Positioned in the waters where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet, Mackinac Island Michigan is a great vacation spot any time of year! But before you go, there are a few things you should know:
- There are no cars allowed on the island.
- To get there, use the ferry in the summer or a snowmobile in the winter.
- You may bring your own bicycle, but there is a fee to carry it onto the ferry.
- Electric bikes are allowed on the island only if you have a mobility disability.
- Electric Mobility Scooters are also available for rent.
Plan Ahead for Lodging
First things first! Do you know where you’re staying? Mackinac Island Michigan has several excellent places to lodge, but it will be necessary to plan WELL in advance! More than hotels and motels, you’ll also find resorts and cottages! Alternatively, for better rates and availability, consider lodging on the mainland: either in St. Ignace or Mackinaw City. Happy Searching!
The first thing you see when you get onto the ferry is the Mackinac Bridge which is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world! Located at the Straits of Mackinac, its 5-mile span connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. To the west of the bridge is Lake Michigan and to the east is Lake Huron.
There are Several Ferry Options
While there are two ferry companies in Mackinaw City, I have only used Star Line Hydro Jet Ferry, and they have a few options. Aside from the regular ferry that everybody usually selects, you might select the Pirate Ship ferry! This is where the ship has those big-huge sails, and the crew is dressed in pirate clothes, which makes the journey more enjoyable, but certainly not any faster!
Or, you could take an even-slower-ferry that goes way over to the bridge and gets up close! This is extra nice for photographers, but it does take a bit longer! Pro tip: Take this slower ferry over to the island, but take a faster one back! For example, they have a Hydro-Jet boat option!
Rent a Bicycle or Bring Your Own!
Unless you brought your own bicycle, you might like to rent one! There are several bicycle shops on the island. They even rent attachments, like child seats, and trailers! It’s easy enough to trek all the way around the island, but there are lots of great places to stop! Therefore, my recommendation is to get an early start so you have plenty of time.
Ride Around Mackinac Island Michigan
One of the best stops along the way is Arch Rock. Park your bike on the main trail and then climb the 207-step stairway! (Or take a horse-drawn taxi to avoid the stairway.) Once you’re at the top, you’ll find Arch Rock. There is also a bathroom at this stop.
Getting back to the main trail, the views were completely different than they were on the way up! LOL!
Horse Drawn Taxis
It’s kind of a theme on Mackinac Island, to grab a horse-drawn carriage as a taxi. Maybe your group isn’t suited to walking or bicycling. And since there aren’t any motorized vehicles (except ambulances) on the island, the only other option is a horse-drawn taxi. There are a number of taxi services, but I did find one: Mackinac Island Carriage Tours which has a handicapped-accessible carriage! It will accommodate one to two regular wheelchairs (or one motorized scooter, or one power chair) plus eight to ten other passengers on seats for tour or taxi.
Other Accesibility Ideas
While I was digging around, looking for transportation ideas, I found something interesting. Apparently there is something called a Chariot Bicycle. This is where someone sits in the front, and does all the peddling, while another person sits in the back, on an actual seat with their feet planted firmly on the floor. They say it’s quite easy to pedal, and for some people, it opens doors that might otherwise be closed.
What About the Beaches?
The beaches on Mackinac Island Michigan are rocky. Ya gotta admit you love the idea of a no-sand beach, right? Additionally, the water is shallow for quite a distance, which is nice for wading, and for children! Select a sunny beach and bask in the sunshine. The crystal clear waters of Lake Huron are sure to cool you down!
Cave of the Woods & Crack in the Island
Because it’s off the beaten path and away from the crowds, you may need a map to find Cave of the Woods & Crack in the Island. They are two separate places, but they are very close together.
Cave of the Woods is a huge rock ledge overhang, big enough to call a cave. But keep going up the trail to find Crack in the Island! This is a huge split in the landscape! I’m guessing it’s about 4 ft deep. It’s not very long, but there’s a spot that gets tight. And as you walk into the deepest part of it, the temperature drops considerably! It’s a very unusual feature of ANY landscape, and because it’s on an island with few things to do, it becomes downright remarkable!
Retail Shops & Mackinac Island Fudge
As you maneuver your way back into town, there are several different routes to take, each one of them offering unusual sights. The trails and roadways are well marked, but it helps to have your sense of direction activated. Once the bicycles are returned, you can linger in the art galleries, the restaurants, and the retail shops in town. Here you can find hats, t-shirts, jewelry, wind chimes, and hundreds of other trinkets as souvenirs. But their claim to fame is the Mackinac Island fudge! Gotta get some!
Be aware of the time! There is a final ferry that leaves the island, and ya definitely don’t wanna miss it!