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Road Trips from Mackinaw City: Discovering Hidden Gems and Scenic Routes

By Sarah Johnson, Posted on 17 Jun, 2023 at 11:13 am

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Road Trips from Mackinaw City: Discovering Hidden Gems and Scenic Routes

Road Trips from Mackinaw City, MI: Hidden Gems and Scenic Routes

Mackinaw City, Michigan, serves as the perfect base for embarking on thrilling road trips that lead to captivating destinations and hidden gems. From charming coastal towns to picturesque lighthouses, the surrounding region offers an array of scenic routes that promise unforgettable adventures. Hop in your car, buckle up, and get ready to explore these road trip destinations just a drive away from Mackinaw City.


1. Charlevoix: The Charms of a Coastal Gem

Just a scenic one-hour drive from Mackinaw City lies Charlevoix, a quaint coastal town nestled between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. Known for its unique mushroom houses and charming downtown area, Charlevoix offers a delightful blend of natural beauty and architectural wonders.

Stroll along the picturesque Charlevoix Pier and South Pier Light Station, where you can marvel at the stunning Lake Michigan shoreline and snap breathtaking photos. Explore the vibrant downtown area, filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and delectable dining options. Don't miss the chance to indulge in a scenic boat tour of Lake Charlevoix, immersing yourself in the serenity of the water and surrounding landscapes.


2. Tunnel of Trees: A Scenic Drive through Nature's Beauty

Embark on a scenic drive along the famed Tunnel of Trees, one of Michigan's most picturesque routes. Located approximately 30 minutes south of Mackinaw City, this 27-mile stretch of M-119 winds its way through lush forests and provides breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.

As you traverse the meandering road, marvel at the towering trees that form a natural canopy overhead, creating a tunnel-like effect. Be prepared to make frequent stops to capture the awe-inspiring vistas and explore the charming small towns that dot the route, such as Harbor Springs and Cross Village.


3. Whitefish Point: A Journey to Maritime History

For history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, a road trip to Whitefish Point is a must. Located approximately two hours north of Mackinaw City, this destination offers a unique blend of maritime history and natural beauty.

Visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, where you can learn about the treacherous waters of Lake Superior and the many shipwrecks that rest beneath the surface. Explore the Whitefish Point Light Station, which has guided mariners since 1849, and enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Superior.

While at Whitefish Point, take a leisurely walk along the beautiful sandy beaches, keeping an eye out for migratory birds that frequent the area. If you're lucky, you may even spot a majestic bald eagle soaring overhead.


4. Mackinac Island Loop: Island Adventure

No road trip list would be complete without mentioning the scenic drive around Mackinac Island. Leave your car behind in Mackinaw City and hop on a ferry to this car-free paradise.

Once on the island, rent a bicycle or take a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride as you explore the eight-mile road that encircles the island. Admire the stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac, pass by historic landmarks, and stop to explore Arch Rock, a natural limestone arch that offers breathtaking vistas of Lake Huron.

Indulge in the island's famous fudge, savor a leisurely picnic by the shoreline, and take in the serene beauty that surrounds you. A road trip around Mackinac Island is a truly unique experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the island's timeless charm.


5. Petoskey: Gem of the North

Less than an hour's drive south of Mackinaw City, you'll find the picturesque town of Petoskey, known for its breathtaking views, charming downtown area, and unique stone hunting.

Start your visit by strolling along the scenic Petoskey Pier, where you can enjoy panoramic vistas of Lake Michigan and search for the city's namesake Petoskey stones along the shoreline. Explore the vibrant downtown area, filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes.

If you're up for an outdoor adventure, head to Petoskey State Park and hike along the trails that wind through lush forests and lead to sandy beaches. The park also offers excellent opportunities for swimming, picnicking, and wildlife spotting.



Mackinaw City, MI, serves as a gateway to unforgettable road trips that lead to hidden gems and scenic routes. Whether you choose to explore the charming coastal town of Charlevoix, drive along the enchanting Tunnel of Trees, immerse yourself in maritime history at Whitefish Point, experience the timeless beauty of Mackinac Island, or discover the gem of Petoskey, each road trip promises unique adventures and memorable experiences. Buckle up, hit the road, and let the stunning landscapes and captivating destinations unfold before you.

About Author

Sarah Johnson

Sarah produces creative and informative content based on her travel experience. She keeps her blogs up-to-date with the latest information. 

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