8 free things to do on Mackinac Island

Getting up close to Mackinac Island’s iconic Arch Rock: Free.

Stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge: Free.

Walking along the water, chatting in a chair, hanging in a hammock: Free. Free. Free.

Let’s face it. You can spend a lot of money on vacation between transportation, lodging, food and entertainment. But, as they say, the best things in life are free. And there’s a whole lot of free things to do on Mackinac Island.

For one, almost all of Mackinac Island is a state park that’s free to explore. Here are eight more things to do that won’t cost you a penny.

Things To Do On Mackinac Island That Are Free

Man With Cap and Backpack On Hike Stopping to Observe the Horizon of Mackinac Island

Hiking on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island has more than 70 miles of paved and natural paths. Priceless views like this one are everywhere. Just lace up your shoes, open your eyes and soak in the extraordinary beauty.

4 hiking trails to explore on Mackinac Island

Two Boys Standing on Shore and Skipping Stones in Water Surrounding Mackinac Island

Skipping stones on Mackinac Island

Some of the world’s best professional stone skippers come to Mackinac Island each Fourth of July for the annual W.T. Rabe Stone Skipping Tournament, held at Windermere Point. But all season long there are spots all over Mackinac Island where you can make your heart sing by zinging rocks into the surf. Get tips from Mackinac Island’s resident stone-skipping champ here and let it fly.

And if you’re on the island July 4, keep in mind that the tournament is open to amateurs, too. Maybe you can show up world record-holder Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner or dethrone other past champions including Dave “Lefty” Kolar, Mike “Airtight Alibi” Williamson and Jon “The Green Giant” Jennings.

Best spots on Mackinac Island for skipping stones

Outside View of Marquette Park Surrounding Fort Mackinac During Sunny Day on Mackinac Island

Playing in a Mackinac Island park

The expanse of green grass in Marquette Park, right at the foot of Fort Mackinac, is a popular place to hang out. Marquette Park was named by Readers’ Digest as the Best Picnic Spot in Michigan (one of many fantastic picnic spots on Mackinac Island.) You can make a meal on the cheap by picking up ingredients from Doud’s Market, America’s oldest family-owned grocery store.

In addition to Marquette Park, there also are several playgrounds on Mackinac Island including Great Turtle Park where there’s a soccer field, sand volleyball court, basketball court, softball field, disc golf course and a pavilion with a fireplace and seasonal bathrooms.

Places to go on Mackinac Island: Marquette Park

Stars sparkle in the night sky over the water off Mackinac Island

Stargazing on Mackinac Island

More than 80% of Mackinac Island is wilderness. Outside of downtown, there’s not a lot of light pollution. And that makes the night sky brilliant. You can see the majesty of the heavens most anywhere around the island, but perhaps the most awe-inspiring spot for stargazing on Mackinac Island is at Fort Holmes on the island’s highest point.

11 reasons to spend the night on Mackinac Island

Woman Walking Barefoot in the Surf Some Distance from Swimmer in the Waters Surrounding Mackinac Island

Wading in the water off Mackinac Island

Although there’s not a lot of sandy beach on Mackinac Island, the whole island is surrounded by the clear, blue waters of the Great Lakes. British Landing, about halfway around the island from downtown, is a great place to wade along the shore or go out for a swim.

The best beaches on Mackinac Island

A stone arch and gate mark the entry to Ste. Anne's Cemetery on Mackinac Island

Visiting Mackinac Island cemeteries

Seriously. Part of the allure of Mackinac Island is that it seems like time stands still when you’re here. Mackinac Island’s three cemeteries offer perhaps the most tangible experience of that history. You can take a respectful, solemn stroll back in time and see the island’s oldest identified grave, which dates to 1833, and military burial sites that go all the way back to the War of 1812.

A look at the cemeteries of Mackinac Island

Young Woman With Sunglasses Smiling for Selfie Beside Arch Rock Over Waters Surrounding Mackinac Island

Sightseeing on Mackinac Island

The 50-foot wide Arch Rock is the most famous rock formation, yet it’s only one of many one-of-a-kind selfie spots on Mackinac Island. Fort Holmes sits 320 feet above lake level. Mackinac Island’s Sugar Loaf rises 75 feet out of the ground. And Crack-in-the-Island is literally a crack in the island. Go ahead and try to wiggle right into it!

10 ‘supernatural’ sights to see in Mackinac Island State Park

Two Brothers Sitting in White Adirondack Chairs Outside Historic Hotel on Mackinac Island

Relaxing on Mackinac Island

Go ahead and put your feet up. It is a vacation, after all. Whether you like hammocking out in the woods (a reminder, overnight hammocking is not allowed on Mackinac Island) or snoozing in an Adirondack chair on the porch of your hotel, caressed by the island breeze, it is totally free – and perfectly acceptable – to laze the day away on Mackinac Island. Take a deep breath, exhale and relax.

Great ways to unplug and relax on Mackinac Island

Well, that’s eight things you can do for free on Mackinac Island. You can find dozens of more Mackinac Island activities here.

You can also find budget-friendly deals on Mackinac Island places to stay. Plus, some Mackinac Island ferry packages include discounts on island attractions such as horse-drawn carriage tours, Fort Mackinac and the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House.


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