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Historic Sights on Mackinac Island

The moment you step off the ferry and onto Mackinac Island, you feel as if you have stepped back in time. The main mode of transportation on the Island is walking, as motorized vehicles are not allowed. The streets are crowded with pedestrians, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages. This helps to preserve the historic attractions of this quaint 3.8 square mile island.

Through the years, Mackinac Island has seen more than its fair share of history. Much of this history is preserved as a part of the Mackinac Island State Park. Even though the Island is very small, there is a lot to see here. Though it is possible to see it all in just one day, Planning a two or three day trip to Mackinac Island will give you more chances to enjoy all the activities and sights. These are just a few of the activities that a visitor to the Island will not want to miss.

Fort Mackinac was built for use in the Revolutionary War and saw more action during the War of 1812. This fort is located on a scenic bluff overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. Visitors to the Fort can experience a little of what life was like during the Fort Mackinac’s military years through tours, exhibits, and demonstrations. The Fort still contains 14 of its original buildings. Visitors are treated to reenactments that include bugle music and cannon salutes. Visiting in the middle of July? Then you won’t want to miss the vintage baseball game, played by some of the earliest known “gentleman’s rules” of the game.

Arch Rock is a beautiful limestone formation that towers some 150 feet above the water. Scientists say this Arch was formed by years of wind, water, and glacier erosion. While that might be correct, it is not nearly as interesting as the local Native American legend of Arch Rock’s formation—tradition holds that the Arch was formed when the Great Creator breathed life into the Earth.

Skull Cave is an ancient Native American burial ground. It is believed to have been “discovered” by English settlers when Alexander Hendry needed a place during Pontiac’s Rebellion. An Ojibwa chief told him of the cave, where he spent a night sleeping on a cave floor, covered in ancient bones.

Visitors to Mackinac Island can explore these areas on their own, either on foot or by renting bicycles. If you are pressed for time, book a horse-drawn carriage tour. The tour will take you to all of these places, plus many more interesting spots around the Island, in a matter of a few hours.

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