Mackinac Island-“The Jewel of the Great Lakes”

Mackinac Island – “The Jewel of the Great Lakes” is a popular tourist attraction and rated as a top-10 island in the world by Conde Nast Traveller. With a lack of cars and an abundance of nature, Mackinac Island is famous for its festivals, scenic views, and idyllic charm from a bygone era.

When planning your trip to the Upper Peninsula, use our vacation guide to find the best restaurants, outfitters, and tour companies for the best experience that Michigan has to offer!

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Explore “The Jewel of the Great Lakes” – Mackinac Island

Getting to Mackinac Island

The island is located northeast of the Mackinac Bridge, which separates Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. Once on the UP, visitors will find parking and the ferry terminals for transportation to the island. No cars are allowed on the island, so vehicles must park in the free parking area and then take a shuttle to the terminal. Alternatively, some visitors choose to pay to park closer to the ferry. Visitors can bring their bikes for an additional fee ($16). Passenger tickets are $31 for adults.

Island History and Information

Mackinac Island is a treasure for historians, water sports enthusiasts, foodies, and people who love sensory splendor. There are 500 year-round residents on the island, which covers 3.8 square miles and is 80% state park. Conde Nast Traveller calls it “one of the top-10 islands in the world.”

The Grand Hotel is a national historic landmark, and its majesty is breathtaking. It first opened in 1887 and hosts the world’s longest porch. In 1895, Mark Twain lectured in the hotel. The 1980 film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, was filmed at the hotel. The Grand Hotel is known for its scrumptious afternoon tea, served each afternoon in the hotel’s Parlor.

History buffs are drawn to explore Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes. Those interested in water sports can go sailing, kayaking, fishing, and even parasailing! You will not be bored when you visit Mackinac Island.

Horse-drawn Carriages and Bikes

horse drawn carriage

Initially banned in fear of disturbing the horses, cars are automobile non grata on the island. Visitors and residents can bike around the island or take one of the famous horse-drawn taxis. In the winter, snowmobiles take over as the snow makes bike or horse travel impossible, and snowmobiles become the only viable method of travel.

A change of pace, the bike, and horse culture suits the narrow roads of Mackinac Island and promotes an active adventure. Be sure to plan your bike rental at the start of the day (or bring your own!) because the island limits the number of bikes businesses rent to keep traffic flowing smoothly.

The island has plenty of incredible historical sights and nature trails for guided or self-guided cycling tours! Over 70 miles of natural and paved paths for biking and hiking around the island exist.

Favorite Festivals on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Fudge Festival – August

If you know anything about the island, you know it is famous for its fudge. This creamy, sinfully delicious fudge comes in various flavors, including French Vanilla, Amaretto Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Nut, and Plain Chocolate. Be sure to enjoy the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival. It’s an unforgettable sensory experience held annually in August.

The three-day event features contests, demonstrations, scavenger hunts, and fudge. Each year, the end of August belongs to the fudge!

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival – June

Michigan’s Mackinac Island proudly hosts the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. As you watch Clydesdale-drawn floats through the historic parade, prepare to be transported back in time. Held during the beginning of the lilac season, the event draws thousands of visitors to see the flowers bloom annually since 1949.

Lasting ten days, the festival features events such as A Taste of Mackinac Culinary Event, Mackinac Island Dog and Pony Show, and The Lilac Festival Grand Parade. Side events like the Lilac Festival Run/Walk and the Michigan Cornhole Tournament are also popular with festivalgoers. Book your stay ahead of time, as this one tends to fill quickly.

Staying on the Upper Peninsula Single family home in the middle of the woods on a sunny day

If you want to stay near the “Jewel of the Great Lakes” while keeping your vehicular freedom, choose one of our nearby cabins and cottages! The Upper Peninsula is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of life while exploring a new part of the country/state! Whether you’re a regular vacationer to the UP or a first-timer, we have the perfect vacation rental for you!

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