The Perfect Mackinac Island Travel Guide for a First Time Visitor

We’ve rounded up a list of activities to help first-time visitors decide what to see and do, on the magical Mackinac Island.

A horse and carriage travelling by a bed and breakfast
Mackinac Island | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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Mackinac Island is a step back in time. With classic homes, horse drawn carriages, the historic Fort Mackinac and quaint shops, the island is a fun yet relaxing weekend getaway.

Where to Stay

1. Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel, home to the world’s largest porch, is a national historic landmark. It has hosted numerous presidents and has unique rooms, various dining options and shops. Even if you do not book a stay here, visitors can purchase tickets for a brunch buffet to enjoy the views and a delicious meal.
2. Mission Point Resort

With 18 acres of waterfront property on the sunrise side of the island, bike paths, a spa and bocce ball, Mission Point Resort is a relaxing stay on the island with stunning views and a prime location.
3. Hotel Iroquois

The Hotel Iroquois is located along the water, with individually decorated rooms, and “pier to plate” dinning with fresh fish.

What to Eat

1. Pink Pony Bar & Grill

The Pink Pony is a classic hangout. Serving Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Late Night menus daily in the Pink Pony Bar, Water View Dining Room and Bar, Outdoor Upper-Deck and Waterfront Patio and Bar with iconic Lake Huron views. Enjoy Whitefish dishes or ribs while you soak in the view.
2. Fudge

No trip to the island is complete without some homemade, classic fudge. Regulars on the island all have their favorite from Ryba’s Fudge Shops to  Murdicks Fudge and Joann’s Fudge. Taste one or taste them all and be sure to bring some back home!
3. Mary's Bistro Draught House

Enjoy 50 different tap beers with live music, and savory meals crafted with local ingredients. The bistro also participates in tap takeovers and is always buzzing with a fun crowd.
4. Seabiscuit Cafe

Located in a former bank building, the original brick walls and wood floor shine through, creating a charm to the cage. Enjoy a mix of foods featuring local specialties.
5. Watercolor Café

A unique spot, the Watercolor Café is both an eatery and creative space: it’s a coffee and sandwich shop by day and offers scheduled art classes after the café portion closes.   

What to Do

1. Fort Mackinac

The oldest building in Michigan, Fort Mackinac was not only a home for soldiers but was a medical treatment site. Today, guests can watch reenactments, learn the area’s history and more. 
2. Bike Rentals

Since there are no cars allowed on the island, guests can chose to walk, take a horse-drawn carriage or bike their way around the island. Grab a rental for the day or the weekend to explore.
3. Mackinac Island State Park

Mackinac Island State Park is Michigan’s first state park, established in 1895. It includes breathtaking rock formations, quiet forests and winding paths to spend a day wandering. It also includes Fort Mackinac, where visitors can learn about the
4. Shop on Main Street

Head to Main Street to walk through local shops from the Artists Market of Mackinac Island, with good from over 100 artists across the country, to Canvas & Paddle, with cabin inspired fares, and many more.
5. Mackinac Island Carriage Tours

No trip to the island is complete without a classic tour, via horse drawn carriage. Travelers will learn about the island history, sight see and enjoy a relaxing hour and 45 minutes in the carriage. Handicap accessible carriage is available upon request. 
6. Great Turtle Kayak Tours

Explore the waters around the island via single or tandem kayak or SUP with a guided tour. You’ll enjoy views of the island and the waters with a guide. 
7.  E.U.P. Fishing and Charters

For avid fishermen, spend the day relaxing and fishing in the clear waters of the Straits of Mackinac within view of the glorious Mackinac Bridge.