Recently our family took a few days and traveled to Northern Michigan. Since we are homeschooling our 4th grader, I was so excited to visit Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City. So, we made a day trip out of it. We were lucky to have beautiful fall weather and got a chance to experience the fort just before they closed for the season. If you are looking for ideas for spring, summer, or fall travel in Michigan, you won’t want to miss this place.
We went on a Friday during the school day which was so perfect. We were one of only a few families there, and so we were able to explore and learn without fighting the crowds. All of the lookouts were empty which gave us as much time as we wanted to check out the views.
Even though I have lived in Michigan my whole life, I had never visited Colonial Michilimackinac. I can’t even believe that is possible, but it is true. As we planned this trip, I knew it was a place I wanted to bring M. I knew it would be historic and exciting, but I had no idea just how much you could discover in this place. A must do for all elementary kids traveling to Northern Michigan. We will undoubtedly bring the twins when they are older too.
What is Colonial Michilimackinac?
It was initially an 18th-century fort and fur trading village. It has been reconstructed based on historical maps and more than 50 years of archaeological excavations. Located on the shore of the Straits of Mackinac, the views are simply stunning. From the fort, you can see the Mackinac Bridge, the straits, and even views of the Upper Peninsula.
What to do there:
Explore! We just walked around and checked out the fort, inside and out. It is self-guided, and you can spend as much time as you want just doing the things that interest you the most. As you walk through the site, you are taking a step back into the mid-1770s during the early years of the American Revolution.
All of the buildings have exhibits or interpreters inside which was so cool to see.
In addition to exploring the fort, there is a beautiful visitor center that offers tons of information on the history of this place. Inside there is a gift shop which sells many unique books and other treasures. There is also a schedule of live programs which change depending on the season and feature demonstrations by historical interpreters. Some of these presentations are cannon and musket firings, cooking, and crafts.
A Fun Place to Learn
The fort is full of workers dressed as French voyageurs, British soldiers, civilian families, French-Canadian merchants and Native Americans. They are stationed at key points throughout the fort and give demonstrations which offer tons of history to learn.
M loved learning from the blacksmith. She thought it was so cool to see how metal heated up and how different colors represented different temperatures.
Good for all ages
One thing I always think about when planning an outing with our family is if it is accessible for the double stroller. If you have big kids and small kids too, this is always a factor to consider. Even though the fort wasn’t paved, we were able to push the stroller through it just fine. Many of the buildings we wouldn’t go in with the stroller, so hubs and I took turns with the babies outside. Luckily we had a beautiful day to explore and the babies loved it too!
A place to Picnic
If you are looking to spend more than a few hours at Fort Michilimackinac, there is a beautiful park just next to the entrance to the visitor center. From here we were able to get even more views of the beautiful Mackinac Bridge.
Have you been to Northern Michigan? What is on your must-see list? We will likely visit this area year after year with our kids. It really is beautiful.
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