15 Perks of Staying at The Grand Hotel Mackinac Island in 2024

The Grand Hotel Mackinac Island is an Iconic Michigan Experience

The historic Grand Hotel is one of the most iconic places on Mackinac Island.

When you plan your Mackinac Island vacation, the Grand Hotel is often top of the list of things to do.

Whether you stay there or just pay to stand on their majestic porch, it’s a total Insta-worthy experience.

But did you know all the things that you get with a stay at Grand Hotel? Free (delicious) dinner, reduced (or free) kids rates, activities and more are part of the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island experience.

mackinac island grand hotel

But for all the fanfare the Grand Hotel and the island receives, I think too many people are doing it wrong.  

Read on to see my tips for getting the most out of your Grand Hotel Mackinac Island experience.

Don’t have time for a stay but still want to see what the hype is about? You can experience many of the hotel’s perks by paying $10 to take your own self-guided tour.

Grand Hotel

286 Grand Ave, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

15 Tips to Enjoy Your Stay at the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

The Grand Hotel has been serving guests since 1887 and was recently ranked by Travel + Leisure as the top hotel in Michigan and one of the top 500 hotels in the world. 


Looking down Cadotte Ave from the Grand Hotel

Why? The experience is amazing. They pull out all the stops for guests, and visitors can’t get enough.

Use the following tips to make the most of your visit. This may be one of your favorite Michigan vacations yet!

1 – Visit the Grand Hotel in the Spring and Fall

Most people visit in summer: Memorial Day – Labor Day. While this is a great time to visit as our kids are out of school, it’s also apparent on the island that EVERYONE’s kids are out of school.  

Tulips in the Spring at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Tulips marking springtime just outside of the Grand Hotel

I think the best time to visit the island is in the spring and fall.

Not only will you find the shoulder seasons to be less chaotic and more enjoyable, you also might be surprised to find the Grand Hotel is in your price range.

Tourists flock to the hotel in the summer months and the hotel has no problem staying fully booked.  During the spring and fall, when the hotel isn’t as busy, they will offer promotional packages including themed weekend getaways and discounted prices to attract guests.

Fun Fact: The movie ‘Somewhere In Timewas filmed at the Grand Hotel in 1979.

What that means for you, if you’re willing to travel in the shoulder season, is up to 60% savings off peak summer prices.

2 – Kids Stay and Eat Free (or Reduced) at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Children 5 and under stay and eat for free at the Grand Hotel. Children 6-12 pay $75/nt. Children 13 and over pay $159/nt.

We have three kids under the age of five so this pricing structure really works for us.

3 – Follow the Grand Hotel on Facebook to get the Best Pricing

Most of the deals for accommodations are launched on Facebook and are at times exclusive to Facebook.

I’ve seen prices for guest rooms as low as $139/nt per person for spring, late summer, and fall accommodations. While this number has additional hotel fees, sales tax, and baggage fees, the price is still a huge saving.

Our family at Arch Rock, a Mackinac Island main attraction

Packages are often offered and may include perks such as miniature golf on The Gem, golf discounts, Fort Mackinac admission, and discounted ferry tickets!

4 – Grand Hotel Pricing Includes Breakfast and Dinner

Breakfast and a five-course formal dinner are included in your stay and these are two meals you’re not likely to forget.

Dining at Grand Hotel with Kids

The food quality, assortment of choices, and the setting in the main dining room, which overlooks the Straits of Mackinac, are all amazing!

You can find information on Meal Plans and Menus here.

5 – Splurge for Lunch at the Grand Luncheon Experience at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

This lunch is served daily from 12:00 – 2:00 P.M. and the sheer volume of choices and options is mind blowing.  

From soups to salads, fresh seafood, assorted cheeses and fruits, and other hot items, there is bound to be something for everyone in your party.

Beverages that are included are coffee, tea, and lemonade. Soft drinks, wine, beer and a full bar are available for additional purchase.

Adults: $77/each
Children 6-12: $39/each
All pricing does not include tax. Children aged 5 and under are free.

This might seem a little over the top considering breakfast and a full five-course dinner are included with your stay, but our family always shows up on the island early and hungry.

6 – There’s a Pool, Two Hot Tubs and Free Snow Cones

The Esther Williams swimming pool is open from Memorial Day – Labor Day.  

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island pool

The large main swimming pool is equipped with a waterslide and is one of just a handful of outdoor pools on Mackinac Island.

There are also two hot tubs for your enjoyment.

Pool at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

The food and beverage service at the pool is a definite plus and our kids couldn’t get enough of the complimentary snow cones!

7 – Explore the Secret Garden and Stop for Yard Games

The tea garden at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island is home to expansive gardens, wooded trails, outdoor fitness stations, a working greenhouse in the Woodlands Activity Center, and yard games.

Secret Garden at The Grand Hotel
Secret Garden at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Our children raced around the trail areas and were delighted to find small wood carvings along the path. 

The view of the hotel from the Secret Garden makes this a must-stop while at the hotel.

8 – Get Outside and Enjoy the Included Amenities

The grounds of the Grand Hotel are ripe for adventure.

They have a huge chess set on the porch and bocce ball, baggo (cornhole), and croquet on the lawn in front of the hotel.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island bocce ball

New in 2023, the Cedar Grove Bike Track is a 400-foot-long flowy mountain bike trail geared toward kids 12 and under.

Small rollers and other elements amp up the fun. Bike and safety gear available.

Bonus: the fall and spring pricing specials occasionally come with a golf promotion or free admission to Fort Mackinac.

9 – Experience the Front Porch

Fun Fact: At 660 feet, the Grand Hotel’s front porch is the world’s largest, and is visible as you approach the Island from Lake Huron.

There are over 100 rocking chairs for guests to use.

Rocking Chairs on the Front Porch Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Those not staying at the hotel can still enjoy the front porch. A $10 admission fee grants visitors access to the porch and Grand Hotel gardens, along with a map for a self-guided tour.

10 – Go to Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor for the Best Summertime Desserts

Located on the east end of the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor is open to the public. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to come here.  

Sadie's Ice Cream at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Featuring Michigan-made Hudsonville ice cream, customers will find dessert classics like root beer floats, sundaes, milk shakes, and hand dipped chocolate waffle cones.

11 – Embrace the Formality and Dinner Dress Code

Maybe it’s the fact that we don’t get dressed up that often, but our kids are always excited for the formal dinner and don’t mind the dress code.

Of course, we also bribe them with copious amounts of ice cream and dessert for good behavior, but so far, it’s worked out for us!

Kids dressed up at Grand Hotel

It helps that the dining room is buzzing with activity and there is a constant stream of food for the kids to snack on.

Also, don’t pass up the professional photographer on the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island porch. Those pictures are available for purchase the next morning.

12 – Play a Round of Mini Golf on the Gem

Miniature Golf is a family friendly activity for all ages and takes place on the Gem. It’s an 18-hole mini-golf course tucked away on the hotel’s grounds.

Mini Golf Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

There is a fee to play but some packages include complimentary miniature golf.

13 – Take the Shepler’s Ferry Under the Mighty Mac

Shepler’s Ferry has a couple departures a day that take you directly under the Mackinac Bridge. There is no extra cost for this tour and it takes an additional ten minutes to get to the island.
Under the Mackinac Bridge on Shepler's Ferry ride to Mackinac Island

The Mighty Mac departures give you a short narrative on the bridge and some awesome photo opportunities.

It’s a fantastic way to start your vacation at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island.

14 – Rent Bikes and Tour the Island

Mackinac Island doesn’t allow motorized vehicles, so your only modes of transportation are on foot, by bike, on horse, or by horse-drawn carriage. If the weather cooperates, a trip around the island can be a lot of fun (8.2 miles).


For the ultimate flexibility, bring your own bikes. You don’t have to be dependent on finding what you need from a rental shop plus everyone is already comfortable with their bike.

map of bike trails at grand hotel mackinac island
Bike Trails at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

For those looking for a shorter trip check out Arch Rock, but beware there are over 200 steps to the top!

While you’re on the bikes, try this Interior Island Bike Tour:

  • Woods Restaurant. This is such a unique spot to stop on a family bike ride and you’ll be rewarded by its Bavarian charm, delicious food, and duckpin bowling.
  • Mackinac Island Airport. Our kids loved how close they could get to the planes and saw several take off and land.
  • Cave-of-the-Woods and Crack-In-The-Island. We felt like we were really exploring finding these two geological landmarks.  Our kids loved exploring inside the cave and climbing through the crack with jagged walls on each side.
  • Fort Holmes. Built in 1814 and located at the highest point on the island. 

15 – Drive Your own Horse-Drawn Carriage from Jack’s Livery

What better way for your family to enjoy the island than with your own horse and carriage from Jack’s Livery!
Amazingly, no experience is necessary to take on this adventure .

The kids absolutely loved it and it’s a great way to see the island.

Visiting Mackinac Island is always fun, but our trip to the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island allowed us to experience the island in a new way.  We loved how Grand Hotel had an eye on children’s enjoyment and made people of all ages feel welcome.

If you want to do Mackinac Island with kids, I highly recommend staying at the Grand Hotel.

Would You Stay at the Grand Hotel?

Yes, the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island can be pricey. But trust me when I say that it’s worth every penny. The hotel itself is absolutely gorgeous, from the stunning architecture and amazing views you won’t find anywhere else.

Plus, staying here comes with a bunch of perks that help offset the cost.

It’s a truly special experience that you won’t get anywhere else, and in my opinion, it’s worth splurging on. If you can swing it, go ahead and treat yourself to a little luxury – maybe for your next romantic getaway? You won’t regret it!

Pinterest Image Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

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2 thoughts on “15 Perks of Staying at The Grand Hotel Mackinac Island in 2024”

  1. The perfect “GrandfFamily” full of wonderful “Grand”parents and “Grand”children to represent and tout the “Grand”est of places!!!

  2. Laura Hirschman

    What a great article Adam! The island is one of my favorite places to visit. You gave some great tips on how to enjoy it with kids. Now I am so excited to go with my grandchildren! And your kids are adorable ❤️

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