When you step foot on the shores of Mackinac Island, you'll feel like you're stepping back in time. Located in Lake Huron between Michigan's upper and lower peninsula, Mackinac Island is know for it historic charm, gorgeous views, and pristine gardens. But perhaps the most unique part of the island is the fact that no cars are allowed. Instead you'll hear the clip-clop of horse hooves along the pavement and pass people riding bikes and strolling along the streets on foot. Life seems to move slower when everyone isn't in such a rush.
I had only ever visited for the day, but now I can truly say the best way to get the full island experience is by spending the night - or the weekend. We had the pleasure of staying at Mission Point Resort and Hotel - a lakeside retreat on 18 acres of the island's sunrise coast. The resort is home to five unique restaurants, the island's only full-service health and wellness retreat, a marketplace, and two distinct lodging areas, all within walking distance to downtown. Mission Point has a commitment to Great Lakes healthy living and offers a number of ways to stay active during your trip. Find out more about my seven must-have experiences while on the island.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Mission Point Resort. The itinerary was created by me based on personal research and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
There really is no better way to experience the beauty of the island than by bicycle. Whether you choose to complete the scenic 8.2 coastal ride around the perimeter of the island or to explore more of the wooded trails in the center of the island, there is something waiting for you around every turn. Mission Point offers single speed, multi-speed, and tandem bike rentals by the hour or by the day. Rentals are on a first come-first served basis and can be picked up across from Lakeside Spa & Salon. They recently partnered with Detroit Bikes to create a fleet of branded cruisers that are totally insta-worthy and offer a basket on the front of each which came in handy for all the treasures we accumulated along the way.
After picking out your bike at Mission Point, head left to start your ride around the island. This road is paved and mostly flat so it's a great way to get accumulated with the island. Depending on your pace, expect to take around two hours for the ride if you plan at stopping along the way. You'll pass Devil's Kitchen, stairs up to Arch Rock and multiple beaches which are perfect to pull off at, grab a drink and skip a few rocks. Going this way around the island you'll pass the Grand Hotel and end up downtown which was a great place to stop and cool off with a Moomer's ice cream cone at Good Day Cafe. From there, we hopped back on our bikes and headed toward the wooded trails in the middle of the island with stops at Arch Rock and Skull Cave.
My husband and I love to golf (him more than me) so any time we travel somewhere new, we try to incorporate the sport into our itinerary at some point. So you can only imagine how excited we were to learn that Mission Point has their own 18-hole putting course. The Greens of Mackinac is fun for the whole family with 18 real bentgrass greens that rival any championship course. The course is located next to Bistro on the Greens, serving up lunch dinner and late night eats on their outdoor patio. You can also grab one of their signature cocktails to-go and take it with you on the course.
If you're looking for a bit more of a challenge, book at tee time at The Jewel located at the world-famous Grand Hotel. The Grand nine is located across the street from the hotel and features stunning views of the hotel and Mackinaw Bridge in the backdrop. You'll then take a 15-minute horse and carriage ride a mile and half to the Woods nine located in the interior of the island offering views not many visitors get to experience. When you finish your round grab lunch at the Gatehouse or Jockey Club located on the grounds of the hotel with no admission required.
Mission Point guests also receive complimentary golf carts, rental clubs, and preferred tee-times at Wawashkamo Golf Club, located a half-hour carriage ride from the resort. This historic par 72 golf course, built in 1898, was designed to the standards of the great old courses in the birthplace of golf, Scotland.
Lawn Games and Garden Tours
Enjoy the simpler times of life with an old fashioned lawn game. Both my husband and I hadn't played croquet since we were children and quickly fell in love with the sport. We had a blast hitting the ball around Mission Point's professionally manicured lawn while watching the sky turn cotton candy shades of pink as the sun set over Lake Huron. The resort also offers complimentary equipment for bocce ball, tennis, and corn hole. Another popular activity is kite flying because of the island’s winds. Rent a kite from Mission Point or purchase from one of the gift shops downtown. If you get tired of flying, simply relax on the great lawn at Mission Point Resort which features 81 iconic Adirondack chairs and great views of the water.
If there’s one thing Mackinac Island prides itself on it’s their pristine gardens. Many of the residents and shop owners grow spectacular gardens and window boxes which can be seen and enjoyed simply by walking down the streets. Most of the bed and breakfasts welcome people to come explore and enjoy the flowers. Two of the best places for flower viewing are the Grand Hotel (admission fee required for grounds) featuring the not-so-secret, Secret Garden, which is simply breathtaking and looks different depending on the season. Mission Point Resort also offers complimentary Garden Tours led by their resident horticulturist on Wednesdays and Saturdays where guests can learn about the island's unique climate and the resort's green gardening practices.
When you've had enough adventure for one day, take some time to relax and refresh at the island's only full service health and wellness retreat. The spa offers a wide range of spa services with multiple spa treatment rooms including a couples treatment room, saunas and steam rooms, and spa shop. My husband and I experienced a full body couples massage our last morning on the island and it was the perfect way to recharge before heading back home. Experience the best of the island with two of the spa's signature treatments - the Lilac Facial and Body Treatment features an express facial, massage with lilac essential oil and a hydrating foot mask. The Great Lakes hot stone massage uses hot basalt stones from the Great Lakes to gently melt away stress.
Watching the sun rise over Lake Huron is an experience I'll never forget. Mission Point partners with Great Turtle Kayak Tours to provide an on-water Mackinac experience. We woke up before dawn and started our walk downtown to Great Turtle Kayaks to meet our tour guide, Ben. We were one of the few people awake at this time of day and it was so amazing to experience the island so still and quit. We also happened to be the only ones scheduled for the tour that morning which only added to the personalized experience.
After launching in the water near the ferry docks we headed back toward Mission Point which is nestled on the sunrise side. Along the way, Ben shared some interesting history of the island including some haunted folklore. Once we rounded the bend past Robinson's Folly, we stopped for a few minutes and watched as the sun peaked above the water. This was hands down one of the coolest things I've ever experienced! We continued toward Arch Rock and were able to see it from a totally different (and less crowded) perspective than most visitors do. On our way back we took in the crystal clear turquoise waters and paddled over the large rock shelves left behind from glaciers thousands of years ago. Great Lake Turtle Kayaks also offers sunset cruises and stand-up paddle board rentals.
Tour Fort Mackinac
Experience a true taste of Michigan's history when you step inside the original white stone walls of Fort Mackinac. Established in 1780 during the American Revolution, the fort now boasts the oldest public building in Michigan along with 13 other historical structures each hosting their own unique exhibit. Costumed interpreters located throughout the grounds lead walking tours and perform rifle and cannon firing demonstrations throughout the the day. Visit each of the exhibits for a unique look into military life, medical care, and life within the fort. Climb up into the West Blockhouse for a bird's eye view of downtown or grab lunch on the patio of the Tea Room, operated by the Grand Hotel.
Sip and Sail Cruise
Climb aboard the Isle Royale Queen III and sail the Straits of Mackinac with stunning sunset views during a Sip and Sail Cruise. Sip on your favorite beverages with a full service bar available on board. Most cruises also offer live entertainment. Take in the sights on one of the multiple outdoor viewing areas or warm up in the heated indoor cabin. Unfortunately, the night of our cruise was cloudy so we didn't get to see much of a sunset but we still got to sail under the Mackinac Bridge and experience stunning and up close views of the architectural masterpiece. This was such a beautiful night on the water and the live music on the way back made for a great first night on the island.
Still looking for more adventure? Below are some other great ways to explore Mackinac Island:
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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