Historic Mackinac attractions now opening for the season

After a long winter, spring is emerging on Mackinac Island and ferry services have resumed regular shuttles from the mainland. Many of the island’s shops, restaurants and lodging accommodations are opening for the season.

Now, here comes one more sign that Mackinac is stirring back to life.

Staff at Fort Mackinac will blast a cannon salute 9 a.m. Thursday, May 3, to commence another season of history tours, live demonstrations and incredible views at the 238-year-old stronghold 150 feet above the Straits of Mackinac.

Visitors are beginning to enjoy the spring beauty of Mackinac with more than 70 miles of trails for biking and hiking, unique downtown shops and, of course, world-renowned fudge. You can join them and check these historic attractions off your bucket list starting this week:

  • Fort Mackinac opens Thursday, May 3. Built on Mackinac’s high bluffs back in 1780 by British redcoats, the fort came under American control in the 19th century and was the country’s second national park. When the fort ceased operation as a military outpost in 1895, it transferred to state control and became part of Michigan’s first state park.


The fort features daily rifle and cannon demonstrations as well as guided walking tours of 14 original buildings full of interactive, hands-on exhibits and period furnishings from the 1880s. You can learn about 19th-century life and training of the Victorian soldier, family life on the fort, medical treatments and military justice. At certain times of the year you can even watch a court martial re-enactment. As a bonus, the panoramic vistas from Fort Mackinac are among the best on the island.


  • The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum opens for the season Thursday, May 3. Located in the historic Indian Dormitory on the island, the three-story museum features interactive displays and exhibitions to showcase fine and decorative arts, from Native American baskets and historic oil paintings from the 1700s to modern-day works. There’s also a Kids’ Art Studio for hands-on activities.


  • Mackinac Island State Park covers 80 percent of the island including many historic buildings and sites like Fort Holmes and British Landing. The state park Visitor’s Center opens for the season 9 a.m. Friday, May 11. Located right in town, the center is a great place to buy tickets for Fort Mackinac or the art museum and to get info on visiting other historic buildings and sites in the state park.

Also (and perhaps less historic) the annual Mackinac Craft Beer Weekend is May 4-6. Check out the island’s calendar of events for updates on what else is stirring on Mackinac!

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