Best Road Trip Destinations: Mackinac Island
When you need to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday conveniences, there’s no better place to do so than Mackinac Island. Located off the coast of Michigan, this island resides in Lake Huron between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas and prohibits the use of cars and motorcycles, making the primary modes of transportation horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and walking.
What You’ll See
Rather than the typical car traffic seen in other tourist towns, all you will see as the eye can see once you land on Mackinac Island are horses, cyclists, and pedestrians. The downtown streets are lined with retail stores, candy shops, and restaurants, while Victorian-style architecture adds to the laidback atmosphere, taking you several centuries back to a period when time moved a lot slower than it does now.
Where to Stop
While Mackinac Island doesn’t offer the typical sight-seeing opportunities that more popular destinations offer, it does have one thing others don’t—an overabundance of nature. With the Mackinac Island State Park taking up almost 80% of the island, featuring high limestone bluffs and vibrant forests, the relaxation that comes with the lack of motorized vehicles expands even more. Fort Mackinac, which was built in 1780, will offer history buffs a look into the past, while the a variety of houses, including the Biddle House and the McGulpin House, gives you a glimpse of how inhabitants of the island used to live. Finally, the Grand Hotel has a classic elegance that will take your breath away, while also providing golfers with The Jewel, one of the most beautiful and unique golf courses in the United States.
Though archeologists have found evidence of prehistoric fishing camps on Mackinac, proving that there were inhabitants before the Europeans first explored it in 1634, the island wasn’t inhabited consistently until 1648 with the name Mackinac coming from the island’s original name, Michillimackinac. The British built Fort Mackinac in 1780 to help protect settlers from French-Canadians and native tribes, though the Fort was closed in 1895. Since then, the island has become a favorite vacation haunt for many people, helping the population increase from 492 people to over 15,000 each summer.