Mackinac Island was named the best island in the US by Travel + Leisure

Last year’s winner: Hilton Head, South Carolina.

This year’s winner: Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Travel + Leisure magazine on Tuesday named the national landmark seen on Lake Huron as the Best Island in the Continental US at the 2022 World’s Best awards.

Guests use bicycles and horses and carriages, no cars. Activities range from running on the perimeter of the island to swimming in clear water.

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island on July 21, 2021.

Sitting on the hotel porch with a cocktail or sampling homemade fudge is known to create memories that will last forever. Small bands lead the dancing in the evening, and the scents of flowers fill the air.

“I’ll be honest, I’m glad,” Mayor Margaret Doud told the Free Press. “Everybody works hard to keep Mackinac pristine. It shows that if we work together on the island, as a team, we’re rewarded. I’m so grateful that we achieved this award.”

The unique ambiance of the historic site dates back to old Hollywood, including the Esther Williams films, as well as the classic “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

Murdicks Fudge, one of their fudge shops on Main Street in downtown Mackinac Island, Michigan on July 1, 2020.

Protecting history and ambiance is important, Doud said, adding: “We need to remember that.”

Tradition, solitude

The small island, which can only be reached by ferry, measures less than 5 square miles. It banned vehicles in 1895, becoming the exclusive horse -drawn community. Today more than 500 draft horses work on the island during the peak season. Tourists from all over the world visit from April to November.

The horses are relaxing on pasture near Pickford on the Upper Peninsula on Sunday, April 3, 2022. The horses are part of the herd owned by Mackinac Island Carriage Tours and will begin their summer of working on the island.  These draft horses pull carriages and circulate cargo around the island.

Even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, island owners and restaurant operators changed how they provided service. More visitors came from the Midwest, many had never been to the island. Businesses on the island said 2021 was “completely mad” and set revenue records.

And this latest recognition is, well, a good thing for a place without a Marriott or Hilton or Ritz Carlton. It’s a place where a longtime customer buys a hotel and a billionaire buys a ferry service just to keep the original family owners on their team and continue the tradition.

“When we get an award like this, it’s great affirmation that our privately owned hotels and small businesses are doing the right things. That’s hard in America today,” Tim Hygh said. executive director of the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, in the Free Press.

Not Hawaii or Florida

Previously, Mackinac Island was mentioned by TripAdvisor and Conde Nast Traveler.

Other favorite islands include Nantucket, Massachusetts; Puerto Rico; Whidbey Island, Washington; Kauai, Hawaii; Dauphin Island, Alabama; Mount Desert Island, Maine, and the Florida Keys.

The Greens of Mackinac Putting Course at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island.

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This is the first season without island legend Victor Callewaert, owner of Ryba’s Fudge Shop. Her son Todd continues the family heritage on the island.

“We’re working hard,” Todd Callewaert told the Free Press. “We’re humbled by the award. I think it’ll help us a lot in the fall.”

Cadotte Avenue on Mackinac Island on July 21, 2021.

Travel + Leisure magazine’s awards were determined by a survey of its 9 million readers. The full list of winners of the 2022 World’s Best Awards can be found in the August 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure, as well as online at


Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, a division of Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the latest Travel + Leisure recognition will spread the word to people looking for a simple and good break in these times of stress.

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island, Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

Hiking and mini golf and the ability to eat out with a view are key.

“There are some people from all over the world who are starting to recognize Mackinac Island as this really cool vacation,” he told the Free Press. “But not enough, frankly. We need to get the word out.”

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