How many days should I plan to visit Mackinac Island?

Published on January 6th, 2021

Last updated on November 29th, 2022

Yes, it is possible to visit Mackinac Island for a day trip. And if that’s all the time you have during a visit elsewhere in northern Michigan, then definitely you should hop on a ferry and spend the day in one of the world’s most unique places.

But a day trip doesn’t really do Mackinac Island justice. It’s more like whetting your appetite for more. There’s just so much to see and do on Mackinac Island. Plus, when you don’t spend the night, you’re missing out on some of the best things about the Mackinac Island experience:Incredible sunsets and gorgeous sunrises on Mackinac Island make memorable photo ops that double as spiritual experiences.

  • Mackinac Island Sunsets!

Watching that big orange ball slip beneath the water at the edge of the horizon does something special to your soul. And the rich palette of colors produced by a Mackinac Island sunset makes for some pretty special photo ops, too!

  • Mackinac Island Nightlife!

Mackinac Island is home to dozens of bars and restaurants each with its own unique vibe, and all within walking distance of each other.

  • Mackinac Island’s One-of-a-kind Places to Stay!

Just like you won’t find any chain hotels on Mackinac Island, you won’t find any of the hotels, resorts, B&Bs, condos or cottages on Mackinac Island anywhere else. Spending the night on Mackinac Island makes for a truly unique experience.

  • Mackinac Island Sunrises!

There’s only one place to enjoy your early morning coffee while hearing the extraordinary harmony of foghorns, bicycle bells and the clip-clop of horse hooves.

Mackinac Island’s overnight guests awake to a charming harmony of foghorns, bicycle bells and clip-clopping horse hooves.

While many day-trippers have a great time on Mackinac Island, you’ll make more memories by staying overnight. But even one night might not really be long enough to enjoy everything about Mackinac Island without being in a rush. And rushing around really isn’t how things are done on Mackinac Island. After all, one of the big attractions of Mackinac Island is the laid-back, stress-free pace of life!

For a relaxed visit that gives you time to really get to know Mackinac Island, you may want to consider spending an entire weekend, or even an entire week. Of course, some visitors spend an entire week on Mackinac Island and don’t do much of anything other than enjoy a few bites of world-famous Mackinac Island fudge and soak in all the natural beauty. Other people like to check things off a to-do list while they’re here.

Suggested Mackinac Island Itineraries!

The right amount of time for your visit to Mackinac Island depends on your own personal vacation pace and on how many things you’d like to see and do while you’re here. Here’s just a sampling of things to keep in mind for your itinerary:


  • While a horse-drawn carriage tour shows you many of the most well-known sights and sounds of Mackinac Island, a bike ride can take you to some of the less-traveled areas. One popular thing to do is to pedal a bicycle all the way around the outer rim of Mackinac Island. The 8-mile journey takes about 60 to 90 minutes at a leisurely pace and features a constant stream of incredible waterfront views. You should plan to set aside two hours to pedal around Mackinac Island, but you might just want to rent the bike for four hours or even a full day.


  • Historic Fort Mackinac has loomed atop the bluffs of Mackinac Island since 1780. Many original features remain, including the oldest building in all of Michigan. Whether you love history or just get a kick out of costumed interpreters re-enacting life from the 1800s, a visit to Fort Mackinac is fun for all ages. You should plan to set aside about two hours for a visit.




  • It’s a hike up to Fort Holmes, at the highest point of Mackinac Island. But the view is definitely worth it. While on the way, you might want to do some sight-seeing and stop by interesting Mackinac Island landmarks including Anne’s Tablet, the eerie Skull Cave and the legendary Sugar Loaf. If you’re physically able to hike the trails of Mackinac Island, be sure to set aside at least a couple hours – but with 70-miles of trails crisscrossing Mackinac Island State Park, you could spend much more time if you want.

RELATED: How much does it cost to go to Mackinac Island?

There’s a wide variety of places to stay on Mackinac Island, from hotels right in the middle of downtown to resorts away from the crowds. You can find Mackinac Island overnight accommodations sorted by type and location here.

Once you choose a place to stay, then take a look at these itineraries for more things to do on Mackinac Island so you can get an even better sense of how many days to plan your visit: