5 reasons to visit Mackinac Island before you’re 40

Like to hike? Or mountain bike? How about slice through the water in a kayak?

If outdoor recreation is your jam, then Mackinac Island is a destination you don’t want to miss.

Yes, Mackinac Island. That car-free place with the world-famous fudge, historic hotels and 18th-century fort. That…and so much more.

Two Friends Stopping to Pose for Photo During Bike on Forested Hiking Trail on Mackinac Island

Outdoor Adventure on Mackinac Island

Did you know more than 80% of Mackinac Island is state parkland? That there’s more than 70 miles of trails crisscrossing the island? That in addition to hiking, biking and kayaking the list of outdoor things to do on Mackinac Island also includes boating and parasailing, disc golf and stoneskipping, horseback riding, geocaching and lots more?

Yet, Mackinac Island’s natural outdoor playground is just one reason to visit sooner in life rather than later. Here are four more reasons to visit Mackinac Island before you’re 40:

Musician on Stage Playing Guitar and Singing Into Microphone During Concert on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Nightlife

Mackinac Island is full of unique bars and restaurants including several with live music after dark. From orchestra music at Grand Hotel to incredible guitar talent at the Pink Pony, anyone can find their vibe on Mackinac Island. And the best part is all the venues are close together, within walking distance (which is good, because there are no cars on the island!). There’s such a wide variety of music in such a concentrated area that it’s easy to go from one place to the next and get the full experience of Mackinac Island nightlife.

Pub-crawl on car-free Mackinac Island

Young Woman Carrying Shopping Bag Posing For Photo in Front of Shops on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Shopping

You can find a souvenir T-shirt on Mackinac Island if that’s what you want. There’s also lots of super cute boutiques with styles you’ll love. And because there are no retail chains on Mackinac Island, everything is unique (except Starbucks, but that’s a good thing!). While you’re shopping, you can check out one of Mackinac Island’s many extraordinary restaurants for a drink and a bite to eat.

Downtown Mackinac Island: Something for every visitor

An American flag waves in the breeze behind a group of young adults on a Sip 'n Sail Cruise in the water off Mackinac Island

Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours and Boat Cruises on Mackinac Island

A horse-drawn carriage ride around Mackinac Island is the most popular activity for families, and it’s a fun activity for Millennials, too. The tour takes you over a lot of the island and whets your appetite for what you’d like to explore more. For a different kind of tour, book a Mackinac Island boat cruise that gets you out on the water. There’s a variety of options including some that take you right under the mighty Mackinac Bridge while you enjoy live entertainment on board and a cash bar.

6 extraordinary boat tours around Mackinac Island

Woman Leaping Joyfully Off Small Cliff and Diving Into Waters Surrounding Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Beaches

Various travel publications have hailed Mackinac Island as one of the country’s Best Little Beach Towns over the years, and with good reason. Mackinac Island has beautiful beaches. Not so much sandy shores where you lounge the day away, but scenic spots to wade in the water, skip some stones, fly a kite and enjoy the refreshing lake breeze. If you’re really adventurous, there are even a few spots where you can jump in and go for a swim! One of the best beaches is at Mackinac Island’s British Landing, halfway around the island from downtown. It’s a great stop on a bike ride around the perimeter of Mackinac Island where you can take a break, grab some food at Cannonball Oasis and maybe even take a dip.

The beautiful beaches of Mackinac Island

When To Visit Mackinac Island

Now that you know what to do on Mackinac Island, when should you visit? The main tourist season runs from late April through the end of October, although you can visit Mackinac Island throughout the winter as well. The opening weeks in May can be a great time to visit before the season’s peak in summer. The atmosphere is electric on the Fourth of July. You can also build a trip around one of Mackinac Island’s four road races held in May, June, September and October.

Whenever you visit Mackinac Island, you can enjoy really accessible outdoor recreation. And maybe the best part is that there’s outdoor recreation for all levels, whether you want to bring your mountain bike and really do it up or just take a walk along the waterfront to Mission Point Resort or relax with a picnic in Marquette Park.


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