Get to Know the Area
Nestled at the meeting point of Michigan’s peninsulas, Mackinaw City is a treasure trove of history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Delve into the heart of this unique region and discover what makes it an unforgettable destination.
International Dark Sky Park
The World’s ninth International Dark Sky Park located in Mackinaw City With deep dark skies overhead, the vast expanse of Lake Michigan to the west, bustling Mackinaw City to the east and 600 acres of pristine, old-growth forest, the Headlands park property is a gem. Making it shine even brighter is its International Dark Sky Park status, a prestigious designation reserved only for the world’s darkest places. In May 2011, the Headlands was named such a park by the International Dark-Sky Association in Tucson, Ariz., after a rigorous application process that involved taking specific measurements of light levels at the park.
Museums, Parks, and Historical Sites
Situated on 150-foot bluffs above the Straits of Mackinac, Fort Mackinac is one of the few surviving American Revolutionary War forts and one of the most complete early forts in the country. In 2015, Fort Mackinac celebrated 235 years standing guard over Mackinac Island. Costumed interpreters greet visitors, portray life in the 1880s, answer questions, pose for pictures, and lead tours throughout the day. Some of the “soldiers” carry original 45-70 Springfield Model 1873, the type used at the fort during the 1880s. Others play music or greet and mingle with the crowds of visitors.
Living History. Making History.
The tip of the mitt region in Michigan has long been an important place in the annals of local history. It had always been an important place for the region’s Native Americans, and soon after the arrival of the first European settlers, they too began to establish a presence there. The French (later British) fort of Michilimackinac, built around 1715, was an important trading and military presence at the Straits of Mackinac. It remained on the mainland until 1781, when the fort was relocated to Mackinac Island.
The mission of the USCG Cutter Mackinaw WAGB 83 is captured powerfully in the motto of the US Coast Guard; “Semper Paratus – Always Ready”! Specifically built to keep the Great Lakes shipping lanes open under the harshest winter conditions during World War II, the Mackinaw made it possible for iron ore and copper from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to be transported to the wartime factories in the lower Great Lakes.
With its beautiful architecture and history immaculately preserved, time stands still here. Horses and bicycles are a part of everyday life. Plan to visit some of the iconic landmarks which dot the island. The Grand Hotel, Fort Mackinac, Ste. Anne’s Church, Mission Church, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, the Biddle House, the magnificent cottages of the East and West Bluffs, and the newly reconstructed Fort Holmes. Dozens of interior roads and trails lead to serene sites and exceptional scenes of unspoiled beauty. Naturally occurring highlights include Arch Rock, Skull Cave, and Devil’s Kitchen. Food wise, Mackinac offers everything from casual fare to fine dining to suit even the most discriminating palates. Distance: 12 minute ferry ride.
The Mackinac Bridge is located on Interstate – 75 in Northern Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac. The bridge connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Mackinaw City is located at the south end of the bridge. St. Ignace is located at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge.
The Mackinac Bridge is currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. In 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan became the longest with a total suspension of 12,826 feet. The Great Belt Bridge in Halsskov-Sprogoe, Denmark, which also opened in 1998, is the second longest suspension bridge in the world with a total suspension of 8,921 feet. The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere.
The “Tip of the Mitt” area has perhaps some of the richest history in the Midwest. In 1634, French explorer Jean de Nicolet was the first European to see the area, though the Native American presence here goes back far earlier. The area which is today the Straits of Mackinac was particularly important for the Ottawa and Chippewa. The straits area provided ease to transportation and it made sense to set up areas there for trading and commerce. Settlements at present-day Mackinaw City, St. Ignace, Mackinac Island, and Cheboygan all were important to trade long before the arrival of the white man.