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Hey y'all! I'm Nicole & I capture authentic moments for classically elegant, unconventionally adventurous couples who believe in stylish simplicity. 

Mackinac Island Travel Tips

Travel

One of the most frustrating things about living in Chicago is feeling as though you don’t have many options for weekend trips. Coming from the East Coast and the South where there’s no shortage of weekend getaway spots, the Midwest can feel pretty confining. Enter Mackinac Island! This gem up in northern Michigan is the perfect place to escape the city and feel completely “vacation-ized”. Full of Revolutionary War era history, Victorian architecture, and nature trails, this quaint island has something for everyone! Keep reading to see some of my recommendations!

GO

If you’re coming from a neighboring state, driving is probably your most economical option. To give you an idea, it is a 6-7 hour drive from Chicago, so plan accordingly. If you don’t want to make the full trip in one day, feel free to pick another little lake front town to stop off in on your way! You won’t be disappointed!

Cars aren’t allowed on Mackinac Island – part of what makes it so incredibly quaint and unique – so you’ll end up parking your car in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace and taking a ferry over to the island. I recommend purchasing your tickets ahead of time from Star Line Ferry to save a couple bucks.

If you decide to fly, you can check to see what deals you can find for Traverse City, but your cheapest options will most likely be to fly into Grand Rapids or Detroit (both about 4 hours away) and rent a car to get you the rest of the way.

STAY

Mackinac Island has tons options when it comes to lodging, with plenty of choices between hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, and AirBnb’s. I personally recommend finding a Bed & Breakfast close to “downtown” so you’re near most of the action. My favorite is Metivier Inn; they are sweet as pie there! 🙂 I find that the quaint, small-town feel of those B&B’s really encompasses the vibe of the island.

If you’ve got some extra money to spend, and would prefer a more luxurious experience, you could look into the Grand Hotel. Host to celebrities and political elite for years, this historic hotel will make you feel like royalty. Plus, let’s be real, their porch is to die for. 

EAT

This is not a place to come in the middle of a diet. There’s a fudge shop about every 30 seconds apart on Main Street. And you can’t go to Mackinac without trying at least one of those fudge shops! I haven’t yet met one I don’t enjoy, so just take your pick!

If you’re sick of fudge by the end, you also can’t go wrong with the ice cream there 🙂

For a unique Bavarian dinner experience, be sure to book a reservation in advance at Woods. And FYI you’ll need to ask your hotel or B&B to book you a carriage to get over there, because it’s a long haul to walk there from the main part of town.

Other faves: Yankee Rebel Tavern, Millie’s on Main, & Pink Pony.

DO

The good news is, you can burn off all that fudge with TONS of outdoor activities. If you’re physically able to, I highly recommend renting bikes and riding them around the entire perimeter of the island. The views are absolutely gorgeous and you’ll get a great tour of the island. If you have extra time, you can take the bikes inland a bit to explore some of the inner views. Definitely park your bikes for a few minutes when you get to Arch Rock. If you’re on the path that circles the island, you’ll need to hike up some stairs to get there, but it’s worth the trek!

Another fun activity is renting horses for a few hours. There’s a couple of options here: You can rent a chauffeured horse and buggy to give you a tour of the island, you can rent a horse and buggy to drive yourself around the island, you can rent a horse and ride horseback, or you can join a horseback tour of the island. For do it yourself buggies or horseback rides, check out Jack’s Livery. For a narrated carriage tour of the island, check out Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. Whichever you choose, I definitely recommend doing something with horses while you’re on the island! It’s such a unique part of the culture there!

If the weather is cooperative and you’re not too afraid of some chilly lake water, you can hop on a kayak or paddleboard! Check out these different routes and excursions through Great Turtle Kayak Tours

Are you a fellow hiker? There’s tons of options for you! Plan your trek with this map from the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. Tranquil Bluff trail is a good one, and you can access it after checking out Arch Rock – two birds!

And if you’re a history buff, be sure to check out Fort Mackinac.

That’s all I got for ya today! Go explore!

Questions? Feel free to reach out! I’d love to talk to you more about this beautiful island!

xo

NJ

If you liked this post, be sure to check out some of my other travel posts!

Film Scans: The FIND Lab

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  1. Cheryl Mulligan

    January 13th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

    Hello and thanks for the wonderful info! Just wondering if you saw any 3 wheel bikes to rent on your visit? I have a bit of a balance problem but would love to bike around the island and follow your suggestions of things to check out.
    Thanks kindly,
    Cheryl

  2. nicole jansma

    January 14th, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Hi Cheryl! Yes! Mackinac Island Bike shop has 3 wheel bikes available to rent! Their address is 7421 Main Street. Have so much fun!!

  3. Elizabeth A Speck

    May 14th, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    This is not the year to travel to Mackinac Island due to the covid-19 and the lack of adequate medical facilities to handle an outbreak

  4. nicole jansma

    May 18th, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Yes I agree; in fact, there is currently a travel advisory against traveling to the island.

  5. david fischer

    May 15th, 2020 at 8:12 am

    The Island opens to tourists on June 1st or later?

  6. nicole jansma

    May 18th, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    As of now, there are some businesses planning to reopen as of June, but it is a very fluid situation and will depend on any further changes in Michigan regarding Covid-19. Keep an eye on the official 2020 Season Updates here: https://www.mackinacisland.org/2020-season-updates/

  7. Cindy Huggler

    May 16th, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Great Lakes Air offers charter flights to and from the island from St. Ignace, Traverse City, Detroit, Chicago and other places.

  8. nicole jansma

    May 18th, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Oh how fun! I just checked out the Air Taxi fares from St. Ignace to the island and that’s quite a great deal! Do the taxis pick up from the island as well?