If you have a full day or multiple days . . .
Visit Mackinac Island. Michigan's crown jewel is worth a day trip for any Mackinaw visitor. A quick 15-20 minute trip on any of Mackinaw's three ferry lines finds you in the heart of the Island's downtown. From there you can walk, pedal a bike, or ride a carriage to a few of the various points of interest such as Fort Mackinac, Arch Rock and the Grand Hotel.
Back on the mainland, a car tour is always a good option. Drive southwest through Carp Lake down to Petoskey and return via Harbor Springs and M-119 for a beautiful scenic ride through a tunnel of trees. Continue on to quaint Cross Village and follow the shore to watch windsurfers at the dunes. Return to Mackinaw for lunch and shopping before crossing the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge to visit the town of St. Ignace, the third oldest city in the U.S.
Straits Area Lighthouse Tour: From the late 1800s to the early 1900s there were 22 lighthouses in the Straits Area helping to guide ships, and while not all are in operation today, many can still be easily viewed.
Old Mackinac Point Light is located at the northern tip of Mackinaw City, just west of Alexander Henry Park. The light was built in 1892 and served primarily as a navigational aid for the ferries operating between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. When the Mackinac Bridge was opened in 1957, there was no longer a need for a lighthouse in the vicinity because navigators began using the bridge as a reference point.
Emmet County now owns the historic McGulpin Point Lighthouse, which protected shipping on the Straits of Mackinac against storms, fog and rocks between 1869 and 1909. The lighthouse is located 2 miles west of Mackinaw City.
The county board of commissioners, which approved the purchase of the lighthouse in July entirely with county funds, has appointed a seven-member historical commission to determine how the lighthouse property will be used.
On Thursday, Aug. 24, the county board named the final two members of the historical commission and approved spending up to $20,000 to pursue the conversion of the Lighthouse property garage into a caretaker's home.
Closing on the property, located on just under 10 acres half a mile north of the Headlands Park, was completed on Friday, July 11, 2008. Purchased for $710,000 from the Peppler family, the property includes 336 feet of shoreline on the Straits with a commanding view of the Bridge.
The county reopened the lighthouse to the public with a gala celebration on May 30, 2009.
Anyone who has ridden the ferry to Mackinac Island knows that the Round Island Light may be the most viewed lighthouse in Michigan. Perched at the end of a rocky point, the distinctive red and white structure faces nearby Mackinac Island and is viewed by thousands of tourists every day as they travel aboard the many ferry boats that ply the waters of the straits going to and from Mackinac Island. The light was built in 1895 and restored in the mid-1980s.
Many other lighthouses can be seen from a variety of vantage points along the shores of lakes Huron and Michigan. St. Helena Island Light is only two miles off the north shore of Lake Michigan, seven miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. Further west of the bridge are two more lighthouses, Waugoshance Point and White Shoal. Waugoshance has been long abandoned, but the structure can still be seen when hiking at the far western end of Wilderness State Park. In disrepair now, it was once used for naval gunnery practice in WWII. White Shoal Light is also visible from the shoreline in Wilderness State Park. An active light, this familiar red and white striped lighthouse sits at the western end of the Straits, about 15 miles from the Mackinac Bridge.
Carp Lake Adventure. In Carp Lake you can rent a boat for a day of fun and fishing on the water. The Paradise Lake Association and Friends of Paradise Lake can assist you with any events or ammenities of the lake.