Mackinaw City - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Mackinaw City

Mackinaw City

Mackinaw City, situated in Michigan's Cheboygan County at the top of the state's Lower Peninsula, is linked to the Upper Peninsula by one of the world's longest suspension bridges. The city has become Michigan's most popular vacation destination, offering many attractions and acting as a gateway to the scenic Upper Peninsula with its hiking trails, state parks and recreation areas, and sandy beaches.

The city itself has a rich history, having been first settled after French explorer Jean Nicolet negotiated with the local tribes in 1634. It became a fur-trading post and later the site of a busy fort and trading store. By 1882 the settlement had become a flourishing town; today it is a shopping destination, offering many unique stores and restaurants lining its main street and boasting more than 50 hotels and holiday resorts. Regular ferry services connect the city with historic Mackinac Island just offshore.

Information & Facts


The climate of Mackinaw City is influenced by the lakes, with cool breezes moderating the summer heat, and winter bringing a snowy, icy winter wonderland. Spring and summer are the best time to visit for outdoor activities, although there may be occasional thunderstorms. Autumn is also a lovely season, with mild days and cool nights, ideal for exploring the countryside. In winter the area is blanketed in deep snow.

Getting Around

Visitors to Mackinaw City can make use of the Mackinaw Trolley Company, which offers 2,5 hour tours of the city, pointing out attractions and narrating its history. There are many charter buses all over the city as well as Shepler's ferry, which carries passengers to and from Mackinac Island in a little over a quarter of an hour. Rental cars are available for hire and drivers require a valid driver's licence. Travellers are advised to mind Mackinac Island's prohibition of the use of vehicles on its land.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Michilimackinac, about a mile (2km) from the centre of Mackinaw City, was the first stop for new arrivals back in the outpost days, around the 1700s. Today it remains the first destination for tourists visiting the area, being the site of a reconstructed 1715 French fur-trading village and military outpost that was later occupied by the British. The working colonial village is a living history exhibit that fascinates visitors, while within the stockade, archaeological excavations continue at the site. The historic park includes a vivid audio-visual recreation of a soldiers' barracks, a unique permanent underground archaeological tunnel exhibit displaying hundreds of original artefacts, a recreated Native American summer encampment illustrating life on the shores of the Great Lakes in the 18th century, as well as musket and cannon firing demonstrations and demonstrations of pioneer skills like blacksmithing and open-hearth cooking.

From its position on Mackinac Island, Fort Mackinac has stood sentinel over the Straits of Mackinac for 115 years, having been built by British soldiers during the American Revolution. The original fort has been restored as a National Historic Landmark and is one of Michigan's favourite attractions. Visitors can stroll through the 1780 officer's stone quarters, play dress-up in the discovery room, enjoy an audio-visual presentation in the Post Commissary, view the exhibits and watch lively demonstrations.

About an hour's drive north of the Mackinaw Bridge, situated in one of the most scenic spots on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, lies the intriguing Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum alongside the historic Whitefish Point Light Station on the shore of Lake Superior. The museum is the only one of its kind, dedicated to highlighting the perils of maritime transport on the Great Lakes. The museum brings to life the dramatic shipwreck legends of the area with artefacts and exhibits telling stories of the ships and sailors who came to grief in the treacherous lake. The lighthouse on the site is the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the restored 1861 Lightkeepers Quarters, a duplex building with period furnishings, descriptive panels and artefacts from the days when keepers and their families lived here.

Mill Creek, located on US-23 a few miles south-east of Mackinaw City, was constructed by Scotsman Robert Campbell in 1780, making it one of the first industrial sites in the Great Lakes area. The mill, now reconstructed, provided sawn lumber for the Mackinac Island settlers. Today the water-powered sawmill sits in a delightful wooded setting among nature trails and forest management displays, providing an interesting attraction for numerous visitors. Demonstrations are given of logs being sawn, craftsmen in period dress show how houses were built and a nature programme to encourage visitors to discover the area's flora and fauna is offered. The site includes a picnic area, or there is a cookhouse serving lunches and snacks. The surrounding area includes four miles (6km) of nature trails that bypass an active beaver colony.

Visitors who step ashore on Mackinac Island from one of the three ferry services from Mackinaw City can be forgiven for believing they have stepped back in time into a Victorian village. The small population of 500 permanent residents have preserved the island settlement and the surrounding natural beauty to the point that no motor vehicles are allowed on the island; the only way to get around is on foot, bicycle or horse and buggy. The island, 80 percent of which is a state park, boasts 140 miles (225km) of roads and trails, ideal for hiking. The longest route is right around the island, following the scenic eight-mile (13km) Lake Shore road. Other popular walks include the Turtle's Back, Tranquil Bluff Trail and British Landing nature trail. Every year in early June the island comes alive with a Lilac Festival, featuring the world's longest horse-hitch parade, fireworks, hayrides, country line dancing, free outdoor concerts, boat cruises and garden tours.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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