Mackinac Island Attractions
Mackinac Island in the shape of a giant turtle itself is a big attraction. There are many places and sites that one must see while on a trip to Mackinac Islands.
Starting off with a horse drawn carriage ride. Viewing the scenery to the accompaniment of the clip clop music of the horse hooves would be worth cherishing. It would make you feel slightly Victorian in a Victorian ambience. A typical horse-drawn carriage tour starts from Surrey Hills Carriage Museum where visitors can learn about carriages and see some sturdy and well-designed carriages that are stored and displayed.
The foremost of the sites is the Fort Mackinac a part of Mackinac Island State Park, which covers approximately 80% of the island. Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, Devil’s Kitchen and Skull Cave are some of the natural attractions of Mackinac Island State Park that are discussed in detail in a separate article.
The British constructed Fort Mackinac during the American Revolution. This fort is the only war era fort of Michigan. The fort, now a National Historical Landmark had served as a sentinel in the straits for 115 years. There is a small museum that informs visitors about the history of the fort in detail and also about interesting facts about the fort.
In the beginning of the fort’s tour an orientation video, ‘Heritage of Mackinac” is shown. Visitors can then listen to the 19th century military concert played by the soldiers live. The soldiers dressed in the 19th century uniforms enact mock wars, fire rifles in the air using blanks to give a real feel of the war and fire canons into the ocean as if hitting invisible ships. Various buildings of the fort have some anecdote on incident connected to it. After absorbing the detailed historical facts about the fort, round off your trip to the fort with lunch, snacks, dinner or desserts at the Tea Room Restaurant. On your arrival while your ferry approaches Mackinac Island if you look up you can see the bright yellow umbrellas of the Tea Room restaurant. From the restaurant, you can have a panoramic view of the harbor as ships cruise pass the lighthouse as they move in and out of the harbor.
The Governor’s Residence was built in 1902 and has been used by nine Michigan Governors and their families as a summer home until 1943. The entry to this building is free and the times are 9:30 AM to 11:30 am. If the barely visible Michigan flag is flying then the governor is in and visitors are not permitted inside.
The Butterfly House in Mackinac Island houses butterflies from around the world. Visitors can watch the metamorphosis and them breaking away from cocoons in to winged butterflies right before their eyes. There are in fact, two butterfly houses: Mackinac Island Butterfly House and the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. The rules are simple: do not touch the butterflies (children actually get a prize for not touching), be prepared for butterflies sitting on you and you are allowed to take photographs.
Next in the line to visit is the Stuart House Museum. Originally, John Jacob Astor, the founder of the American Fur Trading Company, used the building as the center of fur trading and social activities. The museum now houses details of fur trading in those days and the rise of Jacob Astor, as he became America’s first millionaire.
The Haunted Theatre of Mackinac is the scariest attraction of the island. Except for the children, everyone else can have a blast. The Phantom of the Opera performs his requiem and in the dark recesses of the museum, you meet the legendary Manitou.
The Biddle house is another attraction that was built in 1780 and was home to the Chippewa chief Agatha Biddle. You can see hearth cooking and crafts in the Biddle house.
Mackinac Island and Round Island lighthouses are other sites worth visiting. The lighthouses are also used as wedding sites.
St Anne church provides some insight into the spread of Christianity on the island. Exchanging vows in the St Anne’s church or Mission church followed by a reception in the Grand Hotel is a splendid wedding ceremony idea.
Mackinac Island with its idyllic setting, numerous decent accommodations and historic sites attract many couples to exchange vows and spend their honeymoon. Of the many hotels, the Grand Hotel is a good place for staying as well as an attraction in itself. Those who do not stay in the Grand Hotel make it a point to visit the hotel.
The downtown houses five historic buildings/museums that include Dr Beaumont Museum, Biddle House, Blacksmith shop, McGulpin House and Mission Church. The shops in the downtown as well as the main street in Mackinac are for the candy shops selling fudges. Those with a sweet tooth will find it hard to resist Mackinac fudges.