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Mackinaw Island: Let’s Talk Real About It

Mackinac Island, Michigan, is a not-so-hidden gem in the Midwest. While approximately a million tourists visit this island yearly, it has some permanent residents.

For celebrities looking to escape the chaos of the paparazzi and enjoy a relaxing sunset, it’s hard to beat this secluded island. So which stars have homes on the island? Let’s find out!

Where Is Mackinac Island?

Mackinac Island is the connection between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Lake Huron island is near the Straits of Mackinac, with ferry connections to St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.

Visiting the island is one of the best ways to experience the “Pure Michigan” the Michigan tourism department frequently brags about in their advertising.

What Makes the Island So Special?

Mackinac Island is one of the most popular summertime tourist hotspots in the Mitten State. Michigan State Parks protect nearly 80% of the island’s cliffs, ravines, caves, and unique rock formations. One of the trendiest attractions on the island is the Victorian Grand Hotel. Many visitors flock there to experience the hotel and to enjoy island life temporarily.

When you step onto Mackinac Island, Michigan, you can tell there’s a different pace of life. They do not allow motorized vehicles on the island, so you won’t have to worry about sitting in traffic.

However, the island has an eight-mile road, M-185, that follows the island’s perimeter. This is the only state highway in the United States without motorized vehicles.

Houses along the coast line of Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is full of stunning houses and even a few celebrities.

Do People Live Permanently on Mackinac Island?

At last count, approximately 500 people live permanently on Mackinac Island, Michigan. There were roughly 220 households and 120 families that make up the island’s population.

The island has a Pre-K through 12th-grade school with approximately 80 students. There is no bus system for students, which means walking, riding their bikes, or taking a snowmobile to school in the winter.

Those who live on the island year-round rely on Dodd’s Market, a fourth-generation family-operated grocery store, for many of their essentials. Many residents live in Harrisonville, which they call “The Village.” Islanders enjoy spending time at Turtle Park, with athletic fields, basketball courts, a disc golf course, and a pavilion for special events.

Despite being an island in the middle of one of the Great Lakes, the town has a relatively normal feel.

Do Any Celebrities Live on Mackinac Island?

While celebrity entertainers like Kid Rock, Ice T, and even movie director Ron Howard have visited the island, no known celebrities live there. The most famous residence on the island is the Governor of Michigan’s Summer Residence.

The home has welcomed presidential guests like Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush. If you want to take a home tour, they’re free and last approximately 15 minutes.

What Is There to Do on the Island?

Mackinac Island, Michigan, offers something for everybody. Whether you want to explore the island on foot, by boat, or by bicycle, there’s plenty to do on the island. While Mackinac Island was once the center of the fur trading in the region, it’s now famous for its fudge.

There’s no shortage of fudge shops offering samples to potential customers. During the peak season, the downtown shops combine to make more than 10,000 pounds of fudge daily.

If you need to work off all that fudge, take a loop around M-185. The eight-mile loop makes it easier to circle the island on foot or by bicycle. Riding around the island on a bike takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes, depending on how many times you stop to capture pictures of the incredible views. There are several spots around the island to rent bicycles.

If you enjoy golf, Mackinac Island offers two unique golf courses. One golf course requires a horse-drawn carriage ride between the front and back nine. The other course is on the grounds of a former battlefield where American soldiers tried to overtake the British troops for control of the Great Lakes.

Woman kayaking at sunset along Mackinac Island coast
Enjoy kayaking and paddle boarding while in Mackinac Island.

How Do You Get to Mackinac Island?

There are only two ways to reach Mackinac Island: ferry or boat. If you plan to take the ferry, you’ll need to drive to the Mackinac Island Ferry docks to park your vehicle. There are two ferry services to the island, typically taking 16 to 18 minutes to make the trip. Parking for day-trippers is available at the ferry lots.

The other option for accessing Mackinac Island, Michigan, is to fly onto the island. If you want to fly there, Great Lakes Air offers a seven-minute flight from St Ignace to Mackinac Island. This is an on-demand air taxi, scenic tour, and private charter service. Flights can be as cheap as $30 in some instances!

Pro Tip: Find out just How Many Cars Have Blown Off Mackinac Bridge in Northern Michigan.

What Is the Best Time of Year to Go to Mackinac Island?

The best time to visit Mackinac Island, Michigan, will be during the summer. You may have to fight the crowds, but the warmer weather means thoroughly enjoying island life. If you want to take a dip in Lake Huron or the resort’s swimming pool, you’ll want to visit during summer. The cool summer nights provide an excellent atmosphere to sit out, watch the sunset, and stargaze late into the night.

If you cannot squeeze a summer trip into your travel plans, October is a great month to visit. You can enjoy the bright colors of the foliage and crisp midwestern fall temperatures. Pack a sweatshirt and other warm clothes, as night-time temperatures can get chilly.

Sunset over bridge leading to Mackinac Island.
Head to Mackinac Island via the ferry for some fun in the sun.

What Happens to the Island in the Winter?

While a bulk of the activity on Mackinac Island occurs during summer, the island still has a flurry of activity during winter. However, the 3,500-foot runway at Mackinac Island State Park is the only connection between the mainland and the island from January until mid-April, when the ferry service resumes.

Many shops, restaurants, and lodging locations on the island close for the winter. However, a few of each brave the winter conditions and remain open for residents and guests looking to experience the island in winter. And don’t think for a second that you can’t get fudge during the winter. The world-famous Mackinac Island fudge is still available. You can even order it online if unwilling to brave the elements or make the trip.

Pro Tip: Go for a visit in one of these many amazing Michigan State Parks.

Is Visiting Mackinac Island, Michigan Worth It?

Mackinac Island is an incredible place to visit, especially during the summer. Whether you visit for the day or the weekend, you’ll have a fantastic time. The island offers a unique experience, and it was formerly a part of the National Park Service and designated as Mackinac Island National Park from 1875 to 1895. However, it doesn’t disappoint despite losing its national park designation and NPS affiliation. If you ask us, any place where you can eat your weight in delicious fudge is worth visiting.

When will you visit Mackinac Island, Michigan? Tell us in the comments!

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