Let's talk about Mackinac Island.
This place is really unique…the island doesn’t allow cars except for emergency vehicles (and I swear that ambulance seemed narrow).
The primary modes of transport are bikes and horses. Also it would appear as though their sole economic driver is tourism, and anyone who lives on the island likely works in some service industry. I think I’m digressing.
The island is quite large. It’s about 2300 acres, or 3.7 square miles. This means there’s a lot of territory to explore, and almost all of it is accessible with a bike. They even have off-road mountain biking trails that would probably be tons of fun to ride.
We took the Star Line ferry over from St. Ignace, and brought our bikes with us. This saved us some money not to have to rent them on the island. The first thing you experience when you step into town is the arresting smell of horse urine and horse manure. It’s jarring. The next thing (especially for us) were the massive amounts of people mulling about on Main Street. There are tons of shops and restaurants right there, and it seemed like that was where everyone was concentrated. We saw a lot of people who were just walking, and apparently they never made it past the main strips…or took a tour on a horse-drawn trailer (there were lots of those).
We really felt like we did it right though. Riding the bikes through the paths was so much fun, and we really enjoyed exploring and being able cover so much ground. This was a really cool place to visit, and we enjoyed hanging out on the island. We started at Main Street and rode the main road along the island until we came to the Arch Rock overlook, then rode up the hill to skull rock, and on someone’s recommendation, went up to Fort Holmes. If you have a bike and the time to get there -- this is the best view on the island.
Also, get there before 4pm, ‘cause that seems to be when they close the fort. We got there at 4:30.
After riding all over the island, we made our way back to Main Street to eat dinner. We chose the Pink Pony restaurant, and waited for a table. The meal was nothing to write home about, but it did the trick, and was perfectly timed so that we got on the ferry with food in our bellies.
Mackinac island is such a unique experience, it’s well worth your time. But don’t just go to shops…do it right. Go see the sights.
- Bring a bike if you can.
- If you can't, it's probably worth renting a bike
- Pack a picnic and get there early.
- Plan ahead - research the island, know where you're going and what you want to see.
- Star Line has a fast ferry - that's the one we took, take that one if you want to make better time.