After Labor Day: Mackinac Island’s ‘offseason’ both quiet, noisy

With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, you might say that it’s now the offseason on Mackinac Island. But at Mary’s Bistro Draught House, they use another term for this time of year: Football season.

Things quiet down a bit when Michigan’s most popular summertime destination transitions to fall – except when there’s a game on TV.

“You wouldn’t believe the noise level in the Draught House during a football game,” says Mary Callewaert, the Mary from Mary’s Bistro who is part of a longtime Mackinac Island family that operates the Island House Hotel and several island hot spots.

“We call ‘em ‘Weekend warriors’ and there’s plenty of them that come up for the weekend, watching football games and such.”Couple Enjoying Dinner in Restaurant on Mackinac Island

Even though summer’s light is fading and school is back in session, things are still hopping on Mackinac Island. Yes, it’s less crowded on weekdays when the typical visitor is an empty-nester, young couple or anyone else whose schedule isn’t tied to the school calendar. But the weekends especially are lively and full of activity.

In addition to football, fall on Mackinac Island brings the…

  • Mackinac Island Eight Mile, a run/walk race that goes all the way around the outer rim of the island on M-185, the only state highway in the country that prohibits automobiles



  • Macktoberfest, a classic Bavarian festival celebrated Mackinac Island-style


  • Women’s Wellness Weekend, when women gather on Mackinac Island for wellness seminars, yoga classes, spa treatments, great food, fabulous shopping and a wee bit of wine


  • Mackinac Island Halloween, when trick-or-treating, costume parties and the Great Turtle Half Marathon close out the season with a bang

“Halloween is a zoo,” says Callewaert. “It’s like it’s the middle of the summer. It amazes me how many adults like to dress up in costumes for Halloween.”

As for football, maybe this fall you should root for your favorite team while drinking Michigan craft beers at Mary’s Bistro Draught House or one of the other many bars and restaurants on Mackinac Island. Here are some of the big games on the schedule in 2019:

  • Sept. 7, Michigan vs. Army, Michigan State vs. Western Michigan
  • Sept. 14, Michigan State vs. Arizona State
  • Sept. 21, Michigan vs. Wisconsin, Michigan State vs. Northwestern
  • Sept. 28, Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan
  • Oct. 5, Michigan State vs. Ohio State, Michigan vs. Iowa, Central Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
  • Oct. 12, Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
  • Oct. 19, Michigan vs. Penn State, Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
  • Oct. 26, Michigan vs. Notre Dame, Michigan State vs. Penn StateCouple Walking on Trail Overlooking Horizon Off of Mackinac Island

RELATED: Hello, October! Time to have fun during Mackinac Island’s other peak season

Not a football fan? Don’t like big crowds? Then weekdays in the fall are a fantastic time for you to visit Mackinac Island. The days are sunny and warm, and the nights are crisp and cool for perfect sleeping weather. Places to stay offer lower rates and you can find great discounts at downtown shops. There’s a slower pace with less bicycle and foot traffic.

The “offseason” is perfect for a quick getaway to Mackinac Island, whether to watch football or just to sit outside at Mary’s Bistro Draught House and watch a storm come over the water.

“You get more people that are from Michigan coming to Mackinac Island in the fall,” says Callewaert. “I hear so many of them say ‘I came up in May and I’ll be back in the fall.’”

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