Best Time to Visit Mackinac Island


When Not to Visit

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For picturesque Mackinac Island vacations, there’s no better time to visit than June, July, and August. Imagine average East Coast–like highs of 70 to 75 degrees and festivals to honor the island’s every feature. June can run cool, but summer crowds are at their leanest, and the annual ten-day Lilac Festival brings gloriously perfumed air and an all-horse-hitch parade. Crowds flood Mackinac in July for highs of 75 degrees and several worthwhile events, including an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration with historic re-enactments at Fort Mackinac, the impressive Festival of the Horse, and the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac—the longest freshwater sailing competition in the world. August is typically the warmest of the summer months (keep this in mind, since many hotels on Mackinac don’t offer AC), but the Fudge Festival and three-day Mackinac Island Music Festival keep the crowds coming.

For those seeking fewer crowds, better deals, and the trade-off of cooler, iffier weather, late spring (May) and fall (September and October) can be breathtaking in their scenery. Highs may reach only 61 degrees in May, but the island is waking from its winter slumber and bursting with spring activity and hotel openings. In the fall, September can be incredible for early foliage and the chance for Indian summer days. In October, average highs sink to 55 degrees, but autumn continues its brilliant display while the Grand Hotel celebrates its classic Somewhere in Time movie event and participants in the Great Turtle Half Marathon traverse the island’s inside trails.

Come winter, a season on Mackinac that effectively spans November through April, the island takes on a more subdued, cold, and quiet face. Only a handful of hotels remain open, the once-bustling streets feel empty, and travel to the island is very limited (plane, ice bridge, or ferry, when conditions allow). Mackinac’s inhabitants over these long six months can be summed up as locals (some 500), hunters (in November), and the rare traveler seeking a remote, affordable escape. February is the coldest month, with brisk temperatures averaging a low of 13 degrees.