Do you know a place where driving your car on the road is illegal? Well now you can say you do because nestled in between Michigan’s peninsulas is a small city called Mackinac Island and it hasn’t seen a car ride through town in over a century.
When cars first came about in the early 19th century not everyone was so ‘gung-ho’ about them. Many locals and townspeople were put off by the noise and exhaust they expelled that they were outlawed in certain areas. This was the case for Mackinac Island. The once serene and peaceful streets were being disrupted with these so called “mechanical monsters”, as one resident was quoted calling them, so the government enacted a law before they had a chance to “take over.”
Through the decades, society and technology has evolved and cars are seen pretty much everywhere you look, but little Ol’ Mackinac Island has remained car-free ever since the Village Council enacted that law in 1898.
The Island is a mere 3.8 square miles in total area and boasts the only car-free highway, the M-185, with killer views of the coastline. It may be small in size- with an 8.3 mile circumference you could probably bike around it in less than an hour – but it’s still quite impressive to see carless roadways actually exist. Much like a page out of early 19th century the only way to get around here is by foot, bicycle, or horse drawn carriage.
Mackinac Island is located in the upper and lower peninsulas of the of state Michigan, surrounded by the beautiful waters of Lake Huron. The Island is not just appreciated for its environmental friendliness but is actually most recognized for its deep roots in American history. Mackinac was once the center of fur trading operations, home to a military outpost during the Revolutionary war, and was the stage for two strategic battles during the war of 1812. In addition, this serene little town has been virtually untouched as far as land development since the 1870′s. The federal government stepped in to ensure its treasures were preserved for prosperity and so far they have done an amazing job at that.
Through the years it has undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration and as you can imagine it is now a major tourist attraction and listed as a National Historic Landmark. It’s home to 500 residents but that number surges to about 15,000 in the summer as tourists flock to the Island for family vacations and events.
There are many great activities and attractions for all ages on Mackinac Island like a butterfly conservatory, horse carriage tours, a haunted theater, and performance arts. You can wake up to the subtle clip clop of horses on the cobblestone, see original 18th century French-Canadian architecture, and breathe in that cool fresh breeze off the beautiful surrounding waters.
The air is crisp and there are few distractions on the Island so it also makes for a romantic getaway for couples. The small Victorian Isle seems to have everything on the checklist for a quiet and beautiful vacation.