Monday, 13 January 2014

MICHIGAN: The Tourist Trap of Mackinaw City

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Mackinaw City is the most northern point of the Lower Michigan Peninsular. It's also the most tourist trap-themed place I've yet to come to visit while in the US. If you took your Whitby or your Scarborough on a smaller scale and threw it into America and looked to see where it landed - you'd find Mackinaw (however here it's by a huge lake rather than a seaside ... but there's still sand all the same). Replace candy floss stands with fudge and popcorn factories and you're well on the way to imagining what it's like. 

The city is most often used as a base for either heading over Mackinaw Bridge into the Upper Peninsular or as a parking lot for the short ferry ride over to Mackinaw Island. It's probably something of a tourist crime to not visit the island - something which is considered one of the places to visit in Michigan, but our main reason was to see the Headlands Dark Sky Viewing Area once the sun had set. Until then we visited the Popcorn Factory - home to such flavors as Maple to Nacho's, explored around the Old Mackinaw Point Lighthouse and peered through the wire around Colonial Michilimackinac - a representation of the former French and then British fort - yes us British have a long history in these parts until we were somewhat chased off onto the Island .. enough said.

Mackinaw is a huge cultural difference to the quaint fisherman towns along the shores of Lake Huron and Michigan that I had come to love, it sadly seems a little too much built for tourists and little else, just row up row of hotels and motels. While it was worth a visit and there's certainly things I want to do given more time (visiting Mackinaw Island, Ice Breaker Tour to taking a boat trip out to visit the lighthouses) but i'm certainly coming to prefer my smaller, out of the way USA.

How do you prefer your seaside and lake side towns - has tourist traps or small and quaint?


  1. Your photos are stunning!
    I'm definitely a quaint and small girl too - often the places where you can have the best adventures!

  2. I love going to small towns especially when they're NOT tourist traps ;) I have turned down going to soooo many tourist trap places in favor of driving out and exploring by myself!

  3. It looks beautiful there! I love quaint little tourist places. I grew up in a teeny, tiny village that was barely on the map but my parents now live in a more touristy area and although it's still quaint - it's nice to have a little more going on when I visit them!

  4. I'm from a tiny town between lakes in NY, and among the five finger lakes there are some places just like this, little towns built for the tourists that drive through. They always seem so fake!

  5. I don't know if I would call Mackinaw City the biggest tourist trap in Michigan but it certainly ranks up there. I would almost give that ranking to Frankenmuth as it is a little more out of the way and pretty much only offers chicken dinners (decent chicken dinners though). Typically Mackinaw City is a waypoint for me....

    but do remember one is Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island...

  6. Definitely small and quaint! I was born in Michigan (Bay City, a long time ago!) but we moved soon after and other than visiting family I haven't had the chance to really explore it. I'm enjoying seeing it through your words and camera lens!