Mackinaw City- Gateway to the Upper Peninsula and Mackinac Island

6-22, 23 and 24 – 2016

Mackinaw City sign-Mark Beaudry text

Mackinaw City Historical marker

On Day 2 of our trip, we headed to Mackinaw City to catch the Arnold ferry to Mackinac Island.  Our first view of the Mackinac Bridge really built up our excitement!  Residents and visitors alike LOVE their bridge and are not shy about showing it.  The Mackinac Bridge Authority, located in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, takes care of the bridge and the many people crossing it every day.  There is a $4.00 toll payable on the St. Ignace side, which helps pay for maintenance and professional drivers. They drive people across the bridge in bad conditions or if you have a fear of bridges.  Tune your radio to 530 or 1610 AM to hear a broadcast on bridge conditions.  If there are good conditions, you hear a welcoming message to the Upper Peninsula (U.P.).

First view of Mackinac Bridge text hearts

Enjoy this view of the bridge from  Michilimackinac State Park and hear the broadcast, a 4 min-33 sec. looped message.  A bonus, the freighter Joseph L. Block  goes under the bridge!

Michilimackinac State Park map

Michilimackinac State Park

Old Mackinac Point Light House is also at this park, admission charged if you go in, except if you just want to visit the gift shop.

Old Mackinac Point Light House marker

Old Mackinac Point Light House sign

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Dinner at Hunt’s Mackinaw Pasty and Cookie Co., right across the street from our hotel on the 23rd. Delicious!

Hunt's Mackinaw Pastie and Cookie Co.

The next day dawned with a beautiful sunrise outside of our hotel, the Super 8 Beachfront.  After breakfast there we began our day of fun!

Super 8 Beachfront hotel in Mackinac City

Mackinaw City sunrise 6-24-16

Our first attraction was the Mackinaw Bridge Museum downtown, they opened at 8 AM.  This museum is quite large, you need at least an hour to explore it. Two videos are playing, showing the building of the bridge.  You can buy them both together for $30 for a great souvenir. Having a meal at Mama Mia’s Pizza sounds like a good pairing with a visit here too!

Mackinac Bridge Museum

Mackinaw Bridge Museum display

This museum is located in Mackinaw City’s main shopping district. To us it resembled Broadway Street in the Wisconsin Dells.  In the center of it all is Mackinaw Crossings. There you will also find their historic train depot, now a restaurant.

Mackinaw Crossings Shopping Center

Mackinaw City has a great many historical markers, more than we had time to see.  Some of them are interactive, there are audio clips to go with each marker.  It is part of the Mackinaw City Historical Pathway.  This is what the signs look like.

Mackinaw City Historical Pathway sign

From here we headed to McGulpin Point Lighthouse.   We even got to go up into the light part. It is open until Nov. 1.

McGulpin Point sign

McGulpin Point Light House in Mackinaw City

McGulpin Light House light

From the shore you could see the distant St. Helena Island lighthouse.

St. Helena Island Lighthouse in Michigan

If you like stargazing, the Headlands International Dark Sky Park is in nearby Emmett County.  We went in the daytime, it is open 24/7.

Headlands sign

We walked on the trail to the shore, from here you could see the new telescope building going up. It should be done by next summer!  This is where you look at the blackest sky possible.  If you wish to do some stargazing in your area, use this light pollution map as a guide.

Headlands Telescope building in Mackinaw City

It was lunch time, we headed to one of the city’s favorite places, Darrow’s Family Restaurant.  The Darrow family also were the Mackinac Bridge builders as well. It was pretty busy!

Darrow's Family Restaurant in Mackinaw City

We also paid a visit to Wawatam Park, named after a brave Indian Chief who lived in this area.  You can see Mackinac Island in the background behind the wood carving of the Chief. There is also a historical pathways sign here.

Wawatam Park in Mackinaw City

Wawatam Park Historical Pathways sign

We also went to the Gary R. Williams Memorial Park, where we got day and night pictures of the Mackinac Bridge.  A freighter passed under the bridge at night while we were there.

Mackinac Bridge from Gary Williams Memorial Park in Mackinaw City

Night freighter

We also enjoyed visiting the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, a retired Coast Guard Ship.  What a great tour and view from the deck!  This was the last attraction we visited that day.

Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in Mackinaw City

Two freighters passing in front of Mackinac Island!

Freighters passing each other

We finished our day with dinner at the Dixie Saloon, located at the endpoint of the famous Dixie Highway.  It follows most of the outline of Michigan. I have been near the beginning of this highway when I lived in Illinois. It passes through Chicago Heights.   The restaurant does not have free wi-fi, but you can pick up a signal from the nearby Shepler’s Ferry.

Dixie Saloon in Mackinaw City

Shepler's Ferry in Mackinac City

This rounds out our only full day in Mackinaw City. We had views of other attractions  we may get to on a future visit.

Mackinaw Parasailing

We saw great views of this from the shore, looks like fun!

Mackinaw Parasailing

Parasailing and Mac island

Colonial Michilimackinac

See what life was like in the fort in the 1700-1800’s, complete with cannons and muskets.  It is still an active archeological site too.

Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City

Heritage Village

Heritage Village in Mackinaw City

It was an enjoyable stay in Mackinaw City, we hope to go back again soon!

2 thoughts on “Mackinaw City- Gateway to the Upper Peninsula and Mackinac Island

  1. Pingback: Mackinac Bridge Museum in Mackinaw City | Adventures in Travel

  2. Pingback: Tour the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in Mackinaw City | Adventures in Travel

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