Mackinaw City Michigan is an amazing city to explore, dine and shop with amazing views of the Mackinac Bridge! Visiting the city during all four seasons awards you with vastly different experiences.
Summer is fantastic for boating, enjoying the park, walking the city and of course, Mackinac Island. However, the shops and restaurants will be very crowded.
In winter, Mackinaw City is much less traveled (less people, more peaceful stay!) and fewer shops are open but you can enjoy the pristine beauty of the area.
By Featured Contributor-Larry Collin
Mackinaw City, located on North M-75 is our destination stay before heading to Mackinac Island. The city boasts numerous hotels, restaurants and shopping opportunities. Lodging ranges from approximately $100 and up depending on your hotel of choice.
My wife and I enjoy the view of the Mackinac Bridge, Michilimackinac State Park and the Mackinac Point Lighthouse (located directly east of the Mackinac Bridge.) Parking is free at the State Park. We love to bring our cameras to take lots of photos that will later adorn our walls at home.
We repeatedly stay at the Parkside Inn located on North Huron Avenue. (We were not paid for this review, it's simply where we stay.) We love that we can park at our hotel and then walk to all the popular destinations in the city. Mackinaw City is small enough that you can walk almost the entire area without moving your vehicle.
Besides the amazing views and location, Parkside Inn features a very nice hot breakfast and the rooms are very comfortable. The hotel faces Fort Michilimackinac and many of the rooms have a view of the Mackinac Bridge. If you have one of those rooms, you will love the view at night.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: We recommend staying in Mackinaw City for lower priced lodging, food, shopping and amenities. We stay two nights-the night before our Mackinac Island trip and the night after. The ferries to the island leave from Mackinaw City.
We always arrive at Mackinaw City the day before our trip to the Island so we can enjoy the numerous sites in the city. After checking in to our Inn, we enjoy walking across the street to take pictures of the Mackinac Point lighthouse and the famous Mackinac Bridge.
However, it's not long before hunger begins to set in so we walk back to the hotel and drive about one mile to the downtown area...we could always walk but, we figure we will get enough exercise tomorrow. (We feel good about that rationalization!)
One of our favorite places to eat dinner is at the Dixie Saloon restaurant because their perch and burgers are excellent. We always hope there is an open table upstairs in the balcony area because it looks and feels like a cozy log cabin. Sometimes the wait times can be long so arrive before or after conventional meal times.
Sometimes when we are looking for a quick bite to eat and a drink, we enjoy O'Reilly's Irish Pub. This place is kind of a hidden gem as it is right next to the Dixie Saloon. You can walk inside between the two restaurants.
Their steak burgers and onion rings are tasty. Plus I like the comfortable, friendly atmosphere and the wooden booths.
As for dessert, we like to go to one of the local ice cream parlors to buy heaping cones of our favorite delicious Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. It's a perfect treat for the end of a good meal.
Since it's easy to walk around downtown we also splurged and got a pound of Mackinac Island fudge which is a decedent treat which you can only get in this area!
Other than eating, there are many more things to do in the town including shopping, mini-golf, sightseeing, zip-lining and boat tours. You won't be bored!
Mackinaw City dazzled its visitors with rare sparkling blue ice in February/early March 2018. This phenomenon last occurred 7 years ago so visitors flocked to the city in droves to photograph and witness the spectacular event! Enjoy our photographs here! For additional blue ice photos, parking tips and "in the know" advice, click here!