Mackinac Island is a beautiful little area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Accessible only by ferry, no cars are allowed on the island. Instead, visitors must get around on a bicycle or by horse carriage. It is a step back in time to visit, and well worth at least a two-day jaunt.
St. Ignace + the Ferry
There are two cities on the mainland of Michigan that you can catch the ferry to Mackinac: St. Ignace and Mackinac City.
Since we took our little Cairn Terrier with us, we wanted to stay in a dog-friendly motel. We stayed at the Bayview Lake Front Inn. We actually loved it. Our favorite part was that there is a giant fire pit at night right by the water. It was so beautiful.
And they had the most unbelievable sunrise. I stepped outside my motel door and this was the view right at sunrise.
Can’t get much better than that!
Ferry to Mackinac Island
There are two ferry options: Star Line and Shepler’s. We went with Shepler’s. Tickets are $27 round-trip, and dogs are free!
Since Mackinac doesn’t allow cars, we knew we’d be getting around on bike. When I looked up bike rental prices, I quickly realized I am a cheapskate. For a day’s rental, we’d pay at least $100. So opted to bring our own bikes. For $12, they transport your bike and tag it with a license so you can use it on the island. I would say $24 is a better deal than $200.
The ferries also provide a luggage transfer to your hotel. So they will actually tag your bags and get it to your place. We opted to keep ours since we only had backpacks. But, it would certainly have been easier to have them transport it for us.
Ah, the island of fudge shops, cycling, gorgeous sunsets, and horse poop. There are definitely a lot of pooper scoopers cleaning up the roads but get prepared to step in some.
By far the most popular Mackinac Island hotel to stay in is the Grand Hotel. We had our dog, so we had to stay somewhere else, but we ended up loving the Sunset Condos. We had a great room, a little patio overlooking the woods, and a washer/dryer!
We spent the afternoon biking around the island. There is plenty to see. We didn’t really have an itinerary other than just ride around and look.
Our dog Poppy didn’t love the ride so much, but we were glad to bring her. A couple of kids asked Jared what type of dog she was. When he said “Cairn” they snickered and said “Karen? Can I speak to her manager?”
Sip n’ Sail Cruise
The highlight of the trip was the Sip n’ Sail Cruise. They had live music, a cash bar (which they happened to be featuring my favorite that evening: Bourbon), and of course a sunset. It was one of the most unbelievable sunsets I’ve ever seen. Pictures don’t do it justice.
My recommendation is to stay in the bottom of the ferry. Everyone goes to the top (which is freezing and more crowded), but we got the privacy of the view. We just loved it!
Mackinac Island at Night
Not much is open after dark, but you’ll have the place to yourself. We got take-out from a restaurant and rode back to our condo after the cruise.
The next morning was thunderstorms. We had planned to ride around the island, but it looked like we had a short window of time to make it to the ferry in between rain showers. We were able to make it, but not before we loaded up on fudge from the classic fudge joint: Murdick’s.
All-in-all, I’d say it was a great two days in Mackinac Island.