This Charming Island In The Midwest Is A Great Spot For One Of A Kind Outdoor Activities

Sitting on Lake Huron in Northern Michigan, Mackinac Island is a popular tourist destination known for its Victorian homes, horse-drawn carriages, and fudge — lots and lots of fudge. Though the island sees most of its visitors from May through September, the autumn season is not to be missed. Away from the summer crowds, tourists can expect a quieter atmosphere along with lower prices and vibrant foliage, adding more beauty to an island already brimming with classic charm.

This time of year, the iconic Grand Hotel hosts myriad events, like wine tour packages, golf weekends, and a murder mystery dinner or two. The most well-known event is the "Somewhere In Time" weekend, a celebration of the 1980 romantic film of the same name. The Grand Hotel is central to the plot and featured throughout the movie, serving as a stunning backdrop for a tale of time travel between two lovers, played by Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. And yes, should you visit, early 20th-century costumes are encouraged.

Explore the island's fall foliage

Mackinac Island (pronounced "mack-in-naw") has been car-free since 1898, says its tourism bureau, offering visitors other memorable ways to enjoy the town and view fall foliage. When kayak and helicopter rides are closed for the season, bike rentals and horseback riding are popular options. For a self-guided tour, rent a bike for $16 an hour from the Mackinac Island Bike Shop. The "attractions tour" will guide you toward local points of interest, like the West Bluff Lookouts, Skull Cave, and Arch Rock. If you have more time to spare, the "M-185 Perimeter Tour" will take you 8 miles around the island with plenty of scenic vistas along the way.

For a slower pace and a classic feel, Cindy's Riding Stable offers horseback riding tours for $60 per hour (though this may vary depending on the season). On a group tour, a guide will take you through the wooded trails of Mackinac Island State Park, which is part of Mackinac State Historic Parks and is home to more than 70 miles of protected wilderness. If you'd rather rent a whole horse and buggy to roam about town in, you can do that, too. Jack's Livery Stable offers packages starting at $100 an hour. You can see why they say "the horse is king" on Mackinac Island.

Visit haunted sites and historic grounds

With Halloween right around the corner, no trip to Mackinac Island would be complete without a view of some its haunted sites. If you're feeling brave, book a Haunts of Mackinac tour for $25, where a guide will take you on a nighttime trek around town for 90 minutes, sharing ghost stories and legends of the historic island. Daytime history is interesting as well with a visit to Fort Mackinac, which is the oldest building in Michigan and has a rich past tied to the U.S. military in the 1800s. If you've ever wanted to fire a cannon, now's your chance. On the theme of history, round out your trip with a visit to the oldest fudge shop on the island, Murdick's Fudge, a beloved staple since 1887.

To get to Mackinac Island, take a ferry from St. Ignace for $31 roundtrip. The Mackinac Island Ferry Company runs throughout the year until the lake freezes over. You can also fly from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island on Fresh Air Aviation for $98 roundtrip. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a warm coat for that cool autumn air, and room in your bag for sweets. You'll need them.