One day in Mackinaw City, MI

dog at straits of mackinac

Here’s another pronunciation lesson for you, courtesy of the State of Michigan: Cross the Straits of Mackinac on the Mackinac Bridge into Mackinaw City, which is a short boat ride from Mackinac Island, and they are all said Mackinaw… even though Mackinac is much catchier, and the way we preferred to say it around the house, and the way I inevitably said it the one time I had to say it to a real person, instantly labeling myself a tourist. [If you are curious, Mackinac is a French word, and in French the “ac” is pronounced “aw.” The Brits heard the name spoken, and then spelled it with “aw.”]

We chose Mackinaw City for a one-night stopover because we wanted to explore quaint Mackinac Island.


local beer by straits of mackinac
campfire by straits of mackinac
dog at straits of mackinac

We were basically waterfront at the Tee Pee Campground, in the last spot before the little beach and playground on the Straits of Mackinac, with a view of the impressive Mackinac Bridge. After our day of touristing, we built a campfire on the beach and enjoyed hanging out by the water.

Mackinac Island

walking the dog by mission point mackinac island

From downtown Mackinaw City, there are three ferry lines that will take you to Mackinac Island. Two are fast and one is slow; we took the fast Star Line, and it was easy to buy tickets online, easy to get a good seat (remember, we were pre-Memorial Day, so off-season), and DOG-FRIENDLY! Yes, Bugsy took her first ferry ride. She didn’t love it, but behaved well.

dog on mackinac island
mackinac island grand hotel horse carriage
arch rock mackinac island
dog on mackinac island

On the island, we did a ton of walking–past the lovely Mission Point Resort, by the Arch Rock geologic formation, along a trail in Mackinac Island State Park to historic Fort Mackinac (didn’t go in, occasional cannon firing is not Bugsy-friendly), and across to the aptly named Grand Hotel (didn’t go in, they charge non-guests $10 even to stick your head in and admire the interior! and, of course, dogs aren’t allowed inside). Mackinac Island has a million tourists milling about, and since cars aren’t allowed–which is great–horse carriages and bicycles abound. After an hour or so of the people/carriages/bikes scene, Bugsy’s stress levels were pretty high, and ours were too because we couldn’t find any bars or restaurants with dog-friendly outdoor seating. So we cut our Mackinac Island visit a little short and headed back to the mainland. I think we would have appreciated the island more if we’d been been sans pup and able to rent a bicycle or horse (you can rent horses! they hand you the reins and send you on your way! without supervision!!!) for more exploration. If you are interested in taking your dog to Mackinac Island, this article is a great resource.

beach on mackinac island
beach on mackinac island

Eating and Drinking

mackinaw city keyhole bar

Mackinaw City is not a gourmet destination. We enjoyed a beer and the kind of divey atmosphere at Keyhole Bar & Grill–and that’s where we would have returned, had we stayed out on the town after dinner–and another at the slightly cheesy Dixie Saloon. The internet did not give us a clear indication of where we should have dinner, so finally we decided on Audie’s Restaurant for some local Great Lakes fish (it was just ok).

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