Mackinaw City Visitors Guide

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Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce
216 E. Central Avenue
Mackinaw City, MI
Toll-free: 1-888-455-8100

"Living History, Making History!"

51 Years of Service. Est. 1955

For over fifty years the Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce has been the voice of the business community, providing leadership, information and support for our members. We form effective partnerships with other local organizations, strive to improve the local business climate, and reinforce pride and involvement in our community year-round.

This directory provides you with a listing of chamber member businesses. We recommend all or member businesses as top providers of customer service and ask for your support by doing business with them. We invite you to call or visit these establishments for more information. We promote and support the business communities of Mackinaw City, Carp Lake, Levering and the surrounding areas.

Please visit our office on 216 E. Central Avenue, call us at 231-436-5574 or look online at

Dawn Edwards, Executive Director
Kelly S. Vieau, Administrative Assistant

Table of Contents
Welcome letter - 2
Events Calendar - 5
Planning your trip - 6
Is it Mackinaw or Mackinac? - 8
The Bridge - 9
Day Trips - 10
Lighthouse Tour - 12
Parks and Beaches - 14
Fun Things for Kids - 17
Map - 18
Fall and Winter fun - 23
Chamber member listing - 24

Planning your Mackinaw City trip
Of the three million visitors to the Mackinaw area each year, no two have vacations that are exactly the same. Whether your trip is a few hours or several days, we can help find activities tailored to the amount of time you have.

A few hours - Discover the history of Mackinaw City. The Mackinaw Historical Pathway system is a fun informative way to learn about the area. Approximately 40 markers are scattered throughout the village that tell the tales of fur traders, Indians, French and British Soldiers and other interesting facts. The series of plaques are displayed along Huron Ave., Nicolet St., and Central Ave. The walking tour is self-guided and can begin at any of the markers.

Explore the shops and eateries around town. Taste our world-famous fudge, sip a delicious coffee drink, have a relaxing meal, and then pick up a souvenir from one of the many distinctive shops.

Day - History that comes alive every day. Colonial Michilimackinac, with its entrance under the Mackinac Bridge and Historic Mill Creek, three miles south on US-23, provide visitors with an outstanding glimpse of what the area was like centuries ago. Colonial Michilimackinac is a replica of the original fort, with interpreters, archaeological digs and numerous reconstructed buildings from the 1700s. Mill Creek is a working sawmill demonstrating techniques used over a hundred years ago. It also includes a network of hiking trails. There is an admission fee for these parks.

For more information call 436-4100.

Shop, dine, see a show. Spend some time in Mackinaw City’s shopping areas and finish with the two-hour live show in Mackinaw Crossings and free laser light show at dusk. From burgers and fries to whitefish, steaks and pasties, Mackinaw’s many restaurants know how to treat you right. Shopping can be found all over town, with the main areas located along Central Ave., Huron Ave., in the Crossing and on Mackinaw’s west side.

Lace up those hiking boots! Located just 10 miles west of Mackinaw City is one of the best state parks in Michigan, Wilderness State Park. Appropriately named, the park features 8,286 acres of forest & other pristine habitat and 26 miles of open Lake Michigan shoreline. A network of hiking trails crisscross the park, and a sandy public beach is also available.

Other options include Headlands County Park or French Farm Lake, just a couple miles west of town.

Full Day or Multiple Days - Drive southwest down to Petoskey and return via Harbor Springs and M-119 for a beautiful scenic ride through the tunnel of trees. Continue on to quaint Cross Village and follow the shore to watch windsurfers at the dunes. Return to Mackinaw City for lunch and shopping before crossing the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge to visit the town of St. Ignace - the third oldest city in the U.S.

Carp Lake Adventure - In Carp Lake you can rent a boat for a day of fun and fishing on the water. You can also enjoy a relaxing meal with lakefront dining.

Over 50 Years of Service...
As we enter 2006, our history brings back memories of concern for the business community. The Mackinac Bridge was to open in 1957. The car ferry would be obsolete in two years. The question was "Will this magnificent structure draw travelers across the bridge leaving Mackinaw City just a shell of a town?" On October 12 of that year, sixty determined people met at the Hotel Nokomis. They stood united in purpose to secure the future of Mackinaw City

Today our area enjoys the distinction of remaining one of the top tourist destinations in the State of Michigan. The Chamber office continues to unite businesses and services, implement events, inform our growing membership and welcome visitor.

Is it Mackinaw or Mackinac?
(Both spellings are pronounced "aw")
The area was originally called Michinnimakinong by the Ottwawa and Ojibwa Indians.
The word is translated as follows:
Mish - great
Inni - connecting sound
Maki - fault
Nong - land or place
The Island has a large crevice or crack and the term was used by the early Indians as an identifying description to fellow travelers. The word Michinnimakinong was later shortened to Mackinac by the French. The British wrote it as it was pronounced. Thus the spelling Mackinaw.

The "Mighty Mac"
Before the building of the Mackinac Bridge, vehicles would take ferries from one peninsula to the other. The day before the opening of deer season in 1954, vehicles waiting to cross the Straits of Mackinac by ferry lined up from Mackinaw City and stretched seven miles south on US-31. On US-23 the line reached even farther, all the way to the city of Cheboygan. It became evident that something had to be done about the huge traffic backups. Through the efforts of a committee called the Inter-Peninsula Communications Council, the Bridge Authority was revived. Prentice Brown, a former U.S. Senator spearheaded the drive to convince the legislature that a suspension bridge was possible. Plans were drawn, financing was approved and construction of the "Mighty Mac" began. The Mackinac Bridge was completed on November 1, 1957.

Over four million vehicles cross the Mackinac Bridge every year. The bridge also has inspired many events scheduled by local communities. The biggest of these is the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. For over 45 years, thousands of visitors, locals and dignitaries have come to the bridge to cross the “Mighty Mac” on foot.

Over the years, many unusual things have occurred on the bridge. Dogs, deer and even a skunk have been found roaming the span. Mothers have even given birth in crossing vehicles.

For the complete story of the Mackinac Bridge, be sure to visit the Mackinaw Bridgemen Museum. This FREE museum features a narrated video of the bridge building and many displays of the artifacts used. The Mackinaw Bridgemen Museum is located at 231 E. Central Avenue in Mackinaw City. (Schedule to reopen in July 2006)

Days Trips from Mackinaw City
Mackinac Island - Board any of the three ferry lines and quickly arrive at the Island’s main business district. You realize that you truly are in a different time and place when you hear the clip-clop of horse hooves. Mackinac Island has numerous restaurants, hotels, bars, shops and activities. Bike and horse rentals are available, or take the Mackinac Island Carriage Tour and let someone else do the driving. Top sights to see include Fort Mackinac, Arch Rock, British Landing, and the world-famous Grand Hotel (fee for non-guests). Some of the Island’s best geographic features can be found while biking around its eight-mile perimeter and throughout the hilly interior sections. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission operates 80 percent of the island, which means there are miles of trails and open space preserved for visitors. For more information about Mackinac Island, go to or call 1-800-4-LILACS.

St. Igance - Just five miles north of Mackinaw City across the Mackinac Bridge is St. Ignace, America’s third oldest city. Here you will enjoy browsing shops, visiting museums and sightseeing. The largest and most famous event is St. Ignace is the St. Ignace Auto Show, held during the last weekend of June. With over 3,000 automobiles on display, thousands of visitors and hundreds of exhibitors arrive to celebrate America’s fascination with cars.
For more information about St. Ignace, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-338-6660.

Eastern Upper Peninsula - After crossing the bridge into the Upper Peninsula, there are many sights to see. Start with the Soo Locks in Sault Sainte Marie, and view this engineering marvel as huge ships are raised or lowered to pass between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Next, head west to Tahquamenon Falls. The Upper Falls, dropping 48 feet, and the Lower Falls-a series of five smaller plunges-are a must see. Forest pathways and stairs take you to a close-up view of the Upper Falls. Rowboat rentals are available at the Lower Falls. About 15 miles north of the Falls is Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum; its featured attraction: the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial. Next to the Museum is the Whitefish Point Light.

Petoskey and Harbor Springs - Beach lovers will find it worth the trip to stop at Petoskey State Park on Little Traverse Bay. While there, take the time to hunt along the shoreline for your very own Petoskey Stone, or you can buy these fossilized stones in shops - in jewelry and other fun creations - all over town. The Little Traverse Bay offers opportunities for water sport of every kind including kayaking, sailing, and more. Petoskey’s Gaslight District features art galleries, distinctive shops, cafes and Northern Michigan souvenir shops. For more information, call 231-347-4150 for Petoskey and for Harbor Springs, call 231-526-7999.

Straits Area Lighthouse Tour
From the late 1800s to the early 1900s there were 22 lighthouses in the Straits Area helping to guide ships, and while not all are in operation today, many can still be easily viewed.

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is located at the northern tip of Mackinaw City, just west of Alexander Henry Park. The light was built in 1892 and served primarily as a navigational aid for the ferries operating between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. When the Mackinac Bridge was opened in 1957, there was no longer a need for a lighthouse in the vicinity because navigators began using the bridge as a reference point.

Anyone who has ridden the ferry to Mackinac Island knows that the Round Island Light may be the most viewed lighthouse in Michigan. Perched at the end of a rocky point, the distinctive red and white structure faces nearby Mackinac Island and is viewed by thousands of tourists every day as they travel aboard the many ferry boats that ply the waters of the straits going to and from Mackinac Island. The light was built in 2895 and restored in the mid-1980s.

Many other lighthouses can be seen from a variety of vantage points along the shores of lakes Huron and Michigan. St. Helena Island Light is only two miles off the north shore of Lake Michigan, seven miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. Further west of the bridge are two more lighthouses, Waugoshance Point and White Shoal. Waugoshance has been long abandoned, but the structure can still be seen when hiking at the far western end of Wilderness State Park. In disrepair now, it was once used for Naval gunnery practice in WWII. White Shoal Light is also visible from the shoreline in Wilderness State Park. An active light, this familiar red and white striped lighthouse sits at the western end of the Straits, about 15 miles from the Mackinac Bridge. Visit

Mackinaw City Parks and Beaches
Located in the main residential area, Old School Park offers a gazebo and extensive outdoor playgrounds to entertain, challenge and amuse children of all ages.

The Headlands boasts 600 acres of land containing walkable Lake Michigan shoreline and trails. Once a private retreat, it is now a County Park where residents and visitors alike can hike, bike and walk in a quiet and scenic forest setting. The Headlands is located approximately 3 miles west of Mackinaw following Central Avenue.

Catch some sun and enjoy a swim at Mackinaw’s Municipal Bathing Beach. Located approximately four miles west of Mackinaw City, it’s known as "First Beach." Beyond that is "Second Beach" and both are great places to enjoy a sunny day on a quiet sugar-sand beach or a beautiful sunset on Lake Michigan.

Just 8 miles past The Headlands lies Wilderness State Park. It contains some of the most pristine of Lake Michigan’s beaches. Whether you like to camp, hike or just enjoy the beach, Wilderness Park is worth the drive. An extensive 12 mile trail system winds through the park giving both nature lovers and hikers an enjoyable outing. Stop and ask a park ranger for a trail map and trail conditions.

Two small inland lakes, Paradise (Carp) Lake and French Farm Lake, will test your fishing skills. Paradise Lake is located just 5 miles south of Mackinaw City and boasts a marina, lake access and boat launch and some of the best walleye, bass and pan fish fishing around. The entrance to French Farm Lake is located just one mile south of the Headlands entrance. You’ll experience nature in its most peaceful state as motors are restricted. There are picnic and launch sites available.

Stop in at Village Hall and pick up a map of our Historic Pathway. You will be guided around town to kiosks describing a part of our broad history - from shipping to colonial battles. This guided walk will let you enjoy the great outdoors and stretch your legs. It winds its way through the Village and includes nearly 40 detailed markers recalling much of Mackinaw’s history. Most of the markers are located along Mackinaw City’s main thoroughfares.

Fun Things for Kids to Do

  • Tour Fort Michilimackinac
  • Watch fudge being made
  • Visit the Mackinac Bridge Museum
  • Make a splash at Thunder Falls Waterpark
  • Visit Mill Creek State Historic Park
  • Make your way through the A-Maze-N-Mirrors
  • Play miniature golf
  • Have fun at the “Old School Park” playground
  • Go swimming at our local beaches
  • Test your skills at our two arcades
  • Have a picnic in one of the beautiful parks by the Bridge and around Mackinaw City
  • Mine for rocks at the Mackinaw Mining Co.
  • Find your way through the Scaredy Cat Haunted House
  • Go fly a kite in the park
  • Catch a fish from the State Dock fishing pier
  • Watch the “Dancing Fountain”
  • Visit the local public library childrens’ area
  • Take a tour on the Trolley
  • Go parasailing over the Straits of Mackinac
  • Enjoy a free concert in Conkling Park at 8 p.m. every Tuesday and Saturday in July and August
  • Free nightly laser show in Mackinaw Crossings (seasonal)

Fall and Winter Fun
Fall - Starting mid- to late-September the area come alive with brilliant colors during the autumn color-tour season. You’ll love to explore the highways and back roads admiring the beautiful fall colors. Smaller crowds, reduced prices and a more relaxed atmosphere make the fall a favorite time of year for locals and visitors alike.

Winter - Come winter, the scene changes from colorful to pure white. The lakes freeze and it’s time to strap on snowshoes, cross country or downhill skis and explore the northland. If you enjoy winter events, we have quite a few planned. Fro the Chamber’s Winterfest celebration in late January - featuring snow carving, a chili cook-off and sleigh rides - to dogsled and snowmobile races in February, there are plenty of activities to enjoy for visitors of all ages. And with two major lower peninsula trails meeting here, it’s no wonder that thousands of snowmobilers find Mackinaw City a great place to be! Trails running through our northwoods, past lakes and frozen streams, make for excellent snowmobiling in and around Mackinaw. Riders can either head to Cheboygan, 15 miles southeast, or towards Carp Lake, Pellston and Petoskey to the southwest. For those that want to cross the Mackinac Bridge, the Bridge Authority will transport a rider and sled for a nominal fee. The Chamber has free trail maps at its office near the trailhead at 216 E. Central Ave.

If you have new or updated information about this virtual brochure, please contact us.

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