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“public vs. private carriage tours”

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours
Ranked #1 of 12 Tours in Mackinac Island
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Narrated tours of this island that doesn't allow cars.
East Lansing, Michigan
Level Contributor
86 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“public vs. private carriage tours”
Reviewed 30 June 2014

Public is a no dot the private is a 5 dot. We would not recommend the public carriage tours. We used to always take these, but they have become to commercial. You start out in one side carriage, then half way through they switch you to a larger carriage. However, while you are waiting for the switch, they stop at where there are stores, with the attempt to sell you more things. The one we were on last time, the people on the carriage tour were not well behaved. I know you can not blame the carriage tour for the way people behave. The grandson we had with us was disappointed because he could not hear anything the driver was saying. We felt it was a waste of our money.

When we were there in June with another grandson, we took a private carriage tour. You find those carriages in front of the fort. They will take you any place you ask them, they are very knowledgeable. Our grandson, hand lots of question and our driver Rachael never lost patients with him. She was able to bring him into the conversation by asking him questions about what he was seeing. Since this was his first time to the island we ask for just an over view of the island.

We took the hour tour, to go see Arch Rock would be an hour and a half tour. Since we were going to ride bikes later we knew that we could see this on our bike ride. The cost was 120.00 for the 3 of us for the hour. If you are a couple and have another couple with you, you can split the cost. The public carriage tour may be slightly cheaper, but the value of the private carriage tour is so much better. We will never take the public carriage tour again.

Visited June 2014
3 Thank Beckfest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,026 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
251 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“Worthwhile for an overview”
Reviewed 30 June 2014

We have taken a couple of these tours at different locations. So much depends on your guide. The trip is broken into two parts. Our first guide did an excellent job and the tour was enjoyable and educational. Part two was through the state park without much to see but foliage. Our guide was a first timer and hadn't learned his script. Unfortunately, that made some of our fellow tourist nervous and restless. Too bad. The highlight of part two was the Arch Rock. That made up for the lack of a guide.

Visited June 2014
Thank Dale L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
108 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“You learn a lot about the history of the Island on the Carriage Tour”
Reviewed 30 June 2014

I've been on two carriage ride tours on Mackinaw Island - one was a carriage that took 20+ people and the other was after I was married and we had a carriage that took 2 - 6 people. Both times I was amazed on the knowledge the drivers had about the island. The smaller carriage tour was better - we were able to tour the town and learned about the different homes on the island and who they belonged to and the history of different buildings. We learned about the fort and the church... It was pretty amazing! I would defiantly go on a carriage tour again when we go back to the island. It was GREAT!

Visited September 2013
Thank KLM1965
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacramento, California
Level Contributor
218 reviews
81 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
“Better ways to see the Island”
Reviewed 29 June 2014

This was our first visit to Mackinaw island. We had asked a couple people on the ferry ride over what was the best way to see the island and were told to take the carriage ride. Boy, were we in for a disappointment! Despite many carriages just waiting, we had an hour wait. Our first tour guide had a terrible script to follow but he at least made it tolerable. Part way through, we had to disembark, get in another line for another carriage for the rest of the tour. The 2nd tour guide was just flat out awful in his talking points. We didn't finish the tour and instead choose to walk back to town from the fort. Everything that we saw on the carriage tour is either walkable or an easy bike ride. Save your money. The carriage ride was a total rip off!

Visited June 2014
2 Thank casualtraveler2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Level Contributor
47 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Do this first thing when you get off the Ferry!”
Reviewed 27 June 2014

There is a lot to talk about at Mackinac Island so I will just focus on this tour.
This should be the first thing you do when you get to the island. (side note: Bring any map you have of the island with you since you will feel lost once you get off the boat) If you ask any of the numerous shop attendants where the carriage ride is located, they will all very kindly tell you that it is "right down the street". Head right. It is pretty far down and on the opposite side of the road. I had my slightly disabled Mother with me so it was a little hard on her with all the people walking on the sidewalk. Speaking of my Mom's trouble getting around, the workers on this tour were very accommodating and brought an extra step and a small platform to assist her.
The tour was a little expensive but well worth the money! After you pay, they will tell you to come back 10 minutes before departure and sit on the benches nearby. You will board a 2 horse carriage with numerous bench seats (roughly big enough for 4 adults) and the driver will introduce him or herself along with the horses. The drivers are all very kind, funny, and open. (Ours was Connor) They will take you through the historic streets pointing out buildings of interest including the Grand Hotel. They are knowledgeable about the islands history and will add jokes and stories when appropriate. The carriage will end at Surrey Hill. You exit the 2 horse carriage and are advised that, when ready, to meet and board a second carriage for the second half of the tour. At this stop, there is a butterfly conservatory. It was nice and only cost a few more dollars. My 13 year old daughter enjoyed having butterflies land on her. In the big green and red barn there are old time sleighs and carriages. There is no charge to view them. Now, here is the part that you MUST MUST MUST do......eat a donut!!! Oh. My. Goodness!!!!! The first building, where the carriage dropped you off, houses the MOST INCREDIBLE DONUT you will ever eat! I purchased glazed and a cinnamon for my Mom. They were small, warm, crispy and airy. We both agreed that we needed one more! I believe it was called Aunt Mary's or Saint Mary's. I don't even like donuts but the minute you walk into the building the smell of fresh sweetness hits you and beckons you like a siren to the rocky coast! Ok, ok, enough about that! :)
When you are ready, you will wait at the back of the building for a 3 horse green carriage to take you to the back half of the tour which ventures through the park areas and forests. You will get a new driver and new horses. (We had Katie) Again, the driver is funny and open and knows tons of history. It was very interesting and even held my daughter's attention. You will visit the beautiful Arch Rock. (No climbing but a great overlook) You will see the Fort and be given the option to exit the carriage and enter the fort for an additional cost (I think it was $16). As the tour winds down, you are given another option to depart the carriage and walk a short distance to the Grand. If you choose to stay on, you go back to Surrey Hill and get on a 2 horse carriage again and go back to where you started in town. The last driver doesn't do any talking but that's ok. Yes, the other drivers accept tips but they do not badger nor insist. Personally, I gave each one $2. If I could have afforded it, I would have given them more as they are very good at their job.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank Cindy R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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