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Mackinaw City, Michigan Parks, Trails, Historic Locations & More

Mackinaw City's ferries to Mackinac Island, historic sites, unique shops, and views of the Mackinac Bridge attract visitors throughout the year. The most popular months are from June to October when boaters and ferries cross the Straits of Mackinac, taking people to and from Mackinac Island. The town slows down over the winter, but many hotels, restaurants, and shops remain open when snowmobiles travel from Petoskey, Gaylord, and Cheboygan to the area.

Recreational Trails & Bike Routes

A scenic, paved walking route in Mackinaw City winds along Huron Avenue to the downtown shopping district, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and Colonial Michilimackinac Park. At points along the route, you'll find markers that provide details about historic events, people, and places. You'll also have views of the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island. The path on Lovingjoy passes the Wa-Watam Township Hall.

Mackinaw City serves as the staring point for two lengthy trails: the Mackinaw City to Petoskey Trail and the North Central State Trail, which connects Mackinaw City, Cheboygan, Indian River, Topinabee, and Gaylord. The trailhead for both trails is located on Mackinaw Crossings Drive, just east of Nicolet St. Both routes have a gravel/dirt surface and are used for snowmobiling, mountain biking, and hiking.

The Lighthouse to Lighthouse Bike Route is a shorter ride that can take cyclists from Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse to McGulpin Point Lighthouse, which is about 2.5 miles west of Mackinaw City. Starting from the parking lot for the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, cyclists ride along the side of Huron Avenue to Lovingny Street and then go south to W Central Avenue. Turn right and go west on W Central Avenue, using the paved shoulder along the road. When W Central Avenue ends, turn right and go north on Headlands Road a little over a quarter of a mile to McGulpin Point Lighthouse, which was in service from 1869 to 1906. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse was built in 1892 and replaced the light at McGulpin Point.

The Mackinaw City to Wilderness State Park Bike Route uses the wide road shoulder on Central Avenue and Wilderness Park Drive to reach the state park. A few points along the way, the shoulder shrinks, and you will need to ride along the outer edge of the road. The route offers a few scenic views of Lake Michigan alond Wilderness Park Drive between the Headlands and Cecil Bay County Park.

In September, the Big Mac Shoreline Fall Scenic Bike Tour allows cyclists to pedal across the Mackinac Bridge. Participants can choose a 25, 50, 75, or 100 mile bike tour.

Mackinaw City Parks

Colonial Michilimackinac Park is the northern-most park in Mackinaw City and is home to Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, a beautiful brick lighthouse that was established in 1892. The lighthouse is open for tours from May 10 to October 10. An admission ticket is required for entry and can be purchased at the lighthouse's museum store.

Several picnic tables are located around the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse Park, and the rocky beach provides an ample supply of stones for skipping on the water. The park also has a sidewalk that winds around the park and offers great views of the Mackinac Straits area. Colonial Michilimackinac, a wooden fort that dates back to the 1770s, is accessible from the walking path on the west side of the park.

Near Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is the best spot in town to take photos of the Mackinac Bridge. No matter the time of year or time of day, the Mackinac Bridge is a majestic sight. You'll want to use a tripod or a steady surface to take photos of the bridge at night; otherwise, your pictures will most likely turn out blurry.

Mackinaw City has several other waterfront parks that offer great views of the Mackinac Straits area and Mackinac Island. Alexander Henry Park, Straits View Park, Gary B. Williams Park, and Wawatam Park are all connected by the walking route and are located off Huron Avenue. Wawatam Has restrooms, a picnic area, and small playground.

Old School Park is the best park for kids, offering a large playscape. The park also has a basketball court and picnic area.

Conkling Heritage Waterfront Park is on Huron Avenue and has a short walking trail that circles around the park. A band shell on the south end of the park is periodically used for concerts and events, such as on the Fourth of July. The park occasionally hosts arts and craft shows during the summer. On the east edge of the park, there is a scenic viewing area where you can watch ferry boats and other watercraft.

The narrowest park in Mackinaw City is Indian Pathways Park. The narrow grassy area has a small picnic area and is connected to the walking route that winds along Nicholet Street, Central Avenue, and Huron Avenue.

More About Mackinaw City

Mackinaw City is one of the most popular summertime destinations in Michigan. Visitors come to see the Mackinac Bridge, visit Colonial Michilimackinac, and ferry over to Mackinac Island. Every Labor Day, Mackinaw City welcomes people from all over for the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk.

The city is also known for its shopping, with fudge shops, boutiques, t-shirt shops, and other unique stores. Shops are primarily located along Central Avenue, Mackinaw Crossings Drive, and Huron Avenue. Parking is available along Central Avenue, and a large parking lot is accessible from Mackinaw Crossings Drive.

Several restaurants are located in the downtown area near Central Avenue. Dairy Queen on Central Avenue is a great spot for ice cream. Mancino's on Nicholet Street has very good pizza.

Mackinaw City's ferry boat services are all located along Huron Avenue. The closest one to downtown is Shepler's Ferry. All of the ferry services offer regular trips to and from the island from May through October. Depending on the summer months, boats leave Mackinaw City or Mackinac Island every hour. For lighthouse enthusiasts, Shepler's Ferry lighthouse cruises on select days, providing you with the opportunity to view lighthouses that are only accessible by boat.

Mackinaw City has many motels and hotels to choose from, and many feature swimming pools or lake access.

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