How many have you checked off?
On treasure maps, X marks the spot. But on Mackinac Island, treasure abounds, and it comes in many different forms depending on who you ask—fresh fudge, historical nuggets and natural beauty.
Some of these treasures are well-hidden and off the beaten trail. Others are peeking out in plain sight, just waiting to be discovered. Others aren’t hiding at all—they’re abundant treasures known to all.
On this 3.8-square-mile rock sticking out between two Great Lakes, a treasure isn’t just an object of beauty—we have an article about all the beauty, too, of course. What makes something treasure is its meaning to people through generations.
Here are some places on Mackinac Island that history has smiled upon that you shouldn’t miss.
Find Eagle Point Cave
There are famous caves on Mackinac Island where you’ll always find tourists—Skull Cave, Devil’s Kitchen, and Cave of the Woods. And then there’s Eagle Point Cave, found on the opposite side of the island away from the crowds. It may not be Mackinac Island’s most spectacular cave, but hidden below high-lying trees, it’s one where you’ll find respite out of sight.
Warning: This cave isn’t easy to hike to or find. Google Maps is your friend in this quest.
Lunch at British Landing
During the War of 1812, the US soldiers protecting Fort Mackinac surrendered it without a fight after an ambush from the British. True to its name, British Landing is where British troops and their allies landed the attack.
It now makes for one of the prettiest views of Mackinac Bridge and St. Ignace on the island. British Landing also is close to a nature trail, lookout, and Friendship’s Altar. Perhaps best of all, there’s a little snack and lunch shack here called Cannonball Oasis. Hope you’re in the mood for fries and chili dogs!
Find Where “Somewhere in Time” Was Filmed
The love story “Somewhere in Time” introduced Mackinac Island to a new crowd in the US. And if the film’s part of the Mackinac magic to you, head out on a path to see where it was shot.
Of course, the Grand Hotel is the staging ground for much of the movie. But you can also find the famous “Somewhere in Time” gazebo just a few steps from the uphill entrance of Fort Mackinac. And if you’re so enchanted, take a trip to the “Somewhere in Time” tree, where the characters played by Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour meet for the first time on the island.
Visit Anne’s Tablet for the View and History
Anne’s Tablet celebrates the inspiration and artistry of Constance Fenimore Woolson, a prominent novelist and short story writer who grew up on Mackinac Island. The statue marks where Woolson would sit and enjoy the view as a child—and it’s named for “Anne,” the titular character from Woolson’s first novel. In the story, Anne departs Mackinac Island for a life in the Northeast. The character can be interpreted as having followed Woolson’s life path.
Find Anne’s Tablet a few steps from the “Somewhere in Time” gazebo on Anne’s Tablet Trail.
Climb to the Top of Robinson’s Folly
In another story of (at times) tragic loss, Robinson’s Folly is a 132-foot cliff that parlays some of the island’s best views with a sharp fall. Robinson’s Folly is where British Captain Daniel Robertson supposedly built a house for a woman that he had fallen in love with. Legend follows that a jealous man that knew the woman came after Robertson and a fight broke out, resulting in the three tumbling to their deaths.
You can find another harrowing descent on the opposite side of the island—known as none other than Lover’s Leap.
Dine at the Pink Pony
An entire restaurant and bar filled with pink pony decor? You have to see it to believe it. This iconic establishment has a brand of its own, bolstered by breathtaking views and signature furnishings that you won’t forget.
Visit the Statue of Liberty
A miniature Statue of Liberty on Mackinac Island may seem random, and it is. In 1950, the statue made its way to the island as one of 200 donated nationwide by the Boy Scouts of America, celebrating their 50th anniversary. Lady Liberty has overlooked the harbor ever since and received a much-needed polish and restoration in 2012.
Make Your Way up to Fort Holmes
Fort Mackinac may be the better-known of the island’s two forts, but Fort Holmes is the higher point. Built by British forces after capturing Fort Mackinac in the War of 1812, Fort Holmes—originally known as Fort George—occupies the island’s highest point to provide a clear shot at anyone who dared take the fort and island below.
When the US Army indeed tried to recapture Fort Mackinac, they incurred several casualties. One was Major Andrew Holmes, for whom the Fort was renamed when the British ceded the position at the end of the war. The outpost now serves up close-and-personal history and spectacular views to far away lands.
Bike the Only Car-Free State Highway in the Country
M-185 is a fantastically maintained bike and walking trail that follows the island’s perimeter. A surprisingly flat and smooth trail, the 8-mile loop allows runners and riders to see every side of the island and connect with inland roads.
M-185 also bears a unique distinction as the only state highway in the country without cars. In a state where smoggy skies are the norm, a wind-battered ride is good for your soul. There are also plenty of sights to see along the way, humorously listed here.
An additional recommendation: Walk the Lost Lake Trail. At about the halfway point of M-185, you’ll likely be the only one to amble the boardwalk through boreal forest and wetland and see another side of Mackinac—far away from development. The trail is a loop that shouldn’t take much more than 15 minutes.
Have Dinner and Drinks at the Mustang Lounge
One of the oldest structures on the island, the Mustang Lounge has been around since the 1780s. Thankfully, it no longer has the same decor as it did two and a half centuries ago—having undergone a complete remodel just 15 years ago. The food and drink here is Americana through and through—burgers, pizza, and beer, at a Mackinac Island price point.
But it bears another distinction: it’s one of two restaurants and dining halls open year-round. No wonder it’s a local favorite.
Picnic at Point Lookout
If you would rather spend your meals among nature and away from the downtown, pick up some meat, cheese, crackers, and fruits from Doud’s grocery, and hike up to Point Lookout. To get here, you might pass by Sugar Loaf Rock, which bears the profile of a person frozen in stone. A short staircase climb later, and you’ll come to what may be considered the best view of the island. We’ll let you be the judge of that.
There’s a covered table greeting you at the top of the staircase.
Enjoy a Sunset on Sunset Rock
Since the sun sets west, Mackinac Island can boast a view that’s hard to beat, with the Mackinac Bridge and sun visible with a turn of your head. The best route will be to walk up Stonecliff Road to the Inn at Stonecliff—a possible dinner adventure as well—and then take one of the trails down.
No need to go far uphill for a good view either. The shoreline around M-185 provides a perfect scene for a sunset over the undulations of the UP.
Read a Book and Enjoy the View from the Grand Hotel Porch
It’s hardly a secret that the Grand Hotel is the place to be on Mackinac Island. But while you may not want to pay for the glitz and glam of a room, you can still enjoy the hotel amenities—including the world’s largest porch (Yes, that’s a real distinction). For a small fee, you can access the porch, grab a seat, and stroll the 668-foot wooden deck with views of Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge.