To really get the biggest bang for my buck, I like to travel on a budget. I like to save a little where we can and really have a great experience. Here are 22 tips for saving money when visiting Mackinac Island.
1. Weekdays – Hotel rates during the week, Monday-Thursday are usually much lower than weekend rates. If you’re looking to save a little, stay during the week if possible.
2. Groupon Deals – If you’re not familiar with Groupon – it is a deal-of-the-day online service. New promotions and discounts are posted each day, for activities and goods, including Mackinac Island.
3. Follow your favorite businesses on social media – You never know when Starline will offer half-off ferry tickets on Facebook. Pro tip: They do!!
4. Eat dinner early – Dinner prices are usually higher than lunch prices. If you decide to go out to eat, do it earlier in the day, because dinner prices usually begin at 4pm.
5. Rent a horse carriage – if you have a larger group, you can save money by doing a private group tour, rather than paying per person for carriage tours. Private tours offer an hourly rate for a party of 4, instead of an individual rate with the public carriage tours.
6. Stay the last night of Lilac Festival, instead of during the festival. Hotels rates are higher during the week of Lilac Festival and the parade is on Sunday, the very last day of the festival. You can arrive early on Sunday, participate in the festivities and stay the night for much less.
7. Try fudge samples at all the stores – this might sound a little tacky but it is pretty common. Almost all the fudge shops on the island offer free samples. If you don’t want to spend money buying a pound of fudge, just try a little piece at each shop around town until you’re satisfied.
8. Look for coupons – they can be shared anywhere. Look in brochures, ask your hotel, search online, etc. Put in the effort and you may find a good deal!
9. Eat at Mighty Mac – One of the more inexpensive places to eat on Mackinac Island. It is the island equivalent of a fast food restaurant. A nice burger joint where your food comes quick, you seat yourself, they even have outdoor waterfront seating.
10. Visit during off season – Basically any time before schools close for summer break and any time after Labor Day, is considered off- season. Hotel prices are much lower during this time.
11. Bring your own water, food, beer. – You’re allowed to bring a cooler, so if you want to save money – load it up and don’t go out to eat.
12. Book a place with breakfast included. – Then you will automatically have 1 free meal for the day!
13. Buy Groceries at Douds and keep them in the mini fridge in your hotel room. BUT – do remember the groceries are much more expensive on the Mackinac Island.
14. Hike trails and hang on the beach – It’s one of the funnest “free” activities to do on the island. And an added bonus it is absolutely beautiful!!
15. Utilize Free Parking – The ferry company will offer a variety of parking, including indoor, gated, valet, etc. But they almost always have a free parking option too.
16. Buy your ferry tickets on Valentines or Black Friday – On the day after Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day the ferry companies have had sales that includ a Buy 1 Get 1 free offer.
17. Don’t make hotel reservations in advance. Instead, wait until you arrive and negotiate deals for hotel vacancy. But this might not be a guarantee, especially because hotels sell out.
18. Bring your bikes. Renting bikes is pricier than bringing bikes on the ferry. Rentals are usually $5 per hour and up, while bringing a bike on the ferry is a one time charge of $10.
20. Park you car in St. Ignace. The parking is cheaper, and you might even find some free parking.
21. Get your souvenirs at the Big Store. If you are looking to take some goodies home, save a little money by buying them at the Big Store, the prices are lower than the other souvenir stores.
22. Ask what discounts are available, when making hotel reservations. Use AAA/AARP discounts, can save you anywhere from 10-25%, depending on the hotel.
I have some other blogs to help you plan your Mackinac Island trip! Take a look!!
As soon as you arrive to Mackinac Island, a map will be your best friend. They’re easy to find at the Visitors Center, Tourism Bureau, your hotel front desk/concierge, stores and restaurants. Unless you’ve lived on the island your whole life, you’re going to be lost without a map. I highly recommend getting one before you head out.
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Stay Off Island
Unless it is your dying desire to stay 1 night on the island, it’s going to save you a lot of money to stay on “the mainland.” The two cities that connect to Mackinac Island by ferry boat are Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan. Both cities have hundreds of hotels to choose from and several campground options. Accommodations on the mainland are…