DescriptionNative Americans called it Michilimackinac, or “Great Turtle,” but time and usage have shortened the island's name to Mackinac (MACK-i-naw). This limestone outcrop became a frontier outpost in 1780, when the English moved the old French garrison on the mainland to the more strategic island. It remained the stronghold of the Straits of Mackinac for 115 years.
The island, 3 miles long and 2 miles wide with high cliffs fronting the shore, can be reached by boat from St. Ignace or Mackinaw City. Once on the island, transportation is by horse-drawn carriage, bicycle or saddle horse; no motorized vehicles are permitted, except for a public utilities truck, a fire truck and an ambulance. For this reason, SR 185, which rims the island, is possibly the only state highway in the nation on which a motor vehicle accident has never occurred. Bicycles may be brought over on the ferry or rented on the island.
Usually during the coldest winter months, visitors can travel across the ice bridge, a 3-mile section of Lake Huron where the water freezes solid. Christmas trees, saved from the holidays, line the “highway” where snowmobiles venture between Mackinac Island and St. Ignace. Depending on the weather, the bridge can last from a few days to two months.
Ravines, natural bridges, caves and strange rock formations—particularly Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf—add to this destination's scenic appeal. Mackinac Island State Park is especially attractive in mid-June when the lilacs bloom. The island's Lilac Festival, held early to mid-June each year, features a concert, comedy shows, biking and garden tours, parades and more. Summer sports facilities include a yacht harbor and golf courses. Pets must be physically restrained at all times. Most accommodations are only available from mid-May to late October and mid-December to March, but a few are open year-round.
The 1980 romance “Somewhere in Time”—starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve—was filmed on Mackinac Island, an ideal location for a story set in the early 1900s. Fans of the film will definitely want to visit the monument placed underneath the cedar tree where the main characters, Elise McKenna and Richard Collier, first met. The marker is at the west end of the boardwalk along the Straits of Mackinac and features a photo and quote from the memorable scene. The nearby Grand Hotel served as another filming spot; this beautiful Victorian hotel hosts the movie's fan club for a weekend each October. Stop by Mackinac Island State Park to see another connection to the film—a gazebo used in several scenes now resides here on a wooded bluff.
Ferry service from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island operates from early May through October. For schedules and prices, contact Arnold Transit Co. , (906) 847-3351 or (800) 542-8528; Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry , (231) 436-5023 or (800) 828-6157; or Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry , (906) 643-7635 or (800) 638-9892.
Visitor InfoMackinac Island Tourism Bureau 7274 Main St. MACKINAC ISLAND, MI 49757. Phone:(906)847-3783 or (800)454-5227
Things to SeeFort Mackinac