A summer day on Mackinac Island is something from a dream: Rich history, horse-drawn carriage tours, legendary rock formations, endless trails through Mackinac Island State Park and, of course, world-famous fudge. But when the tourism season ends and the cold settles in, Mackinac Island becomes a different place.
With 500 year-round residents, winter on Mackinac Island is quiet compared to the thousands of daily visitors that arrive during peak season. Only a handful of places to stay and a restaurant or two remain open. And there are times when no public restrooms are available.
Yet, in some ways, Mackinac Island is even more incredible than ever in the winter. Visiting during the winter offseason just might be your adventure of a lifetime!
Here are a few things to know before you plan a Mackinac Island winter getaway:
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER
- The offseason on Mackinac Island is from November through April
- Check out the winter on Mackinac Island page for more updates throughout the winter season
- There are no public restrooms on Mackinac Island from November to April. Visitors are encouraged to spend the night and use those bathrooms or grab a bite to eat at a restaurant and use their restroom. Mackinac Island Ferry Company has a restroom available at their ticket office only when the ferry is running.
- Only a couple restaurants are open as well as the local Mackinac Island grocery store, Doud’s Market
- Horse-drawn taxis are available on Mackinac Island from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by reservation outside of those hours
- Attractions such as Fort Mackinac, Grand Hotel, butterfly houses and Mackinac Island Carriage Tours are closed during the winter season
- Trails and roads are available for hiking, fat tire biking and cross-country skiing in Mackinac Island State Park
- There are only a handful of places to stay on Mackinac Island in the winter
- Limited shops are open and have various hours that will be updated on the Mackinac Island winter page throughout the season
THINGS TO DO ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER
Winter on Mackinac Island is a time to take it slow. Curl up with a good book, cross country ski or snowshoe on the abundance of trails, take the perfect winter photo and enjoy some peace and quiet on beautiful Mackinac Island. While the winter season isn’t what most people think of when they think of Mackinac Island, it’s a special time to visit this special place.
HOW TO GET TO MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER
Mackinac Island Ferry Company offers a ferry that runs as long as there isn’t ice in the harbor. The ferry leaves from St. Ignace in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and is about $40 for an adult round-trip ticket.
The ferry schedule varies throughout the winter season and generally runs about three times a day, sometimes only six days a week. You can find updates and notices on the Mackinac Island Ferry Company’s Facebook page regarding departure times, weather delays and additional trips during special winter weekend events.
Flying to Mackinac Island is an option, too, especially when the ferry doesn’t run because of ice in the harbor. Fresh Air Aviation offers year-round service to Mackinac Island from St. Ignace, weather permitting. Flights cost roughly $45 per person for a one-way ticket. North Country Aviation also offers charter flights to the Mackinac Island Airport.
WHERE TO STAY ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER
There are a handful of places open at different times on Mackinac Island in the winter. Hotels and inns often open in the winter include Above Mackinac Condos, Bicycle Street Inn, Cottage Inn, Lilac Tree Suites, Small Point B&B, The Mackinac House, The Pontiac Lodge and Village Inn Suites. Each place to stay has different open dates so be sure to check our Mackinac Island winter page for more details.
GETTING AROUND ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER
For residents, snowmobiles are a popular way of getting around in the winter. For visitors, the Mackinac Island taxi service is available to assist with transportation during the day, if needed. Reservations are required for service before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
Don’t forget to bring your own cross-country skis and snowshoes as there are no rentals available on Mackinac Island.
EATING ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER
In the winter, only a couple restaurants are open as well as the grocery store, Doud’s Market, which has grab-and-go sandwiches and other food options. Information on which restaurants are open can be found on the Mackinac Island winter page.
WINTER SHOPPING ON MACKINAC ISLAND
A few stores are open year-round and others are open various days throughout the offseason. Many stores will offer Black Friday shopping deals as well as holiday specials. Check the Mackinac Island winter page for updates.
GETTING MACKINAC ISLAND FUDGE DURING THE WINTER
Mackinac Island’s famous fudge is still available during the offseason! Order Mackinac Island fudge online to satisfy your sweet tooth!
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