14 Awesome Things to Do in St. Ignace, Michigan

Mackinac Bridge from St. Ignace, Michigan
Mackinac Bridge from St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Shutterstock - John McCormick
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Known for being the entrance to Michigan’s magnificent Upper Peninsula, St. Ignace welcomes visitors across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge for several fun-filled attractions. Spend a few hours (or even days) exploring this charming lakefront city and all it has to offer. From museums to a lighthouse and even hiking opportunities, you will be sure to find fun filled attractions for your next adventure.

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About St. Ignace

First settled in 1671 as St. Ignace Mission, this city has a history that dates back centuries. While Native Americans had long inhabited these bountiful shores, St. Ignace remains the 2nd oldest city in Michigan that was established by European settlers. Jesuit priests were the first to make encampment here. The prime location right at the convergence of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, made St. Ignace’s location a perfect spot to become the epicenter of Great Lakes fur trading with the French. It was officially established as a city in 1883, and has since grown to have a population of around 2,300 people along with being the headquarters of the Mackinac Bands of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians1.

Things to Do

1. Museum of the Ojibwa Culture

Museum of Ojibwa Culture, St. Ignace, Michigan
Museum of Ojibwa Culture, St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – Bobak Ha’Eri

Address: 500 N State St, St Ignace, MI 49781

This seasonal museum offers several exhibits that detail the history of the Ojibwa people and display artifacts and art across centuries. Visitors can also explore a replica longhouse that would have been used by the people. The Jesuit Mission established by Father Marquette in 1671 was once near this site and is also the final resting place of the famed explorer. The Museum of Ojibwa Culture is accompanied by a gift shop that offers authentic Native American crafts and art.

2. Wawatam Lighthouse

Wawatam Lighthouse, St. Ignace, Michigan
Wawatam Lighthouse, St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – Rodney Campbell

Address: 251 N. State St, St Ignace, MI 49781

Unlike most other Michigan lighthouses, the Wawatam Lighthouse in downtown St. Ignace is fairly new and first was created in 1998 as a tourist attraction. It was originally located in the Lower Peninsula near the Ohio border and served as a symbol of the states maritime history at a Welcome Center in Monroe. In 2006, the lighthouse was moved to St. Ignace and made operational as the city’s first and only beacon. To see the lighthouse, visitors can walk the 1800s Wawatam Pier that was once used for the railroad. The Lighthouse and Pier are named after Ottawa clan leader Wawatam who lived in the area in the 1700s.

3. Straits State Park

View from a Campsite at Straits State Park, St. Ignace, Michigan
View from a Campsite at Straits State Park, St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Michigan DNR – Tyler Leipprandt

Address: 720 Church St, St Ignace, MI 49781

Offering amazing views of the Mackinac Bridge, Straits State Park encompasses over 180 acres on the shores of the Great Lakes. Named after the Straits of Mackinac, this state park has been one of Michigan’s most loved parks since 1928, long before the bridge was even built! The park offers hiking trails, picturesque beachline, 255 campsites and a few cabins for those wishing to turn their trip into an outdoor adventure.

4. Drive Across the Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan
Mackinac Bridge, Michigan | Photo Credit: Pixabay – keysandstops

Location: I-75 (Straits of Mackinac between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace)

When visiting St. Ignace it can be nearly impossible to miss the giant bridge that spans atop the convergence of two of the powerful Great Lakes. The Mackinac Bridge is a state icon and boasts the titles of being the 3rd longest suspension bridge in the country and 27th longest suspension bridge in the world! The bridge is often nicknamed the “Mighty Mac” by locals. Interstate 75 (I-75) cross the 3,800 foot bridge while the 552 foot towers shadow above. Whether you cross the bridge on your adventure into St. Ignace or simply want to make the trek, visitors can enjoy the majestic beauty of the straits and this gigantic bridge for a toll that is collected on the northern side of the bridge. Only one day a year can visitors walk the bridge, and that is during the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk that has been attended by several governors and other notable people. 

5. Father Marquette National Memorial

Father Marquette National Memorial, St. Ignace, Michigan
Father Marquette National Memorial, St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – Royalbroil

Address: 592 Boulevard Dr, St Ignace, MI 49781

The Jesuit mission that was established in St. Ignace in 1671, was founded by French priest Jacques Marquette (aka Pere Marquette). While Marquette died just a few years later in 1675, he left behind a legacy of his explorations. Commonly referred to as “Father Marquette”, he established nearby city Sault Ste. Marie in 1668 and lived among various bands of the Great Lakes Indians. Notably, Marquette teamed up with explorer Louis Jolliet to search for a passage to the Pacific Ocean from the Great Lakes. This would be impossible, but their trek led to the French discovery of the Mississippi River. Dysentery struck Marquette during a voyage home to St. Ignace resulting in his death, he was later buried in St. Ignace at the mission chapel. The Father Marquette National Memorial honors the history of St. Ignace, French settlers and most notably, Jacques Marquette.

6. Bridge View Park

Bridge View Park, St. Ignace, Michigan
Bridge View Park, St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Shutterstock – ehrlif

Address: W69 Boulevard Dr, St Ignace, MI 49781

This free park welcomes visitors to see stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge. Learn about the history of the Mackinac Bridge at the pavilion or simply relax with a picnic. The park is open seasonally and is credited with being one of the best places to get that perfect photo of the bridge.

7. Fort de Baude Museum

Address: 334 N State St, St Ignace, MI 49781

This museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Fort de Baude, which was established by the French in 1683 and used as a fur trading post. Both the French and some Native Americans used the fort to fight against the Seneca tribe and it was used in the Iroquois Wars. It is assumed that the fort was later abandoned in 1701. Being that the fort was made out of wood, the fort has since been lost to time and weather leaving the precise location of the fort a mystery to this day.

8. Michigan Welcome Center

Location: Northbound Base of the Mackinac Bridge (accessible from NB I-75)

Greeting commuters on their northbound I-75 journey, the Michigan Welcome Center is an excellent place to learn about local attractions and places to stay. Meet helpful guides who will help steer you in the right direction or pick up a brochure about a place to visit. At the center is a model of the Mackinac Bridge, several animal mounts and also a gift shop.

9. St. Anthony’s Rock

Address: 396 N State St, St Ignace, MI 49781

St. Anthony’s rock is one of only a few remaining sea stacks that is thought to date back 350 million years ago. Created by the etching of receding glaciers against the rare Mackinac breccia stone, this rock structure stands as a symbol to millenniums of geological history. Although it is unknown who named the rock, some believe it was French explorer Sieur de la Salle or Belgian missionary, Father Louis Hennepin. Either way, it is still interesting to see this unique rock.

10. Historic Mackinac Boat

Address: 322 N State St, St Ignace, MI 49781

The Straits of Mackinac were once commonly commuted by small, flat-bottomed boats referred to as “Mackinac Boats”. These boats allowed people to traverse the waters to carry messages to ships, trade goods and even travel to settlements around the area. One display in downtown St. Ignace is the Edith Jane, that is just one example of the boats used. This small craft dates back in 1899 and provides a glimpse into local history.

11. Take the Ferry to Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Ferry boat docked in St. Ignace, Michigan
Mackinac Island Ferry boat docked in St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Shutterstock – Roberto Galan

No trip to the Straits of Mackinac is complete without a trip over to Mackinac Island. Whether it be just for the day or several, the island boasts plenty of attractions from history to hiking or delicious fudge and a historic fort. Escape the modern hustle and bustle, as the island only allows for transportation via horse, bicycling or walking, this means no cars. Several ferry companies offers transportation over to the island, some departing right from St. Ignace.

12. Castle Rock

Castle Rock, St. Ignace, Michigan
Castle Rock, St. Ignace, Michigan | Photo Credit: Flickr – James St. John

Address: N 2690 Castle Rock Rd, St Ignace, MI 49781

Similar to St. Anthony’s Rock, Castle Rock is another sea stack left behind by glacier etching and Ice Age melt. Rising 200 feet over treetops and the surrounding area, visitors can climb to the top of this popular attraction to see views of the Mackinac Bridge and Lake Huron. This landmark has been open to the public since 1928 and is open seasonally. Before you take on the 171-step climb, be sure to snap a quick photo with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. The gift shop is filled with plenty of unique souvenirs that are certain to help you commemorate your trip.

13. Kewadin Casino

Address: 3015 Mackinac Trail, St Ignace, MI 49781

Situated on the pristine shores of Horseshoe Bay of Lake Huron, Kewadin Casino – St. Ignace welcomes visitors to enjoy a variety of things to do. From a delicious buffet to a lively sports bar, guests can play slots or cards at this casino. Also on site is a hotel for those who want to extend their visit.

14. Mystery Spot

Mystery Spot, Michigan
Mystery Spot, Michigan | Photo Credit: Flickr – Betsy Weber

Address: N916 Martin Lake Rd, St Ignace, MI 49781

Unusual indeed, the Mystery Spot is located just a short drive from St. Ignace and is witnessed by millions of visitors each year. Guests can embark on guided tours of the “Mystery Spot” which is a gravity defying area that leaves much to be explained. There is a maze and an 18-hole mini golf course, which offers plenty of fun for people of all ages. Challenge yourself on the zipline or check out the large gift shop.

Plan Your Visit

St. Ignace is known as the “Gateway to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” and with plenty of good reason. Visitors can explore this centuries old established mission turned city and uncover history, unique landmarks, ferry rides and even a gravity defying space! Aside from attractions, visitors can also try local cuisine of browse gift shops. Bring your sense of adventure and love for outdoors as you uncover one of Michigan’s most historic lakefront cities.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited St. Ignace before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

  1. Wikipedia – St. Ignace ↩︎
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