How many days should I plan to visit Mackinac Island?

Yes, it is possible to visit Mackinac Island on a day trip. And if that’s all the time you have while visiting northern Michigan, then definitely you should hop on a Mackinac Island ferry boat and spend the day on the No. 1 Best Island in the Continental U.S.

But a day trip doesn’t really do Mackinac Island justice. It’s more like whetting your appetite for more. There’s just so much to see and do on Mackinac Island. Plus, when you don’t spend the night, you’re missing out on some of the best things about the Mackinac Island experience:

Incredible sunsets and gorgeous sunrises on Mackinac Island make memorable photo ops that double as spiritual experiences.

Sunsets on Mackinac Island

Watching that big orange ball slip beneath the water at the edge of the horizon does something special to your soul. And the rich palette of colors produced by a Mackinac Island sunset makes for some pretty special photo ops, too!

11 reasons to spend the night on Mackinac Island

A crowd gathers in a Mackinac Island bar to enjoy live music downtown

Nightlife on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is home to dozens of bars and restaurants each with its own unique vibe, and all within walking distance of each other.

Where to get a drink on Mackinac Island

A person walks on the sidewalk past Mackinac Island's Bay View Inn on a beautiful sunny day by the water

One-of-a-kind Places to Stay on Mackinac Island

Just like you won’t find any chain hotels on Mackinac Island, you won’t find any of the hotels, resorts, B&Bs, condos or cottages on Mackinac Island anywhere else. Spending the night on Mackinac Island makes for a truly unique experience.

Choosing where to stay on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island’s overnight guests awake to a charming harmony of foghorns, bicycle bells and clip-clopping horse hooves.

Sunrises on Mackinac Island

There’s only one place where you can enjoy your early morning coffee while hearing the extraordinary harmony of foghorns, bicycle bells and the clip-clop of horse hooves – and seeing the grandeur of the sun rising over the Straits of Mackinac.

While many day-trippers have a great time on Mackinac Island, you’ll make more memories by staying overnight. But even one night might not really be long enough to enjoy everything about Mackinac Island without being in a rush. And rushing around really isn’t how things are done on Mackinac Island. After all, one of the big attractions of Mackinac Island is the laid-back, stress-free pace of life!

For a relaxed visit that gives you time to really get to know Mackinac Island, you may want to consider spending an entire weekend, or even an entire week. Of course, some visitors spend an entire week on Mackinac Island and don’t do much of anything other than enjoy a few bites of world-famous Mackinac Island fudge and soak in all the natural beauty. Other people like to check things off a to-do list while they’re here.

A horse-drawn carriage passes by colorful flowers and a brick pathway along the water near Mackinac Island's Mission Point Resort

Suggested Mackinac Island Itineraries!

The right amount of time for your visit to Mackinac Island depends on your own personal vacation pace and on how many things you’d like to see and do while you’re here. Here’s just a sampling of things to keep in mind for your itinerary:






  • It’s a hike up to Fort Holmes, at the highest point of Mackinac Island. But the view is definitely worth it. While on the way, you might want to do some sight-seeing and stop by interesting Mackinac Island landmarks including Anne’s Tablet, the eerie Skull Cave and the legendary Sugar Loaf. If you’re physically able to hike the trails of Mackinac Island, be sure to set aside at least a couple hours – but with 70-miles of trails crisscrossing Mackinac Island State Park, you could spend much more time if you want.

A drone photo of Mackinac Island's Fort Holmes with woods and the waterfront in the background

RELATED: How much does it cost to go to Mackinac Island?

There’s a wide variety of places to stay on Mackinac Island, from hotels right in the middle of downtown to resorts away from the crowds. You can find Mackinac Island overnight accommodations sorted by type and location here.

Once you choose a place to stay, then take a look at these itineraries for more things to do on Mackinac Island so you can get an even better sense of how many days to plan your visit:

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