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After leaving Interlochen State Park and the Traverse City area we headed north so we could visit Mackinac Island. This place was one of the TOP recommended Michigan spots from friends, family and our readers, so we knew we couldn’t miss it!
Mackinac Island is a small island located in Lake Huron off the northern tip of the “mitten” of Michigan. It has a fascinating history which you can read about here. Today it serves as a resort and tourist destination.
The island can only be reached by boat, ferry, aircraft (and snow machines in the winter over an ice road). You might find it interesting that motorized vehicles are prohibited on the island – that’s right, no cars! You’ll find only bicycles and horse drawn carriages for transportation.
There are a few different ferry companies that will take you from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island – we recommend taking Star Line Ferry – it’s the ferry we took and we loved it. You can expect to spent between $12 – $23 for a round-trip ferry ticket to the island (after visiting the island I can say it’s totally worth it).
We got to the Star Line Ferry dock early to take one of the first ferries of the day over to the island – we wanted as much time as possible to explore the island. You can choose between a direct route to the island or take a little detour and go under the Mackinac Bridge.
We opted for the tour that went under the Mackinac Bridge – a suspension bridge connecting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. It’s the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western hemisphere (16th largest suspension bridge in the world). It serves as a visual for the “separation” between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
After the short ferry ride we were dropped off on Mackinac Island. It’s unlike any place I’ve been before. Not a car in sight – just lots of bicycles and horses with carriages. Many people bring their bikes over to the island and tour the island via bikes.
We opted for a horse and carriage tour of the island. The Visitor’s Center recommended Mackinac Island Carriage Tours – it’s about a 2-hour tour and it takes you all over the island with a knowledgeable tour guide narrating along the way. I’m very glad we did this – we learned a ton and were able to see some beautiful parts of the island.
One of the places we stopped along the tour was the Wings of Mackinac – a Butterfly Garden (you pay a couple extra dollars with your tour to get into this). Now there are butterfly gardens all around the country, and I’m not sure anything about this one makes it unique to Makinac Island – but we really did enjoy it, especially the kids!
I’ll spare you the 100+ photos I took of butterflies, but here are a few to get an idea. . .
So many pretty butterflies – we really enjoyed watching them fly around, land on everything (including us) and seeing all the different varieties.
The next stop on the carriage ride was at the Arch Rock – a natural limestone arch – apparently a rare find in North America. The tour guide shared many stories and legends about the arch and we loved the views!
The next (and final) stop on the carriage tour is Fort Mackinac – we didn’t tour this one because it was an additional fee and it was getting to be around lunchtime. Maybe next time!
After the carriage tour we headed back to the main street to find some lunch. . .
We stopped into Island Slice Pizzeria and ordered a deep dish barbecue chicken pizza with bacon, caramelized onions, fresh cilantro and BBQ sauce. Ummm. . . it might be the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. We ended up taking leftovers home for dinner. So delish!
After lunch we did some window shopping before boarding a Starline ferry and heading home mid-afternoon.
The weather had warmed up considerably since the morning trip over – so this time we opted to ride on the top deck of the ferry – what a view! Not long after taking this photo my daughter crawled into my lap and fell sound asleep for the rest of the ferry ride – a rare treat for this mama. She was just worn out from all the fun on the island and the hum of the ferry knocked her out!
Mackinac Island certainly was a treat to explore and we’re so glad we included it in our travel plans.
Have you been to Mackinac Island? If so, do you have favorite places on the island? Leave a comment and let us know!
Sponsorship disclosure – We partnered with Star Line Ferry. In exchange for ferry tickets to Mackinaw Island we agreed to share our honest experience and review with our readers. All photos, opinions and content are ours.