Ultimate Mackinac Island Guide: The Best Things to Do, Best Hotels, Ferry Tips, Secret Places, Maps and FAQ's!

We have the ULTIMATE Mackinac Island Trip Guide!! 

Mackinac Island is an adventurer, naturalist and photographer’s paradise as the island is rich in history, hiking trails, scenic views, nostalgic churches and natural wonders.  The island can only be reached by boat or ferry which adds to the charm and excitement of visiting.  You can visit the island just for the day as the ferry ride is affordable and only 20 minutes long.  

If the Island is at the top of your Michigan bucket list, let's go!! Horse drawn carriages, butterflies, forts, bike riding, kayaking and fudge are waiting for you!!  

Mackinac Island Hotels, Getting Around the Island, Things To Do, Maps and FAQ's

Heck yeah, we have it all!  Check out the links below for Mackinac Island Hotels and a Getting Around Mackinac Island

TRUST ME: DON'T PLAN ON WALKING IT...unless you are a runner or are well conditioned (along with everyone else in your party) I recommend renting or bringing your bike.  Unless you like the idea of dragging yourself up and down steep hills for miles and miles--->for fun.  If you are walking, it's all fun and games for about an hour and then everyone is cranky. 

Check out:

Plus we have AWESOME Maps!  WHOOT!  

Mackinac Island Frequently Asked Questions

Just so you have your lingo right:  Mackinac is the French spelling of an Indian word and is pronounced mack-in-awe.  Often misspelled as Mackinaw Island, this magical place is a destination you won't want to overlook!  

Click On The Photos Below To Plan Your Mackinac Island or Mackinaw City Vacation!

Did you know Mackinac Island was once a National Park??

I received an email from a reader informing me of a fascinating fact about Mackinac Island...

125 years ago Mackinac Island State Park was established as Michigan’s first state park (the first state park in the entire country!). However, two decades prior, Mackinac Island was known as Mackinac National Park!

It was the second national park in the United States after Yellowstone National Park!! What a cool fact!! (Thanks, Toby!)

Shepler's Ferry Tips to Mackinac Island

We got up bright and early and was at Shepler's parking lot by 9:30 a.m.  I was determined to get there early as I REALLLLLY wanted to make one of the early ferry trips that go under the bridge. 

These special ferry trip takes a little longer because it will travel under the bridge so you can obtain a rare view of the structure of the bridge.  Definitely worth the experience!  Check out their schedule to see which early morning trips go under the bridge.  

We parked, unloaded our bikes and rode to the ferry docks.  If you aren't taking your bike, Shepler's has a nice covered tram that will take you to the docks.  

As a note, Shepler's gives a military discount for active or veteran service. 

You can purchase your tickets on-line (recommended as you get a discount) so you can purchase a variety of add on's like bringing your bike, carriage rides and tickets for the Fort. That way I just showed the supplied bar code in an email on my phone.  No need to print anything.  

The tickets are good for any date and time so you will need to get there early enough to guarantee your seat.

Upon arriving at the dock simply get in line with your bike.  Have your email ready with the bar code as someone will scan it.  You will be supplied a blue tag to apply to your bike and they load your bike as you board the boat.  Easy peazy. 

This ferry ride is an excellent opportunity for photographers to obtain a different perspective of the bridge. 

After passing under the bridge the ferry will continue to the Island.  Just so you know, the ferry has restrooms.  Oh, and the top deck is WINDY and YOU WILL MOST LIKELY GET WET.  The right side seemed less wet.

Keep an eye out for the Round Island Lighthouse that is located on Round Island, east of Mackinac Island.  It was erected in 1895.  

Frequently Asked Mackinac Island Questions

1. What Is The Dress Code At The Grand Hotel?

During the day, casual resort clothing is appropriate. Prior to 6:30 p.m. the prefer no midriff baring tops, sweatpants or cut-off shorts for ladies. For gentleman no sleeveless shirts, sweatpants, or cut-off shorts.

Every evening at the Grand Hotel is a special occasion. After 6:30 p.m. dresses, skirts, blouses, dress sweaters and dress slacks for ladies are preferred, while gentleman are required to wear a suit coat, necktie and dress pants, no denim or shorts. This applies for all areas inside the hotel with the exception of the Cupola Bar. Children 12 years and older are expected to follow the same dress code as adults.

2.  Is There A Cost To Drive Over The Mackinac Bridge?

Yes, it is $4 per car, each direction, which makes it $8 round trip.

3.  Are There Lockers On The Island?

Yes.  They are located in the passageway near the restrooms of the Star Line Dock, just west of the Shepler's ferry dock.  Shepler's has them too...they are blue, can't miss them!  

4.  Where Can We Eat Inexpensively On The Island?

Below is a map of the majority of the restaurants on the island with short descriptions that may help you.  Island Slice Pizzeria and Mighty Mac Hamburgers are a couple restaurants that will be kinder to your budget.

5.  May We Bring Our Dog to the Island?

Yes, pets are welcome. They do have a leash law and ask that everyone please pick up after their pet. Some lodging facilities are pet friendly and many restaurants have pet seating areas while others will let you bring your pooch to the table on their verandas or patios. Please know only service dogs are permitted inside any restaurant. For more information, please call the Island's office at 906-847-3783.

6.  What About Access to Sightseeing for Persons with Disabilities?

The Island is a great place for all persons with or without disabilities. There are amigo electric carts, adult strollers, specially designed carriages and more for persons who are unable to walk or walk long distances.

7.  How Long Does It Take to Ride a Bike Around Mackinac Island?

The trail around the Island is wonderful with it's breathtaking scenery and points of interest along the way. The trail is about 8.2 miles and takes anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on how often you choose to stop to view points of interest or to rest.

  • If you are on a budget, you definitely will stretch your dollars by staying off the island.  There are plenty of restaurants and shops so you won't feel like you are missing out. 
  • Shepler's ferry offers a military discount! 
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • If you have asthma or horse allergies, be aware of the strong horse presence on the island. Bring an inhaler if you use one.

  • Don't miss the stunning Mackinaw Bridge at dusk and at night.  Bring your tripod.
  • Arch Rock is one of the most photographed areas on the Island.

  • Shepler's Ferry also has numerous lighthouse cruises. 
  • Plan ahead to take the special ferry that goes under the Mackinac Bridge.
  • You may bring your bike on the ferry to the island for a fee.  It's cheaper than renting a bike on the island.
  • Sitting on the veranda of the Grand Hotel will cost you $10 each unless you eat the buffet style lunch which includes a self guided tour of the Grand Hotel.
  1. Traveling Michigan Home Page
  2.  ›
  3. Mackinac Island

Join Us on Instagram!  We're fun!

View this post on Instagram

I'm simply giddy to start planning a trip to Mackinac Island this spring! We pack our bikes, snacks and rock out the day! . The Mackinac Island Lilac Festival is coming up June 7 through 16, 2019. This pretty festival is a 10-day celebration that is the first and largest summer event on the Island! I'm trying to talk Chris into visiting during this festival! . I've compiled the "Ultimate Mackinac Island Guide to Everything" if you are planning on visiting the island this year. It has hotels, restaurants, things to do, transportation, photos, hidden spots and so much more! Check it out in my bio! . . . #mackinacisland #mackinacislandfudge #mackinacislandlife #mackinac #Michigan #puremichigan #greatlakesstate #travelingmichigan #michiganders #mittensmitten #michiganaddict #onlyinmichigan #mittenlove #thingstodoinmichigan #michiganoverboard #michigan_wanderlust #capuringmichigan #michiganphotographer #carriages #fudge #michiganislands #exploremichigan @mackinacisle

A post shared by Michigan Travel+Food Adventure (@travelingmichigan) on

Have A Great Tip About Visiting Mackinaw?

Do you have a great Tip About Visiting Mackinaw? Share it!

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures of Mackinaw Tips (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

Love Adventures?
Join our network of Traveling Michigan Explorers! 

We'll send you the best local adventures, upcoming events, tips and inspiration right to your inbox! Sign Up Now

November Events
December Events