Hometown Tourist: The Keyhole in Mackinaw City

If you’ve got a junk drawer in your home, you’ve probably got a spare key in it that you’re not sure what it unlocks.

This week’s Hometown Tourist takes you to a hole-in-the-wall bar in Mackinaw City, The Keyhole, a home for thousands of those mystery keys.

“Mackinaw City used to be a big railroad town, so railroad workers that came and visited here would bring their keys, and she just started hanging them around and keyhole bar and grill was born in 1971,” said bartender Aaron Thompson.

At The Keyhole you’re greeted with thousands of little metallic mysteries in every nook in cranny, from the walls to the bar top. At last count, 23,000 keys are hanging here.

“Not a single key in here has been paid for. They’ve all been donated, dropped off and left accidentally throughout the year,” said Thompson.

Keys of every shape and size have a home here. Ones that once unlocked cities, hotel rooms, cars and much more. And some of them hold quite the story.

“On the back wall here we’ve got keys from Paris and Belgium and Africa and all over the world that people have dropped off. You never know, we could have a key to Al Capone’s vault you know,” said Thompson.

They’re always collecting more keys, and running out of room to put them. And what’s a key collection, without locks?

“If it’s just one key we’ll let them hang it on the bar up here somewhere or wherever they can find , if it’s a keyring we’ll take it and we’ll eventually hang it somewhere. I always tell people, the minute you give me your key, you’re gonna go home and go ‘hey, that’s what this key was for sitting in a junk drawer for twenty years,’ you know?” said Thompson.

So drop in, order something from the ‘key-chin’ and leave that key you’ve been holding on to.

Who knows what things the keys here could unlock, which is part of all the fun exploring these walls.

 “I think it’s just the mass collection all in one spot. I had a guy in here last night, his dad was a locksmith so it was pretty interesting going through. A lot of people call us like a hidden treasure because we’ve had people that they’ve been coming up here for twenty years and they never knew we were here,” said Thompson.

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