A Presidential and Historic Tour of Mackinac Island

Published on February 20th, 2017

Last updated on December 5th, 2022

An abundance of history is definitely a piece of Mackinac Island’s alluring composition. Often described as timeless, Mackinac Island is rich in American history. From its War of 1812 background to its Native American lore to fur trading to serving as a Victorian Era summer paradise, there’s plenty to learn about during your Mackinac Island vacation.

Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence on Mackinac Island

Many famous people among our nation’s history have visited the Island, including five U.S. presidents. Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton have all stayed on the Island. Additionally, there are seven suites within Grand Hotel that were specifically designed and named for seven former First Ladies: Jacqueline Kennedy (features carpet that includes the gold presidential eagle on a navy blue background and gold-painted walls), Lady Bird Johnson (features yellow damask-covered walls with blue and gold wildflowers), Betty Ford (features green with cream and a dash of red), Rosalynn Carter (features a sample of china designed for the Carter White House and wall coverings in Georgia peach), Nancy Reagan (features signature red walls and Mrs. Reagan’s personal touches), Barbara Bush (features pale blue and pearl touches with both Maine and Texas influences), and Laura Bush (features bright cream and floral patterns and décor inspired by the Texas prairie).

Staying in either of these rooms will make your trip feel presidential, but there are additional methods for creating a presidential, historic experience on Mackinac Island.

For anyone who seeks a dab of political history during a Mackinac Island trip, the Governor’s Summer Residence tour is a can’t-miss experience. Built in 1902 as a private summer cottage, it’s served as the Michigan Governor’s summer residence since 1945. In 1997, it joined the National Register of Historic Places, which officially denotes America’s most historic buildings and sites. Free tours are conducted each Wednesday from June 1st through August 31st.

And while feeling presidential on Mackinac Island, don’t forget to go check out Lady Liberty. That’s right – Mackinac contains a Statue of Liberty replica, which was part of the Boy Scouts of America’s Strengthen the Arm of Liberty campaign during its 40th anniversary in 1950. The replica rests at the Mackinac Island Marina.

History buffs will also want to make their way to inside of Fort Mackinac. Replete with Revolutionary War and War of 1812 history, the fort also contains the oldest public building in Michigan: The Officers’ Stone Quarters, built in 1780.

From presidents to war to the Victorian Age, there is much to learn and witness about history on the Island. The Island’s historical aspects can either serve as trip highlights or spontaneous fun to-dos.