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Home » What’s the Best Time to Visit Mackinac Island? (2023 Update)

What’s the Best Time to Visit Mackinac Island? (2023 Update)

Thinking about heading to Mackinac island to enjoy a city without cars? Try some whitefish dip and finish it off with some fresh fudge? Before you book your ferry tickets and find the best hotel on Mackinac Island, read this article. Mackinac island is an amazing place to be, but only when the time is right, the weather is nice, and the crowds are small.

Quick Answer: When should you plan a Mackinac Island Vacation?

  • If you like avoiding crowds, visit between April and May or September and October.
  • If you want the best summer weather, August is a great time to visit.
  • It’s very hard to reach the island in the winter months, but it’s perfect for those who want true isolation.
when is the best time to visit mackinac island?

When is the Weather Best at Mackinac Island?

arch rock at mackinac island summer
The iconic Arch Rock (less iconic in person, but c’est la vie!

Right at the boundary between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, Mackinac island is far enough north that it never gets truly hot. At the height of summer, from Mid-July to Mid-September, temperatures will get into the 80s on some days but never much higher.

Winters on Mackinac are brutal. Snow, ice, and bitter winds force the closure of more than 98% of the island’s businesses, and only two hotels – the Pontiac Lodge and the Village Inn Suites – are open year-round.

The best weather on Mackinac takes place in Late Spring/Early summer, as well as the fall.

Late spring and early summer mark the beginning of the tourist season. The weather is phenomenal between mid-May and early July.

Once it gets to late September, Mackinac Island is a wonderful place to be. The leaves turn colors, the temperatures drop (but not too much), and the air is crisp and cool. If you’re a fan of fall weather, Mackinac Island in October is perfect for you!

September and October average high temperatures are between 52 and 64 degrees, which is just perfect for most fall activities. Plus, the fall looks like this:

Sugar loaf best weather mackinac island
Sugar Loaf in autumn.

When Not to Visit Mackinac Island (Weather-wise)

Winter, obviously, is not a good time to be on Mackinac. The ferries are shut down, as are the hotels and restaurants.

If you want to lock yourself away in a cabin and write a mystery novel, though, grab a 50-pound sack of flour and head to Mackinac Island at the tail end of September. When April rolls around, you’ll have a finished novel and a new appreciation for the sun!

When Are Crowds the Heaviest on Mackinac Island?

crowds downtown mackinac island
Mackinac Island’s main thoroughfare in mid summer. It gets a lot crazier than this- and even this crowd is hard to navigate on a bicycle!

Outside of weather, there is one other thing you need to worry about on Mackinac Island, and that’s people.

During peak season, the ferries transport roughly 15,000 people to the island every single day.

This happens 7 days a week from late May to late August.

The center of town gets congested, noisy, and tough to navigate on a bicycle.

If I were you, I’d plan my visit during a time when the weather is nice but the massive crowds of day-trippers still aren’t there: before school lets out (Early/Mid-May,) and before it gets too cold (Late August- Mid-October)

What is the Best Time To Visit Mackinac Island?

what time is best to visit mackinac island
A summertime view from the Watercolor Cafe, a place I visited at least four times while I was on the island.

You’ll have excellent weather if you visit Mackinac Island between May 15 and September 15.

However, that doesn’t mean booking any trip during that time frame is a good idea- and that’s something I learned the hard way.

I visited Mackinac Island the last week of July, and the crowd was kind of a mess during the day.

Thousands of people (and annoying ones at that) were running around, destroying any sense of serenity I thought I’d have.

In the early morning and late evening (once the day-trippers were gone), though, it was an absolute delight. I have no problem with crowds, but I wanted to visit Mackinac to get away from it all, so the crowd was kind of a negative for my personal preferences.

That led me to this conclusion: the only good time to visit Mackinac Island is in Mid-Late May and Late August/September. That way, you’ll get all the great weather without dealing with the same intensity of crowds!

Recommended Hotel for Mackinac Island, MI: Mission Point Resort

If you’re looking to stay on the island, I’d recommend Mission Point Resort. I didn’t even stay there, but I did eat at their restaurants and relax by the water there far more than I thought I would. It’s peaceful, separated from the hectic scene downtown, and very, very pretty. If you can afford it, a few nights at Mission Point is absolutely the way to do Mackinac Island right!

4 thoughts on “What’s the Best Time to Visit Mackinac Island? (2023 Update)”

  1. Heard about Mackinac Island when I was a kid. Have always wanted to visit. We have already reserved our room for this year. Can’t wait.

  2. We are a gaggle of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done a formidable task and our entire neighborhood shall be thankful to you.

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