Mackinac Island in the Offseason

Published on November 10th, 2021

A summer day on Mackinac Island is something from a dream. Rich history, horses hauling people and goods, natural features, endless trails and, of course, 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 nearly 5,000 daily visitors that arrive during peak season. With only a handful of lodging options, a restaurant or two, and no public restrooms, here are a few things to know before you plan a Mackinac Island winter getaway.

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MACKINAC ISLAND FROM NOVEMBER-APRIL

While Mackinac Island tourist attractions are closed in winter, visitors still can enjoy the incredible natural beauty.

Photo credit: Sarah White

  • The off-season on Mackinac Island is from November-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 the local restaurant and use their restroom.
  • One, sometimes two restaurants are open as well as the local grocery store, Doud’s Market.
  • Horse-drawn taxis are available from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm or require a reservation if outside of these hours.
  • Attractions such as Fort Mackinac, Grand Hotel, Butterfly Houses, and Carriage Tours are closed during the winter season.
  • Trails and roads are available for fat tire biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing.
  • There are a handful of places to stay in the winter. More information on the places to stay and when they are open is listed on the Mackinac Island winter page.
  • Limited shops are open and have various hours that will be updated on the Mackinac Island winter page thought the season.

THINGS TO DO ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTERWinter activities on Mackinac Island include a Christmas tree lighting in December.

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. Check out this blog post for 5 Things to Do on Mackinac Island in December.

HOW TO GET TO MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER

Mackinac Island horse-drawn taxis and snowmobiles are common forms of transportation during the winter offseason.

Photo credit: Sarah Wright

Star Line Hydro-Jet Mackinac Island Ferry 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 $39 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 Facebook regarding departure times, weather delays and additional trips during special winter weekend events.

Flying to Mackinac Island is an option, especially when the ferry doesn’t run because of ice in the harbor. Both Great Lakes Air and Fresh Air Aviation offer year-round service to Mackinac Island from St. Ignace, weather permitting. Flights are between $35-$45 per person for a one-way ticket.

WHERE TO STAY ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN THE WINTER

Doud’s Market is one of a few places to get food on Mackinac Island during the winter when most restaurants are closed.

Photo credit: Sarah Wright

There are a handful of places open at different times on Mackinac Island in the winter. These places include Above Mackinac Condos, 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

The Mackinac Island taxi service is available to assist with transportation during the day, if needed. Reservations are required for service before 8:00 am or after 5:00 pm.

Mackinac Wheels rents fat-tire bicycles with a reservation. Call them ahead of time to reserve your bike and explore Mackinac Island in the winter. 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, there are one or two restaurants open as well as the grocery store, Doud’s Market, which has grab and go sandwiches and other food options. Mustang Lounge is generally open year-round and Broken Spoke usually opens during the off season as well. Information for both restaurants 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 off-season. Many stores will offer Black Friday shopping deals as well as holiday specials. Check with the Mackinac Island winter page for updates as we get more information from Island stores.

GETTING MACKINAC ISLAND FUDGE DURING THE WINTER

Mackinac Island’s famous fudge is still available during the off-season! Order Mackinac Island fudge online to satisfy your sweet tooth!

 


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