we are thinking about visitng Mackinac Island sometime with in the next year. what is the best time of the year to visit?
That of course depends on what you like. The peak season for Mackinaw Island has to be the first two weeks in july. This is due to many of the auto-related factories and offices forcing a two week time off when many of the workers are typically vacationing and therefore the productivity is reduced anyway. Hotels, motels and tourist attractions are packed those two weeks everywhere around Michigan. Rates are likely to be at their highest, and choices on places can be limited unless you reserve early.
There are two significant weeekends for those into boating - those are the Port Huron to Mackinaw and Chicago to Machinaw races. Those times are really electric, and a lot of the action especially at night can be more than a bit adult rated due to the celebrations by the crews and their friends.
Deals can be had prior to schools getting out in the spring, or after Labor Day. You are however then mercy of the weather. Those might however be more romantic times, since the number of little kids on the Island will be minimal to non-existent.
If you are less than keen on crowds I would block out the first two weens of July and the weekends of those two races, and pick any other summer (Late June, July, or August) timeframes.
Make sure that you focus on picking out the best fudge shop. If you like to ride bikes then bring yours along. Rentals are available everywhere but are costly IMHO versus the few buck to bring your own onto the ferry.Edited: 3:45 pm, December 28, 2011
Actually, the peak is the last half of July and first half of August. Of course that is when the weather is likely to be the warmest.
The 10 days or so following the 4th of July have smaller crowds and they may be the best compromise.
If cooler weather doesn't bother you, June or late August have even smaller crowds, but with everything open.
Earlier or later in the year (after Labor Day) the crowds drop off more and there can be some attractive room specials. The weather is much more iffy (particularly in May or earlier) and the number of businesses and attractions that are open shrink as you get farther from the peak.Edited: 5:19 pm, December 28, 2011
Thanks for the info!!
I don't know if you'd call it the best time, but we could only take our vacation last September/early October. One day on MI was very cool and cloudy, a few days later it was a glorious fall day. One reservation desk tried to really discourage us from coming at that time of year, saying the weather was awful, but we were OK with it. The prices dropped incredibly on October 1st, I believe it was more than half off the high season rate where we stayed. Much later I believe things really start to shut down. Do you want the warmest weather you can find? Smallest crowds, best prices??
smaller crowds and better prices. warm doesn't matter to us since we take those trips to mexico :-) so this is more of a long weekend getaway for us and to see this part of the countryside.
Any time is a good time as long as you can get the best lodging prices. We go in the spring or fall. Weather is not the greatest in the spring but we bundle up and still do quite a bit. It's worth the cheaper prices. If you're just coming for the day then I would come when the weather is good, anytime during the summer.But check, as others have said, as to when the boat races, Lilac Festival and Zoo de Mack bike race are being held. Jam-packed.
Sunnyday (I'd love to see one of those right now, or I'd be happy with snow too), if you haven't ever been to the UP, see if you can add a bit to the trip. We'd never been there, heard great things, but had no idea how beautiful it was until we got there. Iowa and WI are fine, but the waterfalls and scenery in the UP are wonderful. The distances are there aren't too great. I thought we were cramming too much into our 8 day trip but it was fine.
Just eyeballing it (using Dubuque as a reference, you could spend the first night in the UP, look around either at Munising or along Lake Michigan, then head to Mackinac Island either that day or the next. If you've only got 1 or 2 nights, at least take notes as you go of places you'll want to come back and see. I guarantee you'll want to.
The closer to August 1st, the better.
We love taking trips up there in October. I love the scenery with all the leaves changing colors and the brisk cool air. No crowds either. Perfect. :)
The weather is best any time in July and August, and there is an undeniable buzz around the Grand Hotel that time of year. We usually go for a 2-week stay during the second and third weeks of August. This has the benefit of being a time when a good percentage of guests at GH are families and social guests. Not that the people attending conferences are not nice folks, but during this time there is a more gentle, social atmosphere.