Things To Do in Mackinaw City

There is a lot to do in Mackinaw City for visitors. You can travel to Mackinac Island by taking a ferry with Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry or learn about the past at Fort Michilimackinac. You can also visit the Mackinac Bridge Museum or enjoy a beautiful Lighthouse Cruise with Shepler’s.

In this article, I will share 35 things to do in Mackinaw City. If you want to know, read on!

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The 35 Best Things To Do in Mackinaw City

Mackinaw City is a charming destination in northern Michigan that offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. Whether looking for history, nature, adventure, or relaxation, you will find something to suit your interests in Mackinaw City. Here are the 35 best things to do in Mackinaw City that you should not miss.

1. Exploring Mackinac Island

One of the most popular things in Mackinaw City is to take a ferry ride to Mackinac Island. This historic and scenic island is free of cars and motorized vehicles. You can explore the island by bike, horse-drawn carriage, or on foot and enjoy its beautiful views, architecture, gardens, and fudge shops. 

You can also visit the Grand Hotel, Fort Mackinac, and the Butterfly House on the island.

2. Visiting Old Mackinac Point

Another historical attraction in Mackinaw City is Old Mackinac Point, a lighthouse built in 1892 and operated until 1957. You can tour the lighthouse and learn about its history, technology, and keepers. You can also climb the tower and enjoy the panoramic view of the Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge Straits.

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3. Touring Mackinaw Bridge Museum

Suppose you are interested in learning more about the Mackinac Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. In that case, you can visit the Mackinaw Bridge Museum in downtown Mackinaw City. 

The museum features exhibits, artifacts, photos, and videos that tell the bridge’s construction, engineering, and maintenance story. You can also see a replica of the original Mighty Mac ferry boat used to transport people across the straits before the bridge was built.

4. Learning at Icebreaker Mackinaw

For a unique maritime experience, you can visit the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum. This retired Coast Guard cutter served as an icebreaker on the Great Lakes for over six decades. 

You can tour the ship and see its original equipment, quarters, engine room, and bridge. You can also learn about its missions, crew, and history through exhibits and displays.

5. Visiting Headlands Dark Sky Park

If you are looking for a place to enjoy the night sky in Mackinaw City, you can head to Headlands Dark Sky Park, one of the few designated dark sky parks in the world. 

The park offers a pristine and natural stargazing, astronomy, and photography environment. You can also attend various programs and events held at the park annually.

6. Cruising Mackinaw City Marina

A variety of boats and cruises are available for rent at Mackinaw City Marina, located near downtown on Lake Huron. Whether you prefer fishing, sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, or paddle boarding, you can find the right option for you. You can also enjoy the scenic views of the lake on a sunset or lighthouse cruise.

You can also enjoy the amenities and services at the marina, such as restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, picnic areas, and Wi-Fi.

7. Touring Mackinaw City Trolley

If you want to see the sights of Mackinaw City in a fun and convenient way, you can hop on a trolley tour that departs from downtown. 

The trolley tour will take you to various attractions and landmarks in Mackinaw City and nearby areas, such as Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Colonial Michilimackinac, Fort Michilimackinac, Mackinac Bridge, Mackinaw Crossings, and more. You can also listen to informative narration and stories from your guide.

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8. Biking Mackinaw City Trails

If you are looking for outdoor recreation in Mackinaw City, you can rent a bike or bring your own and hit the trails running through and around the city. 

You can choose from different routes that vary in length and difficulty, such as North Western State Trail, North Central State Trail, North Eastern State Trail, and more. You can enjoy the scenic views of lakes, forests, fields, and wildlife along the trails.

9. Relaxing at Mackinaw City Beaches

Suppose you want to soak up some sun and sand in Mackinaw City. In that case, you can visit one of its beaches that offers clean and clear water, soft sand, and stunning views of Lake Huron or Lake Michigan. 

You can swim, sunbathe, play, or picnic at these beaches, such as Michilimackinac State Park Beach, Old Mill Creek Discovery Park Beach, Mackinaw Public Beach, and more. You can also find restrooms, showers, playgrounds, and concessions at some beaches.

10. Walking Mackinaw City Historical Pathway

To explore the historical and cultural attractions of Mackinaw City, you can take a self-guided walking tour along the Mackinaw City Historical Pathway. This tour will take you to 18 sites and landmarks in the downtown area of Mackinaw City.

You can see historical buildings, monuments, markers, and plaques that tell the stories of Mackinaw City’s past and present. You can also find maps and brochures at the Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau or online.

11. Shopping at Mackinaw City Farmers Market

Suppose you want to buy some fresh and local produce, baked goods, crafts, and more in Mackinaw City. In that case, you can visit the Mackinaw City Farmers Market, which is held every Friday from May to October at Conkling Heritage Park. 

You can browse and shop from various vendors and farmers that offer quality and affordable products.

12. Visiting Mackinaw City Butterfly House

If you are looking for a place to admire hundreds of butterflies from around the world in Mackinaw City, you should check out the Mackinaw City Butterfly House. It is a tropical garden that displays a variety of beautiful and colorful butterflies.

You can walk among the butterflies and watch them fly, feed, and rest. You can also learn about their life cycle, behavior, and conservation through signs and displays.

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13. Enjoying Mackinaw City Sunset

You can enjoy a stunning sunset in Mackinaw City from the shore or on the water. Watch the sun disappear over Lake Michigan or Lake Huron as the sky changes colors.

You can enjoy the changing colors of the sky and the water and the silhouette of the Mackinac Bridge and the islands. You can also capture some fantastic photos and memories of the sunset.

14. Touring Mackinaw City Wine Trail

Suppose you are a wine lover or want to try some local wines in Mackinaw City. In that case, you can tour the Mackinaw City Wine Trail, a collection of wineries and tasting rooms that offer a variety of wines made from grapes grown in northern Michigan. 

You can sample different wines and learn about their production, history, and flavors. You can also buy some bottles or gifts to take home.

15. Admiring Mackinaw City Arts

The Mackinaw City Arts are a great way to appreciate the creativity and talent of various artists in the city. You can see different forms of art, such as paintings, sculptures, theater, and more.

You can see murals, sculptures, paintings, and more that decorate the streets, buildings, and parks of Mackinaw City. You can also attend some art events and festivals held throughout the year, such as Art on the Bay, Mackinac Island Art Festival, and more.

16. Walking Mackinaw City Bridge Run

If you love running or want to test your limits in Mackinaw City, you can participate in the Mackinaw City Bridge Run, a yearly event that takes place on Labor Day weekend.

The run is a 4-mile course that starts in St. Ignace and ends in Mackinaw City, crossing the Mackinac Bridge. You can enjoy the scenic views of the straits and the islands as you run with thousands of other participants.

17. Walking Mackinaw City Labor Day Bridge

Suppose you are not a runner but still want to experience crossing the Mackinac Bridge on foot in Mackinaw City. In that case, you can join the Mackinaw City Labor Day Bridge Walk, another annual event on Labor Day weekend. 

The walk is a 5-mile course that starts in St. Ignace or Mackinaw City and ends on the opposite side, crossing the bridge. You can enjoy the festive atmosphere and camaraderie as you walk with thousands of others.

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18. Touring Mackinaw City Fall Colors

You can admire the beautiful fall colors in Mackinaw City by taking a tour of the changing leaves. From late September to early November, you can see the vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow on the trees.

You can see shades of red, orange, yellow, and green contrasting with the blue water and sky. You can tour the fall colors by car, bike, boat, or helicopter and visit scenic spots such as Wilderness State Park, Mackinac Island State Park, and more.

19. Celebrating Mackinaw City Halloween

Suppose you want to have some spooky fun in Mackinaw City. In that case, you can celebrate Mackinaw City Halloween, a series of events and activities around Halloween in Mackinaw City. 

You can enjoy haunted houses, hayrides, corn mazes, costume contests, trick-or-treating, and more. You can also visit some haunted places in Mackinaw City, such as the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, the Colonial Michilimackinac, and the Icebreaker Mackinaw.

20. Touring the Mackinaw City Cemetery

The Mackinaw City Cemetery is a place where you can discover the stories of the people who made history in Mackinaw City. It is a historic cemetery that has graves dating back to the 1800s.

You can see the graves of some notable figures, such as Robert Henry Graveraet,  who founded the first school in Mackinaw City, and William McGulpin, the first white settler in Mackinaw City. You can also see some exciting tombstones and monuments that reflect the history and culture of Mackinaw City.

21. Enjoying Mackinaw City Winter Fest

You can have a blast in the winter in Mackinaw City by joining the Mackinaw City Winter Fest, a yearly event that happens in January or February.

The fest features various activities and competitions, such as snow sculpting, outhouse racing, sledding, ice fishing, chili cook-off, and more. You can also enjoy food and fireworks at the fest.

22. Snowmobiling Mackinaw City Trails

If you want to experience some adrenaline-pumping action in Mackinaw City, rent a snowmobile or bring your own and hit the trails that run through and around the city. 

You can choose from different routes that vary in length and difficulty, such as North Western State Trail, North Central State Trail, North Eastern State Trail, and more. You can enjoy the snowy scenery and wildlife along the trails.

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23. Ice Skating in Mackinaw City

If you want to glide on ice in Mackinaw City, you can visit one of its ice skating rinks that offer a fun and safe environment for skaters of all levels. You can rent skates, bring your own, and enjoy skating with your friends or family. You can also join some skating lessons or events at the rinks.

24. Cross Country Skiing in Mackinaw City

You will enjoy cross-country skiing in Mackinaw City if you love winter sports. Several trails and parks offer scenic views and groomed trails for skiers of all levels. 

Some popular places to go cross-country skiing in Mackinaw City are Wilderness State Park, Headlands International Dark Sky Park, and Mill Creek Discovery Park. 

You can rent skis and other equipment from local shops or bring your own.

25. Fishing with Mackinaw City Charters

Fishing is a great way to relax and have fun in Mackinaw City. You can fish from the shore, the pier, or a boat, depending on your preference and skill level. You can catch various fish in Mackinaw City, such as salmon, trout, walleye, perch, and more. 

If you want a memorable fishing experience, you can book a fishing charter with Mackinaw City Charters. They will provide a licensed captain, a comfortable boat, and all the necessary gear and bait. You can choose from half-day or full-day trips and enjoy the thrill of catching big fish.

26. Golfing at Mackinaw City Courses

Golfing is another popular activity in Mackinaw City. Several golf courses in and around the town cater to golfers of all abilities and budgets. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and challenge yourself on the greens and fairways. 

Some of the best golf courses in Mackinaw City are The Mackinaw Club, Wilderness Golf Course, St. Ignace Golf & Country Club, and Cheboygan Golf & Country Club.

27. Playing Mackinaw City Mini Golf

Try playing mini golf if you want a fun and family-friendly activity in Mackinaw City. Mini golf is a great way to have friendly competition and laugh with your loved ones. 

You can find several mini golf courses in Mackinaw City that offer different themes and obstacles. Some of the most popular mini-golf courses in Mackinaw City are Animal Tracks Adventure Golf, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, and Castle Rock Mini Golf.

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28. Racing at Mackinaw City Go-Karts

If you are feeling adventurous and want to have some adrenaline rush in Mackinaw City, try racing at Mackinaw City Go-Karts. This fun and exciting activity will make you feel like a race car driver. 

You can choose from single or double karts and race around the track at high speeds. You can also enjoy other attractions at Mackinaw City Go-Karts, such as bumper boats, batting cages, arcade games, and more.

29. Horseback Riding in Mackinaw City

Horseback riding is a beautiful way to explore the natural beauty of Mackinaw City. You can ride along the trails and enjoy the views of the woods, fields, lakes, and bridges. 

You can also learn more about the horses and their care from the friendly guides and staff. Several horseback riding stables in Mackinaw City offer rides for all ages and skill levels. Some of the best horseback riding stables in Mackinaw City are Thunder Falls Ranch, Heritage Stables, and Cedar Ridge Equestrian Center.

30. Ziplining in Mackinaw City

Ziplining is an exhilarating activity that makes you feel like flying over the treetops. You can experience the thrill of ziplining in Mackinaw City at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park. 

This park offers three different zip lines that vary in length and height. You can also enjoy other attractions at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, such as an adventure tour, a nature trail, a sawmill demonstration, and more.

31. Taking a Helicopter Tour

If you want to see Mackinaw City from a different perspective, you should take a helicopter tour. This is a fantastic way to admire the stunning views of the town, the lake, the bridge, and the island from above. 

You can choose from various helicopter tours that range from 10 minutes to an hour. You can also customize your time according to your preferences and budget. Book a helicopter tour with Great Lakes Air or High Five Helicopters.

32. Parasailing in Mackinaw City

You can try parasailing in Mackinaw City if you want an exhilarating adventure. You can soar above the water and enjoy the panoramic views of the straits, the Mackinac Bridge, and the islands. 

You can take off and land directly from the flight deck of a boat, and you don’t have to get wet. You can parasail at three locations: Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island, and St. Ignace. You can book your parasailing experience with Mackinaw Parasailing¹, which offers morning specials and regular pricing for single, double, or triple fliers.

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33. Touring Mackinaw City Lighthouse

Suppose you are interested in the maritime history of Mackinaw City. In that case, you can visit one of the lighthouses that guided the ships through the treacherous waters of the straits. You can tour two lighthouses: Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse² and McGulpin Point Lighthouse. 

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse was built in 1892 and operated until 1957. It is now a museum with exhibits, movies, and a gift shop. You can also climb the tower and see the original lens. McGulpin Point Lighthouse was built in 1869 and is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the straits. 

It is now a historic site with a gift shop, a discovery trail, and overnight accommodations. You can also climb the tower and enjoy the views.

34. Visiting Colonial Michilimackinac

Colonial Michilimackinac is a place where you can explore the colonial history of Mackinaw City. It is a replica of an 18th-century fort and fur trading village.

You can walk through the 16 buildings and see how the French and British soldiers, traders, and families lived and worked. Watch live cooking demonstrations, crafts, trades, cannon firing, and musket shooting. You can also see archaeological excavations and exhibits that reveal the treasures from the past.

35. Touring Fort Michilimackinac

Suppose you want to see another historical fort in Mackinaw City. In that case, you can tour Fort Michilimackinac, built by the French in 1715 and later taken over by the British. It was a major fur trade center and a military outpost until it was moved to Mackinac Island in 1781. 

It is now part of Fort Michilimackinac State Park, including a beach, a picnic area, and a playground. You can see some of the original structures and artifacts preserved or restored.

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Mackinaw City Travel Tips

If you’re planning a trip to Mackinaw City, a few travel tips can help make your visit more enjoyable.

When to Visit

Mackinaw City is a popular destination during the summer months, especially in July and August. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting in the spring or fall. The weather can be more relaxed, but you’ll have more space to explore the city’s attractions.

Getting Around

Mackinaw City is walkable, so you can easily explore the downtown area on foot. However, if you plan to visit attractions outside the city, you’ll need a car. Several car rental companies are in the area, and many hotels offer shuttle services to popular destinations.

Where to Eat

Mackinaw City has various dining options, from fast food to fine dining. If you’re looking for a quick and affordable meal, check out one of the many local diners or cafes. For a more upscale dining experience, consider one of the city’s seafood or steak restaurants.

What to Pack

When packing for your trip to Mackinaw City, bring comfortable walking shoes, especially if you plan to explore the city on foot. Also, pack a light jacket or sweater, as the weather can be unpredictable. And don’t forget your camera – plenty of photo opportunities in and around the city.


The currency used in Mackinaw City is the US dollar. Most businesses accept credit cards, but having some cash on hand for small purchases or tips is always a good idea.


Mackinaw City is a relatively safe destination, but being aware of your surroundings is always important. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas, and be cautious when crossing the street. If you’re traveling with children, ensure they know what to do if they get lost or separated.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Mackinaw City Worth Visiting?

Yes, Mackinaw City is worth visiting as it offers historical sites like Colonial Michilimackinac and the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse and outdoor attractions like the Mackinaw City Museum and sunset cruises. It also serves as a gateway to Mackinac Island with three passenger boat lines.

Is It Better To Stay In Mackinaw City Or Mackinac Island?

It’s better to stay in Mackinaw City. It’s less expensive and has more modern rooms and a lively nightlife. Regardless, it would be best to take the ferry to Mackinac Island.

What Is Mackinaw City Known For?

Mackinaw City is known for its Shopping District, with numerous shops and eateries offering a variety of souvenirs. It’s the gateway to the Upper Peninsula and a popular destination in Michigan, offering attractions like Colonial Michilimackinac and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.

What Is The Difference Between Mackinaw And Mackinac?

The difference between Mackinaw and Mackinac lies in the spelling and pronunciation. Both refer to the same region in Michigan. Mackinaw is the traditional spelling and is pronounced “MACK-in-aw.” At the same time, Mackinac is an alternative spelling and pronounced “MACK-in-aw.


In Mackinaw City, there are endless opportunities for adventure and exploration. From ziplining to golfing, marine incidents, and historic sites, this charming city has something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to visit Mackinaw Island, with its timeless beauty and rich history.

Whether you’re interested in shopping, dining, or simply enjoying the breathtaking views, Mackinaw City has it all. Affordable accommodations and vibrant nightlife make it the perfect destination for your next vacation. 

So why wait? Start planning your trip to Mackinaw City today and create memories that will last a lifetime.