Ok admit it when you were little you loved to build forts out of blankets. My sisters and I would take up the entire living room with these forts. Made with various blankets and pillows all tied together with chairs. Good times. So imagine going to an island where there are 2 forts for you to visit- and you don’t have to do any work.
First one is completely present from the time you arrive on the ferry. This is Fort Mackinac. The other one is actually not seen but boasts the highest point on the island- Fort Holmes. While you pay to enter Fort Mackinac, Fort Holmes is free to the public. Here is a little bit about both of them.
Ok so Fort Mackinac is one you definitely want to visit. This iconic fort has reenactments, restaurant, amazing views, cannon firing and much more. We have gone here a couple of times and it is truly a gem. First know that the hours of operation depend on the season. Here they are:
- June 5- Sept 5 9:30-7
- Sept 6- Oct 10 9:30-5
- Oct 11- Oct 24 11-4
Admission rates not only include the fort BUT the Richard & Jane Manoogian Art Museum and the Biddle House (May1- Oct 11)
- Adult 13.50
- Child (age 5-12) 8.00
The fort is located within the boundaries of the Mackinac State Park and overlooks the the city and Harbor of Mackinac Island. There are 2 entrances: the front ramp off Fort Street and at the rear Avenue Of Flags off Huron Rd. Know that these are accessible by walking up a hill or taking a carriage. There is a restaurant called the Tea Room run by the Grand with light snacks, beverages and desserts. There is also a Food cart that serves hot dogs, snacks and soft drinks. http://www.mackinacparks.com
Fort Mackinac has a live demonstration and tours by costumed interpreters . Now when you are walking to the buildings to see inside there are not tour guides for that. You do that on your own. Most demonstrations are done in the middle of the fort. Along with a canon firing. The history behind this fort blows my mind. You hear how this fort was made and think how these people had to survive in sometimes extreme cold or heat. And honestly they didn’t live long. The one thing to know is that other buildings of the fort ticket are located on Market St. It is actually a very interesting part because it talks about the surgeries performed by a Dr Beaumont on a solider who had a hole blown in his stomach and so he used this to help explore the way the digestive system worked. Crazy right? Benjamin Blacksmith Shop is located adjacent the Biddle house (oldest house on the island) and is also part of the ticket.
I loved reading all the history involved in this fort. Seeing the recreations made it so surreal. The buildings themselves really showed how these people had to live in such a unique time on an island. Now there is a reality show!!
Fort Holmes is another story. It is a bit of a trek to get there BUT I like to stop at Sadies Ice Shop ( at the Grand) and treat myself before venturing up the hills to get to the fort. It is worth it truly. You have a view of so much which is why this fort was built. Made to protect Ft Mackinac when the British soldiers occupied it in the war of 1812. There is a spot that you stand at the base of Ft Mackinac and then you see Ft Holmes. If it isn’t pointed out you would never probably notice. It is not like the other fort. It had been reconstructed a few years ago but this was basically a watch point. Not canons or lots of houses. Simple watchtower to protect the main one. Once you are there the size of the Great Lakes really overwhelm you. It makes you realize how small we really are. Now we biked up here and honestly it is a clear way to get there. I have not personally done the hiking trails you can follow to get there. I sadly have bad ankles so I try to stay on paved roads as much as I can. This again is why a map to have on hand is so key. It will help guide you. If you aren’t sure how to get there. Ask. Any local or the tourism bureau will gladly guide you. Take your time. Enjoy the nature and peacefulness all around you. It is intoxicating.
I highly encourage you to visit the forts. Especially Ft Mackinac if you have children. There is a small gift shop there with great memorabilia along with the people sharing old games played and how riffles worked back in the day. It is a good 2-3 hour excursion if you are in no rush and explore it all. And if you are feeling like a hike head up to Ft Holmes. Believe me the view is worth it.
Tune into the podcast as well as I talk about the forts on my favorite island.