Mackinac Island travel guide for families

When vacationing means not only packed suitcases but also a car packed with kids, Mackinac Island is the ideal destination. From sampling fudge to biking adventures to exploring historic forts, Mackinac Island offers lots of fun for the whole family.

Since traveling with kids can keep your hands full, we want to make it easier on you and compile what you should know right here – because we know before you travel with family there are many “what abouts” that need answers.

Kid-friendly places to stay include Grand Hotel and many of Mackinac Island’s other resorts, hotels, cottages, condos and B&Bs.

What About Family-Friendly Places to Stay on Mackinac Island?

Families seek places to stay that are not only practical but fun for a range of ages. Mackinac Island features distinctive hotels, resorts, and cottages perfect for resting your head and providing the space your family needs. Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel was even recognized by Jetsetter Magazine as one of 5 luxury hotels with a kid-friendly vibe. With free golf for ages 17 and younger, lawn games in the tea garden, a swimming pool, the World’s Longest Front Porch, Woodlands Activity Center, and family-style dinner options, the historic hotel is a premier family experience.

Bicycle Street Inn is another great family option, with mesmerizing views right in the heart of downtown Mackinac Island, suites for five or more people and an attached restaurant, Winchester’s Whiskey and Bourbon Room. Meanwhile, many places including Main Street Inn have connecting rooms available; Hotel Iroquois, Lake View Hotel and the Inn at Stonecliffe have swimming pools; and Mission Point Resort even offers complimentary kids activities and free dining for ages 12 and under.

Some places to stay on Mackinac Island even offer special packages for family stays.

Mackinac Island offers family dining experiences for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and, of course, fudge any time of day!

What About Kid-Friendly Dining on Mackinac Island?

Mackinac Island offers diverse dining options perfect for families whether the kids are picky eaters or possess a more expansive palate. Establishments like Island Slice Pizzeria, Chuckwagon, Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor and Pancake House have all your comfort food favorites covered. Many Mackinac Island restaurants also feature kid menus and accommodate dietary restrictions. Check out the Mackinac Island Dining Guide for an in-depth look at menus.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the many fudge shops of Mackinac Island. Fudge shops provide not only the perfect treat for kids, but watching fudge making doubles as a must-do family activity!

And what screams family more than a picnic on Mackinac Island? Visitors are always encouraged to stop by Doud’s Market to pick up their picnic favorites and sprawl out on a picnic blanket at Marquette Park. You can also order to-go meals at many Mackinac Island restaurants.

There’s family fun on Mackinac Island all over, from iconic Arch Rock to historic Fort Mackinac to the famous butterfly houses.

What About Family Fun Activities on Mackinac Island?

More than 80% of Mackinac Island is the Mackinac Island State Park – so it’s essentially one large playground begging for adventurers! You’ll find more than 70 miles of trails, some paved, some shared by horses and bikes, and others only for hiking. You can get in the water and explore by kayak, too! There’s a lot for families to see by foot, pedal, paddle or horseback. It can really be a choose-your-own-adventure. Who knows what the day may bring within the Mackinac Island wilderness?

Scattered throughout Mackinac Island are also various fascinating geological formations like Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, and Crack-in-the-Island. Mackinac Island is also home to two butterfly houses, Wings of Mackinac and The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World. Kids can learn about the life cycles of butterflies, different kind of species, what they eat and more.

A stroll through historic Fort Mackinac is often the pinnacle island experience for children – because how can they not love a cannon firing demonstration?! The fort is comprised of 14 buildings, one of which is even the oldest in Michigan. You can view scheduled demonstrations, interact with costumed interpreters and see hands-on exhibits within the fort’s walls.

Downtown, check out the incredible 3-D Maze of Mirrors that’s great for all ages and The Haunted Theatre, a vintage haunted house full of spooky fun where your imagination will run wild.

A Mackinac Island visit is truly complete with a family horse-and-carriage tour. It’s a unique way to experience the Island’s beauty and have your children feeling like princesses and princes. And for kids who really want to get up close to horses, Mackinac Island horseback riding lessons are available, too!

Family travel can have its challenges, but Mackinac Island makes it as easy and accessible as possible. For any other “what abouts” you may have, our friendly and helpful staff is ready to assist. Contact us at the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau today.


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