Mackinac Island, MI

Mackinac Island: A Historical Immersion

Many places have historical artifacts to encounter, but Mackinac Island is unique in that the entire place is historic. You can feel the timeless vibe as soon as you arrive at the ferry dock, serenaded by the charming sounds of horse hooves and bicycle bells. Not only can you explore historical sites such as Fort Mackinac, visit ancient landmarks such as Sugar Loaf and watch fascinating reenactments by costumed interpreters. On Mackinac Island, you can also immerse yourself in the culture of days gone by. Even the places to stay have historical significance, including many that are more than 100 years old.

History Experiences You Will Love

Discover Fort Mackinac

From strolling through period exhibits in Michigan’s oldest buildings to watching costumed interpreters reenact the life of 19th-century soldiers, there’s a lot of interesting things to see and do inside this historic fort that dates to 1780. You can even volunteer to blast the cannon!

Experience Historic Downtown Mackinac

Visit a blacksmith shop with live demonstrations. Pop into a fur trading store and learn the captivating tale of a man with a hole in his stomach. Step inside the oldest house in Michigan. See how civilians lived in the early 1800s. Tour an art museum with a brilliant collection of Mackinac-themed works.

Explore Museums

Get a good understanding of life and culture on Mackinac Island, then and now, by visiting the wide variety of museums that showcase everything from horse carriages and medical history to art, domestic life, commercial activity and the Native American experience in the Straits of Mackinac.

Search for Natural Wonders

Aside from the remnants of human history all over town, Mackinac Island State Park is full of natural wonders that tell the geological story of the island. See if you can find the many notable landmarks right along some of the 70-plus miles of trails through the park.

Enjoy a Horse Drawn Carriage Tour

A narrated horse-drawn carriage tour is not only the most popular visitor activity. It’s also the best way to get a general, historical overview of Mackinac Island. Tours leave from downtown throughout the day and pass by many of the island’s most intriguing sites.

Follow the Native American Cultural History Trail

Did you know Mackinac Island gets its name from a Native American word meaning “Great Turtle?” That’s just one of many things you’ll learn on the Native American Cultural History Trail. The trail along M-185 has six turnouts with markers detailing the impact of Native Americans on the Great Lakes.

Visit Cemeteries

The cemeteries of Mackinac Island offer enchanting and scenic glimpses into the past. Take a stroll through the serene burial grounds with gravesites for military personnel in the Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery and for civilian residents in the Mackinac Island Cemetery and Ste. Anne’s Catholic Cemetery.

Be a Part of Mackinac Island’s History

Mackinac Island still exhibits the many cultural influences of Native Americans, colonial Europeans and the diverse peoples who have made their way here – from Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famines of the 19th century to today’s visitors and workers who come from all over the world. On top of that, the car-free character has helped preserve an aura of historical authenticity in every corner of Mackinac Island, accented by gorgeous Victorian architecture, lovely old churches and the magnificent natural wonders of the state park. Come immerse yourself in the ongoing history of Mackinac Island!

 

Historical reenactments and demonstrations occur daily at Fort Mackinac, one of two military forts on Mackinac Island.

START PLANNING

Before you can step back in time on Mackinac Island, you need to plan ahead. Find your place to stay, perhaps in a 19th-century hotel or a cozy B&B with Victorian flair. Then browse the Visitors Guide and get the latest updates on Mackinac Island by signing up for the Visitor Newsletter.

Other experiences you might like:

If you like history, you might also enjoy getting up close and personal with Mackinac Island’s lovable horses, taking a walking tour of the massive Victorian cottages on the bluff or catching a vintage base ball game. There are so many memorable things to see and do when you visit Mackinac Island.

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