Ah, a summer bike ride. Imagine yourself leisurely pedaling down the street and feeling the breeze on your face as you coast along.
That’s the feeling you get on car-free Mackinac Island, a horse-drawn community where carriage rides and bicycles are the primary ways of getting around. It creates the ideal pace of life for a relaxing vacation.
For visitors who prefer to experience Mackinac Island’s laid-back atmosphere by bicycle, you can bring your own bike on one of the Mackinac Island ferry boats that depart daily from the mainland in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. It’s just a small fee to add a bike onto your ferry ticket.
But if you’d rather not bring your own bicycle, you can still enjoy one of Mackinac Island’s most cherished pastimes because there are several bike rental shops downtown. In fact, there are more bicycles per person on Mackinac Island than anywhere else in the world.
Tips for Renting Bikes on Mackinac Island
If you’d like to rent a bike or e-scooter while you’re on Mackinac Island, either as a recreational activity or just to get around, here are a few things to know:
- Because cars are prohibited on Mackinac Island, one of the most common ways of getting around is by bicycle. It’s also one of the most scenic ways to soak up the natural beauty of Mackinac Island.
- Mackinac Island has several places that rent bikes, from single-speed cruisers, mountain bikes and tandem bicycles built for two to tag-along trailers and tricycles for little kids. Electric wheelchairs and e-scooters are also available. Helmets are included.
- Many Mackinac Island bike rental shops offer rates by the hour, by the day or per 24 hours. Rates range from about $7 to $15 per hour, about $40 to $80 per day and about $50 to $95 per 24-hour period, depending on the kind of bike. Electric wheelchairs and e-scooters tend to rent at the upper end of these price ranges. Check with individual Mackinac Island bike shops for specific rates. Some bike shops also offer a half-day rate and a discounted overnight rate that spans off-hours from the evening through the early morning.
- One of the iconic Mackinac Island experiences is to pedal all the way around the perimeter of Mackinac Island on M-185, the only state highway in the country that prohibits automobiles. The 8.2-mile ride is mostly flat with a few hills and takes 60 to 90 minutes at a leisurely pace.
- Adventurous bike riders will enjoy cruising some of the 70-plus miles of paved and unpaved trails through Mackinac Island State Park. Although many visitors spend much of their time downtown, the state park actually covers more than 80% of Mackinac Island. It’s where you can pedal to extraordinary rock formations such as Sugar Loaf and other Mackinac Island landmarks including Fort Holmes and Anne’s Tablet.
Because bicycles are a handy way to get around Mackinac Island, it can be nice to have access to one throughout your visit. But you also can get around Mackinac Island by horse-drawn taxi or by foot, because many shops, attractions and restaurants are within walking distance of most places to stay.
If you only need a bicycle to pedal around Mackinac Island or to explore some of the trails through the state park, then a rental by the hour, half-day or full day is a good way to go. A two-hour rental should be enough to ride all the way around M-185 and stop along the way for sightseeing and maybe a dip in the water at British Landing or a snack at Cannonball Drive Inn. (Note that part of M-185 is undergoing repairs during the 2021 summer season.)
A half-day rental will give you the chance to pedal around Mackinac Island and ride some of the state park trails. With a full-day rental, you could see many of the iconic sights including Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, Crack-in-the-Island, Skull Cave and more.
Mackinac Island bike shops provide maps to help you find your way, and bike shop staff can offer advice on how long it will take to see the specific list of sights that interest you.