Mackinaw City is more than just world-famous fudge and a way to get to Mackinac Island. This destination has lots of interesting things to do and see. If you have never been there, you are really missing something!
It is located at the base of the Michigan Lower Peninsula, right by the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge ventures over the Straits of Mackinac, which is the intersection of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. It leads to Mackinac Island, which is an excellent day trip for those staying in Mackinaw City for a short trip or extended vacation.
What makes this city special is its resort-like environment. You can enjoy the great outdoors in any of the city’s four historic national parks or at the beach running along the Straits of Mackinac. Some of the best hotels are located in the city, and there is always something special going on for family fun.
Enjoy a day on the golf course or take the family for a laser light show in the park. Attend festivals and music events occurring during certain seasons, or spend an afternoon shopping in small boutiques. The city is loaded with museums and historical sites, so there are many learning opportunities available. There are restaurants of every variety as well, so you will never go hungry while enjoying your Mackinaw City vacation!
Looking for some fun things to do on your trip? Here are some of our favorites.
1. Take the historical tour of the city with the Mackinac Old Time Trolley Company.
This is an excellent adventure for the entire family, and you can actually afford to take the entire family since the tour costs less than six dollars per person. Explore the city from a cushioned seat in an old fashioned trolley, and then head back to the stopping points that catch your eye for more in-depth exploration on foot.
2. Take a fast day trip out to Mackinac Island.
You can take a ferry ride from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island in fifteen minutes or less. Whether you choose to rent tandem bikes, ride horses or explore the sights in a horse drawn carriage, you will have an unforgettable day!
3. Explore the lighthouses dotting the coast with Shepler’s Lighthouse Cruises.
Get onboard for a three hour cruise suitable for adults and children. The cruise explores the lighthouses still standing along the Straights of Mackinac. You will learn about the history of lighthouses in the region while visiting some of the most noteworthy lighthouses up close.
4. See the Straits of Mackinaw from new heights with a parasailing adventure.
Head to the Arnold Line Cruise Dock to board a unique boat and hit the air for a parasailing adventure. You will take off and land right from the deck of the boat. You will see the Straits from a new angle, and it is a breathtaking angle you will never forget. It is not cheap, but it is clearly the most fun and exciting way to see the area.
5. Catch a fishing charter and head out on the Straits to see what you can catch.
For those who love to fish, get excited about the big fish that are waiting for you out on the Straits. You can catch fishing charters from the Mackinaw City Municipal Marina and spend a morning, afternoon, or evening with your pole in the water.
While our kids think the the coolest things to see are the guys making the old-fashioned fudge or the fun and unique things in the quaint shops downtown…there are actually a lot of things to do. Here are some of our favorite spots:
1. Catch the show at Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows
Logging was a major Michigan industry in the 1800s, and this is an exciting way to explore that industry without getting bored. There are shows running throughout the week which offer entertainment through log rolling, wood chopping, and other intense races performed by professionals.
2. Step into Colonial Michilimackinac to explore the historical roots of Mackinaw City.
This historic fort and trading post has been reconstructed, so you can see what it felt like to ride into town in the 1770s. Shop at the gift shop. Tour the museum. Look through reconstructed structures, and simply walk the streets to go back in time.
3. Venture to Heritage Village to explore a variety of buildings from Michigan’s most important historical moments.
There is no way to turn back time and see how people lived at the turn of the 19th century, but you can visit Heritage Village to get a feel for life in those times. The village is a collection of buildings this time period, all collected in one area for your exploration.
4. Visit the Discovery Park in the Historic Mill Creek.
This reconstructed park takes you into a reconstructed sawmill to learn about an industry that was once bread and butter for Michigan residents. You get to see how sawmills operated for an educational and entertaining adventure suitable for the entire family.
5. See the wonders of Michigan at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.
This park is largely undeveloped land, so you can go for a hike on marked trail or just spend the day on the untouched Lake Michigan shoreline. This is a beautiful place for landscape pictures!
There are a lot of great hotel and lodging choices right in the city near all the ferry docks, shops and activities. Click here to see some of our favorites.
There are also some great campgrounds and rental cabins nearby for a totally unique experience every time!
These ideas should will give you a good introduction to Mackinaw City, but there is even more to be explored. So what are you waiting for?