Part of the charm of Mackinac Island is that the whole place has an old-school vibe. With horse-drawn carriage rides, gorgeous Victorian architecture and historic forts, Mackinac Island looks and feels as if you’ve stepped back in time.
There aren’t even any cars on Mackinac Island!
Still, that doesn’t mean you have to leave all your modern, 21st-century conveniences at home. That includes your electric vehicle.
While you can’t drive your Tesla or your Chevy Bolt all the way to Mackinac Island over the water, you can park your car at the Mackinac Island ferry docks on the mainland and find an EV charging station nearby.
In fact, bothStar Line, now known as Mackinac Island Ferry Company Company and Shepler’s Ferry have electric vehicle chargers right on site in Mackinaw City (at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula) and St. Ignace (at the southern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula):
- Star Line offers Tesla Supercharging stations at its dock at 801 S. Huron Ave. in Mackinaw City. These chargers are for Tesla vehicles, with fees charged directly through Tesla.
- Star Line offers three EV chargers at its dock at 587 N. State St. in St. Ignace. The chargers are for Tesla vehicles, or for other electric vehicles with an adapter. They are available only to ferry passengers and are free to use.
- Shepler’s offers four EV charging ports in its day parking lot at 311 S. Nicolet St. in Mackinaw City. The chargers are open to any electric vehicles and available for a nominal hourly fee paid through the ChargePoint app.
There also are other places to charge your electric vehicle in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. As you plan your visit to Mackinac Island, check out this U.S. Department of Energy list of EV charging stations right near the ferry docks.
Cars on Mackinac Island
Cars have been absent from Mackinac Island for more than 125 years, ever since the introduction of “horseless carriages” around the turn of the 20th century. Noise from gasoline engines frightened the horses and detracted from the serene ambiance of Mackinac Island.
As a result, horses have remained the primary way of getting around on Mackinac Island, along with bicycles. But who knows how Mackinac Island might be different today had quieter electric vehicles been viable 100 years ago. Maybe even this alternative plan for the Mackinac Bridge would have been built with a direct path to Mackinac Island for cars!
E-bikes on Mackinac Island
In addition to horses, bicycles are a common way of getting around on Mackinac Island. Many people choose to rent a bike from one of several vendors on Mackinac Island, while some visitors bring their own bike on the ferry boat.
Just as electric vehicles continue to become more widespread, so too are electric bikes growing in popularity. However, for many of the same reasons that “horseless carriages” were banned many years ago, e-bikes are permitted on Mackinac Island only under certain conditions.
Likewise, aerial drones are not permitted on Mackinac Island without special permission.
Mackinac Island has gone to great lengths over the past several generations to preserve the clip-clop character that’s a big part of why travelers regard it as the No. 1 Best Island in the Continental U.S. Visitors can escape the harried hustle and bustle of their daily lives and immerse themselves in the relaxing atmosphere of a place where the pleasant sounds of a bicycle bell and the foghorn of a ferry boat fill the air, instead of the whir of noisy motors.
At the same time, Mackinac Island visitors are treated to all the modern amenities needed to make your stay as comfortable as possible. And that includes places to charge your electric vehicle.
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- 7 sights to see on a horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island
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