10 Things to do Mackinac Island with kids

Mackinac Island is a resort Island located on lake Huron where Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas meet.  Mackinac Island has been a popular vacation spot since the 18th century and is a unique place to visit with your family.  Whether you decide to stay on the Island for the night or head over for a day trip, a trip to Mackinac Island will be a memorable experience for you and your family. 

Not only is Mackinac Island a unique place to visit, but most of the land is preserved in a state park, and Mackinac has a vibrant history and many unique quarks.  You kids have fun getting there by Ferry and getting to see all the horses and buggy walking around the Island.  Mackinac Island is also the home to several events and festivals throughout the year.  I have visited Mackinac Island for an overnight stay, and I have also gone to Mackinac Island for a day trip! Both are so much fun!

What makes Mackinac Island Unique?

There are no cars, trucks, motorcycles, or motorbikes allowed on Mackinac Island.  You will have to get around by walking, horse, and buggy, or by bike.  The business on Mackinac Island provides excellent old-fashioned service. You will truly feel like you stepped back in time when you visit Mackinac Island.

Fun Tip: Did you know there are more horses on Mackinac Island than permanent residents? 

Tips to Consider Before visiting Mackinac Island

  • If you’re visiting for the day, get to the ferry early in the morning!  I recommend taking the 7:30 or the 8:30 ferry so you can get to the island before it gets too crowded!
  • I recommend Shepler’s Ferry Service.  They are efficient and fast.
  • Make sure you bring plenty of water and comfortable shoes.  Even if you take a horse and buggy tour, you will still be doing a lot of walking.
  • Bring a backpack for all of your souvenirs!

Take a Horse Carriage Ride– 

When you visit Mackinac Island, I recommend that you see the entire Island somehow.  Taking a carriage tour is an excellent way to view the Island and obtain some historical insight.  Mackinac Island Carriage Tours don’t accept reservations in advance, so if you want to get on one of these tours early, I recommend getting to the Island first thing in the morning.  There are no set departure times. You will get on a carriage once you purchase your ticket.

Visit Arch Rock-

If you take a carriage ride, there will be a stop at Arch Rock. You will be able to get out to see it.  Arch Rock is a natural arch formation that towers above the water and is more than fifty feet wide!  Arch Rock is a beautiful site to see, and your kids will think so too!

Visit the Butterfly House

Mackinac Island’s butterfly house is the third oldest butterfly exhibit in the United States.  It is a tropical garden filled with hundreds of butterflies from all over the world.  When we visited the Butterfly House on Mackinac Island, my kids got to see a new butterfly just coming out of its cocoon!  If you have kids who love animals, I recommend a visit to the Butterfly house!

Ride bikes around the Island

If you choose not to take a carriage ride, I recommend riding bikes around the Island!  It is so refreshing to ride your bike in a place where there are no cars!  One less thing to worry about when you’re traveling with your kids!  There are several places to rent bikes on Mackinac Island for a reasonable price, and I recommend riding your bike around the entire island if you can!

Visit Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac is a historic Michigan State Park.  Fort Mackinac is a historic military outpost that has been turned into a really cool interactive museum.  They also have live demonstrations.  You will also have the best view of the Island from Fort Mackinac.  It is worth the money to see it.  My kids really enjoyed the kid’s quarters, viewing the living quarters that the soldiers used to live in and learning about the history of medical advancement.  We spent 2-3 hours at Fort Mackinac.

Enjoy Lunch at Hotel Mackinac’s Tea Room

I can’t tell you how relaxing lunch at Hotel Mackinac’s Tea Room was for our family.  Hotel Mackinac’s Tea Room is located in Fort Mackinac.  You truly get the best view of the island all while relaxing and eating your lunch.  Plus, you don’t need to deal with the crowds of the Grand Hotel.   This is a great place to unwind while on Mackinac Island and let the kids relax.

Look for Mackinac Island Beach Glass

If your kids are anything like mine, then they love throwing rocks into the water!  Head over to the Island’s rocky shore, throw some rocks into the water, and look for some beach glass! Mackinac Island Beach Glass was formed when bits of old bottles were polished and smoothed out by the waves of Lake Huron.

Eat some Fudge

Mackinac Island is famous for fudge! During peak season, Mackinac Island produces 10 thousand pounds per day!  During the Victorian age, vacationers to Mackinac Island started to identify the island with sweets after maple candy made by the Native Americans became popular.  Soon Fudge making became popular and eventually became a tradition.  There are several places to eat fudge on Mackinac Island, but I recommend Ryba’s. 

My kids really enjoyed watching fudge being made at Ryba’s.  They loved sampling the fudge even more!

Check out the grounds at the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel opened up its Doors on Mackinac Island in 1887, and it is quite a sight to see!  Kids will love playing yard games or strolling through the extensive gardens.  You do need to pay to get in, but it looks like so much fun!

Get an Ice Cream Sundae at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor 

If you would rather not pay to get into the grounds of the Grand Hotel, I suggest experiencing the hotel by getting ice cream at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor has an old-fashioned feel and serves absolutely delicious ice cream!  Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor is attached to the Grand Hotel.

Ryba’s Fudge is also featured on my list of foods to try in U.P Michigan. 

What is your favorite thing to do on Mackinac Island?  Did you try any of these activities with your family?  Comment below and tell me how you enjoyed your time on Mackinac Island!




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