Visiting &staying on Mackinac with a budget

So one thing I hear a lot from people is – “You stay on the island? It is so expensive” I then have to somewhat educate them on this. While true it can be- what you need to remember is Mackinac island is only fully open from May-October. It is a destination island that relies on tourism. You are getting an experience. No different than Disney or Cedar Point. BUT how you do it is entirely up to you.

When I first started staying on the island it was for girls weekends and the internet was just getting started. We didn’t have the access available to find the deals you can now. True we split the cost but there were at least 4 of us in the room so it wasn’t awful expensive. As the years went on I then started bringing my niece & nephew up to the island. I did this as a treat for them. Fully funded by me. So what I am saying is- if I can do it- anyone can!!!

I’ll start with this. If you have never been to the island and are not sure about staying on it- then don’t. Mackinaw City or St Ignace have great lodging options with ferries leaving all day for you to go over. But know this- during peak season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) the prices increase at these cities. This will allow you to see if you truly want to stay over on the island (I bet you will want too).

Here is how you can budget out the trip. First I say this a lot. Cyber Monday the tourism page has a bunch of deals that the island hotels are offering. Be sure to look at the dates and night amounts required for these deals but rest assured they are good ones.

When you visit a hotel website they will have various prices throughout her season. Why? Again the island is open year round BUT everything is only open certain months. So if you are open to going off season you will find the rates way less. Now the weekends sometimes go up like standard hotels do because let’s face it that’s when more people travel. Below is a pic of an example of room rates at the Chippewa in October. The variety of colors show how they change.

If you are able to- go during the week. Even in peak season the rooms tend to be less during that time and it isn’t quite as busy (it still is but not near as much) This allows you to get as much of the island in as you want.

Now a lot of the hotel rooms offer mini fridges & microwaves. I grew up in a large family and until I started going to the island I never realized how much I was my mother until I went here. Meaning we packed our food and rarely ate out. Now I love to eat out at the restaurants on the island- but I try to do just 1 meal a day with this. The rest of the time I eat the food I packed or the food I get at Doud’s Market. They have a full selection at normal pricing so if you want stock up when you arrive. If the hotel or B&B doesn’t have a fridge or microwave- take a cooler. You will be getting breakfast if you are at the B&B so that leaves 2 meals and easy to pack sandwich stuff in a cooler. Plus it is fun to have a picnic anywhere on the island. With your packed stuff or purchased items at Doud’s

Next budget friendly is if you are staying more than 2 nights on the island and are able too- take your bike. Even if you don’t ride it a ton- spending 15.00 for a round trip ticket is cheaper then constant renting. Just remember to follow guidelines where to park.

Go to the ferry websites prior to the trip- they offer bundle deals for a couple of adults with kids- or even includes the carriage tour with butterfly house. Print it off and you are also set prior to leaving and you don’t have to fight the lines- win- win.

Explore the inner island when you get there. It is a state park with so much to see. This includes Ft Holmes – the highest point on the island and free. Have a map downloaded or get in from the tourism bureau to see all the great trails (there are a lot) you can venture on.

Shop wisely. What do I mean by that? Again if you are there a few days- venture into the shops and see what catches your eye- but don’t buy. Instead make notes of the shop- the item and price and continue on. The same goes for fudge. Document the shops deals and which one you liked. Then when it’s almost time to leave calculate it out and you can see price wise what it is and if you truly want it. I definitely don’t have as much as I would if I impulsively bought all the cute items- plus it helps you remember what you saw and where 💜

Pre-cocktails in your room. I bring wine and other alcohol to sip on in my room. I like to for various reasons. It is nice to come back and chillax with a bottle of your favorite wine you might not be able to find there and enjoy fudge and the sounds of the island. This is just a good idea in general traveling anywhere. So be sure to grab your favorite cocktail to enjoy while on the island in your room:)

Make it a group event. If you have some girlfriends or best guys you haven’t hung with for awhile and don’t mind sharing a room- bunk up to save money 💰 and enjoy the island together. There is a great nightlife and tons of different events offered throughout the season. This is a fun way to reconnect with friends too.

Last utilize the tourism page for the hotels. So many people think you have to stay at the Grand Hotel (which is great) when you come to the island. Folks there are a yo. Of places to stay. And some condos with full kitchens with laundry!! Research 🧐 and as always if you aren’t sure – reach out to me!! I love helping people plan their trips. If it’s not a good location or size I will help you find the right fit. You can contact me on Instagram or email me at

Hopefully these little tips gave you some good budgeting ideas. And I think if Covid has taught us anything it is that life is short- so go enjoy yourself 💜


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