Mackinac Island – pronounced Mackinaw – is a small island smack dab in the middle of the upper and lower peninsula of the great state of Michigan. First settled by Native Americans, it was conquered by the British who built a fort and later Americans took it back and settled this historically significant land. Instead of modernizing the buildings and creating a 21st Century island, the few inhabitants decided to stick with a colonial look, passing laws to ensure residents and shop owners adhere to this standard.
As you walk around the main road visiting the local shops, you won’t see any vehicles as they are banned, along with modern architecture. Don’t worry, bicycles are available to rent as well horse drawn carriages which conduct tours of the surprisingly large island. It really only adds to the charm. Well, that and being named the friendliest island in the world by Travel and Leisure back in 2015 – yes, you read that correctly, in the world. And while it might sound like an old folks’ hangout, it’s not. Thousands of singles, families and elders travel to the island each year to soak in the beauty – however, we’re not here for the beauty, we are here for the pub crawl.
Mackinac Island’s bars have become so well known that even the island’s website has a section highlighting a local pub crawl. Perhaps the best way to do it would be to would be to take the route which goes from east to west and includes the following establishments: Round Island Bar at Mission Point, Ice House at Island House, Pink Pony at Chippewa Hotel, Millie’s on Main, Horn’s Gaslight Bar, Huron Street Pub, Mustang Lounge, Yankee Rebel Tavern, Seabiscuit Cafe & Grog, Goodfellow’s at Lake View Hotel, Mary’s Bistro at the Star Line Ferry, Draught House, Village Inn and the Gate House.
One of my favorites is Horn’s Gaslight Bar, which is located on Main Street. Not only do they feature a large beer selection but they also carry several local beers, such as Vera B’s Honey Brown Ale, a 6.3 percent ABV effort featuring nutty undertones made with locally harvested honey, by Les Cheneaux Distillers based out of Cedarville, MI. Also on the menu is Widow Maker Black Ale, a 5.2 percent ABV beer that features a ton of malt and a little molasses, by Keweenaw Brewing Company based out of South Range, MI.
If you are looking for a more established place, Mary’s Draught House is a great place to visit. Their claim to fame is they were the first craft beer bar on the island. This is the place to find that obscure beer you saw that one time at that one convenience store in that one state you were just visiting. You know, the Arcadia Ales’ Cereal Killer Barleywine Ale or the Clown Shoes’ Clementine White Ale, those kinds of slightly more hard to find beers.
Mackinac is a majestic and magical island with a lot of adventures to be had. Visit the island, stop by the cave named Devils Kitchen, go for a bike or carriage ride, and drink some beers. Doesn’t sound like a bad Saturday to me.