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Mackinac Island nightlife: 5 things to do after dark

Thousands of people visit Mackinac Island each day during tourism season. They take in the beautiful sights, explore Mackinac Island’s historic attractions, taste world-famous Mackinac Island fudge and enjoy relaxing bike rides, leisurely strolls or horse-drawn carriage tours in a place unsullied by the automobile.

Then, many visitors hop on a Mackinac Island ferry back to the mainland.

For those that remain on Mackinac Island and stay overnight, a completely different experience awaits. For one, you get to stick around and watch an incredible island sunset – perhaps from high up in the Grand Hotel’s Cupola Bar. But then what happens after dark is even better.

The sun sets on the water beyond the Mackinac Bridge as people watch from the boardwalk on Mackinac Island

Whether you’re staying on Mackinac Island for one night or a whole week, you’ll find plenty to do after the sun goes down and the ferry boats leave.

Here are 5 things to do after dark on Mackinac Island

  • Mackinac Island Nightlife – From live music and rum runners at The Pink Pony to piano entertainment at the 1852 Grill Room, Mackinac Island has it all. With more than a dozen late night hot spots, you can always experience something new even during extended stays. Dance the night away at The Grand Hotel’s Terrace Room and head to The Woods to play on the country’s oldest operational duck pin bowling alley. Catch live entertainment at Horn’s Gaslight Bar & Grille, or grab a burger and beer at The Mustang Lounge or Seabiscuit Café & Grog. You can choose from 50 different craft beers at The Draught House, or try signature beers like Patrick Sinclair’s Scotch ale at Mission Point Resort’s Round Island Bar & Grill and Big Porch Ale at The Gate House.

Mackinac Island's nightlife hot spots include Horn's Bar with live music

  • Stroll the Mackinac Island Boardwalk – After the ferries leave for the day and the crowds thin out is a great time to wander along the shore in the northern Michigan summer night. Whenever you need to take a break, find a bench and take in the majestic sight of the Mackinac Bridge lights in the dark.


  • Sit and Listen to the Stillness – Mackinac Island is quieter at night, which makes some of the island’s sounds easier to appreciate. Grab a seat in an Adirondack chair with a favorite beverage in hand and just soak in the sounds of waves, seagulls, horse hooves and foghorns.

The light of a full moon shines through the spokes of a bicycle wheel on Mackinac Island


  • Stargazing – The night sky on Mackinac Island looks different than it does where you live. It’s clearer, sharper, darker and pretty much just amazing. You can head to Fort Holmes, the highest point on Mackinac Island, and find a romantic vista of the heavens above and the world below.

A full moon shines through the clouds above the water off Mackinac Island and a lighted Mackinac Bridge

Of course, one of the best things about spending the night on Mackinac Island is that you get to watch both the sunset and the sunrise, too. Even on select summer days when ferry service runs as late as midnight so day-trippers can have some after-dark fun, it’s still better to spend the night.

11 Reasons to Spend the Night on Mackinac Island

To wake up before dawn and pedal a bike along the eastern shore of Mackinac island, or launch a kayak into the still, calm waters in the Straits of Mackinac, is a breathtaking experience that should be on everybody’s bucket list.

As you make plans for how to spend your nights on Mackinac Island, check out this helpful info for choosing a place to stay on Mackinac Island.

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