In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Mackinac Island is more than a place—it’s a destination for memories. Generations of families make the trip every summer to visit for a day or to stay a few nights in the famous 3.8 square mile island. With several B&B, two main anchor hotels, one grocery store and plenty of fudge shops, it’s no wonder why people keep coming back year after year. The weather on the island can be more of a gamble in the summer where nights can be cold with hot summer days. Transportation is rather unusual once you’re dropped off by ferry in the island’s docks, a horse carriage “the taxis” can take you for a tour of downtown or a ride to your hotel, as Mackinac Island is famous for having no cars.
So this summer, I took my family back after a 4-year hiatus. We drove from Chicago, but rather than just cutting straight through Michigan, we added an extra night to the trip and headed to the UP via Wisconsin. We really didn’t stop in any of the quaint towns along the way, but to break up the drive we stayed the night in Green Bay. Once we were closer, you can stop along the way for a quick beach break and for sure some pasties along the way—very similar to the baked pasties in the UK.
Crossing the lake on the ferry to Mackinac Island is a breeze and it’s always nice to see the town as it gets closer. the first thing to do for us was to check into our hotel at Mission Point and shortly after, head to the main street. The best part is walking during the evening hours—you will feel as if the island is all yours.
During the day, visit some of the many fudge shops and many of the small restaurants in the town’s main street. Hop on a bike and make the ride around the island—stop in the many beaches on the way and small nature hikes. If you’re lucky, stop at the Kite Park right next to the public library for a drink. For dinner, head to Bistro on the Green at Mission Point for a fun casual dining experience with exceptional views and for some exciting mini-golf after dinner. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, head to the Woods restaurant, about a 40-minute carriage ride from the main street. This restaurant in the middle of the island surrounded by forest is a Bavarian-inspired dining experience.
If it’s a day visit or just a few nights, Mackinac island is a unique experience to make it your summer trip destination. While the island remains partially closed during the winter months, I personally would love to see a way to promote stays during this time and enjoy a white Christmas and hot tea by the fire. Until then, we will be back next summer.