More than 200 years ago, Mackinac Island was a coveted economic and military hub fought over by the British, French and Americans. The forts are still there to prove it.
But Mackinac no longer has so much geopolitical significance today. Instead, it has become an attractive vacation destination to escape the hustle and bustle of the world and relax. It’s where you can take a break from the routine and appreciate the incredible beauty of one of America’s most amazing places.
It’s no wonder that in 2018 Mackinac garnered no fewer than five major tourism honors. See if you can guess which of the following awards are real. Some of them are totally made up (but if they were real Mackinac would definitely be in the running for them):
Best Islands in the U.S.
You might think of Hilton Head. Or Maui. Or Nantucket. But Mackinac Island ranked right alongside those dreamy destinations in the Condé Nast Traveler 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards. This honor for Mackinac is very real.
Most Amazing Sights in America
The military forts on Mackinac are historic sites. The island also is full of incredible sights. Hike up to Fort Holmes, the highest point on Mackinac, and take in a 360-degree panorama of beauty looking out over the island below and the Great Lakes beyond. Or, venture to Point Lookout and get a stunning view of the limestone rock formation Sugar Loaf, surrounded by green forest set against the backdrop of blue waters. This award isn’t real, but the sentiment is quite true.
10 Hottest U.S. Destinations for Summer
Yellowstone National Park and Martha’s Vineyard are uber-popular summertime vacation spots. But the No. 1 destination is Mackinac Island, according to TripAdvisor. Not only is the “charming island” a “throwback to old-timey seaside leisure” with a quaint downtown, says TripAdvisor, but it’s also “world-famous for its homemade fudge and travelers can work off sugar highs by exploring the limestone bluffs of Mackinac Island State Park.” This award, just like the magnificent sites on Mackinac, is real.
Most Tourist-Friendly Cities in the U.S.
The “storybook charm” of Mackinac combines with a fantastic selection of unique, high-quality lodging facilities, a helpful visitor’s center and lots of great activities to make the island a wonderfully pleasant place to stay, says Expedia. Verdict: Real.
8 Most Charming Vacation Getaways in the World
No cars on the roads. Bicycles everywhere. Taxis with literal horsepower. Spending time on Mackinac is like stepping back in time where the clip-clop of hooves, the fog horns of ferry boats and the beautiful 19th-century Victorian architecture give the island a fairy tale feeling. This award is pure fantasy, but you can make your fantasy of a trip to Mackinac come true!
5 Greatest Golf Experiences in Michigan
Mackinac is home to the oldest golf course in Michigan, one of only three natural-grass putting courses in the state and one of the most picturesque yet playable resort courses anywhere. Yes, this honor from Golf Digest is definitely real. Nowhere else do you take a horse-drawn carriage ride between nines or play on a former battlefield that was turned into a golf course more than 120 years ago by a two-time U.S. Open champion.
Best U.S. Vacation Spots for Foodies
Whether you’d like a meal prepared by a world-renowned chef in a historic hotel or a quick bite downtown to pair with a Michigan craft beer, the culinary scene on Mackinac has it all. The island’s diverse menu pairs sublime food with breathtaking views for an extraordinary experience that is uniquely Mackinac. Although this award is made up, Mackinac really is a great place for foodies. Come taste for yourself.
5 Most Incredible State Parks in the U.S.
You might be surprised to learn that more than 80 percent of the 4-square-mile island is a state park that’s open to the public all year-round. In fact, Mackinac originally was the country’s second national park, before Fort Mackinac was decommissioned and transferred out of federal hands to become Michigan’s first state park. This isn’t a real award, but it might as well be because Mackinac really is an incredible state park. Hike, bike or go horseback riding through it in the spring, summer and fall, or cross-country ski and fat-tire around in the winter.
Best Little Beach Towns to Visit in Summer
The Beach Boys sang about Malibu, Calif. but they could have lyricized about Mackinac Island, too, according to Coastal Living, which called the island one of the Best Little Beach Towns. Some of the magazine’s recommendations for your summer bucket list: skipping stones against world record-holders at the annual W.T. Rabe Stone Skipping Contest each July 4 on Mackinac’s Windermere Point Beach, celebrating Independence like it’s 1880 at historic Fort Mackinac, strolling the world’s longest porch at the iconic Grand Hotel and sampling world-famous Mackinac Island fudge. This award is a real thing.
These days, a ferry ride to Mackinac is a bucket-list experience for Michiganders. And, as you can tell from these awards, the island truly is a national treasure and an enticing destination for travelers all around the country. Come see for yourself!