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Mackinac Island

Mackinac or Mackinaw, its the same place. The French and the British could not agree on the spelling, so the Americans used the French spelling, but pronounce it Mackinaw. To add to the confusion, the nearby bridge and water body are spelled Mackinaw.

A short ferry ride is the normal transportation method to reach Mackinac Island. Ferries are available from St. Ignace and  Mackinaw City, MI. They are scheduled for hourly departures, but are actually more often during the peak season. There are several ferry companies.


No private motor vehicles are allowed on the island. Bicycles, foot, horses, and horse-drawn wagons provide the only transportation.

Except for transportation, the island is modern. They do have motor vehicles for emergency purposes such as a fire truck. We also saw a police car and a utility truck.

We took one of the narrated island tours. The first part of the tour is with a two horse wagon, and there is a lot to see.

The first half of the tour ends at a museum with rest rooms, food, and gift shops.
 On the carriage tour, after the museum visit, you catch a three horse carriage to continue the tour, or a two horse carriage to return to the starting point in town. Carriages are arriving and departing almost continuously.

One of our visit highlights was a visit to the "Wings of Mackinac" Butterfly Garden located near the museum.  The butterflies are beautiful and numerous.

There is a small fee to visit.

The three horse carriages leave from the opposite end of the museum from the two horse carriages. This part of the tour is through a state park. There was not a lot to see besides trees, but a stop was made at a natural rock arch. Toward the end of the tour is a stop at Fort Mackinac. After visiting the fort, you can catch another carriage back to the museum, or walk back to town. We rode.
Fort Mackinac was occupied by both the French and British at different times.  The fort is presently occupied by people in period garb of the late 1800's, along with many tourists. Military band and drill members, along with women in fancy dresses provide entertainment on the parade ground and porch.

The Sutler's Store porch has benches for viewing the parade ground shows.

Left: The fort is surrounded by a wooden stockade with corner watch towers.

Several building have been restored to show how the soldiers lived in early times. This is the bath house above.

Some of the buildings stand near the wall and have cannons or gun ports upstairs. One, above, has animated soldiers of a still earlier period firing on an unseen enemy.
There are several hotels on the island. All are expensive by my standards, so we stayed at St. Ignace the nights before and after our island visit. The largest of the hotels id the Grand Hotel. Guests arrive by covered carriage. Luggage, as shown below.

For a fee, non-guests can tour the beautiful hotel grounds that includes several flower gardens. When we passed, a wedding party was leaving the hotel.

When we completed our tour, we visited the many gift shops along the main street. You do need to watch where you step, but a  crew cleans the street often.

Mackinac Island fudge is big business. Most shops sell it. I bought a flying pig in one of the shops. Only one I have ever seen.

The Star Line ferry was our ride bad to St. Ignace.

Back to our Trip of 2003.

To Lewie's Travel Web.