10 Things to See and Do in St. Ignace, Michigan
For anyone entering Michigan’s Upper Peninsula via the Mackinac Bridge, St. Ignace is a gateway of sorts for vacation and adventure. While many people are familiar with the attractions in Mackinaw City, St. Ignace has had to work a little harder over the years to draw in visitors. We put together a list of 10 Things to See and Do in St. Ignace, Michigan to help you start your Upper Peninsula adventure. Father Jacques Marquette founded a mission here in 1671, so those interested in history will find no shortage of significant sites. There are many family-friendly lodging, dining and recreation opportunities in St. Ignace, we hope you enjoy this look at 10 of our favorites from our many visits.
Straits State Park – One of the most popular parks in the Upper Peninsula is also the first one you’ll come across after crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Straits State Park‘s 270 campsites fill up incredibly fast during the summer months, especially the handful of sites with views of the lake and bridge. A picnic area and viewing platform offers another view of the bridge, and there is a one mile trail for hiking. Straits also manages the Father Marquette National Memorial just west of the park on the other side of I-75.
720 Church Street
Father Jacques Marquette National Memorial – This park pays tribute to the founder of St. Ignace, Father Jacques Marquette. A museum here burned down in 2000, leaving just an open-air building with informational kiosks about the life of the famous missionary. There is an interpretive hiking trail, and a few places that offer views of the Mackinac Bridge.
592 Boulevard Dr.
Castle Rock – Some amazing views can be found from the top of Castle Rock, a limestone stack left behind by post-glacial erosion. From 195 feet above Lake Huron, visitors can see Lake Huron, St. Ignace, and the Mackinac Bridge. This has been a tourist attraction since the late 1920s, and it is incredibly close to I-75. A statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox sits near the parking lot. Find out more at http://www.castlerockmi.com/, a small admission fee is charged to climb to the top.
N2690 Castle Rock Rd.
Mackinac Island Ferry – All three of the ferry lines that run from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island (Shepler’s, Star Line, Arnold) also run from St. Ignace. It’s typically less busy/crowded for these Upper Peninsula departures than the ones in Mackinaw City, and great views of the city, Mackinac Bridge and island can be had along the way. Find out more:
Docks are located at 106 Main St. (Star Line), 601 N. State St. (Shepler’s), and 7271 Main St. (Arnold)
Museum of Ojibwa Culture – Indoor exhibits here focus on Ojibwa migration, technology and nature, family units, seasonal movement, the Great Medicine Tree, and interactions between native people and French missionaries. Outdoor exhibits include a replica of a Huron longhouse and the Medicine Wheel Garden. Neighboring Father Marquette Mission Park is home to Marquette’s grave, a statue, and a Michigan historical marker. Admission to the museum is by donation, and goes toward the future preservation of this site. See what life was like here more than 300 years ago by visiting the Museum of Ojibwa Culture.
500 N. State Street
Deer Ranch – It’s easy enough to see whitetail deer alongside many of Michigan’s highways, byways and back roads – but the Deer Ranch in St. Ignace lets visitors see deer up close and even feed them. This reasonably priced, family-friendly attraction also features albino deer and fawns and it is located right on US-2 within a short drive from the Mackinac Bridge.
1540 W. US 2
Java Joe’s Cafe – A true hidden gem, Java Joe’s offers coffee and breakfast food that puts the usual fast food options to shame. A friendly and unique atmosphere is part of the charm here, and while the wait times can be long when it’s busy the food and service makes it worth the wait. There’s more to the menu here than just breakfast food as pizza, sandwiches, burgers and more make this a great lunch destination too.
959 N State St.
Wawatam Lighthouse – This lighthouse was brought to St. Ignace after years at a Michigan Welcome Center. It became an active aid to navigation in 2006, and it is now a focal point of St. Ignace’s waterfront. The tower is 52 feet tall and painted white with red accents and a red lantern room. It is named after the old railroad car ferry that operated here. It can be viewed from the Huron boardwalk, a hiking trail that features many nautical artifacts. In the summer, this is a great spot to catch fireworks shows.
99 N. State Street
Clyde’s Drive-In – An Upper Peninsula legend, Clyde’s has been feeding locals and visitors for decades. Known for their burgers and fries and old-time charm, they’re also located conveniently alongside U.S. 2. Stay up to date by checking out their Facebook page, and be sure to have cash since they don’t take credit or debit cards. (Open seasonally)
3 US Highway 2
Bridge View Park – As you head to to the Lower Peninsula, this is the last spot for turning off before crossing the Mackinac Bridge. The park offers great views of the bridge, restrooms, a picnic area, and more. Learn about the construction of the bridge and watch for passing freighters at this beautiful park on the Straits of Mackinac.