Best spots for stargazing on Mackinac Island

Among the many perks of spending the night on Mackinac Island is the opportunity to watch the sunset after the last ferry boat departs for the night. To see the sunrise before the first ferry arrives in the morning. And, of course, to enjoy Mackinac Island nightlife in the bars and restaurants with drinks, dancing, live music and more.

That nightlife also includes an outdoor activity you won’t want to miss on your visit to Mackinac Island: Stargazing. The stargazing you can do on Mackinac Island is much more impressive than most anywhere else.

Stargazing on Mackinac Island is so good because the amount of light pollution is significantly less than almost everywhere in the modern world. On a cloudless night, you can even walk right into the middle of Main Street and see a spectacular showcase of the starry host.

Of course, there are even better places to stargaze on Mackinac Island outside of downtown where you can take in a panoramic view of the surrounding water and the skies above. Here’s a look at five spots on Mackinac Island that are well-suited for stunning stargazing:

Mackinac Island’s Fort Holmes is silhouetted against a night sky full of stars in the Milky Way galaxy

Stargazing at Mackinac Island’s Fort Holmes

It only makes sense that the highest point on Mackinac Island is the best spot for stargazing. There’s not much light way up at Fort Holmes about 325 feet above lake level, except for the glimmer of the Milky Way shining down from the heavens.

The hardest part of stargazing at Fort Holmes is getting there. Take a flashlight and make your way up the hill on Fort Street from Marquette Park. Once you pass Fort Mackinac, turn right on Huron Road, then left on Garrison Road and finally right on Rifle Range Road to the Watch-Your-Step Trail. It’s a stairway with more than 140 steps up to Fort Holmes, where the view is definitely worth the effort of getting there.

The scenic beauty of Mackinac Island’s Fort Holmes

A beam from a flashlight pierces a night sky with thousands of stars above Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock

Stargazing at Mackinac Island’s Arch Rock

Perhaps the most popular Mackinac Island sight to see during the day, Arch Rock also puts on quite a show at night. Overlooking the water high above Lake Huron on the east side of the island, Arch Rock is mostly shielded from light on the mainland to the west.

Rangers with Mackinac State Historic Parks even lead nighttime hikes to Arch Rock to catch the full moon rise through the arch, just as Victorian vacationers did back in the 1800s.

10 ‘supernatural’ sights to see in Mackinac Island State Park

The moon reflects on the water off Mackinac Island’s Windermere Point near the Round Island Passage Light

Stargazing at Mackinac Island’s Windermere Point

On the west end of downtown Mackinac Island is a lovely park with a rocky beach, green grass, picnic tables and a mesmerizing view of the skies above the Mackinac Island harbor including both the Round Island Lighthouse and the Round Island Passage Light.

Known for kite flying, stoneskipping and famous Doghouse hot dogs by day, Windermere Point is also a delightful place to spread out a blanket, watch the sunset and wait for the nightly show in the skies to emerge.

Beaches of Mackinac Island

The Big Dipper and hundreds of other stars brighten the night sky off the coast of Michigan’s Mackinac Island

Stargazing along Mackinac Island’s Lakeshore Drive

It’s 8.2 miles around Mackinac Island on M-185, the car-free highway also known in certain stretches as Main Street or Lakeshore Drive. Most anywhere along the road can be a beautiful spot for stargazing, although the east side of the island away from downtown Mackinac Island is especially nice.

Along the eastern shore, the high bluffs of the island itself block light from town and the mainland to the west, leaving a quiet darkness pierced only by the sound of the waves lapping at the rocks and the bright glow of stars millions of light years away.

What to expect on the 8.2-mile trek around Mackinac Island

The moon reflects on the calm waters off Mackinac Island with the lights of the Mackinac Bridge in the distance

Stargazing at Mackinac Island’s British Landing

Along M-185 near the northern tip of Mackinac Island is British Landing, the historical location where British troops arrived in the dark of night for a surprise attack on Fort Mackinac in the War of 1812. These days, British Landing is a peaceful place to have a picnic, skip stones and admire the gorgeous views of the water and the Mackinac Bridge.

British Landing is also a fine spot for stargazing, with the moon and stars accented by the dim lights of the bridge in the distance.

British Landing is about 3 miles from downtown Mackinac Island if you go there on M-185 along the west side of the island, and about 5 miles if you take the road around the eastern shore.

6 things to do at Mackinac Island’s British Landing

Infographic showing the five best spots for stargazing on Mackinac Island

In addition to stargazing on Mackinac Island, the Straits of Mackinac is home to a couple more opportunities for immersing yourself in the wonder of the galaxy. Headlands International Dark Sky Park is located just a few miles west of the ferry docks in Mackinaw City. And on several occasions each year, timed to coincide with celestial events, Shepler’s Ferry offers Night Sky Cruises that coincide with celestial events such as meteor showers, blue moons and more. These cruises depart from and return to Mackinaw City.


Share on Social
Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top