Where to run and hide (from the kids) on Mackinac Island

Published on April 24th, 2019

Last updated on November 29th, 2022

Spring Break? Ha! A week off school with the kids is great. But it’s hardly a break. At least, not for you.

As much as Spring Break is a great opportunity to spend time with your kids, it also can motivate you to start planning a real break for just the two of you later this year. How about Mackinac Island?Couple Biking Under Arch – Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Mackinac is a great place to get away for a bit, no matter what kind of getaway you enjoy. It’s one of the country’s most tourist-friendly cities, one of the best little beach towns and in 2018 was the hottest summer destination in the USA.

Now, this year, TripAdvisor has named Mackinac one of the World’s 15 Most Romantic Island Getaways For Couples! It’s ranked right alongside St. Lucia, Santorini, Bali and Seychelles!

Car-free Mackinac ratchets up the romance factor with horse-drawn carriage rides, says TripAdvisor, calling the island a “hidden gem” and “true American treasure.”

Maybe it’s time for you two to experience a blissful getaway to Mackinac. To help you figure out what to do while you’re on the island, check out this sample 3-day itinerary for couples. (And if you really want to take the kids along, check out the Mackinac Island itinerary for families here.)

Day 1

Board a ferry boat on the mainland and shuttle over to Mackinac Island. Or, what the heck, charter a flight and travel by air. It’s just the two of you. The flight from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island Airport takes just 7 minutes!

From wherever you’re starting, you can use this planner to figure out your best way of getting to Mackinac.

Once you arrive on the island, let dock porters whisk your bags away to whichever charming place you’re staying and then…you’re free!

The island offers five square-miles for you to explore. But where to start?

If you’re looking for adventure, you can rent bikes from any number of island vendors and head off wherever the Great Lakes breeze takes you. More than 80 percent of Mackinac is a state park and it’s full of photogenic landmarks including the island’s iconic Arch Rock and the towering Sugar Loaf. The road around the outer rim of the island is 8.2 miles if you go all the way around, and it’s mostly flat with breathtaking views. Here’s a map to help you find your way.

Do you want to immerse yourself in the slower pace of life on Mackinac? Then order up a horse-drawn carriage and tour the island at clip-clop speed. You can get the lay of the land and appreciate the charming architecture of downtown Mackinac and the gorgeous, old summer cottages around the island.

Are you a fudgie? Islanders call every visitor a fudgie because of an insatiable appetite for world-famous Mackinac Island fudge. You can stroll through the unique shops downtown, including 13 different fudge shops where you can watch fudge-making demonstrations and taste free samples. Which flavor will be your favorite? If you’re a foodie, too, then you’ll appreciate the island’s culinary offerings that go far beyond fudge. From casual waterfront bistros to elegant fine dining experiences, Mackinac has a diverse menu of restaurants – each with its own unique island flair.

Day 2

Wake up with the sun and get into Mackinac’s waters for an early-morning kayak paddle, giving you a different perspective on Michigan’s most famous island as it awakens to a new day. Or, if the flight to Mackinac was too brief, book an airplane tour of the area and see the island and the magnificent Mackinac Bridge from above.

For a morning that’s more down to earth, visit one of the island’s delightful butterfly houses where scores of beautiful insects flutter all around you. Or take a walk to the “Somewhere in Time” Gazebo featured in the 1979 cult classic starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve.

You can laze away the afternoon in one of the island’s relaxing spas, string a hammock between two trees along the shore or mosey through one of Mackinac’s extraordinary cultural attractions such as the Governor’s Summer Residence, the Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum or, of course, historic Fort Mackinac with daily reenactments of life from the 1880s.

MaLater, get a taste of Mackinac nightlife with a pub crawl from one end of town to the other or enCouple Sitting in Adirondack Chairs – Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau joy the zany side of the island downtown at the Haunted Theatre and Maze of Mirrors. For a more intimate evening, hike up to Fort Holmes – the highest point on the island – for a picnic and stargazing.

Day 3

If you still have the energy, there are more than 70 miles of trails through the middle of the island for biking, hiking, horseback riding or running. But it’s perfectly okay to spend the day sitting in an Adirondack chair and sipping a favorite beverage. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath and exercise your freedom to relax in peace. You’ve earned it.

If you’re up for it, stop by the Grand Hotel for afternoon tea and check out the world’s longest porch, or stroll over to Mission Point Resort for a beverage and a fun, little game on the golf putting course that’s right along the water on the natural bent grass Greens of Mackinac. Downtown you could sample a fudge flavor you didn’t get to try yet, browse the distinctive Mackinac shops or check out one or two more of the dozens of restaurants that each offer their own extraordinary experience.

Want more ideas? Discover all there is to Eat, See and Do on Mackinac and find a place to stay, too.