Located in the Straits of Mackinac, where the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan meet, Mackinac Island is a living Victorian town. Personal motorized vehicles are prohibited – all those visiting or living on the island travel by horse or horse-drawn carriage, bicycle, or on foot. While Mackinac Island is known for its opulent Victorian homes and hotels, it has a long history. Anishinaabe-Ojibwe tradition holds that the island was a sacred place populated by the first people and was home to the Great Spirit Gitchie Manitou. Because of its location, it was a Native American gathering place. Since then it has been the site of French missionary churches, a center for the fur trade, and later the fishing industry, before becoming dependent on tourism to fuel the local economy.
Things To Do
Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour
Get transported back in time as you embark on a guided horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island and explore this small yet exciting island. Classic Victorian architecture from the 1800s lines the cobblestone streets as you discover Fort Mackinac's historic museum, the luxurious Grand Hotel, and the quanted beauty of this unique town.
This activity is available on the following cruises:
Located in Lake Huron, the Mackinac Island started as an important strategic position for the Great Lakes fur trade, and was the site of two battles during the War of 1812. However, after the war, it was the Victorians who made Mackinac Island one of the nation’s most favored summer resorts. In the post-Civil War industrial age and before automobiles, vacationers traveled by large lake excursion boats from Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit to the cooler climes of Mackinac Island. In the 1890’s wealthy Midwestern industrialists who wanted to spend more than a few nights on Mackinac built their own summer cottages on the east and west bluffs.
Today, Mackinac retains that charm with its “no automobiles” rule and its preservation of old Victorian architecture.
- The motor vehicle restriction came about because horse carriage drivers complained about automobiles startling their horses.
- The road encircling the island and closely hugging the shoreline is M-185, the United States’ only state highway without motorized vehicles.
- Fort Mackinac was easily captured in the first battle of 1812, due to the Americans not being aware that war was declared.