The tourist village of Mackinaw City (yes, it’s actually a village!) is the first overnight stop on the Michigander and definitely the most well-known. As the most popular tourist destination in the state of Michigan, Mackinaw City has an eclectic mix of the new and old, the scenic and rustic that many people love to experience.
Located on the shores of the Straits of Mackinac, the village is on the most northern tip of the Lower Peninsula. Take the ferry to Mackinac Island, where you can take a journey back in time when a trek to the store was only a bike ride away (kudos to non-motorized transportation!).
The Mackinaw area is a place in Michigan that people know of but perhaps don’t know very much about. Originally settled by three Native American Tribes, the first European community in Mackinaw was established in 1715 and named Fort Michilimackinac.
The area changed hands many times over the past 300 years, between the French, English and nearby Native American tribes. There is an interesting story of how Native American warriors tricked the English and won back the Fort in an elaborate plan involving baggatiway (a game similar to lacrosse). A few surrounding tribes invited the English to watch the game on the outskirts of the Fort in honor of the King’s birthday. Many of the Englishmen viewed the match from outside the Fort walls, unarmed, leaving the gates open and vulnerable. Early on, a player pretended to lose the ball over the wall. Instead of retrieving it, the warriors stormed and captured the Fort in a surprise victory. Fort Michilimackinac has since been abandoned, burned down, preserved, reconstructed and well-visited in the past 250 years.
Modern day Mackinaw City is a mixture of rich history and modern attractions. The Mackinac Bridge is the third largest suspension bridge in the world, symbolizing the strong innovation of the state of Michigan. The bridge is the gateway to tourist favorite Mackinac Island, home of the esteemed Grand Hotel. The village itself offers area adventures such as museums, lighthouse tours, and historical attractions. There are also several renowned areas for fine dining or relaxation with a round of golf.
In addition to the allure of city life, there are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation nearby. There are great hiking and camping spots just south of the bridge that are sure to satisfy any nature fix, and the North Central State Trail is ideal for bicyclists looking for a great ride (we should know!).
Mackinaw City is the place to be during a Michigan summer. It is delightful to the tourist, sentimental to the local, and known and loved by all who’ve seen its shores. Luckily, we’ve already got it penciled in.
See you on the ride!