10 Reasons Why Visiting Mackinaw City In Winter ROCKS! See the Best Things To Do!

Mackinaw City in Winter: 10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit!Mackinaw City in Winter: 10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit!

10 Reasons Why Mackinaw City in Winter ROCKS! By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan

Mackinaw City Michigan is a unique and vibrant city packed full of adventure, exploring, dining and shopping.  Plus in the winter you can ski, attend winter festivals, snowmobile and hike. There are so many things to do in Mackinaw City in Winter!

You will be awarded amazing views of the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw Island! (It's a photographer's paradise.)

  • Did you know you can catch a glimpse of the Grand Hotel from the shoreline? 

Visiting the city during all four seasons awards you with vastly different experiences, so pack your bags and lets start exploring! 

I mean seriously, Mackinac City is such a great place to experience any time of year!  I love seeing the majestic Grand Hotel across the water!

Is Mackinaw City open in winter?

Are you wondering if Mackinaw City is open in winter?  Of course it is!  There are less shops, activities (summer focused) and restaurants open, but it is a great place to visit in the winter for hiking, snowmobiling and cross country skiing. See our ideas of fun things to do in Mackinaw City in Winter!

Mackinac City Michigan Blue IceMackinac City Michigan Blue Ice

Top 5 Reasons Why Visiting Mackinaw City in Winter Rocks!

  1. Mackinaw City in winter is much less traveled (less people=more peaceful stay!).  Keep in mind much fewer shops are open but you can enjoy the pristine beauty of the area. To me, that's reason enough. 
  2. Hotels are WAAAYYYY cheaper.  You can obtain a water or bridge view for a fraction of the cost during the peak tourist times.  Imagine sipping your coffee in your cozy room while reading a book with one heck of a view!  With these prices you can stay an extra night!
  3. It's your chance to score spectacular photos of the Mackinac Bridge with sparking ice.  I love wandering along the shoreline enjoying the absolutely stunning views of the bridge and thick layers of ice.  At times you can see through the ice near the bridge which is a really cool thing to see.
  4. Snowmobiling!  There a snowmobile rentals and trails throughout the area. Check out Indian River Sports Center in nearby Indian River  for snowmobile rentals. 
  5. Mackinaw City Winter Festival (Winterfest!) Mid February.  Check out their art exhibit, ice sculpting, and entertainment at local taverns. 

By Featured Contributor-Larry Collin (Sherry's Dad!)

Mackinaw City, located on North M-75 is our destination stay before heading to Mackinac Island in the summer.  The city boasts numerous hotels, restaurants and shopping opportunities.  Lodging ranges from approximately $100 and up depending on your hotel of choice and the time of year.

My wife and I enjoy the view of the Mackinac Bridge, Michilimackinac State Park and the Mackinac Point Lighthouse (located directly east of the Mackinac Bridge.)  Parking is free at the Michilimackinac State Park.  We love to bring our cameras to take lots of photos that will later adorn our walls at home.


Hotels in Mackinaw City (Best Places to to Stay)

There are several hotels in Mackinaw City.  You just need to choose your location (Michilimackinac State Park view or water view). Here are a few to check out!

Parkside Inn Bridgeview


We repeatedly stay at the Parkside Inn located on North Huron Avenue.  

We love that we can park at our hotel and then walk to all the popular destinations in the city, such as Michilimackinac State Park right across the street.

Mackinaw City is small enough that you can walk almost the entire area without moving your vehicle.

Besides the amazing views and location, Parkside Inn features a very nice hot breakfast and their rooms are very comfortable. The hotel faces Fort Michilimackinac and many of the rooms have a view of the Mackinac Bridge.  If you have one of those rooms, you will love the view at night.  

Best Western Dockside


Best Western Dockside is located on it's own private beach along Lake Huron, close to the Mackinaw Island Ferry, and offers direct beach access! We like that they have a hot breakfast, pool and fitness center.

“We loved having a room that walked right out onto the beach.”

All guest rooms at the Best Western Dockside come with refrigerators, coffee makers, and hair dryers. Some rooms feature seating areas with sofa beds and kitchenettes. Lakeview rooms offer private balconies. 

Here are several more choices for Hotels in Mackinaw City in Winter!


Fun Things to do In Mackinaw City in Winter

After checking in to our Inn, we enjoy walking across the street to take pictures of the Mackinac Point lighthouse and the famous Mackinac Bridge.  

However, it's not long before hunger begins to set in so we walk back to the hotel and drive about one mile to the downtown area...you can definitely walk there but if it's winter you will probably want to drive.


One of our favorite places to eat dinner is at the Dixie Saloon restaurant because their perch and burgers are excellent. 

We always hope there is an open table upstairs in the balcony area because it looks and feels like a cozy log cabin.  Sometimes the wait times can be long even in winter so arrive before or after conventional meal times.



Sometimes when we are looking for a quick bite to eat and a drink, we enjoy O'Reilly's Irish Pub.  This place is kind of a hidden gem as it is right next to the Dixie Saloon.  You can walk inside between the two restaurants which is super convenient especially if you are visiting Mackinaw City in winter.

Their steak burgers and onion rings are tasty. Plus I like the comfortable, friendly atmosphere and the wooden booths.


As for dessert, we like to go to one of the local ice cream parlors to buy heaping cones of our favorite delicious Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. 

It's a perfect treat for the end of a good meal, if you are visiting Mackinaw City in winter!

Since it's easy to walk around downtown we also splurged and got a pound of Mackinac Island fudge which is a decedent treat which you can only get in this area!

Other than eating, there are many more things to do in the town including shopping, mini-golf, sightseeing, zip-lining and boat tours (depending on the time of year). You won't be bored!  

~Larry Collin 

Fun Things to do in Mackinaw City in Winter

  • Kick off the December Christmas season with the beautiful Mackinaw City Christmas Parade starting at 5pm at the Marina parking lot and traveling north on Huron Avenue to Central Avenue, to Nicolet Street and ending at Indian Pathways Park for the lighting of the city Christmas tree.  See updated December date here.
  • Visit Headlands International Dark Sky Park for some incredible stargazing!  Of course, check the weather before you go and wear warm clothes and high boots but it's one of our favorite things to do at Mackinaw City all year round!
  • Annual Antique Snowmobile Mighty Mac Bridge Crossing, See updated December event date here. Starting in Mackinaw City, you will travel five miles across the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace. This is the only time of the year that sleds are allowed on the bridge.  Register early and if participating, you need to be at the Colonial Michilimackinac parking lot by 10 AM at the latest. 


Love Hiking or Cross Country Skiing? It's Fantastic in Mackinaw City During the Winter!

Winter Cross Country SkiingWinter Cross Country Skiing

Historic Mill Creek: 9001 W, US-23, Mackinaw City, MI 49701, In the winter, you will need to park near the entry area (main parking lot is not accessible) and enjoy the hiking trails from there – at no charge. 

Wilderness State Park- 903 Wilderness Park Dr, Carp Lake, MI 49718.  Enjoy 20 miles of trails for surpurb winter hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.  Wilderness State Park also offers 26 miles of stunning Lake Michigan shoreline, swimming beach, dog beach and  camping opportunities.


Christmas in Michigan

Fun things to do at Christmas in Michigan! Sleigh rides, Christmas lights, quaint Michigan Christmas villages and so much more!Fun things to do at Christmas in Michigan! Sleigh rides, Christmas lights, quaint Michigan Christmas villages and so much more!

If you love Christmas, check out all the fun things to do at Christmas in Michigan! Sleigh rides, Christmas lights, quaint Michigan Christmas villages and so much more!


Mackinaw City Blue Ice!

Mackinaw City dazzled its visitors with rare sparkling blue ice in February/early March 2018.  Another great reason to visit Mackinaw City in Winter!

This phenomenon last occurred 7 years ago so visitors flocked to the city in droves to photograph and witness the spectacular event!  

Enjoy our photographs here!  For additional blue ice photos, parking tips and "in the know" advice, click here!

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