Mackinac Island vs Door County

Are you trying to decide between Mackinac Island and Door County for your next vacation? These two popular vacation destinations in the Upper Midwest and on the Great Lakes both offer stunning natural beauty, unique lodging options, and cultural attractions. However, they also have their own distinct attractions and experiences to offer. In this article, we will compare and contrast Mackinac Island vs Door County across several categories, including location, attractions, dining, and more, to help you make an informed decision for your next trip.

Mackinac Island is just one location that many people compare to Door County. If you want to learn about others, check out our post on places like Door County for more information.

Comparison shot of Mackinac Island and Door County. Superimposed text says "Mackinac Island vs Door County."

Overview: Mackinac Island vs Door County

In this article, we compared two popular vacation destinations in the Upper Midwest and on the Great Lakes: Mackinac Island and Door County. While both destinations offer scenic natural beauty, unique lodging options, and cultural attractions, there are also notable differences between the two. Mackinac Island is a small, car-free island with a focus on historic sites and carriage rides, while Door County is a larger peninsula with a wider range of attractions, including state parks, beaches, and lighthouses. Door County is also known for its fish boils, fish fries, and supper clubs, while Mackinac Island is famous for its fudge shops and grand historic hotels. Ultimately, the choice between these two destinations will depend on the traveler’s preferences for scenery, activities, and dining.

Mackinac Island vs Door County Comparison Table

Mackinac IslandDoor County
LocationNorthwest MichiganNortheast Wisconsin
Nearest Major Metro AreaDetroit, MIMilwaukee, WI
Body of WaterLake HuronLake Michigan
Presence of LighthousesYesYes
BeachesYesYes
Drive Time from Milwaukee7 hours2.5 hours
Drive Time from Detroit5 .5 hours9 hours
Drive time from Chicago6.5 hours4 hours
Drive Time from Twin Cities8.5 hours6 hours
Mackinac Island vs Door County

Similarities Between Mackinac Island and Door County

Despite their differences, Door County and Mackinac Island share several similarities that make them both attractive vacation destinations. Here are some of the similarities between the two:

  • Both are located in the Upper Midwest region of the United States.
  • Both are located on the Great Lakes, with Mackinac Island situated on Lake Huron and Door County on Lake Michigan.
  • Both are popular vacation destinations for travelers seeking natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Both offer a range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages, including beaches, state parks, museums, and historic sites.
  • Both are known for their scenic drives and picturesque towns, with charming boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries.
  • Both have a strong connection to their maritime history and culture, with lighthouses and maritime museums that celebrate the area’s seafaring past.
  • Both offer unique lodging options, from cozy bed and breakfasts to grand historic hotels.
  • Both have distinct seasonal attractions, with Door County known for its cherry blossoms in the spring and fall colors in the autumn, and Mackinac Island famous for its lilacs in the spring and fudge shops that are open year-round.

Overall, despite their differences in size, geography, and attractions, Door County and Mackinac Island share many similarities that make them both beloved vacation destinations in the Upper Midwest.

Differences Between Mackinac Island and Door County

While Mackinac Island and Door County share some similarities, there are also several differences between the two destinations. Here are some of the main differences:

  • Geography: Mackinac Island is a single island located in Lake Huron, while Door County is a peninsula and archipelago located in Lake Michigan.
  • Size: Door County is much larger than Mackinac Island, with a land area of approximately 482 square miles compared to Mackinac Island’s 3.8 square miles.
  • Accessibility: While Door County is connected to the mainland by a bridge, Mackinac Island can only be reached by ferry or small plane, which adds to its charm but also limits accessibility for some visitors.
  • Transportation: Cars are not allowed on Mackinac Island, and visitors must travel by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage, while Door County is more car-friendly and has a network of roads that allow visitors to explore the area by car.
  • Attractions: While both destinations offer natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, Door County has a wider range of attractions, including several state parks, beaches, and lighthouses, while Mackinac Island’s main attractions are its historic sites, museums, and carriage rides.
  • Lodging: While both destinations offer a range of lodging options, Mackinac Island is known for its grand historic hotels, such as the Grand Hotel, while Door County has a larger variety of options, including campgrounds, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts.
  • Dining: While both destinations offer a variety of dining options, Door County is known for its fish boils, fish fries, and supper clubs, while Mackinac Island is known for its fudge shops and historic restaurants.
  • Arts and Culture: While both destinations offer opportunities to explore the area’s history and culture, Door County has a more vibrant arts scene, with several galleries, art museums, and live performance venues, while Mackinac Island’s cultural attractions focus more on its historic sites and museums.

Overall, while Mackinac Island and Door County share some similarities, they also have distinct differences that make each destination unique and appealing in its own way.

Geographical Features, Natural Beauty, and Scenery

Mackinac Island and Door County are two popular tourist destinations known for their natural beauty and breathtaking scenery. One of the most significant differences between the two is their geographical features. While Mackinac Island is a single island, Door County consists of a peninsula and several islands, including one inhabited island, Washington Island.

Mackinac Island is located in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island is only 3.8 square miles in size, but it’s packed with natural beauty and stunning scenery. The island is famous for its limestone bluffs, crystal-clear waters, and lush forests that are home to a variety of wildlife. The island’s unique features, including its lack of motor vehicles, make it a tranquil and peaceful retreat for nature lovers.

On the other hand, Door County, located in Wisconsin, offers a unique combination of natural beauty and man-made attractions. The county’s peninsula is 70 miles long and has 300 miles of shoreline. Door County is home to several state parks, including Peninsula State Park, which is known for its stunning views of Lake Michigan, towering cliffs, and dense forests. The county’s several islands, including Washington Island, offer additional opportunities to explore and appreciate nature.

In conclusion, both Mackinac Island and Door County are known for their natural beauty and stunning scenery, but they differ in their geographical features. While Mackinac Island is a single island, Door County consists of a peninsula and several islands, including one inhabited island, Washington Island. Both destinations offer an opportunity to escape into nature, appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, and explore unique landscapes that are not found anywhere else.

Attractions and Things To Do

Door County and Mackinac Island are two popular tourist destinations that offer a wide variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. While Door County is known for its diverse offerings due to its larger size, Mackinac Island offers a unique and historic charm that is hard to find anywhere else.

Door County has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Great Lakes region. Visitors can bask in the sun, swim in the clear blue waters of Lake Michigan, or have a picnic while enjoying the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Nicolet Beach and Whitefish Dunes State Park are just a few of the beaches that are worth visiting.

In addition to its beaches, Door County is home to several state parks, including Peninsula State Park, which covers over 3,700 acres and offers miles of hiking and biking trails. The park also has campsites, scenic overlooks, and is known for its iconic tower, which provides stunning views of the area. Newport State Park is another beautiful park that is worth exploring, with its over 2,300 acres of wilderness, sandy beaches, and forests that are home to various wildlife.

One of the most notable features of Door County is its lighthouses. The county has 11 historic lighthouses, each with a unique history and architectural style. Cana Island Lighthouse, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, and Pottawatomie Lighthouse are just a few of the lighthouses that are open to visitors, allowing them to learn about the area’s maritime history and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding waters.

Mackinac Island is a unique destination that offers a glimpse into the past. Visitors can take a step back in time and explore the island’s historic charm, with its beautiful Victorian-style buildings and horse-drawn carriages. Carriage rides are a popular way to explore the island, with several tour operators offering scenic rides that take visitors through the island’s beautiful landscape.

Fort Mackinac is another popular attraction on the island. The fort was built in 1780 by the British during the American Revolution and has since played an essential role in the area’s history. Visitors can explore the fort’s various exhibits, watch demonstrations of military drills and musket firing, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding waters.

The Grand Hotel is another iconic landmark on Mackinac Island. The hotel, built-in 1887, has hosted numerous notable figures, including five U.S. presidents. The hotel’s beautiful architecture, manicured gardens, and stunning views of Lake Huron make it a must-visit destination on the island.

In conclusion, Door County and Mackinac Island are two destinations that offer a unique blend of natural beauty, historic charm, and a wide range of attractions and activities. While Door County boasts its beautiful beaches, state parks, and lighthouses, Mackinac Island offers visitors a glimpse into the past with its historic charm, horse-drawn carriages, Fort Mackinac, and the Grand Hotel. Whether visitors choose Door County or Mackinac Island, they are sure to have a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Lodging

When it comes to lodging, both Door County and Mackinac Island offer a variety of options that cater to different tastes and budgets. However, there are some notable differences between the two destinations.

In Door County, visitors can choose from a wide range of lodging options, including hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and vacation rentals. Whether visitors are looking for a luxurious stay or a budget-friendly option, there is something for everyone. Many of the lodging options in Door County are located near the area’s attractions and offer easy access to beaches, state parks, and other outdoor activities.

Mackinac Island, on the other hand, is known for its historic and luxurious accommodations, including the iconic Grand Hotel. The island has a limited number of lodging options, with most of them being historic hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. Visitors who choose to stay on the island can expect a unique and unforgettable experience, with accommodations that often feature historic architecture, Victorian-style decor, and modern amenities.

One significant difference between the lodging options in Door County and Mackinac Island is the availability of modern amenities. While many of the accommodations in Door County offer modern amenities such as Wi-Fi, cable TV, and air conditioning, some of the lodging options on Mackinac Island may have limited or no access to these amenities due to the island’s historic preservation efforts. Visitors who choose to stay on the island should be prepared for a more rustic and historic experience.

Another difference between the two destinations is the cost of lodging. While both Door County and Mackinac Island offer accommodations at different price points, Mackinac Island’s lodging options tend to be more expensive due to their historic and luxurious nature. Visitors who are looking for a budget-friendly option may find more choices in Door County.

In conclusion, both Door County and Mackinac Island offer a variety of lodging options that cater to different preferences and budgets. Door County’s accommodations are more diverse, ranging from budget-friendly motels to luxurious resorts, while Mackinac Island is known for its historic and luxurious hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. Visitors should consider their preferences and budget when choosing a place to stay and should be prepared for different experiences depending on their choice of destination.

Dining

When it comes to dining, both Door County and Mackinac Island have unique culinary offerings that visitors should not miss. Door County is known for its seafood, particularly its fish boils, fish fries, and supper clubs.

Fish boils are a Door County tradition and a must-try for visitors to the area. This unique dining experience involves cooking large quantities of fresh fish, potatoes, and onions in a large pot over an open fire. The fish boil is typically served with coleslaw, bread, and butter. Several restaurants in the area offer fish boils, including the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek and the Old Post Office Restaurant in Ephraim.

In addition to fish boils, Door County is also known for its fish fries, which typically feature fried perch or walleye served with fries and coleslaw. Several restaurants in the area offer fish fries, including the Shoreline in Ellison Bay and the Sister Bay Bowl in Sister Bay.

Another unique dining experience in Door County is the supper club. Supper clubs are typically family-owned restaurants that offer a classic Wisconsin dining experience, featuring hearty comfort food, cocktails, and a cozy atmosphere. Some popular supper clubs in the area include the English Inn in Fish Creek and the Greenwood Supper Club in Fish Creek.

Mackinac Island also offers a variety of dining options, including fine dining restaurants, casual cafes, and local pubs. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients, and a variety of cuisine types. The island is also known for its famous fudge shops, which offer a wide range of delicious homemade fudge flavors.

In conclusion, both Door County and Mackinac Island offer unique culinary experiences that are worth exploring. Door County’s seafood offerings, including its fish boils, fish fries, and supper clubs, are must-tries for visitors to the area. Mackinac Island offers a variety of dining options, including fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients, as well as its famous fudge shops. Whether visitors are looking for a casual dining experience or a more formal one, both destinations offer a variety of options to suit different tastes and budgets.

Arts and Culture

Both Door County and Mackinac Island offer visitors a variety of arts and cultural experiences, showcasing the history and creativity of their respective regions.

In Door County, visitors can explore several art galleries and museums that feature the work of local artists and craftsmen. The Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek offers art classes and workshops for visitors of all skill levels, and the Hardy Gallery in Ephraim showcases the work of local artists and hosts art exhibitions and events. The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay is also worth a visit, with exhibits that explore the history and culture of the area’s maritime industries.

Door County is also home to several live performance venues, including the Peninsula Players Theatre in Fish Creek and the Northern Sky Theater in Ephraim. Both theaters offer a range of productions, including plays, musicals, and concerts.

On Mackinac Island, visitors can explore the island’s rich history and culture through its many museums and historic sites. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission operates several museums on the island, including the Fort Mackinac Museum, the Mackinac Island State Park Visitor’s Center, and the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum. These museums offer visitors a glimpse into the island’s history, art, and culture.

Mackinac Island is also home to the Grand Hotel, a historic hotel that has hosted many famous guests over the years, including five U.S. presidents. The hotel is known for its grand architecture and luxurious amenities, and visitors can take a tour of the hotel to learn more about its history and significance.

In conclusion, both Door County and Mackinac Island offer visitors a rich arts and cultural scene, showcasing the unique history and creativity of their respective regions. From art galleries and museums to live performance venues and historic sites, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and learn about the culture of these destinations.

Summary: Mackinac Island vs Door County

  • Mackinac Island is a single island located in Lake Huron, while Door County is a peninsula and archipelago located in Lake Michigan.
  • Door County is larger than Mackinac Island, with a land area of approximately 482 square miles compared to Mackinac Island’s 3.8 square miles.
  • Mackinac Island can only be reached by ferry or small plane, while Door County is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
  • Cars are not allowed on Mackinac Island, and visitors must travel by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage, while Door County is more car-friendly.
  • Door County has a wider range of attractions, including several state parks, beaches, and lighthouses, while Mackinac Island’s main attractions are its historic sites, museums, and carriage rides.
  • Mackinac Island is known for its grand historic hotels, such as the Grand Hotel, while Door County has a larger variety of lodging options, including campgrounds, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts.
  • Door County is known for its fish boils, fish fries, and supper clubs, while Mackinac Island is known for its fudge shops and historic restaurants.
  • Door County has a more vibrant arts scene, with several galleries, art museums, and live performance venues, while Mackinac Island’s cultural attractions focus more on its historic sites and museums.
About the author
Mark Stoneman
Hi! My name is Mark! I have been a resident of Door County for almost ten years now, and I'm glad to help you say "Hello" to Door County. I believe that travel helps to change lives, and because of that, I want to help you improve your life through travel.

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