This tiny Michigan island city prohibits the use of motor vehicles, making it an unusually tranquil and old-fashioned enclave of the United States.
Mackinac Island’s simple charm is perfect for visitors who enjoy the quiet life. Its large state park offers a wide range of sightseeing opportunities, and there are many outdoor activities on offer, including hiking and cross-country skiing in winter.
Getting to Mackinac Island is best done by ferry from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. Ferries depart daily in the summer season. Cars have been prohibited on the island for more than 100 years, so bikes, horses and walking are the predominant means of getting around.
Take a carriage tour of the island or hire a bike from the rental companies on the island. If you prefer, you can also take your own bicycle over on the ferry for a small fee.
The prime time for visiting Mackinac Island is during the warmest months, which commence in May and taper off around August. The island does operate as a winter resort as well, though, with picturesque walks and cross-country skiing on offer. In the winter, you may also get to see the much-talked-about “ice bridge”, created when the water between Mackinac Island and St. Ignace freezes around February.
Mackinac’s history as a Victorian summer resort can be seen in some of its architecture, such as the Grand Hotel, which is still operational today.
With a perimeter road of just 8.3 miles (13.3 kilometers), Mackinac Island is particularly small, and you can see most things inside a few days. Make sure to take in the highlights, including the historic Fort Mackinac (which once served as a military outpost and is today an immersive visitor experience), Great Turtle Park and the Island’s butterfly sanctuaries. The coastline around the whole Island is a beautiful mixture of marinas, cliff tops and beaches.
Mackinac Island is also famed for its assortment of fudge shops, such as Murdick's Fudge, which uses natural butter, cream and flavorings. Don’t be surprised if people call you a “fudgie”; that’s the nickname given to tourists.