I can’t quite remember when I first heard about Mackinac Island in Michigan, but from the moment I did I knew it would be a cool place to visit. On a recent road trip with my dad we decided to visit since we were in the area snagging a few highpoints anyway! What makes the island so special? You have to take a ferry to get to it and NO CARS are allowed – only bikes and horses. Sounds pretty perfect, right?
We parked and took the ferry over. When I saw all the bikes lined up on the ferry and then more bikes lined up on the dock as we pulled in I knew I was in heaven! There are plenty of bike rental places on the island so I wasn’t worried that I didn’t have mine with me.
Dad and I walked around the island which looks picture perfect from every angle. The gardens and houses on the island are immaculate. We took it all in as we walked to find one of the Butterfly Houses.
There were even cycling porters who would load tons of bags onto their bikes and take them to your hotel if you were staying overnight – I thought this was amazing.
Once we were done we walked back into the main part of town to grab a bite to eat and then went over to check out the bike rental places. I found one that had a fat tire trike that I wanted to try out so bad, but they were all out. My dad asked if any E-bikes were available. The guy informed us that E-Bikes were illegal on the island because they could spook the horses.
“But we SAW some here!” my dad exclaimed.
“Maybe someone snuck them on the island, but they shouldn’t be here and we don’t have any to rent.” the rental guy informed us.
“Well they had a sticker on them that says they are registered with the island!” my dad protested then proceeded to tell the guy how he doesn’t understand why they make something where you literally can’t use anywhere, etc…
“I don’t know, I have never heard of anything like that.” the guy replied referring to the stickers we saw while giving us a look that clearly showed he was not going to take my dad’s side and there was nothing he personally could do about it anyway.
My dad decided he didn’t want to rent a bike and I felt bad leaving him, but he urged me to go reminding me that cycling the perimeter of the island was one of the reasons why we came.
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I’m gonna help HIM.” my dad said pointing to the rental guy who looked surprised.
They set me up with a squeaky bicycle that was well used, but could get me around and I set off.
The island has an 8 mile highway (the M-185) around the perimeter which is, of course, car free – the only car free highway in the USA. I
squeaked cycled along enjoying views of the town and then more remote areas of the island. I stopped often to take pictures of the beaches, wildlife and the only company I had for most of the trip – my rental bike.
As I circled back around, the amount of people increased and I decided that I probably wouldn’t like visiting when it was peak tourist season because it would probably be very crowded. I found my dad wandering around close by the rental shop and as I turned my bike in, the guy yelled jokingly at my dad, “HEY! Where were you?! I thought you were gonna help!” My dad just laughed and shrugged. 🙂
We wandered around a bit more before getting on the ferry to go back to our car.
This place is one of a kind. If you are there and are unsure about cycling the perimeter, JUST DO IT! The views are amazing, the path is relatively flat and there’s even an actual bathroom about 1/2 way around.
There are a few hiking trails around the island as well, but I didn’t have time to check them out – guess I will have to go back. Next time I am gonna make sure I get the fat tire trike! 🙂
Oh – and as for the E-Bikes – a quick google search showed that starting in 2016 you CAN have E-bikes on the island as long as you have a permit showing the E-bike is medically necessary. Then you are given a special sticker to place on your bike which is what my dad and I saw.