Insider’s Guide to Mackinac Island

Step onto a ferry to Mackinac Island and get whisked away to a place where time seems to have stopped. Victorian-style homes line the streets where people are taken to and fro on horse-drawn carriages. With the beautiful sights and a reputation for its fudge and lilacs, it’s no surprise Mackinac Island is a favorite spot for vacationers. When you’re done exploring Main Street and tasting the fudge, check out our Insider’s Guide to the best views, trails and restaurants on Mackinac Island.


– Views –

The stunning sunsets and blue waters of Lake Huron are just a few of the sights you’ll see.

Sunset Rock:
One of the better kept secrets on Mackinac Island, Sunset Rock is located on the West End of the island near The Inn at Stonecliffe. Also known as Chimney Rock, this rock formation offers a sweeping view of Lake Huron, the Mackinac Bridge and the Upper Peninsula.

Point Aux Pins:
The northernmost point on Mackinac Island, this spot is best reached by bike. Located near Mile 4, the halfway point when riding around the island, it’s a secluded spot offering a quiet peace that can’t be found downtown on Main Street. Bring a book, take a nap or just watch the water lapping rhythmically against the shore.

Anne’s Tablet:
Behind the Indian Dormitory in Marquette Park is a set of wooden stairs. Known as Crow’s Nest Trail, the steep ascent dissuades many from climbing up. For those who do, though, they are met with a spectacular surprise. Once you’ve arrived at the top, take a left onto Anne’s Tablet Trail. A few steps through the trees and you’ve reached it—Anne’s Tablet. A gap in the trees reveals the harbor and across the water is Round Island. You won’t be disappointed.

Windermere Point:
Located next to Hotel Iroquois in downtown Mackinac Island, this spot is more well known among visitors. However, it’s worth mentioning for several reasons. First, the view is spectacular. Sit on the shoreline and watch ferry boats and freighters pass by with Round Island Lighthouse in the background. Second, it’s a great spot for a picnic. There are plenty of tables with umbrellas offering a reprieve from the sun, but watch out for the seagulls. They’re always hungry. Finally, and perhaps most noteworthy, Windermere Point is often inhabited by employees of Great Turtle Toys who fly kites throughout the day. You can watch the colors fly by or try it for yourself. Watch out though, on windy days some of the bigger kites might lift you up.

West Bluff:
Victorian era cottages line West Bluff Road. Characterized by their rounded porches and turrets, these stunning houses and manicured gardens are worth the hike up Cadotte Avenue (the formidable hill by the Grand Hotel). The area dates back to the late 1800s and each cottage has a history of its own.

– Trails –

Spend the afternoon exploring a quieter side of Mackinac Island among the trees and cliffs. Don’t forget to pack a water bottle, sunscreen and snacks on your longer hikes and rides.

Tranquil Bluff Trail:
If you’re looking for an afternoon hike try the longest trail on Mackinac Island. Tranquil Bluff Trail starts near Arch Rock and goes back about three miles toward Friendship’s Altar and British Landing Road. The route follows the edge of a cliff and offers occasional glimpses of Lake Huron. Be on the lookout for Eagle Point Cave, which is located slightly off the trail about 1.5 miles in. Once you’ve reached the trail’s end, you’ve still got a trek of about 3.5 miles back to downtown.

Crack-in-the-island:
Yes, this trail is exactly what it sounds like. The trailhead is located on the far side of the Mackinac Island Airport off of State Road. It’s best to ride your bike out there and then park it while you walk the trail, unless of course you’ve got a trail bike. A short walk will bring you to a 15-foot crack in the island that is 3 to 4 feet deep in some areas. While you’re out there also check out the Cave of the Woods, which is located on Partridge Trail.

Manitou Trail:
For a relaxing evening stroll head to East Bluff on Huron Road. Home to beautiful cottages, Huron Road will also bring you to the start of Manitou Trail. The trailhead is located shortly before Pottawatomie Road on the right-hand side. The short walk through the woods ends at Arch Rock, a popular rock formation on the island offering gorgeous views of Lake Huron.

Don’t get lost on the trails, use this handy dandy map.

– Food & Drink –

In addition to gorgeous views and beautiful trails, Mackinac Island is also home to a lot of great restaurants, and after all that hiking and biking you’ve got to craving something more than a granola bar and water. Here are a few of our favorite spots and dishes.

Seabiscuit Café:
On an island powered by horses it’s only fair to have at least one horse-themed eatery. Seabiscuit Café offers a cozy atmosphere and casual menu making it a perfect spot for a family meal or a date. Grab a window seat looking out on Main Street or head to the back for a booth.

  • My pick: The Daily Double is grilled cheese perfection. Slow roasted pulled pork simmered in sweet and spicy barbecue sauce and red onion layered between, not one, but two grilled cheese sandwiches. You’ll only find this masterpiece on the late night menu though.

The Chuckwagon:
The Chuckwagon’s breakfast honestly might be the best on the island. Tis a large claim to make, but it’s deserved. Locals and tourists alike have been wiping the sleep from their eyes at Chuckwagon for almost 60 years and the breakfasts haven’t disappointed yet. The Chuckwagon also serves great burgers and sandwiches for lunch. Grab a seat and try it for yourself. Better get here early though, the small restaurant fills up fast.

  • My pick: The Great Big Breakfast is the breakfast of champions. With three eggs, hash browns, flapjacks or toast and your choice of two meats, it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re not a breakfast person though, order their bleu cheese burger. It’s topped with their secret sauce, and you’ll be searching high and low for the recipe.

Horn’s Gaslight Bar & Restaurant:
When you come to Horn’s be prepared for dinner and a show. The restaurant is known for its southwestern dishes and its dance floor. As soon as you open the door you find yourself in a crowd of people cutting loose to a live band. Enjoy the music from your table or grab a drink at the bar and join in. Check here for this summer’s entertainment schedule.

  • My pick: The Super Nachos, well they’re super. Imagine a warm mountain of chips with enough melted cheese to satisfy an entire nation of mice. The green chiles and sliced jalapeños add a little kick while the black olives, freshly diced tomatoes and homemade salsa round out the delectable experience. Don’t worry meat eaters, that’s loaded on too.

Lucky Bean Coffeehouse:
This quaint shop back on Market Street is sure to delight with its coffee concoctions. With drinks such as the Toffee Nut White Mocha and Coffee Soda, you’d be silly to try and resist your caffeine cravings. Stop by to start your mornings or for an afternoon pick-me-up.

  • My pick: The Walt Malt— espresso and a milkshake. Need I say more?

Draught House:
A beer enthusiasts delight, the Draught House is the first craft beer bar on Mackinac Island. It features 50 taps—the most Michigan craft beer north of the 45th Parallel. Located next to Mary’s Bistro on Main Street, the Draught House offers beer from local breweries such as Atwater, Founders and Cheboygan.

  • My pick: You can’t go wrong with Founder’s Dirty Bastard or Atwater’s Dirty Blonde, but this one we’ll leave up to you.

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