Located on the shores of the Lake Huron is this beautiful city of St. Ignace. St. Ignace is the county seat of Mackinac County and a great place to visit because of its rich history and culture.
It's also important from a transportation point of view since it is the only mainland city that remains accessible from the nearby Mackinac Island, using the snowmobile while during the winters when Lake Huron gets frozen over.
It is also the second oldest city which was founded by the Europeans in Michigan which makes it rich historically to with a variety of different people including German, Irish, English, Polish, and even French living here.
The cultural makeup of the city is really wonderful.
Hiking at Straits State Park
Hiking is one of the most enjoyable activities that you're going to have at this park. The most important trail runs through the entire park is very near to the viewpoint of Mackinac Bridge.
It then intersects with the North Country trail after traveling about three fourth of a mile. The trail then ends near the observation tower while the North Country trail even extends further. To differentiate between the two, you can look at the blazes which are yellow for the park trail and blue for the North Country trail.
And then make sure that you spend some time at the viewpoint for the Mackinac Bridge since it's very beautiful to look at and the vast expanse of the bridge can be enjoyed. It's great to click some photographs too.
For the kiddos that you're carrying around, there are three designated areas with playgrounds. Swimming is also allowed on the premises. You can also pack in a lunch picnic, since there are two picnic areas which overlooks the bridge and they are also well set up with picnic tables and grills and water fountains.
For those interested in some more adventure, you can book a mini cabin. Camping is another fun activity that can be carried out here. The Father Marquette national memorial is also located within the boundaries of this State Park.
Take a ride on the Mackinac Bridge
This mighty and huge bridge is famous worldwide for its amazing engineering and construction. The world's 24th longest spanning bridge, it helps connect the Straits of Mackinac to the upper and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
Moreover, the Lake Michigan and Huron pass underneath the bridge and provide some scenic views.
It is very relaxing as you take a cab ride through the entire bridge and look at the azure blue waters on either side. Also if you are lucky enough to visit St. Ignatius on the day that the Mackinac Bridge walk is conducted, do take a part in this.
It is held every year since 1958 and the date is Labor Day since 1959. The entire bridge remains closed and the public and common person can walk the entire Mackinac Bridge. It is a really fulfilling and wonderful experience to walk on this magnificent bridge and look at the scenic blue waters on either side.
The bridge walk is also the only day of the year when you can actually hike on this section as part of the North Country Scenic Trail.
Exploration of the Castle Rock
A large geological tourist sport is the Castle Rock. It is a limestone stack and located five kilometers north from St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula.
Towering at a height of 59 meters above the water of Lake Huron it was created when the surrounding land had eroded.
The Castle Rock is made from the “Breccia” type of limestone and it is a sea stack or a sea chimney. Moreover, many local people have also considered this important from a cultural point of view and there are many legends and myths attached to it. Some even call it the ‘Ojibway’s Lookout” while it is actually said that rabbit’s back is the more likely one.
As you enter the premises, there are also statues of Paul Bunyan and his sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox located here. A quaint little gift shop where you can buy souvenirs is also built.
But but if you're interested in visiting make sure that you visit only from mid-May through mid-October since it remains open only during these seasons.
Moreover, for a small admission fee, you can also climb the outdoor staircase which takes you right to the top of the rock. The views from this point are phenomenal and breathtaking. This climb is not for the light hearted though since the steps are steep.
Pay a visit to the Fort de Buade museum
The Fort de Buade museum is located in the Upper Peninsula region. It is a very important French fort and very important from the historical point of view for the French and the Canadians.
It was an important trading center and distribution point for arms and ammunition during the war.
At the museum you can also find a beautiful collection of historical books and local artifacts. The arrangement is also very well done and adheres to the timeline. You get to learn a lot about the local history since the display is quite large with many antiques.
Moreover, the tour is free, but try making a small donation. If you want to enjoy the entire tour and really learn, we would advise you to spend at least two to three hours at this place. The antiques are from different eras during the 19th century.
There's even a gallery where Michigan Native Americans and their portraits are distinctly laid.
Tour the Father Marquette National Memorial
This is a memorial dedicated to the life of Jacques Marquette who was a famous French priest and explorer. This national memorial focuses on his life and works mentioned above. It's located in the Straits State Park.
Marquette was responsible for establishing a new Jesuit mission in 1671. He also established one of the earliest European settlements in Michigan near the Mackinac Island.
The building unfortunately caught fire in 2000 but the site still has an interpretive trail. Today, the main building has become an old structure with antique feels.
Visit the Wawatam lighthouse
This lighthouse is modern and fully automated and one of the main aids to navigation since 2006. It was erected in 1998 but has been working to help navigators in St. Ignace since August 2006.
Walking in the pier is allowed and publicly accessible. Enjoy some fresh air as you walk about and breathe in.
Look at beautiful art at The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum
Located in the famous historically Indian dormitory building of Mackinac Island, this Art Museum features various art forms related to the culture and history of Mackinac Island.
These include many paintings in maps, which play an important role in history. They have also displayed photographs that belong to the mid-19th and the mid-20th century.
Other than this, you can also view different Native American art forms and beaded garments. Many local artists and their contemporary art and photography is also on display. It is one of the major attractions of Mackinac Island State Park.
Learn about horseshoeing at Benjamin blacksmith shop
A blacksmithing museum, located near Biddle house on the market strait of Mackinac Island, this blacksmith shop used to specialize in the art and craft of horseshoeing.
Today the Smithy has various displays of horseshoes showing its many examples.
After becoming a tourist attraction in 1968, it stopped actually making horseshoes but started focusing on craft metalwork.
The examples on display today are thus very old. You can look at mild steel items being forged though. It is also a part of the Mackinac Island State Park.
Take a tour of the Mackinac Island State Park
As mentioned in the above two places to visit, The Mackinac Island State Park is a huge State Park, which is very important historically and also a fun place to visit.
It is spread over as many as 1800 acres and has many different types of museums and gardens located inside its boundaries.
Some of the forts that you can visit here include the fort Mackinac, fort Holmes, and others. There are also limestone caves and unique rock formations, which make for really beautiful geological features.
Some of the important historic areas are the Matthew Geary house, the mission house, the governor's mansion, and more.
Some rock formations that we would definitely recommend you have a look at include the arch rock, the Sugar loaf and the sunset rock. Other than this, you can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like biking and hiking in this hilly region there is also a beach where you can relax and watch the sunset.
Learn about fur trade at the Biddle house
Another historically important museum on the Mackinac Island State Park is the biddle house. This is a historic house and the Fur trade shop space which was built before 1800 on the market street.
It is today a very important national historic landmark and gives us insights into how the American fur trade grew economically.
So the pelts that were available here included those from the Beaver, the mink, the otter and even the raccoon. The fur market expanded under Edward Biddle and his wife, Agatha Biddle into a very profitable business and this was the house they lived in after 1832.
After being made open to the public, it was reconstructed and many elements like the kitchen, and the fireplace, were reinstituted.
Play golf at the Wawashkamo Golf Club
A nine hole linked golf course on the Mackinac Island is the Wawashkamo Golf Club. It was laid out in 1898 by Alex Smith, and has many features from the 19th century Golf Links.
These include a layout which is relatively treeless, holes which are quite short and a very long rough.
It is laid out on the site of the 1814 battle of Mackinac Island. You can look at historical markers which are used to commemorate the signs of the battlefield.
The word “Wawashkamo” itself is derived from a Chippewa word which means ‘the act of walking a crooked trail’. It was also recognized by the Golf Digest in 1996 as one of America's most historic golf landmarks.
Look at sand dunes at the Hiawatha National Forest dunes
A natural part of Michigan landscapes are the scenic sand dunes. These are usually close to the shorelines of the Great Lakes. A very scenic area of sand dunes is located near the Hiawatha national forest in the Ranger District.
They're very majestic and make for great backdrops for photography and pictures. There are also great spots to enjoy a pleasant sunrise or sunset. Relax on a sandy beach looking at sand dunes and the setting sun.
Enjoy a performance at Bayside live
This is a free summer waterfront concert series, which hosts many wonderful events. Various singers, songwriters, comedians, bands and more perform at the waterfront for free during the evenings at the marina pavilion.
This is located near the shores of Lake Huron. It is usually held every Thursday during the month of July and August.
Visit the Museum of Ojibwa Culture
The museum of Ojibwa culture dedicated to the Ojibwa culture. It has various displays and artifacts related to these Native Americans.
The museum itself is housed inside a church, which is very pretty. You will get to learn a lot about Native American culture by visiting this museum.
It has various antiques on display. The Gift Shop is also very beautiful and has many arts and crafts made by local Native Americans. So make sure you buy a little something or any souvenir here not only as a mark of remembrance, but also to help them in your own teeny tiny way.
Other than this, the museum also had sculptures of historical figures amongst the other historical pieces. They even have interactive and fun sessions for kids and you can even buy a coloring book.
The staff are warm and friendly. Though it does run for free, donations are really appreciated.
Dine at the Driftwood restaurant and sports bar
With great food and great service, it is one of the go to places to have lunch or dinner at St. Ignace.
The ingredients used are locally sourced and very fresh and all the dishes are homemade and have a great taste.
They have a variety of options in the menu, including soups, salads and sandwiches. Their specialty though is the fresh seafood which is locally caught. Other than this you can also try some char grilled steaks and burgers or specialty wings.
We would recommend that you give the coconut shrimps and the Cuban sandwich a definite try.