The 2016 season on Mackinac Island is underway as businesses, restaurants and hotels host the first visitors of the year. Horses have been returning after their own vacation in the Upper Peninsula during the winter. To help you make the most of your visit to Mackinac Island, please be sure to read the updated 2016 Trip Planner, which contains everything you need to know about getting to and enjoying a visit to the island. The link is at the top of the page, or you can click to read the Trip Planner. This year looks to be another exciting season with plenty of activities on the island for everyone to enjoy, or perhaps it's a return to a more quiet time you seek - where the sound of horses, rather than horns, greets you each morning. Have a great visit to Mackinac Island and let us know about your favorite part of a trip to the island! Read more →


Round Island Lighthouse, an iconic structure across Round Island Passage from Mackinac Island, will soon see it's first preservation project under the care of the non-profit Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society. Pat Eckenstahler, Secretary of the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society announced the first project as the replacement of the east side main entry security door with a door replicating the original door installed in 1895. “We are excited. After a number of years working with the US Forest Service, we now have the ability to undertake projects that will further preserve the lighthouse plus promote better understanding of the lighthouse history and its maritime importance”, she noted. Round Island Lighthouse during the annual Open House with East Door opened with greeters standing at entrance. The replacement door will be constructed this spring by several of the former Freeland, Michigan Boy Scouts who 20 years ago cleaned out debris, replaced broken windows and righted and repaired the privy when damaged by a lighting strike in 1999. Students from the Clio, MI high school welding program will also assist in the project. Robert West, Hiawatha National Forest District Ranger who oversees management of the lighthouse is excited about this effort adding... Read more →


In Part One, I covered the basics on preparing for your visit and getting to the island. In this installment, I’ll detail some of your options on what to do once you’ve arrived, where to eat and where to stay the night. Mackinac Island's harbor and East Bluff Like many destinations, it isn’t always possible to see everything on your first visit. Even after 16 years of visits, my family still hasn't visited every site on the island, partly because we know it won’t really change much year to year. For us, that's part of the lure of Mackinac Island. I recently looked at pictures taken on my first visit in 1998. Many of the shots look very similar to how the island appears today. Certainly some elements were different, but it’s nice to know there’s a place where time moves at a slower pace and history is not just tolerated, but cherished. With a relaxed pace in mind, I haven’t tried to list everything to do in this planner for two reasons. First, you should plan on coming back! Second, the Tourism Bureau employs a helpful staff that can make recommendations once you’re on the island. Be sure to... Read more →


New for 2015! This guide provides tips and recommendations for your visit to Mackinac Island - whether it’s for one day, one week or longer. While much of this page is intended for first time visitors, I believe seasoned travelers will also benefit from the information and insights presented. View of Marquette Park and Haldimand Bay from Fort Mackinac This guide includes my opinions and recommendations for your visit by offering tips and suggestions that I’ve learned through many trips to the island since 1998. I continue to learn something new about the island each visit, so this resource will always be a work in progress. Included in this guide are the essentials for having a great trip, divided into sections for easy reading. They include: When to Visit How Long to Stay Travel & Transportation to the Island What to Bring Where to Eat Where to Stay Attractions and Activities What Else to Do Mackinac Island is one of the most unique spots in the Great Lakes - and perhaps the entire country. Our nation’s second National Park, later turned over to the State of Michigan, the island overflows with natural beauty and wonders. Over 80% of the island... Read more →


The Ice Bridge that forms most winters on Lake Huron creates a link between Mackinac Island and St. Ignace, a distance of roughly three miles. During the two to three month life of the Ice Bridge, islanders have the ability to come and go as they please with their own transportation, as long as it's on a snowmobile, a bicycle or on foot. The trail is usually first staked out by islanders and is marked with Christmas trees set aside after the holidays. The tree line acts as a navigation aide, which can be extremely useful at night or during whiteout conditions. While many times the Ice Bridge is smooth and a fast ride, it can change in minutes depending on the weather, creating cracks in the ice and open patches of water. Traveling the Ice Bridge is not to be taken lightly and islanders don't view it as a tourist attraction. In fact, some islanders refuse to make the journey, no matter the depth of the ice. In the last six years, two Mackinac Island residents have perished on the Ice Bridge, a testament to the fact that it isn't always a safe ride, even for those who know... Read more →


"Undefeated: The True Story of How the Family-Owned Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry Service Survived and Advanced through Three Generations" by Jean R. Beach and Dr. Don Steele. I’ll admit I was surprised (and happy) to find a book about Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry. The somewhat pompous title made me scoff at first, but after reading the book, I don’t know what other title would fit. The Shepler family has endured their share of challenges, yet they remain standing...undefeated. The first two-thirds of the book traces their history and shares family triumphs and tragedies and this is the section of the book I enjoyed the most. This is not only a family history, it is the history of the Straits, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island. The book starts long before the Shepler’s we know today...even before their official start as a charter speed boat service to the island. Each chapter covers a portion of their legacy in the Straits region. The section on Mackinaw Crossings was especially informative as I had no idea Bill Shepler spearheaded the concept and development of the large shopping and entertainment venue in Mackinaw City. The book includes their role in saving the Coast Guard Icebreaker... Read more →


There are many things that make Mackinac Island a magical place. Horses, hills, bluffs, forts, bikes and fudge to name a few. Even the trip can have a bit of magic. You don't just drive up, get out of your car and start wondering around the island. Far from it. In fact, you would think that someone carefully planned the journey to make it memorable. For me, it often starts with our arrival at the Pellston Airport. It has rightly received awards for it's architecture. It feels more like a lodge than an airport with it's comfortable seating, fireplace and wooden beams. Unlike most airports, it encourages you to slow down. After a short shuttle bus ride to Mackinaw City, I board the ferry to the island. But it's not just a boat ride. The ride is loaded with candy for the eye to behold and enjoy. One of the modern marvels of the world, the Mackinac Bridge, comes into view as you leave the dock. I never tire of seeing it's tall towers and graceful, arching roadway that span the waters below. As we near the middle of the ride, my gaze turns to the waters of Lake Huron.... Read more →


Earlier this year, I decided to move the Mackinac Island Blog website to a new server and today, we made the switch to our new server and format. When I started this blog in 2009, I had no idea that I'd still be here 6 years later posting news and information about my favorite island. In the coming weeks, new pages that go into detail on vacation planning, tips while visiting and more historical articles about Mackinac Island will 'go live' on this site. Thanks for visiting our new site and I hope you'll consider subscribing to receive our updates. We'll only be sending one or two emails a month to your inbox. We never share your information or email address with anyone and you can unsubscribe anytime. You can subscribe at the top of the column to the right. Read more →


In 1966, Mackinac College opened its doors in the former Moral Re-armament (MRA) campus on the east end of Mackinac Island. Today, the complex is known as Mission Point Resort. While the College used many of the existing buildings and dormitories, the first (and perhaps only) building built specifically for the college was the Peter Howard Memorial Library. Peter Howard Library at Mackinac College The library was situated between M-185 and the shoreline - most likely in the area that today is occupied by the wonderful Adirondack chairs on the great lawn of Mission Point. Prior to visiting the Mackinac College website, which is no longer active, I had no idea this building existed. What once was a focal point for the college seems to have vanished, though I for one believe it looked out of place on Mackinac. Certainly someone out there knows the story of the library. Is it you? Here are some of the comments from the original blog post in 2009: Comment on March 18, 2012 at 12:49amI remember the College and Library Building very well. As a student at the college I spent many hours using the library. The students also built a huge snowman... Read more →


Google Maps adds Street Level View of Mackinac Island

Google Maps has added street level photos, captured with their photo sphere, of businesses and landmarks around downtown Mackinac Island. Go to Google Maps by clicking on the map below, then click on the small yellow person at the bottom right of the screen. That will trigger the light blue 'street view' images available on Mackinac Island. Here's the direct link to Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/OEVnd The photos were taken using a photo sphere attached to a backpack. It should take a few months before the ground level images are added to Google Earth. Read more →


A fan of 'Somewhere In Time' put together this short video with still images from the movie (shot in 1979) with photos taken last year (2014). It's short and a fun watch, especially considering how many of the locations still exist much like they did 35 years ago! While not every location in the movie was included, most important locations have been captured. While on the subject of 'Somewhere In Time', here's a 14-minute review of the movie. If you've never seen the movie, this synopsis is worth watching. "Somewhere In Time" is available for streaming on Amazon, but not on Netflix at the moment. It is available on DVD at Netflix and for purchase on Amazon here. Here are the links to the videos for RSS feed readers: Somewhere In Time Filming Locations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRQQ-4Q4wME Retrospective/Review of the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egsrQ_ZkqRg Happy watching! Read more →


Wanting something Mackinac Island-related for Christmas this year? I've assembled a variety of gift ideas in our Amazon affiliate store, which you can visit here: http://astore.amazon.com/holiday20140a20-20 If you're looking for gift certificates, most of the hotels, inns and B&B's are offering them. Some are offering a 'bonus' value or discount when purchased, so check with the property directly for their specials. Original Murdick's Fudge and Joann's Fudge are both open and shipping fresh fudge, but Thursday, December 18th is the last day they are taking orders, so don't delay! Original Murdick's Fudge website Joann's Fudge website Happy shopping and Happy Holidays from Mackinac Island Blog! Read more →


Each year we include a Mackinac Island ornament on our Christmas Tree. One of my favorites is a hand-painted ornament by island resident Trish Martin. After Christmas, the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa will open, along with the Cottage Inn for New Year's Eve celebrations including the Turtle Drop at Midnight (it's a fiberglass turtle, so don't worry). In February, the Winter Festival includes two days of activities, including the opportunity to judge photos for the annual Seasons of Mackinac calendar. Happy Holidays from Mackinac Island Blog! Read more →


You may not always be able to make a trip to Mackinac Island when you want to, so we bring the island to you. Our 'Five Minutes on Mackinac' video series is ready to help you escape. Here's 75 minutes of the sights and sounds of Mackinac from our YouTube Channel playlist! Here's a direct link to the playlist:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WnsHcusE_k&list=PL98GXUfKK-jYk8Pql3-r889g3UGZE4a6N You can watch all our Mackinac Island videos on our YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MackinacIslandBlog/videos Thanks for watching! Read more →


Fort Holmes, the highest point on Mackinac Island, had been a strategic location for the military during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Built by the British and named in honor of King George, the fort was later turned over to the United States in 1815. It was then named Fort Holmes, in rememberance of Major Andrew Holmes who died in battle on Mackinac Island the previous year. The fort decayed over time, but in 1937, as part of The New Deal, the Progress Works Administration (WPA) rebuilt the fort to it's original appearance. A film crew documented WPA projects around Michigan and the Fort Holmes project was part of the hour-long documentary. The film is now part of the Public Domain collection within the National Archives. I have edited the video below so it features just the Mackinac Island portion of the film. The video includes some scenes of Fort Mackinac and the downtown district, likely in early 1937 before moving to the Fort Holmes laborers hard at work. If you haven't made the trip to Fort Holmes, here is what it has looked like more recently: In 2013, Mackinac State Historic Parks announced the reconstruction of Fort... Read more →


In Summer 2014, guest blogger Brenda Horton, who writes her own blog, To Be Clay has graciously shared some of her favorite little secrets about the island with us. Thank you, Brenda! Returning to Mackinac Island as a vacationer - instead of a home owner - happened to the Horton clan a couple of weeks ago for the first time in six years. I found myself taking notes on what felt different about the trip, since we could no longer answer the oft-asked question, "Where are you staying on the island?" with "Oh, we have a condo here." It embarrasses me to admit I loved saying that and watching visitors' eyes widen with wistfulness; but I can say it without guilt because before we bought on the island, my eyes widened the same way when we'd meet someone who owned Mackinac property. I'd be - in turn - awed, wistful, and OK - downright jealous. But . . .those days are gone, and we're slowly adjusting to our new normal (sigh). We are once again visitors/vacationers/fudgies/tourists (well, OK, we're not fudgies). We check in and out of wherever we're staying just like 95% of the other visitors to Mackinac. And... Read more →


In 2004, the Mackinac Island Community Foundation decided to do something special for it's 10th anniversary. They brought 21 large fiberglass turtles to the island, sponsored by businesses and painted by local artists. Turtles Around Town, as it was known, raised $60,000 for non-profit organizations on the island, according to the MICF website. You can still find many of these turtles located around the island. Mackinac Island Turtle The turtles were manufactured by America's Fiberglass Animals (formerly Prewitt Fiberglass) in Shelton, Nebraska. You can view photos of the journey of one of the turtles on the MICF website. Ever curious, I decided to contact America's Fiberglass Animals to see if they ever sell single turtles to individuals. Guess what? They do! They still have the mold used for the Mackinac Island turtles and in less than 8 weeks, you can have one in your backyard! Each turtle costs about $1400 delivered, weighs about 50 pounds and is ready to be painted. They deliver about 25 animals at a time to locations all around the country so the price might be slightly higher if they need to go to a more remote location. Daughter Siena on Main Street Inn's turtle in... Read more →


As I research some of the historical books written about Mackinac Island, I relish the opportunity to put pieces of information together, that separately may be interesting, but compiled become fascinating. Such is the case with Anne Cottage, located on Main Street. It's hard to miss. Beautiful Anne Cottage, just east of Marquette Park Situated just east of Marquette Park and the Indian Dormitory, it is the first private residence you reach on Main Street when walking east from downtown. In my early visits to the island, I thought it was Anne's Cottage - that made sense to me figuring someone named Anne had an affiliation with the beautiful home. Partly true, but the full story is much more interesting. Constance Fenimore Woolson was born in March of 1840 in Claremont, New Hampshire and was a summer visitor to Mackinac Island beginning in 1855. Miss Woolson was the great niece of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, best known for his novel The Last of the Mohican's. Miss Woolson began writing fiction and travel stories for publications including Harper's Magazine in the 1870's and later wrote fictional novels including Anne, which was published in 1880. The Agency House, where Anne Cottage now... Read more →


In Part One of my list of the top things to do on Mackinac Island, I listed several familiar island activities. In this installment, I'll include more, along with a few that some of you may not be familiar with - sort of 'off the map' sights that I enjoy. Mackinac Island has more to offer if you're willing to venture off Main Street and explore sights most visitors never see. A good map is a necessity and fortunately the Tourism Bureau Office has a great map that is quite detailed, printed on glossy paper and best of all - is free. Download the map, or pick up a copy and you will be well on you way to locating some of the real treasures of the island. Trails and paths are generally well marked and accessible by foot or bike, though some of these are foot trails only including Pontiac Trail. Be sure to take your cell phone and map with you when venturing away from town and remember that homes on the island are private property, unless indicated otherwise. Here are my picks, part two! Take an early morning hike past the West Bluff cottages continuing along Pontiac... Read more →


Mackinac Island is enjoyable for many reasons - the primary one being the relaxed atmosphere created by the absence of automobiles, along with the clip clop of hooves from the island's work horses. East Bluff of Mackinac island provides a perfect view of the harbor Mackinac Island has been a favorite place to visit for more than three centuries. Ever since Jean Nicolet passed through the Straits in 1634, visitors to the area have found Mackinac Island a wonder of nature. Such a wonder of nature in fact, it was named our nation's second national park in 1875. Conservation efforts have preserved much of the island's natural splendor and rich history for visitors to enjoy today. However, many visitors never leave the confines of Main Street and miss much of what the island has to offer. One of the best guides to the island, the Historic Mackinac Island Visitors Guide, is printed by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission and is available for just two dollars from any of the ferry operators, the Visitors Center across from Marquette Park, or at Fort Mackinac. If there is one guide I suggest you purchase, it is this one. While visiting the fort... Read more →


Here is one of the only pictures I have ever seen of the stone columns and gate that once stood at the east end of the Grand Hotel. The picture was said to be taken circa 1939. It appears the walkway was only wide enough for pedestrian traffic to pass through, leaving me to wonder what the small stone fence at the right edge of the picture connects with. Another columned entry for carriages? The picture below, taken in September, 2009 shows the stone columns at the west end of the hotel. Originally published on the Mackinac Island Blog on December 15, 2009. Copyright 2014 Michael Forrester Read more →