Mackinac Island nightlife: 5 things to do after dark

Published on June 19th, 2018

Last updated on November 26th, 2022

Thousands of people visit Mackinac Island each day during tourism season. They take in the beautiful sights, explore the island’s historic attractions, taste the world-famous fudge and enjoy relaxing bike rides, leisurely strolls or horse-drawn carriage tours in a place unsullied by the automobile.

Then, many of them hop on a ferry back to the mainland.

For those that remain on the island and stay overnight, a completely different experience of Mackinac awaits. For one, you get to stick around and watch an incredible island sunset – perhaps from high up in the Grand Hotel’s Cupola Bar. But then what happens after dark is even better.

Whether you’re staying on Mackinac for one night or a whole week, you’ll find plenty to do on the island after the sun goes down and the ferry boats leave:

  • Nightlife – From live music and rum runners at The Pink Pony to piano entertainment at the 1852 Grill Room, Mackinac has it all. With more than a dozen late night hot spots, you can always experience something new even during extended stays. Dance the night away at The Grand Hotel’s Terrace Room, head to the Woods to play on the country’s oldest operational duck pin bowling alley, catch live entertainment at Horn’s Gaslight Bar & Grille, or grab a burger and beer at The Mustang Lounge or Seabiscuit Café & Grog. You can choose from 50 different craft beers at The Draught House, or try signature beers like Patrick Sinclair’s Scotch ale at Mission Point Resort’s Round Island Bar & Grill or Big Porch Ale at The Gate House.


  • Stroll the boardwalk – After the ferries leave for the day and the crowds thin out is a great time to wander along the shore in the northern Michigan summer night. Whenever you need to take a break, find a bench and take in the majestic sight of the Mackinac Bridge lights in the dark.


  • Sit and listen – Mackinac is quieter at night, which makes some of the island’s sounds easier to appreciate. Grab a seat in an Adirondack chair with a favorite beverage in hand and just soak in the sounds of waves, seagulls, horse hooves and foghorns.


  • Night time biking – With no cars to worry about, you can pedal around Mackinac by the light of the moon in the cooler evening air. All the amazing sights to see during the day have their own special character at night. And when you burn a few calories on the bike, it gives you that much more reason to indulge with some fudge or a drink at the bar.


  • Stargazing – The night sky on Mackinac looks different than it does where you live. It’s clearer, sharper, darker and pretty much just amazing. You can head to Fort Holmes, the highest point on the island, and find a romantic vista of the heavens above and the world below.

Of course, one of the best things about spending the night on Mackinac is that you get to watch both the sunset and the sunrise, too. Even on select summer days when ferry service runs as late as midnight so day-trippers can have some after-dark fun, it’s still better to spend the night.

To wake up before dawn and pedal a bike along the eastern shore of the island, or launch a kayak into the still, calm Mackinac waters, is a breathtaking experience that should be on everybody’s bucket list.

As you make plans for how to spend your nights on Mackinac, check out all the great lodging options here.