Mackinaw & Mackinac Day Trips

Mackinaw & Mackinac Day Trips

Suggested Day Trips from Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island
Lets say you have had a chance to explore Mackinac Island and you have already seen all the attractions in Mackinaw City, what else is a short drive away that you can also experience? Here are a few suggestions, we will be adding more and we'd love to hear your reviews and suggestions for other day trips from Mackinaw and Mackinac!

Here's a great list of things to do in Michigan, written by our friends over at The BLT blog:
50 Things You Need to Do In the Wolverine State

Paradise & Tahquamenon Falls

  • Driving Time from Mackinaw or Mackinac: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Distance: 70 miles

This is for sure a full day adventure. While in Paradise you will want to visit the wonderful Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Tahquamenon Falls.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is located at the restored lighthouse on Whitefish Point. The amazing display here takes you back in time, when thousands of boats were lost here. Special effects even make you feel like you are under the water. There are videos and the restored lighthouse keeper's residence to explore. Family members and friends of those lost to shipwrecks still create memorials on the beach here. Get out on the beach and find beautiful stones that have been ground by the powerful waves of Lake Superior. On a beautiful sunny day here the lake glows blue like a jewel and the clean air is bracing. This is also the location of the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Whitefish Point provides a phenomenal concentration spot for migrant birds. Here, land and water features create a natural migration corridor. Tens of thousands of birds are funneled to the Point every Spring and Fall while migrating through the Great Lakes region.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls – ten miles west of Paradise is Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Don't rush through this attraction. Tahquamenon Falls State Park encompasses close to 52,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. The very reason for this park's existence, is the Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls. There are two entrances to this State Park (a day pass can be purchased at either gate).

The Lower Falls
Both locations have their attractions. Check with the rangers at the lower falls for guided nature walks. I did one of these and got to see a wild cranberry bog, an abandoned bear den, and beautiful vistas of a lake I didn't know existed. This location is mainly a campground, but there is a little lunch place here and access to the river.

The Upper Falls
There is a lovely path here to the upper falls, as well as a lovely restaurant/brewery and gift store. Ever try blueberry (this area is famous for it's sweet delicious wild blueberries) beer?

Near Tahquamenon State Park you can find:

Retro Tourist Traps

  (we mean that in a "good" way!)

Back in the day there were little one-of-a-kind tourist traps all over the country. The best of these have survived in the Mackinaw area and visiting them is a mix of nostalgia and good old fashioned fun.

The Mystery Spot

This place has been around for at least 50 years, that I know of. Back in the 1960's it was one of those places where cleverly constructed buildings gave you the illusion that water would run uphill, or that gravity had shifted so that you could walk on a wall. Today they have kept that original fun concept, but added mini-golf, a maze in the woods and zip line tours!.

Includes: Mystery Spot Guided Tour, 18 Hole Miniature Golf, Walk the Maze in the Woods

Castle Rock

This place has changed little in the 50 years I have been around. It is an OLD attraction so don't expect much, however, it gives you an idea of what attracted people in days past. It has the retro tourist trap feel with it's statuettes of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe. Too bad they had to fence the statues in, it makes it hard to get a nice photo. Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to scale the old steps to the top of the amazing geological formation. This is not for wild little ones or the elderly. Watch your step! The views are spectacular from up there so bring a camera. The place has been owned by the same family for as many years and they run a gift shop at the foot of the rock.

Castle Rock

Clyde's Drive In

  • 3 US 2, St. Ignace, MI 49781
  • Driving Time from Mackinaw or Mackinac: 13 minutes
  • Distance: 6.7 miles

Known as home to Michigan's best burgers. This place has been around at least 50 years and the retro still reflects its long history. Carnivores will want to try the "Big C" burger. Not red slime like at the chains next door, but real meat and food. So it's not "fast," but it is real and if you like good old burgers and fries, you'll love it.

Oswald's Bear Ranch

Oswald's Bear Ranch, located in Upper Michigan. You will be driving through miles of the heart of Michigan's wild and wooded Upper Peninsula. This complex is the largest (bear only) Bear Ranch in the entire United States of America. Since opening to the public in 1997, Oswald's Bear Ranch has grown tremendously over the years. Relax – these animals are caged, but they would not survive in the wilderness and this ranch needs support and donations to survive. There are always cute hyper cubs to pay a few bucks for a photo with. It takes about an hour to wander the paths and experience these magnificent beasts.

Garlyn Zoo

If you want your vacation photos to show lots of unusual and exotic wildlife, the Garlyn Zoological Park nestled in a Michigan forest is the ticket. Run by animal lovers, many of these animals are rescues. This place is just a short lovely drive up scenic US 2 from Mackinaw. Nothing fancy here at this family run operation, but it has been laid out in a pleasing manner that will give you a morning or afternoon stroll under the canopy of the forest. The animals are most active in the late day or on cool days. If you come on a hot summer day, expect them all to be napping (shouldn't we all!).

Sault Ste Marie

  • Driving Time from Mackinaw or Mackinac: 58 minutes
  • Distance: 57.8 miles

This is Michigan's oldest city! Bet you didn't know that!

Soo Locks Boat Tours

The big attraction here, not to mention the casino, is the Soo Locks. To get a feel for the locks, to understand why they are called "one of the great wonders of the worlds" and how they are a critical part of transportation on the Great Lakes you must take the Soo Locks Boat Tour. There are dinner cruises available. Dress for cold breezes off the big lakes and bring your camera.

The Antlers Restaurant

Experience another retro tourist trap (and we mean that in a "good way"). This place has been around for years and its claim to fame is its display of Michigan wildlife. Known for its 200 mounted animals & hunting lodge vibe it doles out Northern Michigan fare in spades. Michigan is still mostly wilderness and this place harkens back to a time when most everyone survived by hunting. The food gets mostly great reviews online and that matches my dozen or so experiences dining here.

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