One of the many unique places to go while visiting Mackinac Island is British Landing. For starters, it has a fascinating history (more on that later). It’s also incredibly scenic and has a lot of fun things to do.
Yet, because it’s located near the northern tip of the island about halfway around M-185 from downtown, most Mackinac Island visitors never make it to British Landing.
Here are six reasons you should check out British Landing when you visit Mackinac Island:
Cannonball Oasis at Mackinac Island’s British Landing
Because British Landing is halfway around the car-free highway that circles Mackinac Island, it’s a nice place to stop for a break on the 8.2-mile bike ride all the way around. Aside from catching your breath, another reason to stop is for a snack at Cannonball Oasis. Known for its famous fried pickles, the Cannonball’s menu also includes burgers, hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, salads and more. On a warm summer day, ice cream really hits the spot. There are picnic tables right on site, and a rocky beach just a few steps away.
Picnic at Mackinac Island’s British Landing
Whether you order from Cannonball Oasis or pack a picnic with groceries from Doud’s Market in downtown Mackinac Island, British Landing is a fantastic picnic spot. In addition to picnic tables at the Cannonball, you could spread a blanket out on the rocky beach with views of the Mackinac Bridge in the distance. The beach at British Landing is lined with trees that make it a relaxing place to hang a hammock, too.
Photo ops at Mackinac Island’s British Landing
With an old cannon right on the beach, British Landing has a ready-made prop for spectacular photos. You can make the cannon itself the star, set against Mackinac Island’s gorgeous fall color. Or, highlight your friends and family with the cannon anchoring the shot. British Landing is a popular place for family portraits, senior graduation pictures and engagement photo shoots. It also is a beautiful Mackinac Island wedding venue.
Stoneskipping at Mackinac Island’s British Landing
As host of the world’s oldest stoneskipping competition, Mackinac Island has a long history with the leisurely activity. Full of smooth, flat stones, the rocky beach at British Landing is one of the best stoneskipping spots on Mackinac Island. See how close you can get to the world record of 88 skips set by Kurt Steiner, one of Mackinac Island’s cherished champions.
British Landing Nature Center on Mackinac Island
British Landing is where you can find a short nature trail that loops past the British Landing Nature Center operated by Mackinac State Historic Parks. The center has restrooms, a bike repair station and offers free admission to see the exhibits and interpretive panels. You can even talk about Mackinac Island plants and wildlife with a naturalist on site. The state park also has a nature trail with interpretive panels on the other side of Mackinac Island near Arch Rock.
Discover Friendship’s Altar near Mackinac Island’s British Landing
As the British Landing Nature Trail courses through the woods for about a half-mile, it passes a steep bluff formed by receding glacial waters and comes across a giant chunk of limestone sticking out of the earth. It’s called Friendship’s Altar, one of many legendary rock formations on Mackinac Island. Right near Friendship’s Altar is a wooden overlook that you can climb to get a breathtaking look above the Mackinac Island tree canopy and over the surrounding water.
The history of Mackinac Island’s British Landing
Now that you know about the many things to do at British Landing, here’s some of that intriguing history of the place. It’s called British Landing because it’s where British troops came ashore during the War of 1812 when they overtook Fort Mackinac and took control of the island. Although the fort and the island were returned to the Americans at the end of that war, a cannon still stands at British Landing to commemorate what happened there more than 200 years ago.
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