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7 sights to see on a horse-drawn public carriage tour of Mackinac Island

A horse-drawn public carriage tour is one of the most popular ways to take in the gorgeous scenery of Mackinac Island. In less than two hours, you can get the lay of the land from downtown up into Mackinac Island State Park and back – all while making friends with some of the island’s iconic horses.

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours provides the public tour rides, starting and ending right on Main Street with several stops along the way. To give you a glimpse of what it’s like, here are seven sights to see on a horse-drawn public carriage tour of Mackinac Island:

An image of two playful horses with the caption that horse-drawn carriage rides are Mackinac Island's #1 attraction

7 Sights to See on a Horse-Drawn Public Carriage Tour of Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island horses stand at the ready on Main Street downtown to take visitors on a carriage tour of the sights.

The ticket office for Mackinac Island Carriage Tours is right downtown on Main Street, near the ferry docks. No reservations are needed. Just buy your ticket and off you go!

Everything to know about horses on Mackinac Island

A horse-drawn carriage tour passes by historic Grand Hotel on the way to Mackinac Island State Park.

After winding through historic downtown Mackinac Island, the carriage tour heads up Cadotte Avenue past Grand Hotel. While the tour does not stop at the stately resort, you can choose to end your tour here later and enjoy some time strolling the longest front porch in the world.

RELATED: What is the Grand Hotel dress code on Mackinac Island?

Mackinac Island visitors explore the history of horse-drawn transportation at the Surrey Hill Carriage Museum.

The first stop on a horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island is Surrey Hill. This is where you’ll transfer from a two-horse carriage used in town to a 3-horse hitch for the main part of the tour. But before boarding the next carriage, feel free to explore the history of horse-drawn transportation on Mackinac Island at the Surrey Hill Carriage Museum. Or venture into Wings of Mackinac for an up-close and personal look at butterflies from around the world. Those are just two of the attractions you can enjoy in Surrey Hill during a break in your tour.

A cannon stands guard inside the Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery on Michigan’s Mackinac Island.

From Surrey Hill, the horse-drawn carriage tour takes you through Mackinac Island State Park past sights including Skull Cave and Post Cemetery where Fort Mackinac soldiers, their families and “The Chaplain’s Lady” are buried.

Magnificent Arch Rock looms high above Lake Huron on the east shore of Mackinac Island.

The next stop on a horse-drawn carriage tour is the picturesque Arch Rock, one of many famous rock formations on Mackinac Island. The tour will make a brief stop here for viewing, and restrooms are available.

A historical interpreter on Mackinac Island tells visitors about what life was like for soldiers in the 1800s.

After snapping photos of Arch Rock, you’ll reboard your horse-drawn carriage and proceed to Fort Mackinac. For an additional fee, you can explore the historic fort that dates to 1780 and includes 14 original buildings, including the oldest one in Michigan. Historical interpreters are on-site daily to lead demonstrations and share what life was like as a soldier on Mackinac Island.

(Tip: A ticket to Fort Mackinac includes admission to other Mackinac State Historic Parks attractions on Mackinac Island including the Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, Biddle House Mackinac Island Native American Museum, Benjamin Blacksmith Shop, American Fur Company Store and Dr. Beaumont Museum and more. You may be able to get a deal on a combo package including a Mackinac Island ferry ticket and Fort Mackinac admission.)

Q&A with a Fort Mackinac interpretive soldier

The Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence is on Mackinac Island with a great view of the surrounding water.

On the way from Fort Mackinac back to Surrey Hill, you’ll pass by the Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence (which remains closed to public tours through the pandemic). Then, once back at Surrey Hill, you’ll switch carriages again for the return to town. If you prefer, you can end your tour at Grand Hotel.

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours offers horse-drawn rides from early May through late October, and no reservations are taken. In addition to public tours, private carriage tours are available by the hour for up to eight guests with only same-day reservations available.

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