How to Save Money on Mackinac Island – 2013 Season

travel to mackinac island chep airfares

Travel to Mackinac Island

Cheap Deals and Packages to Travel to Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is not a budget friendly destination. If you have kids who are hell-bent on developing Type 2 diabetes by the age of 12 by sampling every fudge and ice cream flavour known to man, it’s even more unkind. But really, is there anywhere cheap these days? (Or free from Type 2 diabetes for that matter?)


(Try this promo code for Sheplers: MEMA which I tried today (May 29) and successfully reduced a $25 full price ticket to $18)

All three ferry lines offer a $23 online adult round trip which is $2 cheaper than buying in person. Here are some things you can try to get a cheaper deal:

  1. Like” Sheplers, Star Line and Arnold’s Ferry Facebook pages for giveaways.
  2. Always Google coupons (try Sheplers ferry coupon code) or try this site. Try the codes that are unreliable as sometimes they will work.
  3. Your AAA and military card will get you roughly $3 off the ticket prices.
  4. Check your Mackinaw City or Mackinac Island hotel for discounts online or in person. They may have $3 off such as these from The Murray Hotel
  5. Save the walk – Sheplers will pick you up for free in Mackinaw City and bring you to and from the dock. Call in advance. 
  6. If there are more than 2 adults try one of the packages to save $$. I have gone through some of them below:

Ferry Package Deals


Mack 2 Day Package: 1 adult x 2 round trips to use within 4 days for $38.50. If you paid the full price for 2 round trips it would be $50, so this package would save you $11.50. (Buy on the dock)

Buy 2 and Save Package: You can get 2 adults and one childs tickets for $50 saving you $8. These tickets would cost $58 online or $62 in person ($23 x2 + $12 child = $58) if booked individually. (Must be purchased online)

Buy 2 and Save Package (2): 3 adults can travel round trip for $62 instead of the online price of $69 saving you $7.

Star Line Ferry:

Buy 3 adult returns for $62 online only. The online price would be $69 saving you $7.

Adult 2 day ticket: 1 adult can do 2 returns within a 2 day time frame for $38. Online price individually would cost $46 saving you $8

Travel to mackinac island SAVE MONEY cheap packagesCarriage Tours

This webpage now has the $29 tour on sale for $22. Or print this coupon for $2 off a joint Butterfly/Carriage Tour ticket. Your AAA card and military cards will get you $1 off for each member of your immediate party also.

Stay in St Ignace

Try staying at the Driftwood Motel which was Voted Best Up North Restaurant and Best Sports Bar statewide by readers of the Detroit News in 2007. Rates start from $56 in season for 1 person in 1 bed, to $70 for 2 people in 2 beds in peak season. (It’s even cheaper off-season) The Driftwood is located opposite Sheplers Ferry in St Ignace.

This is a great option if you only intend on visiting Mackinac Island as a day trip and will save you money on ferry tickets and accommodation. But if you can find a cheaper room at The Bogan Lane Inn or Haans 1830 for under $100 a night without ferry tickets that may be more convenient to you if Mackinac Island makes up a bulk of your time on holiday. This is just another option.

CHEAP Travel to mackinac island

Travel to Mackinac Island

Best time to Stay

I would suggest, if you can, avoid June/July or August. The cheapest time to visit the island is in May – the season has not quite kicked off, or October when the season is wrapping up. In June/July/August you’ll be overpaying for the same room someone was in for about 1/3 of what you’re paying only a month earlier.

Pros: Cheaper accommodation, less crowds, discounted souvenirs and clothing. Cons: In May the hotels are only just opening and getting started. You may have to venture out to eat as the in-house restaurant may not be set up yet (as in the case of The Grand in April very early May) Similarly in Oct, if you come after late in the season The Woods and other places may be closed already for the season. Colder weather.

Some things to consider:

  1. Go directly to the website of the accommodation you want to stay for packages
  2. If you have time in advance, sign up for hotel/ferry email subscription for specials.
  3. Search Google/hotel/ferry FB pages for coupons codes
  4. Be flexible with the date. Mid week is cheaper than weekend. May/Oct is cheaper than June/July
  5. Packages can be a bargain (as per the ferry ones above) However, with accommodation find out what the full price is and decide if you would use everything in the package. If you dont care for one or two things, or probably wouldnt buy them, then its really not a deal.
  6. Consider the festivals – Lilac Parade means The Lilac Hotel and Suites will fill up the fastest The yacht races are all about the The Pink Pony so the Chippewa Hotel will sell out quickly.
  7. If Mackinac Island is only a day trip, consider staying in Mackinaw City or St Ignace, you will save on ferry costs and while you should compare, you may find the motels a cheaper option if you intend on visiting in June, July or August.
  8. You might not be able to afford to stay at The Grand, but you can visit during the day for $10 and walk around as you please. Visit after 6pm and its free but you must wear formal attire.
  9. Get Arnold or Sheplers to pick you up in their free shuttle service in Mackinaw City and save you self the hassle or taxi fare

B&B’s 2013 Mackinac Island

Below is my quick analysis of the B&B’s on the island on 2 randomly chosen dates. One day is a week day, and one is a weekend. On these dates I then compared the hotels price – based on a searched for 2 nights, a queen bed and a garden view unless otherwise stated. Below you can see the prices and which B&B’s are the cheapest.

advice budget Travel to mackinac island

Travel to Mackinac Island

As you can see, on a random search, Bogan Lane Inn is the cheapest at $110 night (they do have a cheaper room but it is a double only) Coming in second was Haans 1830 Inn at $148 night. Haans also has a deal on their rooms with 10-20% off certain rooms at various times. Download this pdf for an overview on the Island.

Sites to check for codes and promos

Travel to Mackinac Island Special Offers

Vacation Packages

Travel to Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau 

ALSO CHECK: Travel to Newcastle, Australia: A Beautiful Place to be Murdered. 



  1. Pingback: How to Save Money on Mackinac Island Part 2: 2012 Edition | The Travelling Assassin

  2. Pingback: How To Save Money On Mackinac Island: Travel Tips for the Budget Conscious. | The Travelling Assassin

  3. Great post, really enjoyed it, for travel deals come see us at

  4. We’re thinking of visiting in early or mid-August to the island for a day trip. We can either go on a Sunday or a Monday. Is there a big difference in the crowds between those two days?

    • Hi, not really in August but Monday might be slightly less busy. You tend to find people make a long weekend of it – leaving Thursday and returning home Sunday or leaving Friday and returning Monday. The crowd on Monday will more than likely be people leaving and it will be bustling around the ferry docks but both days are pretty much the same and there isn’t a huge difference in crowds. Mid August is a pretty busy time anyway. Hope you enjoy your trip!

  5. MEMA, code no longer valid.

  6. Pingback: The Future of Mackinac Island, Michigan | Travelling Assassin

  7. Nice place to visit.

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