Summer Fun on Mackinac Island
Known as the jewel of the Great Lakes, Mackinac Island, Michigan is America’s all-natural theme park. This beautiful island is located in Lake Huron and is a trendy destination for rental properties. The town has a rich history and is a popular tourist destination for sports fishermen, nature enthusiasts, and summer cottage getaways. In the 1890s, tourists began bringing their noisy horseless carriages (also known as cars) to the island, and local residents rebelled. The city passed a ban on cars for personal use, which still exists today! Instead of driving, you can walk, bike, or take a ride in one of the city’s horse-drawn carriages and taxis.
Mackinac Island remains one of the northeast’s most popular summer destinations due to its pleasant weather, quiet communities, and beautiful landscapes. Rental properties appeal to a wide range of visitors, from romantic couples to large family gatherings. Events happening throughout the summer include art walks, music showcases, Sip N’ Sails, sunset voyages, walking tours, music in the park, museum workshops, free classic movies at the Mission Point Theater, and much more.
If a laid back lifestyle away from it all, somewhere you’d usually go for a break, sounds appealing to you, Mackinac Island might be your perfect fit. The town’s economy is strong, and mostly based on tourism. There’s low economic inequality, and while the cost of living is a bit high, Mackinac’s low unemployment rate and high average household income make up the difference. The town’s historic houses can get pricey, but apartment rents are on average $250 to $700 cheaper than the national average, depending on the number of bedrooms. The island’s school is high quality, and the town is conveniently nearby several state parks and numerous cities, without the drawbacks of noise and pollution.
What’s more, the island has many annual events, some of them well-known internationally and some of them famous only with the locals. See below for some of Mackinac’s hidden and brightly displayed jewels.
Annual Mackinac Island Events:
Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
The island’s first and largest summer festival, this ten day celebration in mid-June has been drawing crowds to the island since 1949. Some of the festival’s many events include the Lilac Festival Grand Parade, the crowning of the Lilac Festival Queen and Court, horse-drawn carriage tours, live music events, Mackinac Island Dog and Pony Show, A Taste of Mackinac Culinary Event, and wine tastings.
A popular part of the festival is the Lilac 10k Run and Walk, which kicks off the Lilac Festival. The path presents runners with gorgeous views of the island’s downtown district, forests, and the lakes. The Lilac 10k is the first of the Mackinac Island Trio Series, alongside the Mackinac Island 8-Mile Race and the Great Turtle Trail Run – you’ll get a special medal if you complete all three.
Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac
This race in mid-July is the world’s longest annual fresh-water race, running 333 miles from the Chicago Lighthouse off Navy Pier to Mackinac Island. The race attracts more than 350 boats every year.
Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race
Also called the Bayview Mackinac Boat Race, this race in late July takes over 200 boats every year from Port Huron to Mackinac Island in one of the world’s longest and most challenging fresh-water races at 259 miles. The Bayview Yacht Club hosted the first race along this course in 1925, and participating sailors still battle annually for the best time in sailing the course.
National Hickory Stick Classic Golf Tournament
In early August, Wawashkamo Golf Club – named one of the “Most Historic Golf Courses” in Michigan – honors the history of golf with a weekend tournament, a fundraiser, and The Golf Ball Gala and Auction. The Golf Tournament celebrates the historic “links style” of golf with the site of the Battle of 1814, combining a fundraising event with a celebration of local history.
This mid-August festival celebrates Mackinac Island’s internationally famous fudge. The festival includes special fudges made daily, demos of new fudge flavors, fudge tastings, beer tastings, fudge-themed cocktails, an art walk, the Sugar Sack Relay Race, and more. The festival has also gained a special notoriety for its special Fudge on the Rocks – a variety of delicious fudge infused cocktails served at many of the island’s restaurants.
Mackinac Island 8-Mile Race
In early September, Run & Walk Mackinac Island hosts an 8-Mile Race, one of Michigan’s oldest and most scenic races that follows the island’s perimeter. The 8-Mile Race is the second of the Mackinac Island Trio Series, along with the Lilac 10k and the Great Turtle Trail Run.
Mackinac Island Women’s Wellness and a Wee Bit O’ Wine Weekend
This mid-October event celebrates healthy living and friendship, with wellness seminars, yoga sessions, amazing food, nature walks around the island, spas, hair and makeup demonstrations, shopping, wine tasting, and more. This special weekend typically also includes a nice array of guest speakers and artists, providing valuable information and tutorials on topics of interest to women.
Island Halloween Weekend
This event in late October is fun for the whole family. The weekend boasts trick-or-treating, costume parties and contests, shopping, and bar-hopping. With the island’s “no personal cars” rule, the streets of Mackinac become a popular place for parades and island ghost tours.
Great Turtle Trail Run
One of Michigan’s most scenic trail events, the Great Turtle Trail Run takes place at the end of October, on the last open weekend for the trails. The run crosses 5.7 miles of beautiful outdoor trails. This is the last of the Mackinac Island Trio Series, along with the Lilac 10k and the Mackinac Island 8-Mile Race.