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Michigan

Mackinac Island: The Jewel of Michigan

Program No. 1575RJ
Mackinac Island has been a fur trading post, Revolutionary War site, Victorian resort destination and much more. Join us as we explore the history of this small island with a big story.
Length
6 days
Rating (4.93)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,199

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This departure includes a presentation on the Island's indigenous trees, plants and wildflowers and a walk on paved road to experience the natural beauty up close.

May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This departure includes a presentation on the Island's indigenous trees, plants and wildflowers and a walk on paved road to experience the natural beauty up close.

Jun 4 - Jun 9, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This departure includes a presentation on lilacs, and a walk with a master gardener to coincide with the Island's lilac festival.

Aug 6 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Aug 13 - Aug 18, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Aug 20 - Aug 25, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Aug 27 - Sep 1, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 3 - Sep 8, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
2,399
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This departure includes a presentation on the Island's indigenous trees, plants and wildflowers and a walk on paved road to experience the natural beauty up close.

May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This departure includes a presentation on the Island's indigenous trees, plants and wildflowers and a walk on paved road to experience the natural beauty up close.

Jun 4 - Jun 9, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This departure includes a presentation on lilacs, and a walk with a master gardener to coincide with the Island's lilac festival.

Aug 6 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Aug 13 - Aug 18, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Aug 20 - Aug 25, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Aug 27 - Sep 1, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 3 - Sep 8, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
2,749
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
2,549
Itinerary Note

This date includes lectures on indigenous birds on Mackinac Island with a walk to discover their habitats and nesting areas.

At a Glance

Explore the treasures of Mackinac Island as you delve into the island's glorious history, geology, natural beauty, architecture and modern life. Discover old-world traditions as you learn about the island's early economic and military importance as well as its development as a Victorian resort. Customs and cultures will come alive through lectures and field trips with local residents and area experts. A field trip to Fort Mackinac and a carriage ride around the island will enhance your visit.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking 1–2 miles per day. Paved and unpaved roads, some hilly terrain, stairs.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Learn during a carriage ride about the value of the horses.
  • Explore the island's beautiful natural spaces up close on a walk with a naturalist.
  • Find out why Mackinac’s Victorian homes are an important part of island history on a field trip with the Deputy Director of Mackinac State Historic Parks.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. Transportation by foot, horse-drawn carriage, bike.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Katie Mallory
Katie Mallory worked for Mackinac State Historic Parks for 26 seasons. She started as a Historic House Interpreter in college and worked her way through to a full-time position as Museum Educator and Curator of Education. Katie oversaw programming at Fort Mackinac, Historic Downtown Buildings, Mackinac Art Museum, and the Mackinac Island Scout Service Camp. She has a degree in Secondary Education in History and Social Sciences and taught in Spring Lake and Detroit. Katie loves travel and believes it’s the best form of education.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Jeff Dykehouse
Jeff Dykehouse View biography
Jeff Dykehouse has worked for the Mackinac State Historic Parks (MSHP) since 1983 and is the Curator of Natural History for the MSHP. Trained as a biologist, he has worked as an interpretive naturalist, environmental educator, research biologist, and audiovisual specialist for a number of Michigan’s State and National Parks. Jeff has been a “birder” all his life and has had a master Federal Bird Banding permit for over 30 years. Jeff lives on the shore of Lake Huron near Cheboygan with his wife Laurie (a middle school science teacher) and their three children.
Profile Image of Tom Miles
Tom grew up in Lewistown, Illinois, and is a former faculty member at Central Michigan University (CMU). Tom taught mathematics at CMU, served in administrative positions, and advised actuarial students until his retirement in 2007. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State University, where he also taught for two years, and earned a PhD from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Tom lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, except for the winters when he often migrates to Orange Beach, Alabama.
Profile Image of Moira Croghan
Moira Croghan View biography
Moira Croghan started coming to Mackinac Island in the summers with her family when she was eight weeks old and has returned every year since. In 2011, she moved to Mackinac Island. Moira has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and biology and earned a master’s from the University Of Michigan School Of Natural Resources. For three decades, Moira oversaw the Commonwealth of Virginia’s water pollution control and land use management programs, conducting strategies to improve water quality through education, regularity programs, permits, and enforcement.
Profile Image of Carl Hites
Carl Hites View biography
Dr. Carl “Shaker” Hites was born in northeast Ohio. His family has been in the logging-hardwood lumber industry for three generations. His father logged with horses first in Ohio, then Indiana. Upon receiving his DVM from Purdue University, Dr. Shaker started a practice in rural northwest Indiana, later focusing on equine work and small animals. Dr. Shaker, his wife Lisa, and their daughters have been lifelong horse owners and enthusiasts. After “retirement,” an offer to provide veterinary care on Mackinac Island was a perfect match.
Profile Image of Katie Mallory
Katie Mallory View biography
Katie Mallory worked for Mackinac State Historic Parks for 26 seasons. She started as a Historic House Interpreter in college and worked her way through to a full-time position as Museum Educator and Curator of Education. Katie oversaw programming at Fort Mackinac, Historic Downtown Buildings, Mackinac Art Museum, and the Mackinac Island Scout Service Camp. She has a degree in Secondary Education in History and Social Sciences and taught in Spring Lake and Detroit. Katie loves travel and believes it’s the best form of education.
Profile Image of Alyssa Connolly
Alyssa Connolly View biography
Dr. Alyssa Connolly graduated from Michigan State University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. She started a mobile veterinary practice in 2004 and is now a veterinarian in Pinckney, Michigan, primarily treating equine patients as well as mixed farm animals and companion animals. Dr. Connolly grew up in Howell, Michigan, gaining experience with horses from childhood. She got her first pony at age six and started to show in 4-H not long after.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Fudge: Mackinac's Sweet Souvenir
by Phil Porter
Mackinac Island and fudge. Both symbolize indulgence, fantasy and escape. But there's more to fudge than sugar, butter, chocolate and cream. In this book, historian Phil Porter stirs up the past to find the hard work and sometimes bitter controversy behind this sweet souvenir. In his hunger for truth and historical accuracy, Porter dug deep into the kitchens and cupboards of the fudge culture. No appetite for history, no taste for sweet truth will be satisfied without reading Fudge: Mackinac's Sweet Souvenir.
Mackinac Island Adventures
by Lynda Hepker and Steven Hepker
An introduction to island culture and adventures on beautiful Mackinac Island. Written by year round residents of the island, this booklet offers information that you should know before traveling to Mackinac Island. Plus, a little history, some fun facts, things to see and do off the beaten path, and a little humor about how residents live on the island through the fours seasons of Michigan.
Mackinac Island: Three Hundred and Fifty Years of History
by Robert E. Benjamin
This guide to the history of Mackinac Island will increase any visitor's enjoyment of this beautiful and historic island. This chronological account of the significant events in the island's history is illustrated by fascinating photos both current and historical.
The Legend of Mackinac Island
by Kathy-jo Wargin
Beautifully illustrated story incorporating Indian legends of Mackinac Island. Retells the story of the great turtle Makinauk that enlists the aid of other animals to help create the special place known as Mackinac Island, and their discovery of new lands and long-lasting friendship. llustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen.
Mackinac Island (Images of America Series)
by Tom North
From historical richness to unparalleled natural beauty, Michigan's Mackinac Island is the crown jewel of the Great Lakes, unique in America. Native American visitors preceded French explorers and missionaries of the 17th century. Forts were established and battles fought between American and British soldiers. Commerce, including fur trading and fishing, later surpassed military importance, in turn yielding to the tourism industry that has dominated the past 150 years. Accessible by water, "ice bridge," or air, Mackinac Island encompasses a state park, harbor, city, and Victorian hotels and homes. A permanent automobile ban helps preserve the island's historic character, leaving land movement to foot, bicycle, and horse-drawn carriage. This book uses historical photographs to depict Mackinac Island heritage and culture. Rare images capture bygone days and lifestyles on this island where 19th century charm surprises and intrigues even today.
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Mackinac Island
D
Harbour View Inn

Afternoon: Program registration and hotel check-in. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the meeting room to register with the program and get your welcome packet containing an up-to-date schedule that reflects any last minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: 6:00 p.m. in the hotel dining room.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Mackinac Field Trip by Carriage, Fort Mackinac
Mackinac Island
B,L,D
Harbour View Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of horse-drawn carriages. Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; paved and gravel roads and sidewalks.

Breakfast: Breakfast on-site.

Morning: We will get into horse-drawn carriages at the hotel for a narrated field trip, riding through downtown Mackinac and into the state park. After concerns about the disappearance of America's natural treasures took hold in the early 1870s, Congress designated Yellowstone as America's first national park. Portions of federal land on Mackinac Island received similar protection in 1875. Today, there are no automobiles on the island. Visitors and residents alike walk, ride bicycles, or take horse-drawn carriage rides. Arriving at historic Fort Mackinac, we'll descend from the carriages where Fort staff will greet us and provide a brief introduction before our self-directed exploration. Though it was founded by the British during the American Revolutionary War, American forces captured Fort Michilimackinac in 1796. The British re-took in during the War of 1812 and it was returned to the U.S. after the war. After the field trip, we'll walk from Fort Mackinac back to the hotel (about 1/2 mile).

Lunch: Lunch on-site.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for an expert presentation on the geological history of Mackinac Island and the Great Lakes region, which includes the island’s role in the fur trade. We’ll then set out on a walking field trip to see evidence of what we’ve learned, walk about one mile on paved and gravel roads and sidewalks.

Dinner: Dinner on-site.

Evening: Learn about the daily challenges, unique dilemmas, and unexpected pleasures residents face living on Mackinac Island.

DAY
3
History of Island, Grand Hotel Afternoon, Island Horses
Mackinac Island
B,L,D
Harbour View Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of horse-drawn carriages. Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; paved and gravel roads and sidewalks.

Breakfast: Breakfast on-site.

Morning: With a local expert from the Mackinac Island State Park, we'll learn about the unusual combination of Mackinac Island history - Native, French, English, American - and how each culture played a role in the island's development. We'll examine the island's role in past wars, as a home for early fur traders, explorers, mapmakers, and its development as a popular travel destination.

Lunch: Lunch on-site

Afternoon: Horse-drawn taxis will pick us up at the hotel at 2:00 p.m. for our ride to the Grand Hotel. We will have some time to experience this truly grand summer retreat independently until Afternoon Tea at 3:30 p.m. The historic Grand Hotel opened in 1887. Today, it represents traditions of hospitality and charm that have endured for more than a century. In addition to tea, choices include sherry, champagne, finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones, and pastries, all accompanied by live music. We will have tickets for a return ride back to the hotel. Those who would prefer to walk are welcome to do so.

Dinner: Dinner on-site.

Evening: Learn about one of Mackinac Island’s most important resources – the horses. Discuss their many roles, their care, and why they are so essential to island life today.

DAY
4
Island Birding, Island Flora & Natural Beauty
Mackinac Island
B,L,D
Harbour View Inn

Activity note: Walking about 3 to 4 miles throughout the day; paved and gravel roads and sidewalks.

Breakfast: Breakfast on-site.

Morning: We’ll be joined by an experienced birder to learn about indigenous birds on Mackinac Island. We’ll then go on a walking field trip to examine bird habitats and nesting areas (about 1 mile on paved and gravel roads and sidewalk) before returning to the hotel.

Lunch: Lunch on-site.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll attend a presentation on the island’s trees, plants, and flowers indigenous to Michigan. Scientists have been studying the island’s plant life since English botanist Thomas Nuttall’s explorations in 1810. We’ll then set out on a field trip to experience the island’s natural beauty up close, along with a stop at Fort Holmes at the top of the island. We’ll return to the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner. Carriage taxis from the hotel to the bottom of Fort Holmes. Up to 1.5 hour leisurely walk back with instructor on paved roads, some uphill and downhill, and approximately 150 stairs to walk down with standing platforms during each set of stairs.

Dinner: Dinner on-site.

Evening: Find out more about the island’s birds and raptors. Learn about behavior and flying patterns.

DAY
5
Victorian Architecture, Free Time
Mackinac Island
B,L,D
Harbour View Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile; paved road, approximately 75-80 stairs to climb behind hotel.

Breakfast: Breakfast on-site.

Morning: During an expert-led presentation, we’ll learn why the Victorian homes on Mackinac Island are an important part of the island’s history and their status today as renowned works of art. We’ll then revel in their beauty and design on a walking field trip with the Chief Curator of Mackinac State Historic Parks.

Lunch: Lunch on-site.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: Program wrap up. We’ll reflect on the program and our favorite experiences. We’ll also review the check-out process with a reminder about the ferry schedule. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Mackinac Island
B,L

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Breakfast on-site.

Morning: For our final presentation, we’ll learn about traditional foods of northern Michigan, including their historical and cultural influences.

Lunch: We’ll have box lunches to have on site or take with us. This concludes our program.

Afternoon: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.