20+ Perfect Things to Do on Mackinac Island in 2022, Plus Best Places to Stay

things to do on mackinac island arch rock overlook

Mackinac Island Things to Do, Where to Stay & More

Many visitors come to Mackinac Island (pronounced MACK-in-aw), a small island in northern Michigan, riding the ferry over for the day.

Others turn their visit into a long weekend or spend a week or two soaking up all the island has to offer.

At a minimum, plan to spend at least one full day to fit in as many things to do on Mackinac Island as you can.

If you arrive on an early ferry and leave after dinner you will have time to preview the whole island.

In this article, we’ll help you get oriented, cover the Mackinac Island Things to Do list everyone should follow and list places to stay if you’d like to spend the night on the island (highly suggested!) or in nearby Mackinaw City or St. Ignace.

mackinac island drive to grand hotel
Road to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

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Mackinac Island FAQs

What is Mackinac Island Known For?

There are no cars on Mackinac Island.

Instead, you’ll find horses, carriages, and a lot of bicycles transporting people from place to place. This is because cars were banned from the island in 1898 because they scared the horses (the most common form of transportation at the time). And the ban has stuck!

Fudge is another Mackinac Island claim-to-fame. Fourteen or so fudge shops line Main Street, and visitors will spend quite a bit of time sampling fudge from various shops before making a purchase.

Arch Rock and other terrific natural formations are also a big draw.

mackinac island horse carriage
Taking a Horse and Carriage Ride is one of the Iconic Things to Do on Mackinac Island

When is the Best Time to Visit Mackinac Island?

Mackinac Island is fully open to tourists from May to October. During May, the horses arrive and businesses (hotels and restaurants included) start opening for the season. Expect the Island to be fully opened with services and amenities by Memorial Day. Most will remain open through Halloween.

A visit anytime between Memorial Day and Halloween will be lovely. Summer weekends and holidays are extremely busy, with hotels booking up in advance. The warmest month is July, with an average high temperature of 75°F.

The Lilac Festival is a fragrant, beautiful time to visit. It’s a 10-day celebration held annually in early June and includes a parade, walking tours, street dances, entertainment, tours of the Governor’s mansion & Fort Mackinac, community events, and more.

For a less busy visit (with lower lodging rates) consider visiting on a weekday in May, early June, September, or October.

If you visit during the off-season, you will find only one or two open restaurants and very few lodging options. Winter visits for hiking or cross-country skiing are welcomed but do prepare your accommodations in advance.

mackinac island horse buggy in front of fort
Horse and Carriage in front of the Fort

Do You Have to Pay to Get into Mackinac Island?

No, you do not have to pay to enter Mackinac Island itself. However, the ferry ride over to the island requires a ticket, as do many of the attractions on Mackinac Island.

Is it Worth it to Stay on Mackinac Island?

Definitely. A hush falls over Mackinac Island as the last ferry leaves for the day. The stillness remains until the first ferry the next morning, around 9 AM.

Those lucky enough to stay on the island overnight are treated to a magical city of evening concerts, magnificent sunsets and no crowds. If you can make a Mackinac Island hotel stay happen, it’s highly recommended, even if just for a night.

FYI – Camping is not allowed on Mackinac Island.

Porch at Mission Point Resort Mackinac Island
Porch at Mission Point Resort

How Do You get to Mackinac Island?

You cannot drive to Mackinac Island – there is no road or bridge. Most visitors get to Mackinac Island by ferry.

Visitors arriving by car will need to park at a ferry dock on the mainland and take a boat over to the island.

There are two ferry lines serving Mackinac Island, the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, and Shepler’s. Both depart from ferry docks in Mackinaw City (lower peninsula) and St. Ignace (upper peninsula). Round trip ferry ticket pricing is listed in the table below.

The ferry ride is approximately 20 minutes long. No reservations are needed.

2022 Mackinac Island Ferry Ticket Prices (Online)Shepler’sStar Line (newly named Mackinac Island Ferry Co.)
Adult Round Trip (ages 13+)$30$28
Child Round Trip (ages 5-12)$19$18
Young ChildFree (ages 5 & under)Free (ages 4 & under)
2 Adult, 1 Child Combo$64$60
Bike Pass Round Trip – round trip transportation of YOUR bike$16$14 ($1.00 Island License Fee added at checkout)
Day ParkingComplimentary day parking is available in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.FREE parking at the offsite, unsecured location. Complimentary shuttle to the main dock.
Overnight Parking$15 overnight parking in both Mackinaw City and St. IgnaceFREE overnight parking
mackinac island ferry docks

You can also fly to Mackinac Island. Fresh Air Aviation flies from St. Ignace, MI (1220 N. State St.
St Ignace, MI 49781) to Mackinac Island year-round. As of April 2022, a round-trip adult ticket was $90.

Great Lakes Air also flies to Mackinac Island from St. Ignace or Cheboygan.

Where is Mackinac Island Located?

Mackinac Island Michigan is a world unto itself tucked away in Northern Michigan.

mackinac island location

Located in the waters of Lake Huron, Mackinac Island sits between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

You can access Mackinac Island from St. Ignace or Mackinaw City, MI.

The nearest major airport is in Traverse City, MI (TVC), about a 2-hour drive from Mackinaw City.

mackinac island location in michigan map

What is the Weather like on Mackinac Island?

Mackinac Island weather varies greatly from month to month and from morning to night. While days in August can get up into the 80s, evenings tend to be cool and breezy.

Dress in layers, and be prepared for occasional rain. Tourist shops sell a lot of sweatshirts because summer on the island is a lot cooler than visitors expect.

MonthAve High °F Ave Low °FHow Busy?
June7052early June – Moderate
late June – Heavy
Aug7458early August- Heavy
late August – Moderate
Sep6651Moderate – weekends
Light – Weekdays & later in the month
Data from Weatherspark.com

Where is the Mackinac Island Beach?

Heading to the beach is not one of the typical things to do on Mackinac Island because the shoreline is so rocky and the water is cold well into the summertime.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop to swim, wade, or play in the clear water; M-185 circles the whole island, offering many places to stop. Water shoes are recommended.

Mackinac Island Beaches
British Landing: 7641 British Landing Road, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Mission Point Beach: M-185 in front of the Mission Point Lawn
Arch Rock Beach: M-185 near the stairs to Arch Rock

mackinac island beach arch rock
Large boulders along beach near Arch Rock

What Items Aren’t Allowed on Mackinac Island?

Cars, motorized vehicles, hammocks, electric bikes, Segways, and drones are not allowed on Mackinac Island.
Kids with training wheels are also not allowed to ride bikes on Main Street, Market Street, or Cadotte Avenue.
(Note: Electric mobility devices, such as bicycles/tricycles utilized by qualified people with mobility issues, are allowed.

What is so Special About Mackinac Island?

Many people do not realize that over 80% of Mackinac Island is a Michigan State Park.

In fact, it is Michigan’s oldest state park, established in 1895.

This means if you venture farther than the main street, you are apt to find yourself in a state park – rich with history and ripe for exploring.

You’ll find historical markers everywhere, offering up explanations about interesting events from the past.

Exploring the History of Mackinac Island is a Visitor Favorite

Since automobiles were banned from the island in 1898, transportation includes bicycles, horses, and walking.

Visiting Mackinac Island is like stepping into an old-fashioned, horse-powered world.

There’s nothing else like it.

Emergency vehicles are the only motorized vehicles you’ll see, and those are few and far between.

Even Amazon gets delivered by bicycle here!

mackinac island history
The postal service on Mackinac Island is pedal-powered

Most summer visitors arrive on the island via a ferry (more on this later.)

When you arrive, you’ll be at the wooden ferry docks. Many people bring bikes over on the ferry.

mackinac island ferry docks
Ferry Docks at Mackinac Island, Michigan

Here is a Printable map of Mackinac Island to help you get your bearings.

Things to Do on Mackinac Island

Choose From This List of Things to do on Mackinac Island with Kids

While Mackinac Island is accessible year-round, visitor numbers ramp up when the ferries start running in April and continue through October.

Here’s a list of fantastic things to do on Mackinac Island when you’re visiting with family.

1 – Level Up Your Ferry Ride: Choose a Pirate or Bridge View Adventure

Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry
Mackinaw City Dock
801 S. Huron St, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
St. Ignace Dock
587 N. State St, St. Ignace, MI 49781

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
The island adventure starts before you even reach the island – the ferry ride is big fun.

Mackinac Island ferries leave from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, MI.

Not all ferry rides are equal. Certain departure times will take you under the Mackinac Bridge for a great view.

mackinac island ferry ride
Tip: Choose a Ferry Ride that Goes Under the Mackinac Bridge

If you choose a ferry ride that has the “Under the Bridge” option, you’ll be treated to spectacular Mackinac Bridge views.

Have your camera ready when you pull into the dock. It’s wild looking up and seeing the cars driving up above.

mackinac island ferry ride under bridge
Looking up at the Mackinac Bridge from a Mackinac Island Ferry

Pro Tip

Check to see if your ferry is offering ticket bundles.
You can often get ticket packages that include your ferry ride, Fort Mackinac admission, a carriage ride, Butterfly House admission, Grand Hotel Lunch, and more.

Other ferry rides offer a Pirate experience.

starline pirate ferry to mackinac island
Starline Pirate Ship Good Fortune

2 – Visit the Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel
286 Grand Avenue, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
The Grand Hotel has been operational since 1887 and has been labeled “a top resort in the Midwest and a National Historic Landmark.”

If you want to visit the Grand Hotel, keep in mind that there is a $10 entrance fee for non-hotel patrons and a dress code for certain areas of the hotel.

The admission fee includes a map of the hotel and a map of the gardens and allows visitors to experience the hotel.

Giant chess game at the Grand Hotel
mackinac island grand hotel

Afternoon Tea is served daily in the parlor from 3:30 – 5:00 PM. During Afternoon Tea, you get to sit down and enjoy tea, sherry, champagne, petite finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones, and an array of pastries, all accompanied by a live music recital.

Want to spend the night? Here’s how to make the most of a stay at the Grand Hotel, along with tips if you opt to spend a night or two at this iconic hotel.

3 – Fort Mackinac: Watch a Reenactment & Fire the Cannon

Fort Mackinac
7127 Huron Rd. Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
Climb the big hill to Fort Mackinac and pay the admission fee to get in – it’s worth it if you have kids old enough to understand Michigan history – and you want a few spectacular views like this:

view from fort mackinac

This historic military fort takes you back to the war of 1812 when the British were fighting the Americans. The fort was active until 1895.

Some parts of the fort are over 225 years old.

Buildings on the site look as they would have during the fort’s final year of occupation and you will find people dressed in period clothing acting out rituals from that time.

fort mackinac

Re-enactments happen every 45 minutes; you can even watch them fire the cannon.

And, if you sign up (call 906-847-3328 to reserve your spot at least 48 hrs in advance) visitors ages 13 & up can fire the Fort Mackinac Cannon.

Is this one of the coolest things to do on Mackinac Island?! It might be!

fort mackinac cannon
Cannon Demonstration at Fort Mackinac

Typically, the historic buildings are open, allowing you to explore different aspects of fort life.

There is even a Kids’ Quarters with hands-on displays and interactive games. 

You might spend more if you decide to have a meal at the Tea Room, operated by the Grand Hotel.

Fort Mackinac Tea Room

7127 Huron Rd. Mackinac Island, MI 49757
(906) 847-6327

fort mackinac cannon and tea room
Cannon at Fort Mackinac with the Tea Room in the Background

Other exhibits show how vaccines were given to island residents as well as take you through the history of the island.

We spent at least two hours in the fort.

Truth be told, a lot of people skip Fort Mackinac as one of their Mackinac Island things to do.

If you have the time, I definitely recommend it as one of the great things to do on Mackinac Island with your family, though. It gives you a look into the island’s history that you won’t get anywhere else.

4 – Visit Arch Rock

Arch Rock
6131 Arch Rock Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
This limestone geologic formation towers 146 feet above Lake Huron and is over 50 feet wide. There are stairs down to the base of the formation if you’re looking for exercise and a different view.

Arch Rock does not charge an entrance fee.

Almost everyone that visits Mackinac Island has a slew of photos of Arch Rock.

mackinac island things to do Arch Rock
Arch Rock on Mackinac Island
mackinac island view from arch rock
View from Arch Rock
mackinac island stairs to arch rock
Stairs from the waterfront up to the top of Arch Rock

5 – Bike Around the Island

Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
Biking the island will let you stop at attractions like Arch Rock and climb up to the overlook at your own pace.

You can ride a bicycle on state highway M-185, which takes you the 8 miles around the perimeter of Mackinac Island.

Interestingly, this highway is not open to cars – you’ll only see bikes, horses, and rollerbladers. It is relatively flat.

mackinac island biking
M-185 is a Michigan State Highway Open to Bicycles and Horses

If you want a pit stop halfway around the island, stop at British Landing. That’s where you’ll find Cannonball Drive Inn, a food stop with deep-fried pickles, hot dogs, fries, and more.

mackinac island cannonball drive in

If you choose to explore the island’s interior, know that a lot of steep hill climbs are involved. The island also has a good network of mountain biking trails for visitors to explore.

You can choose to bring your own bikes or rent bikes on the island. Bike locks are recommended.

Bike route maps can be found here.

6 – Take a Mackinac Island Carriage Tour

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours
7278 Main St, Mackinac Island 

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
This 1.5-hour tour comes in two parts: city and country, giving you a great overview of the island.

mackinac island carriage tour
You can hire a private horse and buggy or do a group carriage tour around Mackinac Island

Departing from downtown, you’ll hear all about the history of the places you pass and see old landmarks, including cemeteries.

mackinac island cemeteries

One of the stops along the way is Surrey Hills Museum.

Surrey Hills Carriage Museum

7528 Carriage Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

This is where you exit your first carriage and have time to look at antique carriages and do a little snacking/shopping.

This stop features a working blacksmith shop as well as concessions and a picnic area.

Additional stops on the carriage tour usually include Arch Rock and the Butterfly House.

7 – Ride a Horse or Drive a Carriage

Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
Horseback riding is another one of the typical things to do on Mackinac Island.

Horseback riding guided trips are available by the hour.

mackinac island things to do horseback riding
Horseback Riding Tours are one of the Favorite Things to Do on Mackinac Island

You can also rent a horse & carriage and drive the buggy yourself!

Carriages are rented by the hour and you can rent two-, four-, or six-passenger carriages.

drive horse carriage mackinac island

8 – Get Some Fudge

Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
To the islanders, non-residents are known as “fudgies,” and for good reason. The island is home to a swath of confectioneries producing gigantic amounts of fudge every day.

It’s your tourist duty to sample and purchase your favorite flavors to take home with you as a souvenir. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to watch the fudge being made.

This is by far one of the more popular things to do on Mackinac Island.

mackinac island making fudge
Watch Fudge Being Made in Downtown Mackinac Island

9 – Shop for Souvenirs & Treats on Main Street

Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
In addition to fudge, there are many different places to get ice cream and other sweet treats. Or, get yourself a sweatshirt, t-shirt, or trinket to take home.

Great Turtle Toys (7372 Main Street Suite 105 Mackinac Island MI 49757) is the toy store on the island. It’s a great place to pick up a kite and take it to their daily kite show!

downtown mackinac island
Downtown Mackinac Island in the Summertime

10 – Play 18 Hoes of Mini Golf on a Real Grass Putting Course

Mission Point Resort
One Lake Shore Dr, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
Mission Point Resort, on Main Street Mackinac Island, has an amazing waterside 18-hole putting course called the Greens of Mackinac.

For a fee, visitors and hotel guests can play the course – with a to-go cocktail in hand, if desired. Glow Golf is even offered on select evenings!

This is one of those hidden gem things to do on Mackinac Island – we hope you get a chance to give it a try.

mackinac island mission point putting golf course
mackinac island putting golf course mission point
Mission Point’s 18-hole putting course is one of the fun things to do on Mackinac Island with kids

11 – Skip Rocks or Look for Beach Glass

Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
If you’re looking for free things to do on Mackinac Island, this is one of them.

The shores of Mackinac Island are an excellent place to skip rocks and look for beach glass. (Mackinac Island beach glass is formed when bits of old bottles are tumbled and polished in the waves of Lake Huron.)

The island shore is rocky in most places. Finding a spot to look for good skipping rocks and hunting for beach glass won’t be too hard.

Fun Fact: Windermere Point is the location of the July 4, 2022, Stone Skipping Competition. Professional stone skippers compete for a trophy and there are divisions for amateur adult and kid stone-skippers, too!

mackinac island rock skipping

12 – Watch the Daily Kite Show

Windermere Point – Between the Library & Iroquis Hotel
7498 Main Street, Mackinac Island, 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
The island can be windy, especially at Windermere Point (the West end of downtown). That’s great if you want to fly a kite, and that’s exactly what the good people at Great Turtle Toy Company do on a daily basis, May – October, weather permitting.

Check in with their store (7372 Main Street) or call (906) 847-6118 to get the latest Kite Show updates – or to get a kite of your own to add to the mix. They’ll help you learn how to fly it. Flyers of all ages and skill levels are invited to join them each day.

Great Turtle Toys Daily Kite Show Mackinac Island
Kite Flying at Windermere Point with Great Turtle Toys

13 – Tour the 7000 Square Foot Governor’s Mansion – for Free

Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence
Fort Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
11 bedrooms, 9.5 baths, and over 7,000 square feet. Those are the stats of the Michigan Governor’s Residence on Mackinac Island.

Typically, free tours of the 1902 building are offered every Wednesday during the summer. Throughout the tour, which lasts approximately 15 minutes, experienced docents will guide small groups through the first floor of the home.

Check the schedule for the most up-to-date information.


14 – Enjoy a Themed Festival

Fort Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
Mackinac Island goes all out when it comes to festivals. The whole city center embraces the theme and the energy is remarkable.
Here are the Mackinac Island Festivals and events you can look forward to in 2022:

  • June 3 – 12: Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
  • Aug 26 – 28: Mackinac Island Fudge Festival
  • Oct 21 – 23: Mackinac Island Halloween Weekend

15 – Hike the Inland Island Trails

Mackinac Island State Park Trails

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
There are over 70 miles of hiking trails on Mackinac Island to explore. Step just outside of downtown and into a forest and you’ll be in another world.

Tranquil Bluff Trail, near Arch Rock, is just one of the many fantastic trails on the island.

mackinac island hiking trail
Tranquil Bluff Trail on Mackinac Island near Arch Rock

16 – Visit the Butterfly House & Insects World

Butterfly House and Insects World
6750 McGulpin Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
You can also tour the Butterfly House and Insects World at this stop on the carriage tour (This is seasonally open from mid-May through the first week of October).

The 1800-square-foot tropical garden is filled with hundreds of live butterflies from around the world.

Insects World showcases giant insects (mounted specimens) from the tropics, including the Goliath Beetle. They also have a turtle pond and some live reptiles.

17 – Go on a Guided Kayak Tour, Maybe at Sunset

Great Turtle Kayak Tours
7395 Main St., Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
Great Turtle Kayak Tours offers a variety of paddle-related things to do on Mackinac Island with kids.

One option: take the Arch Rock tour in a tandem kayak. This tour is approximately 3 miles long and clocks in at 2 hours. It’s great for beginners. Guides will help with all of your questions, from gear to route, to weather, and kid-related queries.

mackinac island arch rock kayak tour
Mackinac Island Arch Rock Kayak Tour
mackinac island kayaking

18 – Enjoy a Free Concert in the Park

Marquette Park, Under the Fort
7200 Huron St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
Every Thursday evening at 6:30 pm, June 30 – Sept 1, 2022, island visitors are treated to free open-air, live music concerts.

Each week features something different – expect folk, rock, country, blues, and more.

Bring a blanket, lawn chair and a picnic (Doud’s Market is just across the street) and enjoy!

mackinac island free concert in the park

19 – Visit the Library

Mackinac Island Public Library
903 Huron St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
The library on Mackinac Island has been serving year-round patrons since 1936 and is open to the public.

While you need to have an active Mackinac Island library card to check out books, visitors are still welcome to use the library, lounge on their grassy beach, and shop their ongoing used book sale.

Summer Hours: Tues-Sat 11:00 am-5:30 pm Tues and Fri, 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
*They do not have public restrooms.

mackinac island public library
mackinac island public library lawn

20 – Visit the Blacksmith Shop & Biddle House

Biddle House & Benjamin Blacksmith Shop
7406 Market St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
Head to this reconstructed blacksmith shop to see how a blacksmith worked in the early 1900s. Demonstrations show traditional blacksmithing techniques like forming hot iron into fireplace tools, hinges, and household items.

Then tour the Biddle House, for live programs and exhibits showcasing the life and ways of the Native Americans who first called Mackinac Island home.

*Admission also includes the Biddle House, featuring the Mackinac Island Native American Museum and The Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum. Admission to the Benjamin Blacksmith Shop is included with a Fort Mackinac ticket.

21 – Go Duck Pin Bowling While You Wait for Dinner

Woods Restaurant
8655 Cudahy Circle, Mackinac Island

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
Take a short carriage ride into the interior of the island to find Woods Restaurant (operated by the Grand Hotel) and America’s oldest operating duckpin bowling alley.

You can munch on popcorn and test your bowling skills while you wait for dinner, or after you’re done.

Duckpin bowling is a throwback to earlier days, using shorter pins and smaller balls than you’d see in a bowling alley today. It’s harder to hit the pins, so players get three rolls per frame. And, you need to reset the pins yourself after your turn.

Reservations are recommended for dinner. Please call Woods Restaurant directly at 906-847-3699.
*The carriage ride from town and dinner experience will typically take about three+ hours.

A look inside Woods Restaurant & Duckpin Bowling Alley

22 – Relax on the Lawn & Playground at Marquette Park

Marquette Park
7200 Huron St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island:
The flat area below the fort, once used as a vegetable garden by soldiers long ago, is now a giant lawn that serves as an open space for concerts and picnics.

Set off to the side is a small playground that parents will be happy to know about.

mackinac island marquette park
Marquette Park sits below the Fort on Mackinac Island

We packed a lunch and ate it at the park – it was a great place to rest and recharge for the rest of our day.

Small Playground Located at Marquette Park on Mackinac Island

23 – Go to Horse Camp

Mackinac Community Equestrian Center
British Landing Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Things to Do:
For island visitors that are staying for a week or longer, consider signing up for Horse Camp at the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center.

Camps are for kids ages 5 – 15 and are tailored to ability. Examples include: Back to basics, fundamentals of riding, paint a pony, and horse games.

How to Save Money on Mackinac Island Things to Do

It’s no secret that things to do on Mackinac Island can get pricy fast. If you’re looking to save on your visit, here are a few things you can do to keep the price down:

  • If you’re visiting for just the day, consider packing your lunch and dinner and bringing a backpack.
  • Bring your own bikes and bike locks. Bike rentals at Island House Hotel are $13/hr for adults or $9/hr for kids. Burley trailers are $10/hr. You can bring your own bike over on the ferry for about the same amount as a 1-2 hour bike rental.
  • Refill water bottles and use restrooms in the Mackinac Island State Park Visitor’s Center (7200 Lake Shore Dr, Mackinac Island, MI 49757).
  • Share a $7.95 Moomer’s Ice Cream Flight at Good Day Cafe (7216 Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757).
Moomer’s Ice Cream Flight at Good Day Cafe
  • Chow down on hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks & ice cream at Windermere Doghouse (7498 Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757).
2021 Prices – Windermere Doghouse
  • Another food option: Doud’s Market (7200 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757) will likely feed your family for less than a restaurant will, but keep in mind the prices here are still high compared to the mainland. You can often get pizza by the slice in the deli as well.
mackinac island grocery store doud's market
Doud’s Market is the only option on Main Street for Groceries
  • Pack your stay with free things to do on Mackinac Island, like hiking, visiting the library, going to a concert in the park, touring the Governor’s Mansion, hunting for beach glass, or visiting the playground.
  • Book activity packages with your hotel or ferry to get bundled savings.
  • Visit at off-peak times to save on lodging.
  • Scope out hotels or campgrounds on the mainland in St. Ignace or Mackinac City and visit the island for just a day.
  • Shop around before purchasing fudge or souvenirs – several shops have lower prices.

Traveling with Young Kids

Are there things to do with little kids on Mackinac Island?

Definitely! Don’t be intimidated by the busy downtown or throngs of horses and bicycles if you’re thinking about visiting with little kids. Even toddlers and babies have fun on the island.

Here are some great things to do with this age group:

  • Go on a carriage ride. You may be more comfortable with a private carriage if you have several young children or would like to have a more personalized experience. I enjoyed the carriage ride when visiting with little kids because it gave me a chance to sit down and relax as well.
  • Take the pirate ship ferry. Toddlers on up love this.
  • Rent a bike trailer or tag-along and ride around the island. It’s a relatively flat 8 miles and you can stop along the way to play in the water, skip stones, etc. (You can also bring your own equipment over on the ferry.)
  • Go to the daily kite show or learn how to fly kites with Great Turtle Toys.
  • Play putt-putt on the real grass course at Mission Point
  • Share an ice cream flight at Good Day Cafe
  • Visit the butterflies & insects at Butterfly World
  • Stop at the playground in Marquette Park and eat a picnic there, too.

And, here are a few tips if you’re visiting with little kids:

  • If you get a hotel on the island, look for a place with family suites or larger rooms. Some of the original hotels still have tiny rooms and even shared bathrooms that were common in the early 1900s.
  • Bring a baby carrier or umbrella stroller for trips into town where the crowds can be tight.
  • Make reservations at restaurants when possible to avoid long wait times.

Best Mackinac Island Hotels

Want to spend more than a single day exploring this “Up North” gem?

There are several options for spending the night on the island, a few especially great for kids and families:

Bicycle Street Inn & Suites

7416 Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
56 rooms right on Main Street! Kids (and parents too) enjoy opening the wide French doors to watch the happenings along Main Street.

bicycle street inn and suites mackinac island hotel

Chippewa Hotel Waterfront

7221 Main Street #103, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
This built-in-1902 hotel has been updated with amazing amenities. The Chippewa Hotel has huge rooms and suites, offering plenty of space for kids to stretch out.

Their 25-person jacuzzi hot tub is centrally located on the hotel patio and overlooks Lake Huron.

Even more? The hotel is home to the famous Pink Pony, where you’ll be treated to fabulous dining and drinking experiences. The hotel is located downtown and is just a 5-minute walk from the ferry.

chippewa hotel mackinac island outdoor hot tub

Grand Hotel

286 Grand Avenue, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
Don’t be intimidated by the formality associated with the Grand Hotel, it truly is a family-friendly accommodation.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Outdoor Pool at The Grand Hotel

Hotel Iroquois

7485 Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
This is a great waterside boutique hotel often enjoyed by adult couples.

hotel Iroquois mackinac island hotel

The Inn at Stonecliffe

8593 Cudahy Cir, Mackinac Island, MI 49757-5130

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
Bring your bikes! It has an outdoor pool and a wonderful breakfast included with your stay. You’ll find suites in their Summer House building if you’re looking to give your family more room to spread out.

the inn at stonecliff mackinac island hotel
The Inn at Stonecliff Outdoor Pool

LakeBluff Condos at Stonecliffe

3561 Eckel Drive, Mackinac Island, MI 49757-5130

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
Parents will like the separate bedrooms with a kitchen and living space.

The location is very quiet and relaxing, away from all of the downtown ‘traffic.’ There is also plenty of green space on that side of the island for kids to play outside. It is a hike from the downtown area; bikes recommended!

Lake View Hotel

7452 Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
Prime downtown location. Lake View Hotel has the only indoor, heated pool on the island. Breakfast included with your stay.

lake view hotel mackinac island indoor pool

Main Street Inn and Suites

7408 Main Street #202, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
Main Street Inn and Suites has an alluring B&B meats modern hotel vibe.

They have nightly complimentary fudge samples. Treat yourself to a room with a balcony to enjoy slow mornings or evening views.

Mission Point Resort

1 Lakeshore Drive, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
They offer great deals that include ferry tickets, rooms with hot tubs, bike rentals, as well as admission to all the museums, the Fort, and mini-golf. PLUS kids eat free.
This a great all-inclusive trip reservation.

Pool at Mission Point Resort Mackinac Island
Pool at Mission Point Resort

Harbor View Inn

6860 Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
They are located off the beaten path on a quiet end of town, for travelers seeking solace. Breakfast is provided. Their spacious rooms are great for families.

Island House Hotel

6966 Main Street, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
This Mackinac Island hotel is loved for its prime location.

Just a short walk from the bustling downtown area, you’re so close to anywhere you might want to go. Plus, this is one of only a few hotels on the island with an indoor pool (and hot tub!) They also have onsite bike rentals.

island house hotel mackinac island great view

Or, consider a private vacation rental on or near Mackinac Island.

Where to Stay in Mackinaw City

Staying in Mackinaw City, Michigan is a great option if you’re looking for more space to spread out, a lakefront accommodations, or lower rates.

Clearwater Lakeshore Motel

11380 US Hwy 23, Mackinaw City, MI 49701

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
The hotel is located on the lake with 300 feet of sandy beach to enjoy.

They offer indoor heated pool and hot tub. Lakefront rooms have private balconies. Complimentary continental breakfast is offered each morning.

Thunderbird Inn

146 Old US 31, Mackinaw City, MI 49701

Why It’s One of the Best Mackinac Island Hotels:
The hotel is clean and affordably priced. They offer complimentary breakfast. There is also an indoor pool.

mackinac island things to do
Overlooking Downtown Mackinac Island from the Fort Walkway

More Michigan Travel

About The Author

5 thoughts on “20+ Perfect Things to Do on Mackinac Island in 2022, Plus Best Places to Stay”

  1. The ice cream shop on the corner of the Grand Hotel is open to the public, with no dress code being enforced.
    Also, look for great deals on hotels in the fall months.
    A taxi ride is a great way to experience a horse and buggy ride without going on an entire tour.
    Biking to Stonecliffe is a great way to see more of the island. It looks like a castle, and stop by the Woods bar for some Sherley Temples. A walk to their back yard has beautiful views.

  2. Definitely consider biking the perimeter of the island! Fantastic, breath-taking views all around with many opportunities to stop along the way. (We packed a picnic with us and ate our lunch while sitting on rocks along the water.) Fort Mackinac was a lot of fun as well. Water bottles are a MUST to stay hydrated. Enjoy!

  3. This is exactly what I was hoping to find somewhere. We are headed to Mackinac Island for one day with our two kids and this gives me a great idea of how to structure our time there. Thank you!

  4. We were able to find a fantastic deal for an overnight weekend ON the island for only $89 a night on Groupon. Check there frequently for Macinaw deals 🙂

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