Mackinac Island is a hidden gem in the Midwest. Tucked in the northwest corner of Lake Huron, the island can be the perfect vacation spot for those in search of coastal charm and rustic living. In part 1 of this post (more here), I described the (somewhat complicated) journey one must take to get to this Michigan destination. In this conclusion post, I will lay out some of Mackinac Island’s little quirks as well as highlight a few of the fun activities this destination has to offer.
- Fudge. At the time of this writing, Mackinac Island has over 10 shops selling specialty fudge in a distance no greater than a quarter of a mile. So, if you were to throw a stone in the middle of the city center, I would place my bet on you hitting a fudge shop. The fudge on the island comes in all different flavors including milk, dark, and white chocolate, but also peanut butter, pistachio, birthday cake, penuche, and even a few sugar-free options at select locations. Having sampled from more than one fudge shop, I can say that the product here is super creamy and sugary (maybe that’s your thing, but it’s not the best fudge I’ve tried, to be honest).
- Whitefish. One item that kept cropping up on the menu was whitefish. Included on salads, in dips, and even as a main course, whitefish is another regional offering that one may be interested in trying on the island. Whitefish is a lighter fish without any strong flavoring (it’s kind of similar to cod in my opinion).
- Bikes. The best way to see Mackinac Island is atop a bicycle. Without cars, bikes are the fastest vehicles on the roads (horse-drawn carriages are no match for your two wheels). With a few rental shops along the main road, one should not have any problem acquiring a multi-speed bike, helmet, and a lock for a reasonable price. In theory, one should be able to bike the perimeter of the island with relative ease (it is 8.2 miles around and flat). However, during our trip, road work was being done, which meant that one could not complete a full loop around the island (pity!). One could also bike the interior of the island, which is hillier, but also mostly in the shade. On a bike, one can see many of the historical and natural landmarks, as well as glide right by the airport runway.
- Nature. On a beautiful day, even an empty stretch of coastal road looks stunning on Mackinac. Other points of interest include Arch Rock (pic below) and Sugar loaf. One can easily walk around the interior of the island to see the sights, but I would advise bringing a print map or downloading one, as cell reception is spotty at times and not all paths are clearly marked. One can easily get turned around on the trails… speaking from experience….
- Fort Mackinac. For $13.50 a ticket, Fort Mackinac is surely worth the visit! The views from the top are expansive and one can see clear to the neighboring islands and Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. Fort Mackinac is actually a museum with small buildings offering different looks into cultural, medical, military, and other histories. As a bonus, if you’ve come at the right time, you can even take a seat on the main lawn and watch as costumed 19th century soldiers give historical demonstrations (spoiler alert — guns are involved).
- Jamaicans. Turning the corner down one of the side streets in the city center, my boyfriend and I were intrigued by the green, black, and yellow Jamaican flag swinging proudly in front of a restaurant. The Kingston Kitchen, founded by Chef Shawn who hails from the Jamaican capital, offers American cuisine with a “Jamaican twist.” Interestingly, we encountered several Jamaicans working in the service industry on the island outside of Kingston Kitchen. It turns out that Jamaicans are high demand workers in Mackinac Island as well as mainland Michigan. Also, another spoiler alert, if you order a dessert at the Kingston Kitchen that is “big enough for two” — heed the warning (pic below).
- Horses. Horse-drawn carriage rides remain a popular attraction and mode of transportation around the island. While these rides can be an effort-free option, one should also expect a slow, kind of expensive, and smelly ride (… horses relieve themselves effortlessly and without compunction). Aside from toting tourists around, horses also serve essential functions on the island. There is the post horse that transports the packages from port, the garbage horse that hauls a cart carrying trash bags and recycling, and the grounds horses that cart around maintenance workers and forest refuse.
Gosh, there is so much more to say about Mackinac Island. But I won’t exhaust the topic, instead, I hope this post will inspire you to learn more on your own or even visit if you are able!
But in the meantime, a few more pics…. 😀