a ticket to the fort you can also get free admission to the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum. Here you will find paintings and decorative arts inspired by the island throughout its history.
Downtown, there are a number of shops, boutiques and galleries. One of my favorites is Mackinac’s Little Gallery at 7410 Market St. It features the works of close to 30 artists, including works by Kristin Hosbein, a friend from St. Joseph, MI.
Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry also offers lighthouse cruises to view the area’s 16 historic lighthouses as well as night sky cruises during the summer months.
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours: From May to October you may enjoy this tour by horse-drawn carriage to all of the island’s major points of interest.
Bikers will love biking on the island. You can rent a bike along with water, helmet and a basket from Mackinac Cycle located at 7271 Main Street.
Cindy’s Riding Stable: Located downtown at 7447 Market St., Cindy’s offers horse rentals by the hour so you can explore the island on your own.
Historic Downtown Mackinac: Across from Cindy’s Riding Stable on Market St. are several historic buildings including the McGulpin House, the American Fur Company Retail Store & Dr. Beaumont Museum, the Biddle House and the Benjamin Shop. You can tour the buildings. They are free with the ticket from the Fort and the Mackinac Art Museum. Similar to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, you can visit with and talk to volunteers in period dress.
Mackinac Island State Park: This is Michigan’s first state park that was established in 1895 and contains 70.5 miles of signed roads and trails. Some of these trails are paved, some are not. Some trails are shared by horses, bikes and walkers; others are best for hiking only. The park includes the Historic Downtown and the Fort. You will also see many natural wonders including woods and rock formations. Arch Rock is the island’s most famous geological formation and towers 146 feet above the water and spans fifty feet at its widest point. Sugar Loaf is a dramatic rock mass rising 75 feet above the ground and is the largest of Mackinac Island’s many limestone stacks. Other interesting geological features include Robinson’s Folly, Skull Cave, Devil’s Kitchen, Crack-in-the-Island and Cave of the Woods.
Fudge, Fudge and More Fudge – There are many fudge shops on Main St. to taste and buy the famous candy:
May’s Famous Mackinac Fudge has been a five generation family business since 1881. The owners are currently in their 80s and 90s today.
The Original Murdick’s Fudge was opened in 1887 by sailmaker Henry Murdick who came with his wife and son to make awnings for the Grand Hotel. His wife brought her candy recipes and started the tradition of fudge-making. The original location closed and the second sold to May’s. The current location at 190 S. Huron, is the newest operation and makes over 20 flavors including Traverse City Cherry.
Joann’s Fudge at 7408 Main and Ryba’s Fudge Shop at 7245 Main are two other good choices. Ryba’s is under the same ownership as the Island House Hotel.