2013 updated version here! Includes Sheplers Ferry Coupon
Voluntary and unnecessary cranial exams without anaesthesia will probably become legal before Mackinac Island is a budget destination. Nevertheless, here are a few cheaper ways to visit the island without having to sell a vital organ to fund it.
It’s nearly always cheaper to buy your tickets online. All prices below are online prices only unless stated otherwise. They will increase if purchased on the dock.
Discounts and Coupons.
Arnolds has a $21 adult round trip online special. Sheplers and Star Line are $22.
Shepler’s and Arnold’s offer AAA and Military discounts at the dock with a card present. (I believe $19 instead of $24)
If staying in Mackinaw City, view the Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism site, with accommodation you can pre book Shepler’s tickets for $20.45 or Star Line and Arnold for $21.45 per adult round trip at the time of reservation.
You can text ‘sheplers’ to 33938 for specials.
Star Line has $15 round trips if purchased here, they are sold out this season but they are available usually in May and sell out quickly for the two available – Shepler’s and Star Line.
Your hotel can offer discounts. Inn on Mackinac and Murray Hotel patrons discounts are here for example.
Cheapest Ferry for Children: All of them. Children are $11 at all 3 ferries if purchased online. ($12 at dock) All 3 have a ‘child travels free deal’ with 2 full adult fares. Online purchases only. Star Line also offers 2 adults/2 children for $59 saving $11. (At the dock it will be $72) On all ferries – 4 and under travel free and a child is 5-12 years.
Cheapest Round Trip: Use any of the above coupons for a $21 round trip at the dock. Arnold has a $21 round trip online only. Star Line and Shepler’s offer round trips for $22 online. At the Dock, the price will increase to $24 unless you bring your AAA and military card.
Cheapest Parking: Star Line offers free secured parking for up to 5 nights. Shepler’s and Arnold’s offer free parking in an unfenced open lot. (Fenced is $5 night)
Cheapest for Bikes: All ferries offer bikes and cart transportation for $8.
Best Ferry Package – The best saving packages from the ferries.
Shepler’s Mack 2 Day Tickets. You’ll get 2 round trips within 4 days. An adult will cost $36.50 saving you $7.50 per adult. A child is $19.00 saving $2 (Brought from dock)
Star Line: (Adult Mackinac Island Package Regular) The package will get you a round trip ferry ride, 1.5 hour narrated carriage ride, and entrance to Fort Mackinac. It costs $52.00, saving you $7.50 per adult.
CARRIAGE TOURS Your AAA and military card will get you $2 off the ticket price. (22.50) This coupon will save you $2 off the Carriage Tour with Butterfly House entry. Note: they will not combine discounts.
BIKE RENTALS You don’t need a mountain bike if you just want to ride around the waterfront of the Island. You will need one however, if you want to explore inland – there’s a hill in the middle of the island, from Market Street past the Grand Hotel and here are hills from downtown to the Cemetery, Governors House and Fort Mackinac and the East Bluff. Based on a Mountain Bike rental, here are the best bike rentals for your buck.
Mackinac Island Bike Shop. This shop offers some of the best deals – no deposit, free water, basket and bike lock. They also offer $1 off the first hour rental. A Comfort/Mountain (7-21 Speed) is $8 p/h, $28 h/d, $44 f/d.
If you are looking for full day hire try Ryba’s Bike Shop. Click here for $1 off coupon (2nd hour) A full day is $45 with a $50 deposit. The Island House Bike Shop offers this coupon, which will get you $5 off each $8 hour rental.
Orr Kids offer a free helmet, basket and trail map. The manager here is nice, he fixed my bike for free! A mountain bikes will set you back $8 hour or $48.00 daily.
Mackinac Wheels offer free helmet use. A Mountain bike is $8 p/h, 30 h/d, 48 f/d
Basics: The cheapest rates for accommodation are Monday – Thursday. Avoid weekends. During festivals and public holidays, hotels are the most expensive, sell out quickly, are over crowded and require minimum stays. Try avoiding the below dates and consider the post season in October. The crowds have gone, the sales are on and accommodation can be half price. The main three are:
Lilac Festival: June 8-17, 2012
Bell’s Beer Bay-view to Mackinac: July 14-17
Yacht Races: July 21-24
Bring your AAA, Student and Military cards. Front desk staff are sometimes instructed not to bring them up at all until you mention it. You need to ASK to receive. Advertised hotels accepting AAA are the Grand Hotel, Harbour View Inn, Hotel Iroquois, Island House, Lake-view Hotel, Mission Point Resort and The Inn at Stonecliffe.
Sign up on the hotels webpage for email offers and promotions. I signed up for The Island House and was recently sent 30% of rooms for 2 nights stays on July 11, 12th, 14th and 15th.
Places other than the major hotels/resorts
Bogan Lane Inn – $85-125. One of the best value places on the island to Continental breakfast included.
Harbour View Inn – If you book online you’ll save 10% and access rooms for as little as $99 a night.
Harbour View Bed & Breakfast – Rates: $89-299.
Inn on Mackinac – Rates: $84-359
Main Street Inn & Suites – The Main Street Inn in low season will cost you about $110
Bay View At Mackinac – Rates: $95-395
Lilac House – Rates: $95-125
Cloghaun – Rates: $100-175. A room can run for $125 and includes breakfast.
For those wanting a larger hotel try;
The Inn at Stonecliffe – Rates: $139-504. Has pre and post season rooms for $99. This is a favourite wedding location. They have some enchanted little gardens, a bluff that overlooks Lake Huron and located next to the Woods restaurant.
Lilac Tree Suites & Spa – Rates: $130-360. Lilac Tree is opposite a few of the bike rental places towards Shepler’s.
Mission Point Resort – Rates: $129-1000 Pet-friendly. Mission is about a 5-10 minute bike ride from the centre of Main Street heading towards Arch Rock. It’s a big resort and is away from the bustle of downtown.
Click here for a complete accommodation phone numbers and webpages.
Have you been to Mackinac Island this year? Did you find any good deals?