Mackinac Island is one of America’s most unique summer destinations.
Like any vacation hot spot, there are tried and true customs that frequenters of the island are familiar with that first timers or newer travelers need to know about. We have some words of wisdom from those who have been there and done that, which can make all the difference.
Below are ten tips that can take your trip to Mackinac from great to unforgettable.
1. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to park your car and get on the ferry, whether you are taking the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry or the Shepler's boats. There is no need to be stressed about getting on the boat, as this is the easy part.
2. Dress accordingly. Weather can change very fast in Mackinac, especially in the rainier, spring months. It is best to ensure that you have enough clothes to keep you warm, such as windbreakers and light sweatshirts. Of course, the Threads of Mackinac store can help you with all of that.
3. Some of the restaurants, such as The Woods, are definite must-sees. For these places, make your reservations in advance, and allow yourself 45 minutes before the reservation for travel time if going via horse. Mackinac Island Carriage Tours offers taxi rides (with charge per person) to the Woods and it is a fantastic experience. Make sure to call the day before or the morning of to reserve a taxi for your party.
4. If you bring your bike, make sure to register it with the state police. This is not as daunting as it sounds. It is a simple and easy process where visitors can purchase a transient license when you board the ferry. Make sure to ask your ferry provider for some guidance on the main land.
5. Book your hotel well in advance, especially if visiting during popular weekends such as the Lilac Festival or during the CYC Race to Mackinac. There will be little availability, especially during these times, so plan accordingly.
The Harbor View Inn, one of Mackinac Island's premier hotels
6. It is essential to have a clear path in mind when you come off the boat and onto the main street. Especially during busy times of the year, it can be quite crowded. If you have little ones, hold onto them so they do not wander off!
7. As with any vacation, doing research beforehand will help you have the best experience possible. On Mackinac Island, the activities that are slightly off the beaten path will likely be your best bet, and there are so many of them. Your biggest issue will be deciding which ones to do.
8. As you make your way around the island, bring some of your own snacks and drinks. A little cooler will go a long way.
9. Bring umbrellas! Enough said.
10. If the weather permits, swimming in the Grand Hotel pool is incredibly worth the splurge. It is the filming location of the famous Esther Williams film This Time For Keeps, and the memories you make there will be for keeps as well.