Mackinac Island is enjoyable for many reasons - the primary one being the relaxing atmosphere created by the absence of automobiles. But 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. But 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 one dollar from any of the ferry operators or park locations. If there is one guide I suggest you purchase, it is this one, though two other guides have been recently published.
The 2008 printing of 'Explore Michigan: Mackinac'
describes itself as an 'insider's guide' to the island with suggestions of the areas most popular attractions, restaurants, shops and lodging. Unfortunately it lacks any maps, even of the downtown area. I found the guide practical and feel it would be useful for persons having never visited the island, though I have a hard time getting past the lack of maps. The 75-page guide is available from Amazon.com for $10.95.
Tourist Town Guides has just released 'Mackinac: A guide to Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City.'
This 173-page guide covers the same information, but with more detail and extensive listings. While this guide includes three maps, I wouldn't try navigating with them as they are simple overviews of the region and island. It too is available from Amazon.com and sells for $14.95.
Both guides stick with the tried and true listings and give the casual visitor enough information to know some important historical information and decide of what to see and do during their visit.
While visiting the fort and downtown are certainly must-do's, there is so much more to Mackinac Island. Over the coming weeks, I'll be featuring some of my favorite things to do when I visit, along with suggestions from other Mackinac Island Blog members.
To get things started, here is my list for first time visitors to the island:
- Visit Fort Mackinac and the historic downtown buildings
- Visit one of the Butterfly Houses
- Take a bike ride around the island
- Relax in one of the Adirondack chairs on the lawn at Mission Point
- Have a picnic at Marquette Park
- Take a saddle horse ride into the island interior
- Visit Anne's Tablet and walk past the cottages on the East Bluff
- Visit Fort Holmes for a great view of the Straits
- See Arch Rock from above and below
- Play a round of golf on the Wawashkamo course, Michigan's oldest course
- Let the kids play a game of duckpin bowling at the Woods Restaurant
- Relax at the Public Library and enjoy the splendid view of Round Island Lighthouse
- Stroll the porch at the Grand Hotel
Mackinac Island offers many great experiences and one could spend a lifetime of visits to the island to enjoy them all. While this list is focused on summer activities, I should mention that each season offers unique experiences and activities and I will include them in upcoming posts as well.