Mackinac Island Parks
Mackinac Island State Park
For sheer, intense beauty and grandeur, Mackinac Island State Park is one of Mother Nature’s most awe-inspiring treasures. Its natural wonders include soaring limestone bluffs, stunning vistas overlooking scintillating waters, verdant rolling forests and miles and miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and snowshoe adventures.
America’s second national park – established three years after Yellowstone – Mackinac Island State Park consists of over 80% of the Island’s entire land mass and is open year round, free of charge.
Whether you’re an ardent naturalist or a curious observer of the majesty of nature, the Park is a glistening, green gem where sacred spirits of the past are said to still stir and linger.
Most paved trails in Mackinac Island State Park are easily accessed for persons with disabilities. The least steep hill to scooter or wheelchair up to the bluff area of the Island is via Mission Hill near Mission Point Resort or Grand Hill on Cadotte Avenue. Fort Hill is very steep.
During the night of July 16-17, 1812, a small force of British regulars and several hundred voyageurs and Indian allies landed and occupied a height that overlooked Fort Mackinac and demanded its surrender. Lt. Porter Hanks, commander of the American garrison of 57 soldiers, had not known that war had been declared. Realizing that resistance was hopeless, Hanks capitulated without a fight.
Founded during the American Revolution, the British captured the Fort in the very first engagement on American soil in the War of 1812. Inside, 14 original buildings, cannon salutes, bugle music, daily reenactments and interactive displays speak of America’s infancy. Located on a bluff that overlooks the entrancing Straits of Mackinac. Tours, exhibits and demonstrations.
After the British and their allies captured Fort Mackinac during the War of 1812, they quickly built a small outpost and called it Fort George. When the Americans regained the Fort by treaty at the end of the War of 1812, it was renamed Fort Holmes after the American Major Andrew Hunter Holmes who succumbed to wounds during a futile attempt to retake the Fort from the British in 1814.
Some days, it’s as if some heavenly painter accidentally tipped an easel and buckets of colors fell upon the Island. Here, you’ll experience the deepest reds, oranges and illuminating yellows. It’s a four-season sensory event: the greenest greens, purest snows, and waters as blue as blue can be. It’s only appropriate that this Island, being a work of art sculpted and painted from the hands of Mother Nature, boasts several prestigious art museums.
The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum
The newest museum on the Island comes by the generous contributions of Richard and Jane Manoogian and showcases Native American baskets to present-day paintings. It’s a three-level structure that focuses upon fine and decorative arts throughout the years. Interactive displays, hands-on activities, exhibitions and a Kids’ Art Studio. A must see.
Surrey Hills Carriage Museum
An antique carriage museum that features a working blacksmith shop, Surrey Hills lets you explore and learn about carriages. Three shops offer food, gifts and souvenirs and a picnic ground for a reflective time.
St. Anne’s Church
A museum that highlights the religious history of the Island goes back to the late 1600’s when the Island and America was in its infancy. It reflects upon the dedicated Jesuits and Catholic immigrants that helped form the Island’s culture.
Stuart House Museum
It illuminates the Island’s history and is where John Jacob Astor made his living as a fur trader during the 1800s.
The Tower Museum
The Tower Museum not only offers best view on the Island – eight stories above ground level, it’s also a fascinating look at the past. On your way up, each floor features presentations that delve into the history of Mission Point, Mackinac Island and the surrounding waterways.
There are several playgrounds to while away the hours on Mackinac Island. Behind the Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Island Art Museum is a cute playground with a jungle jim for children to have fun. The Mackinac Island Public School is at the foothills of Grand Hotel and offers a large jungle jim, swing sets overlooking the straits of Mackinac and other fun stuff. In the middle of the Island is Great Turtle Park. The park has a baseball diamond, skateboard park, swings, monkey bars and a BBQ area complete with picnic tables.