Part I: Mackinac Island, Michigan – Car-free Dog Paradise at Mission Point

mission point“You can bring your dog in here,” the cashier says to me, after I’ve hooked him to the railing outside Boxwood Café at the Mission Point Resort.

“Ok,” I think, “Mackinac Island, Michigan, is really dog-friendly.” So, Victor gets to come in while I select my box lunch … or in this case, dinner.

In May, Mackinac Island opens for business.

However, we visited last October and arrived via Shepler Ferry just before 4 pm – I missed the 2:30 pm boat by about three minutes which meant my dog Victor and I rode to Mackinac Island from mainland Michigan an hour later. It’s only about a 15-minute journey and all luggage loaded on the ferry goes directly to the hotel. My luggage got on the earlier ferry.

No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island, and it’s been that way since the invention of the automobile in the early 20th century. Horse-draw carriage is the private taxi, public shuttle and method of moving anything from building material to mail. (It’s funny to see Amazon packages stacked on a buggy).

So, this tourism-dependent island (only about 500 people live here year-round), opened May to October, is not car friendly. 

mackinac island 9But dog-friendly? I certainly thought so until I visited a private art gallery listing ‘equine art’ as a focus. “Where you all staying?” he asked.

“Mission Point Resort,” I said.

“I should have known,” he said, “it’s the only one that allows dogs.”

Well, not quite. Mission Point is the only dog-friendly resort on this island – an island with no cars and eighty-percent State Park Land, and a waterfront trail begging for four-footed friends to follow.

Mission Point Resort it is. This 240-room resort was built in 1946 as the “moral re-amendment association,” re-visioning a remote peaceful lifestyle. It was converted to an hotel in the mid-1980s and is currently undergoing a contemporary update.

mission point 4 dogtrotting.netHere are the highlights of Mission Point Resort:

  1. Only The Straits Lodge – 140 rooms beside the main lodge and a short walk outdoors to get there – has dog-friendly rooms. There is a one-time non-refundable $100 fee.
  2. There’s a putting green across from the resort and a waterfront trail where pups can walk about half a mile and an open space full of white Muskoka chairs facing the lake.
  3. With trails handy, morning walks are easy, but The Straits Lodge does have three floors so ask for the bottom floor to avoid the stairs or elevator dash.
  4. Victor walked easily around the property including into the shops and Boxwood Café – outdoor seating at both the Boxwood and Round Island Bar & Grill make eating with the pup possible if weather permits.
  5. Bistro on the Greens is the casual outdoor patio, putting course adjacent, and is open during summer months.
  6. Nick is the resident dog. He’s a part border collie and it’s his job to chase the wild geese off the front lawn. Sometimes he’s hanging out in the lobby and is very sweet and curious about other canines.

With few limitations, Victor went everywhere. He sat at the top level of the ferry with me and, as we walked off toward Main Street, I heard someone yell, “And there’s another dog.” Apparently, we weren’t the only ones.

It’s easy to walk from the ferry to Mission Point. Or take the ‘shuttle’ for $5 which is a horse-drawn trolley that yes, you can put the dog on too. If he takes up a seat, though, he might have to pay a fare.

mission point 3 dogtrotting.netWe walked around town easily, watching only for horse hooves but not cars for Victor to dash in front of. We weaved in and out of stores, getting kicked out of only one. Many people stopped to pet my dog including kids.

Where else did we go? Fort Mackinac and State Park, of course, and took a private carriage ride around the island. Both are up next … stay tuned.

(We were guests of Mission Point Resort in October 2018. All opinions are honest and our own).

michigan travel bookLooking for more travel advice? Check out Moon Guide’s  Moon Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for information about Mackinac Island. ( affiliate link)


  1. […] “I’m an accredited groomer,” Joan says. “I planned to continue my grooming business here, but under-estimated how much work it is to run a campground.”  Particularly, one with 10 rustic cabins with bunk beds, TVs and decks – eight of which are dog friendly and that’s where we’re staying next time we head north of Toronto (or across the border from Mackinac Island, Michigan). […]

  2. […] of the easiest walks south east from Mission Point Resort is following Lake Shore Blvd., along the shoreline to Arch Rock, a naturally occurring rounded […]

  3. […] While staying at the pet-friendly Mission Point Resort, Victor rode on a ferry and horse-drawn carriage in the same weekend – about a month before he’d damage his other UCL rendering his gleeful running days behind him. Check out our dog-friendly Mackinac Island adventures here. […]

  4. […] available at the All-American Pet Resort, Dog Bowl annual festival in Frankenmuthand pet-friendly Mackinac Island, one of our favourite adventures to […]

  5. […] Michigan is becoming one of my favourite shop-with-your-dog locations. Maybe it’s the bi-annual Rochester Writer’s Conference we attend; maybe it’s the number of dog festival like Dog Bowl; maybe it’s the dog-friendly cider mills, or maybe it’s because many destination travel spots are dog-friendly, such as our favourite Mission Inn Resort on Mackinac Island. […]

  6. […] Mackinac Island in Michigan at the dog-friendly Mission Point Resort with of course my dog Victor. (Check out our experience here). Mackinac Island is accessible by ferry only, and cars are not allowed. Horses are the […]

  7. That looks like an awesome place to visit! I love the idea of no card and just buggy’s xx

    1. It’s weird for about 5 seconds – surprising how fast you get used to it.

  8. […] Yes, horse-drawn carriage is the primary method of transportation on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan where cars can’t go but many, many people do, especially in the summer. Many people and their dogs, which is why the carriages are dog-friendly. (Check out Day One adventures here). […]

  9. Wow I have never heard of this island but looks beautiful. Love the no cars and dog friendly.

  10. I would love to visit. I have a friend who used to go with her family regularly. Maybe someday I’ll be able to show in MI and add a vacay on to it.

    1. It’s a little out of the way from anything else in Michigan but worth it – if only to experience no cars

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