Our Favorite Mackinac Activities
No Mackinac trip is complete without stretching your biking muscles and seeing what our beautiful island has to offer away from the main streets. There are 70 miles of trails from the easy M-185 loop around the perimeter of the island where you’ll see 8.2 miles of the pristine shoreline, to the rugged mountain biking trails located inland. Lose yourself in the nature and serenity. Bring your own bike or rent from our knowledgeable staff at either Mackinac Island Bike Shop or Mackinac Cycle. Both are conveniently located with the newest and best bikes on the island.
Great Turtle Kayak Tours
If your idea of adventure is more fluid, hop in a kayak for a tour hosted by experienced guides at Great Turtle Kayak Tours. They offer seven different routes, including their popular sunrise or sunset tours. No need for experience – they’ll teach you!
Horses are the main form of transportation on Mackinac Island, so it makes sense that the most authentic view of the island is from horseback. Two stables, Cindy’s Riding Stable and Jack’s Livery Stable offer saddle horses for individual rides or guided tours. Be sure to check their websites for rules and pointers before arriving. Keep in mind that this is a popular activity, so you’ll want to be flexible with your timing in order to Giddy Up.
Steve Brisson, Director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, has been known to say, “A trip to Mackinac Island is not complete without a visit to Fort Mackinac.” And we agree! So much of the charm of Mackinac Island is built on history. The Fort offers rifle demonstrations, historic interpreters available to answer all your questions, and exhibits explaining all about the history of the military installation and fur trade of the island. There are interactive exhibits for the kids, and their most recent addition to their activities – firing the morning cannon to indicate the opening of the Fort is one of the most unique experiences on the island. Reserve your spot by calling Fort Mackinac at least three days in advance of your visit. See more information at mackinacparks.com.
We recommend a narrated carriage tour to every guest. We feel it is particularly important for first time visitors to get a feel for the island and to help decide the sites that they would like to go back to during their stay. There are a couple different options for tours. The public tour, conducted by Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, starts two blocks from our front door. It takes about an hour and 45 minutes and includes points of interest like Arch Rock, the Island Cemeteries, Fort Mackinac (admission not included), Surrey Hill Carriage Museum, and Wings of Mackinac (separate admission). If you want a more customized tour for just your group, you can hire your own carriage and driver in front of Marquette Park at the base of Fort Mackinac, or ask the front desk and we can arrange a private tour from Gough Carriages and they will pick you up at the hotel and design the tour to your liking. The most popular private tours take guests through the East or West Bluffs to see the Victorian homes of the island’s residents.
Hike Mackinac Island State Park
Mackinac Island is a hiker’s dream. The Island is just under four square miles, but it has over 70 miles of trails to explore. 80% of the island is designated as a state park and the extensive trail system is highlighted in the Mackinac Island Historic Guidebook that is created by the Mackinac Historic Parks. You can purchase one on your ferry ride over or from the Island Visitor’s Center across from Fort Mackinac. If you are into geocaching, there are over 100 active caches on the island. It’s a great way to explore the little seen areas of Mackinac Island and to get back to nature.
Haunts of Mackinac
Over the past few years, haunted walking tours have become more popular throughout all tourist destinations, and Mackinac Island is no exception. Haunts of Mackinac is based on a series of books by the same name. Each tour is a 90 minute walking tour, encompassing about a mile of area including the downtown area all the way to Mission Point Resort with a personal guide that will entertain you with folk lore and ghost stories that tell about Mackinac’s “buried” history. The ticket booth and tour departure point are located at the front of the Bicycle Street Inn and we recommend buying tickets online as tours fill up fast.
Forge a Memory
Chad Osborne appeared on two episodes of The History Channel’s show Forged in Fire and showcased his passion for forging blades. He brings that passion to Forge a Memory, Mackinac Island’s newest attraction tucked away at Surrey Hill. Here you can forge your own knife, with the help of Chad and his team of experienced smiths. Don’t expect to walk up and get right in. This experience is so popular that they suggest making reservation at least a week in advance of your visit. The knives are made of steel, but this memory is worth its weight in gold!
The Original Butterfly House and Insect World
Using the word Original in the title is not just a marketing trick for this butterfly conservatory. It legitimately owns the rights to that title as it was the first of its kind in Michigan and only the third live butterfly exhibit in the United States! Boasting of over 30 species of butterflies, you are sure to see a magnificent show in their butterfly garden. In 2006, they added the Insect World and you can see both live and preserved insects and reptiles from all over the world. Even better, they offer a discount to our guests!
Sip N Sail Cruises
This hidden gem of Mackinac Island is one of our favorite activities to suggest to couples looking for a romantic evening, or for a great Girls Night Out. Each cruise is about 1 ½ hours and tours the waters around Mackinac Island with a trip under the Mackinac Bridge if time and weather allow. With both open-air upper deck and covered cabin, you can be sure to cruise in comfort. There is live entertainment and a full bar onboard. Check out their schedule to see what is available during your stay.