Stepping onto Mackinac Island feels like entering a storybook setting. It has a Norman Rockwell meets Disneyland’s Main Street type of feel, which had us immediately enchanted, soaking in the nostalgic charm and timeless beauty around every corner.
Recently, my family and I were invited to come and experience what Mission Point Resort has to offer on Mackinac Island. Not having been before, we weren’t sure what to expect of an island where cars weren’t allowed, but we were (very!) pleasantly surprised by the charm and quaintness the island offers.
Here’s what it was like to spend a few days in this laid-back Michigan town.
Scenery Straight Out of a Picture Book
While the island is 3.8 square miles, the majority of the action happens along the waterfront shoreline and along Main Street. The street is lined with stores, restaurants, fudge shops (more on that later!), and hotels that cater to tourists and horsedrawn carriages, creating a nostalgic ambiance reminiscent of a bygone era.
Mission Point Resort
We were immediately charmed by the ambiance at Mission Point Resort. The rooms have a hint of their college dormitory history, but they’re updated with all the comforts you’d expect. With a choice of three restaurants, a relaxing spa, a golf course, and prime beachfront access, it strikes the perfect balance between relaxation and activity. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay!
Grab Your Bikes and Get Ready to Roll
Mission Point Resort offers bike rentals right on sight, making it super convenient to get around. Although we walked quite a bit, it was also fun to hop on the bikes to get around. The bike path encompasses the entire island if you’re up for a longer ride, but most people ride to and from Main Street to their hotels. Haven’t ridden a bike in a while? Don’t worry. The leisurely pace of the island makes it a breeze for riders of all levels to enjoy. >>over 1,400 bicycles available for rent?
Enjoy the Sunrise Side of the Island
Whether you bike or walk, those who get up early are rewarded with a beautiful sunrise from the east side of the island. Mission Point Resort offers a free walking tour guide who can take you to the perfect spot to watch the sunrise from a high point on the island. We really enjoyed getting to see the town while it was quiet and not yet awake. We then grabbed some coffee and sat back to watch it come alive again as locals set up shops and early birds began their day.
Kayak Along the Shore of Mackinac Island
We took the kayaks out on a guided excursion with Great Turtle Kayak Tours and had such an enjoyable time! We each had our own kayaks, except for Bella, who got to sit back and enjoy the ride with Dad. Our guide was so knowledgeable about Mackinac Island and stopped to tell us many stories (and a bit of fun folklore) about the history of the island. We were able to get about a quarter of the way around the island before it was time to head back, which felt just about right.
What I really liked about the kayaking was how close we stayed to the shore. I wasn’t worried about my kids at all. The water was clear and shallow, and the waves were calm that day, so everyone could easily paddle along. It was one of the highlights of the trip!
Take a Ride in a Horse-Drawn Carriage
Mackinac Island is small enough that you can fairly easily get anywhere you need to be on either bike or foot, but there’s something so charming about riding in a horse-drawn carriage. While you can hire them to take you anywhere, why not get a tour of the island this way? Our driver knew so much history about the island and was able to tell us things we would otherwise not have known. It was a very enjoyable experience!
Go on a Sip ‘n Cruise Adventure Under the Bridge
You don’t have to keep two feet on the island to have a great time there. We enjoyed a sunset Sip ‘n Cruise boat ride that took us out to the Mackinac Island Bridge and back. The weather was beautiful, and it was so relaxing to watch the sunset from the boat. There was live music on the top deck and drinks at the bar (including non-alcoholic options), so we were able to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
Explore the Antique Horse Carriage Museum
What’s more fitting for an island without cars than a museum dedicated to the beloved carriages that have been used over the years? This is such an interesting stop we were able to make as part of our history tour around the island. The museum belongs to the Grand Hotel and has approximately 30 antique carriages and sleighs on display from both Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. We also saw some of their horses in the attached stable, and I could not believe how tall they were!
Forge a Memory
The boys spent a couple of hours at the famous Forge a Memory and were able to choose their blacksmithing project. If you can work the metal (beat the heck out of it with a 4lb hammer) to the correct thickness with only having to heat it one time in the forge, you become an honorary member of the One Heat Beat Spike Challenge club. They each made some pretty cool looking hunting knives they were proud of!
Visit the Butterfly House
While the guys were busy blacksmithing, the girls spent some time at the Butterfly House. It’s a pretty cool spot where you can get up close with all sorts of butterflies in an indoor garden setting. They’re all fluttering around you, landing on flowers and sometimes even on your hand. It was a peaceful way to spend the morning just watching these little guys go about their day.
Take a Night Time Stroll Down Main Street
One thing I loved about Mackinac Island was how safe it felt. We took a stroll down Main Street after the sun went down, and there were plenty of people still riding bikes and out for a walk like we were. We loved taking our time strolling by the beautiful houses, and this church was particularly striking with the stained glass window lit up.
Take a History Tour of Fort Mackinac
I’m an amateur history buff, so this was right up my alley. We really enjoyed touring Fort Mackinac learning about its importance and the history of what happened there. Our son even had the privilege of firing the cannon. (How many people can say they’ve done that?!) Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the fort when you’re on the island.
View Arch Rock
Whether you see it from the road, kayak to that side of the island, or climb to the viewing platform, this is one of the most popular natural landmarks on Mackinac Island. We stopped to see it up close while on our horse-drawn carriage tour, but also saw it while riding bikes around the island and then again on our kayak tour. It’s pretty cool looking from any angle!
Enjoy the View From the Lawn at Mission Point Inn
When you’re ready for a break, there’s nothing more iconic than sitting in the white Adirondack chairs on the huge lawn in front of Mission Point Resort. Bring your picnic, sit back, and soak in the view in front of you. We did! Although while we were there, the geese had made themselves quite at home, so you’ll want to watch where you step in the grass.
Relax With a Snack
Mackinac Island is all about unwinding, and even on vacation, it’s nice to find a spot to relax a bit more. That’s exactly what we did at Boxwood Coffeeshop & Cafe at the resort. It quickly became our favorite corner on the island to grab a coffee and just chill, perfectly capturing the island’s chill vibe.
Enjoy Mackinac Island’s Famous Fudge
Did you know Mackinac Island is known as the Fudge Capital of the World? There are 13 fudge shops on the tiny island. In fact, they make so much fudge the island imports 10 tons of sugar per week! We had the opportunity to help make a batch of fudge at Joann’s Fudge while we were there. Not only was it such a fun experience, we can personally vouch for how good it is!
Enjoy the Ferry Ride
Our time on the island started and ended with the short ferry ride to get us there, framing our adventure with stunning views of the crystal-clear waters and the island’s picturesque shoreline. There are two ferries that service the island. We took Shepler’s Ferry and were very impressed with how easily they made the transfer. We left our car there for the weekend, gave them our luggage, and boarded the ferry. A short time later, our luggage was delivered to our room without us having to worry about how to get it to the resort without a car. We really appreciate that!
On our return, the ferry ride back was a gentle reflection time, watching Mackinac Island shrink on the horizon, taking with us memories of a place seemingly untouched by time.
Plan Your Trip for Next Season
Mission Point Resort, along with much of the island’s businesses, are closed for the winter season. They’ll reopen in the spring, ready to help their guests make new memories. We had such a lovely time there and look forward to when we can go again and if I were you, I’d make plans now to be there next year!
Featured Image Credit: lembi/Shutterstock
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.