Nestled in Michigan’s Great Lakes Region is a one-of-a-kind destination you might think you could never explore with your dog. Truth be told, Mackinac Island is one of the most dog-friendly places on earth. In fact, the locals are so pet friendly, they want to make sure your dog loves Mackinac Island as much as they love having your dog come and visit. As you’ll discover, there are no cars on the Island. The only modes of transportation are horses, bikes and your feet. Dogs shouldn’t get up close and personal with the horses as both could get frightened, and the main street in town gets pretty crowded, so dogs that get anxious will enjoy the many secluded woodland trails, but downtown, not so much.
With that in mind, let the adventure begin! As we said, other than the Fire Department, Pet friendly Mackinac Island, Michigan, has no cars, and it’s been this way for over a century. The only way to the island is by boat or plane, and luckily, the Pet Friendly Ferry departs from two mainland destinations every 30 minutes.
The Ferry has a closed lower deck and open-air upper deck. Pets and their people are asked to stay on the lower deck for your dog’s safety. On board the shuttle we met Millie, a favorite local Lab who’s been to Mackinac Island many times before and wanted to introduce us to the most famous face at Mission Point, Nick the Dog at the Mission Pointe Resort. But first, we had to get there.
Once on the Island, it’s obvious one the most popular forms of transportation are horse drawn shuttles that take visitors and their dogs to and from their hotels or Bed’ n Breakfasts. Like many draft horses on Mackinac Island, these are Percherons, the largest breed of horses that are used in pairs or threesomes with a limited number of passengers. Yes, dogs of all sizes and breeds are allowed on the shuttles.
The Mission Point Resort is a focal point on the Island for pet parents. This resort is the most pet friendly, offering pet friendly grounds, accommodations, in-room amenities and not one, but two pet friendly restaurants with pet friendly patio dining. Millie introduced us to Nick the Dog and his pet parent, Pat. Always friendly and loving, Nick is the official four-footed greeter at this family friendly hotel. Aside from welcoming guests, Nick’s job is to chase geese off the resort’s extensive main lawn so guests can stroll the grounds without an unwelcome surprise.
As a beloved furry member of the resort, Nick has become an integral part of the Mission Point’s Brand. You’ll find Nick’s image on pillows in guestrooms and in the gift shop on shirts for children and adults, pennants, and he has his own line of collars, leashes, bowls and treats. Nick took time out from his duties to show us the resort’s pet friendly guest rooms including their Pooch at the Point Package with special pet amenities. And every dog gets an ample size pet bed. But duty calls, and Nick was back on the Clock hard at work chasing off geese and greeting people and other dogs at check-in. Millie decided it was time to eat and led the way to a glorious dining experience on the patio at the Round Island Kitchen featuring a Michigan twist on comfort foods.
There are many amazing adventures on Mackinac Island, but nothing is more popular than checking out the shops in town, including many that are pet friendly. They’re well labeled with a sticker that says “Pets Are Welcome” near the front door. Pet friendly locations include several pet friendly restaurants like Smokey Jose’s with a great view of the harbor. Downtown is where you board the horse drawn carriage for a guided tour of the Island. It’s an amazing adventure with a three – horse carriage and a knowledgeable guide sharing the history of the island as you and your pet sit back and take in the perfect mixture of American history and beautiful natural landscapes overlooking Lake Huron.
Did you know that almost 80% of the Island is designated Mackinac Island State Park? That’s a lot of unspoiled wilderness for you and your pet to hike or bike in. You’ll see some of it on the Island Guided Tour. Here’s something else you might not know. At the highest point in the State Park you’ll find historic Fort Mackinac. Now a fascinating educational attraction for kids as well as adults, Fort Mackinac offers demonstrations and tours by costumed interpreters scheduled throughout the day as well as a full history of Mackinac Island. And, Fort Mackinac is 100% pet friendly. No more leaving your furry family outside while you enter a building. All historic buildings are open to leashed, well behaved pets and their people to see how soldiers and their families lived at the Fort beginning in 1780. Fort Mackinac also has a pet friendly restaurant, The Tea Room, featuring a pet friendly patio with breathtaking views of the Island.
To find out more about pet friendly Mackinac Island check out mackinacisland.org