Disclosure: I received a complimentary tour to assist in writing this article. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Every year between May and October, the steady “clip-clop” sound of horse hooves echoes throughout Mackinac Island. In a land void of cars, horse and carriage rides have become as iconic to summer tourists as they have to year-round residents.
Of course, if you’re planning a Mackinac Island vacation and are in the process of narrowing down your activity list, you may be wondering if booking a ride with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours is worth considering. Having recently taken the tour for the first time, I’m here to tell you that this excursion should be near the top of your agenda! Read on to find out why a Mackinac Island Carriage Tour might just be the best part of your trip.
1. It’s A Great Starting Place If You Don’t Know Where You’re GoingArriving on Mackinac Island feels surprisingly similar to walking into Disney World: it’s beautiful, it’s magical . . . and it can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many sights to take in, and if you’re anything like me, you want to see it all! That’s the great thing about taking a carriage tour—the ticket kiosk is situated on Main Street (not far from the ferry drop-off), so all you need to do is sign up for the next available tour and wait for your carriage to arrive (how very Cinderella-like!). There are even benches nearby, so you can rest as you wait. If you have a little more time than you bargained for, do some shopping next door or across the street. There are plenty of stores to visit and since they’re nearby, there’s no danger in getting lost.
Once your tour begins, you’ll start off through parts of downtown you may not have seen (there are several historical buildings in addition to the rows of stores, restaurants, and hotels that line the front of the island). Next, it’s up the hill past the famous Grand Hotel, and onward to view the stables and other key sites on Mackinac Island (but more on that in a moment!).
2. The Tour Guides Are Awesome
|Our tour guide, waving enthusiastically at another passing carriage. You can tell by the other driver's smile that our guide was quite the character!|
Your driver, as good as he may be at maneuvering a horse-drawn carriage, is also a wealth of knowledge—so pay attention and ask lots of questions! You’ll learn island history, get tidbits on local life, and maybe even enjoy a comedy show. Our guide, for instance, had us rolling with laughter as he interacted with the group, teased passersby, and delivered an unending supply of horse jokes (you’ll have an . . . interesting view while sitting behind the quadrupeds). While it may be difficult to say goodbye to your initial guide when you reach the Surrey Hills stop (I’ll talk about that next), you’ll be united with a new guide (and another brain to pick) for the second leg of your tour.
3. You'll Enjoy Pit Stops at the Surrey Hills Museum, Grand Hotel Stables, and Wings of Mackinac
|Inside the Grand Hotel Stables - love the colors here!|
|So many beautiful butterflies and flowers inside Wings of Mackinac . . . some butterflies would even land on your head, shoulders, or hands! It's amazing to be surrounded by hundreds of these delicate creatures.|
4. You'll See Forested Areas of the Island
|Looking down through Arch Rock - amazing!|
|Loved this gorgeous view of Lake Huron from Arch Rock!|