You might think of Mackinac Island first and foremost as an amazing wedding destination, a haven for history buffs or a nature photographer’s dream. It’s also the perfect place for your next pub crawl, a getaway with the girls or a weekend with the guys.
But, hey, as much as adults love Mackinac Island, kids enjoy hanging out here as well. There are so many things to do when visiting Mackinac Island with kids. And not just little kids. Tweens and teens, too!
Here’s a look at just a few of the many things for teens to do on Mackinac Island (with price range of the activities in parentheses):
Visit Mackinac Island’s historic Fort Mackinac
You don’t have to be a history professor to enjoy a visit to Fort Mackinac ($). That’s because the place is full of interactive exhibits that enable teens to experience what life was like in the 1800s on Mackinac Island for soldiers and civilians alike. From rifle demonstrations to marching re-enactments, there are engaging programs on the agenda each day. You can even have a chance to blast the fort cannon! The fort’s gift shop is a great place to pick up a souvenir. And guess what? Your fort ticket includes admission to other Mackinac State Historic Parks attractions on Mackinac Island including the Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, Biddle House Mackinac Island Native American Museum, Benjamin Blacksmith Shop and the American Fur Co. Store & Dr. Beaumont Museum.
Stroll through a Mackinac Island butterfly house
People of all ages love touring Mackinac Island’s butterfly houses, and a visit will even put a smile on your teenager’s face! After all, who can resist the joy of having colorful butterflies land right on your arm? Mackinac Island is home to both Wings of Mackinac ($), located in Surrey Hill near a Mackinac Island Carriage Tour stop ($$), and The Original Butterfly House & Insect World ($) behind St. Anne’s Church in the Mission District.
Go horseback riding through Mackinac Island State Park
While a horse-drawn carriage tour is a popular activity for Mackinac Island visitors ($$) of all ages, many teens get a kick out of taking the reins themselves and riding around the island on horseback. Both Cindy’s and Jack’s Riding Stables offer horseback riding tours of Mackinac Island ($$), either with a guide or on your own.
Embark on a scavenger hunt or go geocaching in Mackinac Island State Park
See if you can find Mackinac Island’s infamous Crack in the Island (free). Or try to make your way to Eagle Point Cave (free). There are lots of legendary landmarks in Mackinac Island State Park, and not all of them are easy to find! Likewise, there are hundreds of geocaches (free) hidden all over Mackinac Island.
Get a thrill by parasailing off Mackinac Island
Soar up to 600 feet in the air and get a bird’s eye view of Mackinac Island and the surrounding Straits of Mackinac. Mackinaw Parasailing ($$$) offers single and tandem flights, with early-bird discounts for morning flights.
Ride a bike up to Mackinac Island’s Fort Holmes
Pedaling all the way up to the highest point on Mackinac Island is no small feat, and it’s a challenge that teens will love. The payoff from Fort Holmes (free) is a panoramic view of the island below, with a restored fort from the War of 1812 there to explore. There’s also picnic tables, making Fort Holmes a great spot for lunch to celebrate reaching the top of Mackinac Island!
Paddle to Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock
Arch Rock is Instagram-worthy for teens. And it’s even better to see Mackinac Island’s most iconic rock formation from the water with Great Turtle Kayak Tours ($$$). You can put into the water downtown, then take a guided trip to Arch Rock and back – or even go all the way around Mackinac Island on an escapade that adventurous teenagers will love.
Ride a bike all the way around Mackinac Island
With no cars on Mackinac Island, a bicycle is the ultimate vehicle of freedom for teenagers. You can bring your own bike ($) on the ferry to Mackinac Island or rent a bike ($) on Mackinac Island from one of the many vendors in town after you arrive. Bikes are available to rent by the hour, half-day, full-day or longer.
Sample world-famous Mackinac Island fudge
Yum! Just pop into any of the dozen fudge shops on Mackinac Island ($) and ask for a free sample. You might have to try a few before settling on your favorite flavor!
Walk into Mackinac Island’s Haunted Theatre, if you dare
This is exactly the kind of whacky attraction that teenagers love. The Haunted Theatre ($) right downtown on Main Street has a spooky maze and wax figures of many horrifying Mackinac Island monsters. For an added dose of fear, take Mackinac Island’s Haunts of Mackinac walking tour ($$) led by a guide who will freak you out by telling ghost stories from Mackinac Island history. Another popular downtown hangout for teens is Mackinac Island’s 3D Maze of Mirrors ($)!
Make your own custom Mackinac Island souvenir
Reserve some time at Forge A Memory on Mackinac Island ($$-$$$) where your teen can create a handmade knife to take back home. The blacksmith shop is located in Surrey Hill, which is one of the stops along a horse-drawn carriage tour ($$).
Play Glow Golf at Mackinac Island’s Mission Point Resort
A gorgeous waterfront putt-putt course by day, the natural grass Greens of Mackinac at Mission Point Resort ($) becomes a really special experience after dark when glow-in-the-dark balls and flags light your way around the course. There’s also a miniature golf course at Grand Hotel’s Woodlands Activity Center ($-$$), which also offers pickleball, Mackinac Island bocce ball, shuffleboard, a nature center and more.