What to do with your car when you go to Mackinac Island

Published on May 26th, 2021

You can fly to Mackinac Island. You can take a boat to Mackinac Island. And at certain times of the year, you may even be able to snowmobile to Mackinac Island.

But you can never drive a car to Mackinac Island.

Since Mackinac Island prohibits cars, horses rule the road and horse-drawn carriage rides are a popular way to get around.

With no cars allowed on Mackinac Island, horse-drawn carriage rides are a popular way of getting around.

Maybe you’ve heard of the mighty Mackinac Bridge. The longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere actually doesn’t connect to Mackinac Island (although an alternate Mackinac Bridge plan that never materialized would have). Instead, the Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas, just a few miles west of where Mackinac Island rises out of Lake Huron like a great turtle shell.

So then, what do you do with your car when you visit Mackinac Island?

While some visitors do fly to Mackinac Island, the vast majority take a ferry boat. The ferries depart from both Mackinaw City, at the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula, and St. Ignace, at the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula. It’s there where visitors typically leave their cars for the length of their stay on Mackinac Island.

Two ferry companies – Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry and Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry – service Mackinac Island out of both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Both ferry companies offer daytime and overnight parking for customers, with different options and pricing depending on the kind of parking you prefer.

Here’s a rundown of the basic options for Mackinac Island visitors:

  • Both Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler’s Ferry offer free day parking in lots at or near the ferry docks in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. It’s a great cost-saving service for day-trippers who visit Mackinac Island and then return to the mainland that same day. In some cases, the ferry companies use shuttles or trams to transport you from the parking lot to the ferry dock. For current details and directions, check the parking information pages for Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry.

 

  • Both Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler’s Ferry offer premium dock side parking for day-trippers as well, for a fee. For the latest pricing, check the parking information pages for Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry.
    Since Mackinac Island prohibits cars, bicycles and horse-drawn carriages are popular forms of transportation.

    Horses and bicycles rule the road on Mackinac Island. Cars have been prohibited for over 120 years!

 

  • Both Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler’s Ferry provide overnight parking, too. Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry offers unsecured overnight parking for free, or secured parking in Mackinaw City for a nominal daily fee. Shepler’s Ferry offers overnight parking for a nominal daily fee in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Both ferry services also offer premium parking in Mackinaw City at a higher price point. For current details and directions, check the parking information pages for Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry.

 

 

  • Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry also offers valet parking in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, with both indoor and outdoor spaces available. Check the parking information page for Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry for the latest information.

RELATED: History of cars, er, ‘horseless carriages,’ on Mackinac Island

Once you arrive on Mackinac Island, without a car, then what?

Horses and bicycles rule the road on Mackinac Island. Cars have been prohibited for over 120 years!

M-185, the road that circles the outer rim of Mackinac Island, is the only state highway in the country that prohibits motor vehicles. As a result, visitors can safely walk around town and enjoy peaceful experiences such as watching the sunset from the Mackinac Island boardwalk.

Well, that’s part of the charm!

Horses are king on Mackinac Island, and visitors love the clip-clop of hooves on the pavement. Horse-drawn carriage tours and taxi rides are popular ways to see Mackinac Island and travel from here to there.

Mackinac Island also is home to tons of bicycles. You can take your own along on the ferry or rent from one of the many fine bike rental shops on Mackinac Island. Many visitors enjoy riding a bicycle all the way around Mackinac Island on M-185, the only state highway in the country that prohibits automobiles.

Of course, everyone’s a pedestrian while visiting Mackinac Island, too. People walk to the bars and restaurants. They walk to Fort Mackinac and other historic attractions. Some visitors even hike up into the interior of Mackinac Island and explore some of the 70-plus miles of trails through Mackinac Island State Park.

However long you stay on Mackinac Island and however you choose to get around while you’re here, you can rest assured that your car will be safe back on the mainland. You might even like being apart from it for a while!


close-image