Mackinaw City: Detroit Moms’ Favorite Michigan Vacation Spots

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Mackinaw City has always been one of my favorite places to visit in Michigan. The small-town feel, tourist attractions, history, and natural beauty make it a great vacation choice for anyone who is looking for some variety.

The city itself sits at the very top of the Mitten along the shores of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and The Straits of Mackinac, where the two lakes meet. It takes about four hours to get there from Metro Detroit, but it is very easy to get to. Just hop on I-75 and drive until you see the Mackinac Bridge!

Mackinaw City

3 FAVORITE RESTAURANTS

Nonna Lisa’s Italian Restaurant | 312 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-7901
Their bruschetta is AMAZING, and their service is top-notch! They have lots of delicious pizzas to choose from.

Audie’s | 314 N Nicolet St, Mackinaw City, 231-436-5744
Check out any of their delicious seafood options, or if seafood isn’t your thing they have a variety of steaks, salads, and chicken to choose from!

Darrow’s Family Restaurant | 301 Louvingney St, Mackinaw City, 231-436-5514
There is something for everyone. Vegetarian-friendly and vegan options are available!

3 FAVORITE FREE ATTRACTIONS

Headlands International Dark Sky Park | 15675 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, 231-348-1713
On a clear night, this is an AMAZING experience! Walk along the beach on Lake Michigan and look up at the stars. There are thousands! If the conditions are just right, you may even get to see The Northern Lights! 

Mackinaw Crossings Laser Show | 248 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-5030
Check out this outdoor shopping center. There is free live-entertainment, a small park for the kids to play on, and a free laser show every day at dusk. Call for details regarding COVID-19 safety precautions.

WaWatam Park | 300 N Huron Ave, Mackinaw City
Have a picnic at one of the picnic tables and watch your kids play on the playground with the breathtaking view of Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge in front of you. There are also telescopes, grills, and restrooms available.

3 FAVORITE PAID ATTRACTIONS

Mackinaw Parasailing & Jetboat Adventures | 201 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-7144
View the Straits from a whole different perspective! 

Old Mackinaw Point Lighthouse | 526 N Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-4100
Check out the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. Walk along the beach, take pictures in front of the iconic bridge, and skip rocks on Lake Huron. 

Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum | 131 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-9825
Tour the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw WAGB-83! 

FAVORITE PLACES TO STAY

Brigadoon Bed & Breakfast  | 207 Langlade St, Mackinaw City, 231-436-8882
Beautiful and charming. Located within walking distance of all of the shops and attractions!

Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island KOA Journey | 566 Trails End Rd, Mackinaw City, 231-436-5643
If camping is your thing, this campground has great reviews! Bring your bathing suit to swim in the pool. It is just a short drive from the downtown area.

FAVORITE PLACE FOR SWEET TREATS

Devon’s Mackinaw Island Fudge & Popcorn Co. | S328 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-5356
Candy, fudge, salt water taffy, specialty popcorn and ice cream—they have it all! Your kids will love the arcade area as well.

FAVORITE PLACE FOR SOUVENIRS

Mackinaw Crossings | 248 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-5030
Before you check out the laser show suggested above, get to the crossings early and check out all of the souvenir shops. There are many throughout the mall, and they include things like sweatshirts, t-shirts, magnets, and, my favorite—fudge and salt water taffy!

FAVORITE PHOTO OP

Old Mackinaw Point Lighthouse | 526 N Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, 231-436-4100
Even if you don’t visit the lighthouse for a tour, I highly suggest going to the beach and taking pictures in front of the bridge. Parking is free and, in my opinion, it has the best view of the bridge in the area!

FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP

Mackinaw Bakery and Coffee House | 110 Langlade St, Mackinaw City, 231-436-5525
Assorted flavors to choose from.

BONUS TIPS TO MACKINAW CITY

  • Memorial Day weekend, July 4th, and Labor Day weekend are usually very busy. If you plan on visiting then, allow extra time to get there (sometimes it takes twice as long!), and book everything you can far in advance. We usually avoid these dates when we visit.
  • If you’re looking for a night out (without kids), The Dixie Saloon is a great bar to check out.
  • If you need any basic groceries or toiletries, the Mackinaw Family Market, known to the locals as the old IGA should have about anything you need.
  • No matter what anyone tells you, the bridge does not swing over to the island!

Where is your family’s favorite vacation spot in Michigan? Check out some of our team’s favorites in our summer-long series!
Pentwater | Petoskey | Houghton/Hancock | Grand Haven

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