Perhaps one of the most interesting and beautiful places in Michigan is the Straights of Mackinac area, where there is a deep historical presence, as well as one of our state’s most recognized and beloved landmarks: the Mackinac Bridge! A must-see stop on a tour of the Straights is the informative and intriguing Colonial Michilimackinac, where you will be able to visit history!
Keeping with historical accounts and archaeological discoveries, Fort Michilimackinac sits in a reconstructed fort and features an interactive living history museum. Located in the mainland’s Mackinaw City, this neat historical site is a state park and features historically accurate tours and demonstrations, with costumed actors who recreate day-to-day activities and occasional special events!
This fort has an expansive and diverse history, starting in 1714 when construction began by the French in order to control fur trading and European settlement in the upper Great Lakes region. This fort was thought of more as a fortified community rather than a military outpost, and had everyday citizens living within and just outside the fort. Following their defeat in the French and Indian War, the French surrendered the fort to the British in 1761. However, an attack by a group of Ojibwe Native Americans, who performed a massacre as part of Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, killed most British and took the rest as prisoners. But a year later the British regained control of Fort Michilimackinac. Eventually the British decided that this wooden fort just wasn't stable enough, so they constructed a new fort on Mackinac Island made of strong limestone, and named it Fort Mackinac. During the winter of 1780-1781, they were able to move the other buildings across the solid ice to the island.
You will learn all about these shifts of control, as well as other intriguing facts about the time period at this neat interactive present-day fort! Volunteers bring this experience to life, with several reenactments and glimpses into how life was in colonial times! It’s not uncommon to hear music of the era, witness a cannon or musket being fired, or see an excavation in progress, which has been going on since 1959 and is one of the most extensive excavations in the U.S. of an early French site! It is easy to get whisked away in the wonder of this great historical site which is an enriching and informative look into the history of our lovely state! The fort is open early May through early October, making this a great stop in the summertime!
Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping
Sitting on the lakeshore of Lake Huron, this wonderful campground offers great views of the Mackinac Bridge, and is close to the excitement of Mackinaw City! With over 600 total sites, over 200 of which feature full hookups, this campground features large and extra-large RV sites, as well as seasonal RV sites!
This great campground site was originally built in the late 1700s and featured a sawmill, grist mill, orchard, a blacksmith shop, and a number of homes. The sawmill has been reconstructed, and has frequent demonstrations by people in historically accurate costumes for a glimpse at how this water-powered sawmill worked back in the day! This campground also features an adventure park with a climbing rock and zip line, as well as hiking and a mile of Lake Huron beaches!
Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island KOA
This clean KOA is a little more inland, but still very close to all of the excitement! Full hookups are available, and the campground features modern bathrooms, laundry, a convenience store, playground, and game room! There’s something for everyone here!
Tee Pee Campground
This simple, no-frills family owned campground is conveniently located near downtown Mackinaw City, sitting on Lake Huron, providing stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge! Full hookups are available, along with clean and modern bathrooms, is pet friendly, and has a dump station. Weather permitting, you can enjoy a fun bonfire on the beach for a great socializing activity and a spectacular night view of the Mighty Mac! You’ll also appreciate free shuttle service that runs to the ferry lines, and to Kewadin Casino in St. Ignace!
The Straights area expands farther than just Mackinaw City! There are an abundance of activities to partake in and many other great historical and wonderful places to visit!
Located just over seven miles across Lake Huron water from Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island is a unique and beautiful place to visit in all seasons! This lovely island is the home of the historic Grand Hotel and famously known for its annual Lilac Festival, which celebrates the presence of lilacs, many varieties brought here during the colonial era, and has a myriad of fun events like a parade, food and drink events, music, and more! Ferry services shuttle visitors to the island, or small planes if you’d prefer, as cars are not allowed! Horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are popular modes of transportation, and are great for taking island-wide tours! There are plenty of great sites to see, including the aforementioned Fort Mackinac, Arch Rock, and more! Visitors can enjoy shopping, great dining, and of course, the ever-famous Mackinac Island fudge (which has its own festival too!) It is also a popular destination in the wintertime, as snowmobilers can ride the amazing and natural Ice Bridge from St. Ignace to the island!
Head across the five mile long Mackinac Bridge and enjoy breathtaking views as you head up to St. Ignace! Here you will find more attractions, museums, dining, and shopping spots, and that’s just to name a few! Stop by the Deer Ranch, where you can view whitetail deer in their natural setting. You can’t miss it, with the iconic large deer statue at their entrance! Be sure to visit the Fort de Baude Museum which features many artifacts and relics from this historic area, with an emphasis of the cultural impact it had on the local Anishinaabe people. One of the most popular attractions that you can’t miss in St. Ignace is the Mystery Spot, where you’ll get to witness anomalies that defy gravity and that leave you astounded! There are also great car and semi-truck shows that take place annually, for a unique experience! If you’d like to try your luck, St. Ignace also has a great casino!
Although this is but a glimpse of what the great Straights area has to offer, we hope that it has gotten you excited about making a trip back in time to visit history at the colonial Michilimackinac! There is so much to learn about the history of this amazing area, and a stop at this great historic fort is the ultimate summer learning experience! Have you visited Fort Michilimackinac before? What was your favorite part of the experience? Leave us a comment!