Attractions and Things To Do on Mackinac Island
There are two live butterfly displays on Mackinac – Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory up-Island at Surrey Hills and the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House & Insect World downtown. Both offer butterflies of every imaginable size and color dancing amidst the tropical plants. Get up close and personal. For the romantic, both locations offer their gardens for weddings, renewals, elopements, unions, and reunions. This is just some of the many things to do on Mackinac Island.
Mackinac Island’s scariest fun family attraction is the Haunted Theatre, a haunted house and wax monster display. Not recommended for very small children but a blast for everyone else. Free babysitting is available for the little ones while the rest of the family visits the dark interior, meeting Mackinac’s legendary Manitou and the Phantom of the Opera performing his requiem for all. Open everyday of the season, May through October. Located in the heart of downtown.
Haunts of Mackinac
Ghostly happenings on the Island? The SyFy channel’s Ghost Hunters say…indeed. Adventure into the unknown. The Haunted History Tour is based on the success of the bestselling book Haunts of Mackinac by Todd Clements. He has created this companion tour, and it includes paranormal stories found in the pages of his book. However, the tour also covers additional tales and history from locations throughout the downtown area.
Professor Harry’s Old Time Photos
Step into the past with an Old Time photo portrait. Costumes from the Wild West and the Victorian era will ensure your antique photo will be the finest. Wedding parties, families, romantics, and groups are welcome. Did we mention that it’s a blast to play dress up? For large groups, reservations suggested: 906-847-6000
On the Water
Great Turtle Kayak offers kayaking tours of the straits of Mackinac on their tandem kayaks. Viewing the Island while paddling a kayak and peering into the emerald blue waters is an experience like no other. The professional guides are certified by the American Red Cross training program, and they will make sure that your adventure is safe and fun. Reservations suggested, though walk-ups are welcome. Located behind the Chippewa Hotel and a second location behind Marth’s Sweet Shop- Reservations (231) 715-2925
The Ugly Anne, a former lobster boat from Maine has now made itself right at home doing shipwreck tours and under the bridge tours in the straits of Mackinac. Now offering private charter cruises during peak season as well as excursions to neighboring islands. Reservations: 231- 436-5094
Charter your own sailboat for you and yours with a professional captain at the helm. For details, please contact the Bay View Bed & Breaksfast at 906-847-3295.
All three ferry lines – Arnold Line, Shepler’s & Star Line – offer their vessels for parties, reunions, cruises, and other summer things to do. On Mackinac Island, these boats are perfect for large events. They all offer fireworks cruises on the 4th of July, and Arnold Line offers service to the Antique Wooden Boat show in Hessel.
Atlantic salmon, King salmon, lake trout, and Steelhead are plentiful in the straits, and there are two charter fishing companies in the straits of Mackinac. Dreamseaker Charter & EUP Fishing Charter offer half or full day charter service. Seasonal licenses may be purchased locally on the mainland.
On the Ground
No trip to Mackinac Island is complete without visiting Mackinac Island State Park. The best way to begin is with a carriage tour, then grab some bikes and take a spin around the Island. Trail riding, hiking, or walking is so memorable and an excellent way to see favorite places among the 2250 acres of trails. There are no admission fees to explore.
Lake Shore Boulevard, also known as M-185, encircles the Island’s eight-mile perimeter. It is the only interstate in the nation that does not allow personal motor vehicles. You can bike, walk, ride around the shoreline or Drive Your Own Buggy from town to British Landing, all while stopping to admire and photograph the Island’s many breathtaking geological wonders when you please. The road is fairly level and easy to traverse. M-185 is 8.2 miles and passes Arch Rock, Silver Birches, British Landing, Brown’s Brook and Devil’s Kitchen with simply stunning views of the straits of Mackinac.
Even when you’re relaxing, you might find the time with friends to engage in some competitive things to do. On Mackinac Island, three golf courses and one executive putting course are accessible to our visitors.
The Grand Hotel features two 9-hole courses, the Grand Nine and Woods. Both are scenic with lush landscaping and perfectly manicured trees, fairways, and greens. To play 18 holes, Grand Hotel provides a horse-drawn carriage to transport golfers and their clubs between the two courses. Club rentals and golf carts are available.
Wawashkamo is Michigan’s oldest golf course, featuring rough terrain in the Scottish tradition and resplendent with thistle and heather. Once a battleground during the War of 1812, the course is a National Historic Landmark and a State of Michigan Historic Site. Club rentals, including hickory stick clubs and golf cart rentals are available. Each season, Wawashakamo features the Hickory Stick Tournament where golfers dress the part and traverse the course with hickory stick clubs as in the days of yore.
Mission Point Resort hosts the Greens of Mackinac, where you can polish up on your putting game. It’s an 18-hole, two-acre, executive putting course with sculptured greens overlooking the straits.
Vintage Baseball Game
Each July, this baseball game is played by “gentlemen’s rules” just like in the olden days. It takes place at the Scout Barracks at Fort Mackinac. Catering is provided by Grand Hotel. There is music from a live brass band. This is a summer tradition.
Governor’s Summer Residence Tours
A weekend getaway spot for Michigan’s governors since 1945, this guided tour of the Governor’s Summer Residence is open from from mid-June to late-August each season. The tour is free and does not require reservations.
The winds are strong here, and they provide outstanding buoyancy for kite fliers of all skill levels. This great tradition peaks in August with the Great Kite Ascension during the Fudge Festival.
Mackinac Island State Park Geological Features
The landscape of the Island is comprised of fields, meadows, marshes, swamps, bogs, coastline, a boreal forest, limestone formations, and caves. The Island proves a unique environment for all plant and animal life. The atmosphere also offers an atmosphere where humans can reflect, explore, and rejuvenate their spirits. Taking the time to explore the landscape while respecting the environment is an integral part of the island experience.
Stretching nearly 150 feet above the water, Anishinaabe-Ojibwa tradition describes Arch Rock. This is where the Great Creator blew the breath of life into the newly formed earth. Like Devil’s Kitchen and Sugar Loaf, this eroding limestone formation was formed over thousands of years by wind, water, and receding glaciers.
This is an excellent example of a limestone cavern created by erosion and cedar root displacement. It can also be seen from ferry boats. Easily accessible by bike, it’s a popular picnic spot and resting point where travelers enjoy the view of the Mackinac Bridge and the many freighters passing through the straits.
This is the original dwelling place of the legendary Great Spirit Gitchie Manitou. This breccia mass stands 75 feet above the forest floor and is the largest limestone stack on the Island. It can be reached by foot trails or by bike and is a popular destination for Nordic skiing, one of the more popular things to do on Mackinac Island. A long stairway leads travelers up the bluff to Point Lookout.
Skull Cave is believed to have been the hiding place for English fur trader Alexander Hendry during Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763. As recalled in his memoirs, his close friend, Obijwa chief Minavavana, sent him to hide in the cave in order to save him from certain death. He spent very uncomfortable nights sleeping on a bed of human bones, as the cave was used as a burial ground.