Finally, it’s here! Opening day for Mackinac Island is Sunday, April 21.
Sure, people have been visiting Mackinac and having fun here all winter. But opening day is when the ferry boats resume regular service and the island really starts to emerge from a season of hibernation. The horses are returning. The restaurants and stores are reopening. The attractions are resuming operations.
When opening day arrives, things start getting back to just how they were last year – and the year before that, and the decade before that, and the century before that. Part of the charm of Mackinac is that as much as the world changes, the island stays the same.
Except that, well, some things on Mackinac do change. And they change for the better. In fact, there’s a lot of great new things on the island this year.
Here’s a rundown of what’s new on Mackinac in 2019:
More awards! – Mackinac continually gets recognized as a top travel destination by trusted and well-known sources including Expedia (Most Tourist-Friendly U.S. City, 2018), Coastal Living (Best Little Beach Towns to Visit This Summer, 2018) and CondeNast (Best U.S. Islands, 2018). Those are just some of the many 2018 honors bestowed upon the island.
Well, there already are some new awards for 2019! TripAdvisor has named Mackinac one of the World’s 15 Most Romantic Island Getaways For Couples and Cosmopolitan named the island the Most Luxurious Staycation Destination in Michigan.
New ferry dock – Unless you take your own boat to Mackinac or charter a flight into the island’s airport, you’ll get here on a ferry. Star Line and Shepler’s are the two companies that run ferry service to Mackinac. This spring, Shepler’s is wrapping up construction of a renovated dock. The expanded dock is 10 feet wider and 25 feet longer to improve traffic flow and it includes covered, climate-controlled waiting space for passengers. There’s also a new ticket office at the dock. Construction is nearing completion and should be pretty much wrapped up by mid-May.
New places to stay – It’s been a few years since a new hotel opened on Mackinac, and now two of them will debut in 2019! The Mackinac House is an upscale, family bed-and-breakfast with 19 rooms on Market Street. Although the three-story building is a new structure, the architecture makes The Mackinac House look as if it has been on the island forever. The B&B is scheduled to open around Memorial Day.
The other new lodging facility on Mackinac is Waterfront Collection South, which has 28 rooms with many walk-out balconies overlooking Main Street on one side and the waterfront on the other. The new, three-story hotel is right at the Shepler’s ferry dock, next to the existing Waterfront Collection and Bicycle Street Inn & Suites on Main Street. The exterior matches the historic look of Mackinac, while the interior amenities provide what the travelers of 2019 are looking for.
Remodeled resorts – Three of the larger resorts on Mackinac are completing significant renovations in time for opening day: Grand Hotel has added four new Cupola Suites and two new parlors on the fourth floor, restoring the iconic building’s original roofline from the 1800s with a row of dormers lining the entire roof of the attic; Island House has redesigned all 91 rooms with a casual, coastal feel to commemorate 50 years since the historic hotel was saved from demolition in 1969; Mission Point has remodeled all 133 rooms in its Straits Lodge and added air conditioning to the resort’s public spaces and restaurants.
New attractions – Visitors can re-live the 19th-century British capture of the island through an immersive multimedia presentation in a new exhibit at historic Fort Mackinac. The fort also has an updated Office exhibit and this year debuts new walking tours as well as a Bayonet Drill Demonstration.
Elsewhere in Mackinac Island State Park, the Mackinac Island Botanical Trail will officially open in 2019. The trail behind the Scout Barracks weaves along the Arch Rock Bicycle Trail with turnouts that highlight the variety of beautiful native flowers and plants that have thrived on the island for centuries.
Mackinac Island is a living museum, and what goes on here is just what went on here 100 years ago. But there are a few new things in 2019 to accentuate the island’s never-changing quality. Come and enjoy!