As a Crown Jewel among Northern Michigan’s many vacation destinations, Mackinac Island has a rich history, is full of elegant architecture, features exquisite vistas and—most importantly—is just plain cool. Visiting the island on Memorial Day Weekend is a perfect kick-off to a Northern Michigan summer, but there’s much more to explore on the island than just fudge and horses. Here’s are 10 travel ideas for a Mackinac Island Memorial Day, from visiting some of the island’s hidden food finds to discovering some of the islands interesting geological features.
1) Take a Trip to the Butterfly Conservatories
Any visitor to either of Mackinac Island’s two live butterfly displays cannot help but feel awed by butterflies of every imaginable color and size. Walk through Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory at Surrey Hill or the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World located downtown- if you sit quietly, you may even become a landing spot.
2) Stay at the Metivier Inn Bed and Breakfast
In 1877, Louis Joseph Metivier bought a Victorian-style home on Mackinac Island for $700. The property was handed down through the Metivier descendants until it became an inn 105 years later. Today, the Metivier honors it’s heritage with quaint French and English country style rooms with all the modern luxuries. A hot breakfast buffet is offered every day, as well as afternoon tea. Take your cup into the Inn’s extensive gardens for an afternoon stroll.
3) Get Spooked at The Devil’s Kitchen
Bike or walk to this cave that carved from the island’s rocky shore by millennia of pounding Great Lakes waves. With views of the Mackinac Bridge, it’s a perfect spot to take a break from your hike or bike ride and take in a great view while enjoying a snack. The cave is located along the southwestern shore of Mackinac Island.
4) Take a Ride into the Past at Surrey Hills Carriage Museum
Explore this museum that highlights antique carriages and allows you to learn about the history of this unique transportation. While there, make sure to check out the working blacksmith shop. If you’re hungry check out the Feedbag, located at Surrey Hills. Enjoy a hot dog or bratwurst on the hill while watching the horses at pasture.
5) Brush Up on your History by Visiting the Fort
This is a Mackinac Island must-do activity! The Fort was originally built during the American Revolution and it was the first building to be captured in the War of 1812 (this July 17th marks that day). Dripping with history, 14 of the original buildings are inside the fort and you can stop by for a re-enactment or to check out the many historical displays around.
6) An Afternoon “Somewhere in Time:” Rent a Carriage before Tea at the Grand Hotel
Spend an afternoon in the past: start your day off with a horse-drawn carriage ride at Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. See Mackinac Island in the most authentic way, either on the company’s tours of the most iconic Mackinac spots, or in a private tour customized to your group’s interests. Then, head up to the Grand Hotel for traditional afternoon tea. Served each day in the Parlor from 3:30 to 5 pm, tea includes sherry and champagne, scones, finger sandwiches and pastries, accompanied by a live chamber music performance.
7) Get a Look into a Millionaire’s Life: Explore the Robert Stuart House
Visit the headquarters of America’s first millionaire, John Jacob Astor. The two story Stuart House was named for the American agent who negotiated with local Native Americans. Visitors learn the history of the fur trade, and Mackinac Island’s transformation from sacred Native American land to the center of the American fur trade. One of 14 historic buildings on the island, the Stuart House is located next to the Biddle House on Market Street.
8) Dine at Woods
The magic of Woods, part of the Grand Hotel, begins before you even get to the restaurant. Diners take a short horse-drawn carriage ride into the deep woods of Mackinac Island to a Tudor mansion done in the rustic charm of a Bavarian hunting lodge. As you’re taking in the exquisite scenery, enjoy before-dinner drinks at Bobby’s Bar, or try your hand at America’s oldest duckpin bowling alley.
9) Go on a Haunted History Tour
Heard rumors that Mackinac Island is haunted and want to learn more? Then this walking tour is a must. The tour was inspired by the book “Haunts of Mackinac” by Todd Clements. Even if you haven’t read it you’ll still enjoy this ghostly jaunt through Mackinac.
10) Enjoy an Evening Drink on the Pink Pony Patio
Voted the “Number One Patio in Michigan” by the Detroit News, the Pink Pony Patio is a Mackinac Island entertainment staple. Enjoy a drink while watching the sun set over the Straits and the last ferry boats take off, then order some food and mix with Mackinac locals and visitors in the ever-crowded bar.