Mackinac Island, Michigan – “The Big Turtle”

Mackinac Island - Horses

We had a great time in the upper Peninsula of Michigan in May of 2021 celebrating our anniversary, We saw the beautiful Mackinaw Bridge and saw two lighthouses, White Point and Mc Gulpin. We had a great time seeing these local attractions, but how can you be in the Upper Penisula (UP) and not go to Mackinac Island? Happily, we set aside a day to explore this beautiful little island and I want to share some of it with you all today.

Mackinac Island - 1

First I will share a little history for those that may not know a lot about the island (like me). The island is located in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It is about 8 miles in circumference and 4.35 square miles long and is on the Eastern end of the Straits of Mackinaw. Originally the island was home to an Odawa settlement and named the island Michilimackinac and “Mitchimakinak” in Ojibwemowin meaning “Big Turtle”. I thought that was quite interesting as it kind of does look like a turtle from above.

Mackinac Island - Fort

The highest point of the island is the historic Fort Holmes which was the site of two battles during the War of 1812. Eventually, the northern border was settled and the US gained this island in its territory. Today Mackinac Island is a popular tourist attraction and summer colony for locals and tourists. Because of its historic significance, the entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark on October 9. 1960.

Mackinac Island - Bikes

The island can be reached by private boat, by ferry, by small aircraft, and, in the winter, by snowmobile over an ice bridge. Once on the island, traveling can only be done by foot, bicycle, horse, or horse-drawn carriages as motorized vehicles by the public have been prohibited on the island since 1898. To get to the island we took one of the ferries over to the island and it was amazing. FYI, there are two ferries that offer service to Mackinac Island Sheplers and Star Line. Both leave from either St. Ignace or Mackinaw City where we were staying on our visit. I will list more information on both of these at the bottom of this post.

Mackinac Island - Ferry

It was a wonderful trip being able to go across Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The best part is we happened to be on a ferry that took us under the bridge. That was the best part of the ride I think. Gene may not think so, as he lost his hat in Lake Michigan while taking some pictures under the bridge. Oh well, we got some pictures, lol.

Mackinac Island - Grand Hotel

When we first got to the island we just walked around a little and got our bearings. We eventually decided to go check out the Grand Hotel. It is a Victorian-style structure that opened in 1887 and in 1980 the film Somewhere in Time was shot on location at the hotel. We walked about 10-15 minutes to the hotel and saw signs about their dress codes and we were not dressed for a nice event at a luxury resort. Sadly we just took a few pictures and checked out the views. I was quite disappointed as we had walked all that way up this huge hill and didn’t even get to go in 🙁 Oh well, next time we will be better prepared. Have to say though, the views were amazing up there!

Mackinac Island - Fudge

To cheer me up we went back down the hill and made our way back to the main part of the city to get some fudge (it is literally everyone on the island). Above is a picture of them making some and it was so yummy! We took ours with us to have a drink at a cute place called the Pink Pony. It is located in the Chippewa Hotel and is known for its wide variety of funky cocktails. A local had told us about this place so we decided to check it out. It’s located right on the water and has amazing views of the lake.

Mackinac Island - Lighthouse

We finished our drinks and walked around checking out many of the cute little shops and the Round Island Lighthouse from a distance. The light was built in 1894 and automated in 1924. It was abandoned and needed a lot of TLC. Extensive restoration began in the 1970s, and the exterior and structure have since been repaired. It was nice checking it out and reading some of the plaques along the water. It wasn’t a real hot day, so it was nice being out and able to explore some.

Mackinac Island - Us

However, we eventually got hungry for lunch and headed to a burger place called Mighty Mac Hamburgers for a really late lunch. I didn’t really want to go there for the burger, I was more interested in trying their poutine. It had been a while since we had one, and it sounded so good.  We ended up sharing a burger and an order of poutine, which were both delicious. They also have hot dogs and chicken, as well as a veggie burger. I can highly suggest this place if you are on the island and want a quick meal.

Mackinac Island - 2

After our meal, we walked around the Visitors Center where we learned some of the history I shared above. We also learned that there is a Governor’s home also on the island. How cool is that? Well, we walked around some more but had plans for the evening so made our way back to the dock and caught the ferry back to Mackinac City. The ride back was much faster, sadly, but we had a great time and I hope to be able to visit Mackinac Island on another trip to upper Michigan. Here is a link to their website if you are wanting to plan your own trip.

 Ferries to Mackinac City Information

Star Line

Mackinaw City Dock
801 S. Huron St
Mackinaw City, MI 49701
800.638.9892

St. Ignace Dock
587 N. State St
St. Ignace, MI 49781
800.638.9892

Sheplers

Mackinaw City Dock
311 S. Nicolet Street
Mackinaw City, MI 49701
231-436-5023

St. Ignace Dock
601 N. State Street
St. Ignace, MI 49781
231-436-5023

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