You don't need to go all the way to the Caribbean to have an island vacation — there's a small island near Ontario that has everything you need for a beachy summer getaway.
Mackinac Island, known as "The Jewel of the Great Lakes," is a charming resort destination located in the heart of Lake Huron, just off the shores of Michigan State's upper and lower peninsulas. The island is a popular getaway in the summer, with thousands of people visiting each year for its vibrant neighbourhoods, cozy beaches, and old-world feel.
The island is only 9.8 km2 large, so visitors can easily travel from end to end in a single day. In fact, it's so small that it's able to survive completely without cars — the only way to get around is by horse buggy, bicycle, or foot.
There are several points of interest to explore, including the historic Grand Hotel, the Lilac Tree Inn (which is the main site for the island's annual lilac festival), the 18th-century Fort Mackinac Museum, and the famous Mackinac Street with its 19th-century shops, boutiques, and fine dining restaurants.
The island also boasts an incredible nightlife, with bars and dancing until the early morning.
There are activities available for nature lovers as well. Mackinac Island is home to several outdoor hot spots, including Mackinac Island State Park, which features several scenic trails, flower fields, and vistas to explore.
You can get to Mackinac Island by plane or ferry. Ferries depart from two ports: St. Ignace, MI, in the upper peninsula, and Mackinaw City, MI, in the lower peninsula. Those coming from Toronto would need to make the drive to either city first, and then take the corresponding ferries to the island.
Both ports are easily accessible from Ontario. St. Ignace is just a short 54-minute drive from Sault Ste. Marie, making it a convenient access point for those living in the Algoma District. Conversely, Mackinaw City is a longer (but still doable) four-hour drive from Windsor, so those living in southwestern Ontario could opt for that route instead.
Plan your trip to Mackinac Island today!