What to bring on a trip to Mackinac Island depends. It depends on what time of year you visit. And it depends on what Mackinac Island things to do are on your itinerary.
What’s for certain is that no matter when you visit Mackinac Island and no matter what you do when you get here, there’s one item you absolutely will never need to take with you: a car. That’s because motor vehicles have been prohibited on Mackinac Island for over 100 years!
Because there are no cars, you might want to bring a bike to get around Mackinac Island. And you’ll probably want to bring some comfortable walking shoes, too.
Of course, just like traveling to any other destination, you’ll want to bring your basic necessities, from undergarments and toiletries to electronic devices and chargers. But beyond those basics…
Here’s a list of a dozen items to consider packing for a trip to Mackinac Island:
- Sweaters and light jackets – Mackinac Island has some of the country’s best summer weather because, unlike many places, temperatures are actually comfortable in the middle of July. Along with gorgeous 70-degree days, summertime also can bring cool, refreshing nights. So, it’s a good idea to pack some warmer tops for after-dark activities, even in the height of summer. While shorts and T-shirts are perfect for most summer days, you should plan to dress in layers in the mornings and evenings.
- Coats and mittens? Late April and early May on Mackinac Island can be almost balmy. But it also can be quite cold. Ditto for October. Check the forecast before leaving home. If there’s cold weather in sight, then a winter coat and mittens may be in order – at least on the ferry ride to Mackinac Island.
- Long pants – You’ll certainly want to pack jeans or other long pants for a spring or fall trip, and probably for summer mornings and evenings, too. Even if it’s really warm, you’ll want to wear long pants for certain activities such as horseback riding. Because there’s so much opportunity for outdoor recreation on Mackinac Island, activewear is another thing to pack so you’re ready to go kayaking, hiking, bike riding, running or whatever activity gets your heart pumping!
- Comfortable shoes – Since there are no cars on Mackinac Island, you’ll probably do more walking than you would at many other travel destinations. Sandals should be fine for relaxing around the hotel or bumming around town. But if you’re going sightseeing, you’ll want walking shoes that your feet appreciate. Likewise, if you’re going to explore some of the 70-plus miles of trails through Mackinac Island State Park, you’ll want some tennis shoes or hiking boots. And don’t forget a water bottle and a daypack for snacks.
- Dinnerwear – There’s a wide variety of dining options on Mackinac Island. Some restaurants, such as the dining room at Grand Hotel, have dress codes. So, if you’re going to sit down to a meal at one of those fine dining establishments, then be sure to dress the part. A dress code actually applies throughout Grand Hotel after 6:30 p.m. each day, so if you’re staying there be sure to pack a coat and tie with dress pants for guys and dresses, skirts and blouses or dress pants for ladies.
- Swimsuit? – Even though Mackinac Island is surrounded by water, it’s not a beach destination with lots of sand on the shoreline for sunbathing. Your best option for swimming is the 220-foot-long, serpentine-shaped pool at Grand Hotel. The pool is complimentary for resort guests, while non-guests can swim for a small daily fee. If you really want to swim in the lake, you can find several places to do so around Mackinac Island. The water is often a bit chilly but splashing around in the lake makes for a memorable experience. For a much warmer dip, book a Mackinac Island place to stay with a hot tub!
- Sunglasses – Don’t forget your sunglasses! The historic landmarks and incredible sights of Mackinac Island aren’t quite as glorious if you have to squint to see them. Along with sunglasses, pack some sunscreen and maybe a hat. Of course, it could rain. So, pack an umbrella, too, and enjoy all the things to do on a rainy day on Mackinac Island.
- Camera – Speaking of sightseeing, remember to bring extra batteries and memory cards for a camera or a charging cord and backup file storage for a phone. You might literally take a million pictures!
- Bug spray – More than 80 percent of Mackinac Island is state parkland. It’s natural wilderness that’s a joy to explore. But keep in mind that bugs, ticks and poison ivy are natural in the woods in the summer. So, if you plan to spend time hiking through the woods of Mackinac Island, bring some bug spray for yourself and some tick prevention for your dog. And if you’re not a pro at identifying and avoiding poison ivy, then bring long pants for any hiking you may do.
- Bike – Without any cars, the primary ways of getting around Mackinac Island are by horse-drawn carriage, on foot or by bicycle. There are several bike rental shops on Mackinac Island with fees by the hour, half-day, full-day or longer. If you plan to do a lot of biking, you might want to bring your own bike. You can bring it along on the ferry ride for a small fee. And don’t forget a bike lock, just in case.
- Golf clubs – Although it measures only four square-miles, Mackinac Island is home to one of the most diverse collections of golf courses in the world. There’s The Jewel, an immaculate resort course at Grand Hotel. Wawashkamo, which is the oldest golf course in Michigan and a bucket-list tee time for any golfer who wants to experience the game as it was played in the 1800s. And Mission Point Resort is home to the Greens of Mackinac, a natural grass putting course that’s a blast for serious golfers and novices alike. You can rent golf clubs on Mackinac Island, or bring your own on the ferry.
- Books – There are lots of things to do on Mackinac Island. But if your favorite thing to do on vacation is relax, then Mackinac Island is perfect for that, too. There are tons of great places on Mackinac Island to escape and enjoy a good book. Mackinac Island also is home to some of the best stone-skipping on the planet and features a windy point near the ferry docks that’s ideal for flying kites.
If you forget to pack something, don’t worry. There’s no stress on Mackinac Island! Besides, after you arrive on Mackinac Island you can get most anything you could need at Doud’s Market, the oldest family-owned grocery store in the country.
Explore all there is to see and do on Mackinac Island and start packing your suitcase!