St. Ignace & the Straits of Mackinac
Published: Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Fall is an ideal time to discover the colors of St. Ignace. Located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at the northern approach to the mighty Mackinac Bridge, this charming community and the craggy shoreline is transformed by glorious, vibrant autumn foliage. St. Ignace has flourished on the Straits of Mackinac's rugged coast between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan for 350 years, a testament to its longstanding strength and resiliency.
ST. IGNACE MARINA – Your Home Port
Constructed in 2003, the St. Ignace Marina is a 136-slip state-of-the-art facility that can accommodate yachts up to 150 feet in length. The Marina is located in downtown St. Ignace, steps from shopping, restaurants, accommodations, boat supplies and groceries. Marina facilities include restrooms, showers, WIFI, laundry and electrical hookups. Fuel is available dockside. Just a reminder that the Marina is a seasonal operation, open between May and mid-October.
ST. IGNACE LODGINGS – Great Value, Great Choice
Whether awakening in the morning to a beautiful sunrise over Lake Huron or drifting off to sleep at night lulled by the sounds of lapping waves and the sight of a spectacular sunset over Lake Michigan, the perfect accommodation awaits.
St. Ignace offers visitors more than 1450 rooms designed to meet all needs and budgets. Accommodations include hotels and motels, a bed and breakfast, and campgrounds. Many of the hotels and motels offer both a waterfront view and a bridge view within walking distance of the Marina. In keeping with St. Ignace's welcoming ambiance, many of the facilities are pet friendly.
Sample Our Upper Peninsula Cuisine
St. Ignace has something to satisfy every culinary taste. Most restaurants offer outdoor patio dining overlooking spectacular Lake Huron with its steady stream of vessel traffic. Be sure to sample the regional cuisine available at many of the local eateries. Traditional pasties, catch of the day including salmon and whitefish, and pies and desserts made from fresh local berries, will satisfy even the most discriminating palate.
Plan Your True North Getaway Today
Outdoor adventures are in abundance. The history of the Straits of Mackinac and the area's plentiful fishing resources are tightly interwoven. Historically, available stocks of fish provided Indigenous residents with a stable food supply. Today, commercial and sport fishing in the Straits offers exceptional migratory salmon and steelhead opportunities as well as smallmouth bass, pike, muskellunge, and whitefish. Fishing season is any season in St. Ignace.
St. Ignace boasts several safe and accessible beaches right in the heart of the city. Kiwanis Beach is located on the site of the original native settlement on Moran Bay. Visitors can enjoy a sand beach, a picnic area, and a pavilion that overlooks the harbor and Mackinac Island. American Legion Memorial Park offers a beach area, picnic area, pavilion, grills, and restrooms. This park is considered a great place to snorkel and shallow water dive as well as an ideal spot to launch a kayak or canoe. Mackinac Bridge and Bridgeview Park don't have a beach, but it does have a picnic pavilion that offers a breathtaking view of the Mackinac Bridge. There is also an observation center that contains displays that tell the history of the Bridge.
St. Ignace has miles of shoreline with smooth waters, island channels, inlets, rivers and creeks. The bird sanctuary just west of the Mackinac Bridge is a spectacular place to glide along while enjoying a panoramic view of the sky, the water and the wildlife.
The Straits of Mackinac is one of the Great Lakes' premier spots to explore shipwrecks ranging from wooden schooners to a steel freighter. Some businesses provide guided tours of the wrecks.
Our Unique History
If your taste runs to indoor activities, St. Ignace has plenty to occupy your time. In keeping with the community's rich history as the third oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, St. Ignace both honors and celebrates its heritage. History buffs can visit the many museums and historical sites to learn more about the area's diverse historical legacy.
The Museum of Ojibwa Culture and the adjacent Father Marquette Mission depict the Ojibwa, Huron, Wyandotte, and Odawa Indians' culture and lifestyle. They had resided in the area from time immemorial and addressed the subsequent issues evolving from contact. Fort de Buade Museum features an extensive collection of Aboriginal pre-contact era artifacts and relics of the French, British, and early Colonial America eras.
Visit World-Famous Mackinac Island
Using St. Ignace as your home port, plan to stay an extra day and take in the sights and sounds of Mackinac Island, Michigan’s first state park. Motor vehicles have been restricted on the Island since the end of the 19th century, but visitors can enjoy the Island's beauty on bicycle or horseback. Horse-drawn carriage tours are also available.
As you step off one of the ferries servicing Mackinac Island, you'll step back in time to the streets of an enchanting Victorian village. The bustling thoroughfares are lined with all manner of businesses, including fudge shops and restaurants. Take in the historical and cultural sites that make the Island so delightfully unique.
Before returning to the ferry dock for the return trip to St. Ignace, be sure to visit the Grand Hotel where filming of the movie “Somewhere in Time” took place. Then stock up on famous Mackinac Island fudge.
Celebrate Our Anniversary
Once you've enjoyed your fall getaway in St. Ignace, we know that our friendly small-town allure will again draw you back. Consider this is your invitation to return in 2021 to celebrate our 350th anniversary and enjoy our usual full slate of events and activities. Visit www.stignace.com to plan your trip today!
This article first appeared in the Fall Issue (Sep/Oct) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.