Did you know that Mackinac Island is home to the oldest baseball field in all of Michigan? Or that the waters around Mackinac Island offer some the best fishing available in the Great Lakes?
Because historic Fort Mackinac looms high on the bluffs, Mackinac Island often is identified by its military past. But the lives of soldiers stationed at Fort Mackinac involved much more than military training. They often spent their free time playing sports and games, or just getting outside to enjoy the natural beauty of Mackinac Island. They fished and sailed. Went ice skating and sledding in the winter. And as far back as 150 years ago, they played baseball.
Just as 18th– and 19th-century soldiers found Mackinac Island to be the perfect playground, so do 21st-century tourists today. Here are just 15 of the ways that Mackinac Island visitors get outside to enjoy some friendly competition and recreational activities:
Golf on Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is home to perhaps the world’s most diverse collection of golf courses. The Jewel at Grand Hotel is a classic 18-hole resort course that’s beautifully manicured and features a one-of-a-kind, 15-minute horse-drawn carriage ride between the two nines. Wawashkamo Golf Club is Michigan’s oldest continually played course, full of both golf and military history. And The Greens at Mackinac is an 18-hole natural grass putting course that’s fun for all ages, both experienced golfers and novices alike, and its setting along the water makes for stunning views.
Bocce and croquet on Mackinac Island
When Mackinac Island evolved from a military outpost into a tourist destination during the last half of the 19th century, bocce and croquet were popular leisure games. And just as visitors played those lawn games then, they play them now. The open spaces of grass in Marquette Park, at Windermere Point, in the Grand Hotel Tea Garden and on the lawn at Mission Point Resort are great places to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of bocce or croquet.
RELATED: How to play bocce ball
Cornhole on Mackinac Island
Another relaxing lawn game that’s popular on Mackinac Island is cornhole. Again, the Grand Hotel Tea Garden and the lawn at Mission Point Resort are natural places to play, with equipment available on site. Mackinac Island even hosts a cornhole tournament each summer.
Stone skipping on Mackinac Island
Surrounded by water, Mackinac Island is a natural site for stone skipping. In fact, one of the world’s most prestigious stone skipping competitions is held on Mackinac Island every Fourth of July. Windermere Point is where the professionals (and amateurs, too) display their skills in that contest. But there are many places around Mackinac Island where you can find smooth, flat stones and make them dance on the water.
Tennis on Mackinac Island
Two full-service resorts on Mackinac Island include tennis courts. Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel has three clay tennis courts open to guests plus Michigan’s only clay pickleball court, while Mackinac Island’s Mission Point Resort has a tennis court overlooking Lake Huron. There also are two public courts in Mackinac Island State Park located behind Fort Mackinac along the Arch Rock Bike Trail.
Kayaking on Mackinac Island
One of the joys of spending the night on Mackinac Island is taking a sunset or sunrise kayak ride. Great Turtle Kayak Tours on Mackinac Island is the place to go for kayak and paddleboard rentals. Especially if you have been to Mackinac Island in the past, a paddle through the water around Mackinac Island provides a unique perspective.
Geocaching on Mackinac Island
You wouldn’t know it just by walking around, but there are more than 100 geocaches on Mackinac Island at any one time. But because they’re hidden, you have to be looking to find them. With forest covering much of Mackinac Island, there’s lots of spots that are perfect for geocaching.
Hiking on Mackinac Island
Within Mackinac Island State Park are 70-plus miles of trails suitable for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Hiking up to Fort Holmes, the highest point on Mackinac Island, or venturing in search of Mackinac Island rock formations including Sugar Loaf, Skull Cave and Crack-in-the-Island are great experiences for hikers of all skill levels and abilities.
Biking on Mackinac Island
With motor vehicles prohibited on Mackinac Island, many visitors get around by bicycle. Biking is a means of getting from point A to point B on Mackinac Island. But it’s also a recreational activity. Many people pedal 8.2 miles all the way around the perimeter of Mackinac Island on M-185, the only state highway in the country without cars. You also can bike many of the 70-plus miles of trails through Mackinac Island State Park.
Running on Mackinac Island
From the 8.2-mile roadway around Mackinac Island on M-185 to the 70-plus miles of trails through Mackinac Island State Park, there’s an unlimited selection of running routes on Mackinac Island – both paved and unpaved. Plus, Mackinac Island hosts four running events each year in May, June, September and October.
Horseback Riding on Mackinac Island
While horse-drawn carriage tours are perhaps the most popular visitor activity on Mackinac Island, there also are opportunities to go horseback riding. The liveries on Mackinac Island offer both guided and unguided trail riding through the miles of earthen paths crisscrossing Mackinac Island State Park. You can even get lessons at the Mackinac Horseman’s Association and Community Equestrian Center.
Bowling on Mackinac Island
Well, there are no traditional bowling alleys on Mackinac Island. Instead, The Woods restaurant on Mackinac Island is home to the country’s oldest operating duckpin bowling alley with smaller balls and pins than the more common 10-pin bowling game.
Baseball on Mackinac Island
Nineteenth-century soldiers aren’t the only ones to have enjoyed America’s pastime on Mackinac Island. The parade grounds outside Fort Mackinac remain the oldest ballfield in Michigan. Each summer the field hosts an annual vintage base ball game on Mackinac Island played by the rules of the 1800s. The field is also a great place for visitors to have a catch.
Basketball on Mackinac Island
About 500 people live on Mackinac Island year-round, so the city of Mackinac Island has a park full of recreational opportunities just like many other cities do. Mackinac Island’s Great Turtle Park features a soccer field, sand volleyball court, basketball court, softball field and even a disc golf course.
Fishing on Mackinac Island
In the 1800s, the waters around Mackinac Island supported a thriving commercial fishery. Today, the waters are still home to many lake trout, salmon and carp. Booking a fishing charter boat out of Mackinac Island is a great way to land the same kind of catch that fishermen would reel in two centuries ago.
Parasailing on Mackinac Island
In addition to water sports such as fishing, sailing, boating and kayaking, Mackinac Island also is a place to experience the thrill of parasailing. Mackinaw Parasailing will take you out into the Straits of Mackinac, then up – way up – to get an exhilarating view of Mackinac Island before you land back on the boat’s flight deck safe and dry.