Fall Mackinac Island Guide
Fall Mackinac Island Guide
While Mackinac Island is commonly known as a summer destination, Fall is the perfect time to get whisked away to this charming setting. Located on Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, Mackinac Island is only a short boat ride away for tourists and locals alike to experience this famously car-free, Victorian inspired island.
As soon as Labor Day passes, the crowds start to trickle, making it an excellent time to enjoy a last minute getaway to the island before the ferry stops running October 31st for the season. Not only will you get to revel in the Fall color, but you’ll also find shorter ferry lines, lakeside restaurant tables available, bargain hotel rooms, and plenty of private hiking trails.
Believe it or not, getting to Mackinac Island is fairly easy. You can access the island by ferry, personal boat or plane. Ferries are the most popular, economical and the easiest mode of transportation to the island. If you’ve never been on a boat, you’re going to enjoy the adventure of traveling across the waters to the island. Along the way you’ll find incredible views of the Bridge, the island and the surrounding waters of the Straits. You may even get a little mist of water from the waves crashing against the boat. All you have to do to catch the ferry is drive to Mackinaw City, and pick between one of the two main passenger ferry services to deport you to and from the island. Check out Shepler’s and Star Line for more information.
If you’re lucky enough to own your own boat, then I highly suggest embarking on the boaters experience of boating yourself to the island. The Mackinac Island State Harbor is an excellent marina that consists of 76 slips, and is open from mid-May to mid-October. With only a short walk from downtown, the marina puts you right in the middle of all the action! You can’t get a better overnight accommodation than sleeping in the harbor itself. There’s nothing more Pure Michigan than waking up to the sight and sounds of Lake Huron and Mackinac Island. Some of my fondest boating memories have been trips from Traverse City to Mackinac Island. Click here for slip rental information.
Don’t cut yourself short! There’s so much to see on the Island, and if you wan’t to even attempt to see half of it, you have to spend the night. Plus, if you’re like me, you’re going to want to enjoy a cocktail or two without having to worry about catching the last ferry or driving home after a full day of festivities.
There’s so many great hotel accommodations to choose from, but here are a few of my favorites that I like to recommend:
Biking around Mackinac Island is one of the island’s best attractions. With plenty of paved trails, there’s a bike route to satisfy any biker. If you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable ride with a view, take the shoreline path known as Lake Shore Boulevard. This eight-mile paved trail will take you around the island with Lake Huron as your riding companion. Once you’ve completed the shoreline loop, adventure inland and you’ll be astonished with how much there is to see.
You can either bring your own bike over on the ferry, or rent a bike on the Island. I always opt in to renting a bike when I get to the Island because it’s fairly economical and easy to do, plus there’s plenty of rental shops on the Island to choose from.
Don’t forget your walking shoes, because Mackinac Island is full of unique and noteworthy stores calling your name. From souvenir shops, to clothing boutiques and stationary gift shops, there’s a store to satisfy any shopper’s needs. If you’re looking for a new outfit to wear on the Island, you must hit up Nephew’s Of Mackinac. You also can’t leave without stopping in Poppins – I’m kinda obsessed, and could buy the whole store!
The Grand Hotel’s Tea Room at Fort Mackinac is one of my favorite scenic settings on Mackinac Island to enjoy a late afternoon snack. Tour the historic Fort and relax afterwards with a delicious small plate and exceptional view of downtown and the harbor.
Horseback riding is a fun way to see the sights of this historic island. Cindy’s Riding Stable works with you to find a horse suitable for any skill level so that the whole family can enjoy the beautiful trails. You can opt in for individual riding or take a guided trail ride. Don’t be nervous about going without a guide, because the horses are pretty much programmed to know the way and they can do the route with their eyes close.
Full of pink, good views and good vibes, the Pink Pony is by far my favorite bar on the island. You can enjoy drinks on their outdoor patio during the day or indulge in a little dancing and live music at night.
Your trip to Mackinac Island is never complete with out a taste of the island’s most popular souvenir. You’ll find about seven different fudge shops on the island to cure your cravings. Try one or all seven, you won’t regret it!
Located alongside the Bistro on the Greens at Mission Point Hotel, The Greens of Mackinac is an 18 hole putting course. Not only is this putting course located directly on the water, but they also allow you to take your drinks around the course with you. It’s a win-win!
Even Fall has a few nice days where lounging at the Grand Hotel Pool with a piña colada is still acceptable. You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy these gorgeous amenities.
The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House is the 1st of its kind in Michigan, and the 3rd oldest live butterfly exhibit in the United States. During your trip you’re going to want to explore this 1800 sq ft tropical garden that’s filled with hundreds of live butterflies from four different continents
The most authentic way to see the island is by a horse and carriage. The Mackinac Island Carriage Tours will guide you through the ins and outs of the island. I personally wouldn’t have seen or learned as much about the island if it wasn’t for this tour. Sit back, relax and take in the fall colors on this inland tour of the island.
The award winning Carriage House is by far the finest waterfront dining on the Island. With views looking directly over the Straits of Mackinac, you’ll get to enjoy fine classic American cuisine featuring local seafood selections. The Carriage House also has a pretty extensive wine list that I find myself obsessing over every visit.