Northern Michigan’s warm December means a Mackinac Island winter vacation is as close as a short ferry ride from St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula, just across the Mackinac Bridge. Yup, as of this writing, the Straits of Mackinac are still free of ice, so Star Line has scheduled ferry runs (multiple a day) aboard its winter ferry the Huron, right on through to January 2, 2017—including Christmas and New Years!

To put into perspective just how sweet this news is, know that once the Straits freeze over, your options for getting to Mackinac Island are narrowed to the charter air service Great Lakes Air—or, gulp, walking or snowmobiling the three-mile ice “bridge” (a euphemism for the barren sheet of frozen water that spreads over the 120-foot-deep Straits) from St. Ignace to the island. Scary but true, despite the fact that this latter option is not sanctioned by the US Coast Guard, more than a few brave the trip over on the ice bridge each winter.

Well then, back to what a great opportunity the still-liquid Straits are for folks who crave beauty, solitude and outdoor sports, because that’s what you’ll find on Mackinac Island in the winter. If there’s snow, bring your snowshoes, cross-country skis, fat-tire bike or even your snowmobile with you on the ferry. No snow? Get out those hiking shoes or bring your bike along.

Staying for New Years?
Make your reservation on the New Years Eve Hayride that leaves from Cawthorne’s Village Inn. $25 per person. Cawthorne’s also has a New Year’s dinner at Cawthorne’s (special menu; drink specials and midnight toast). 906.847.3542. Or, make reservations at The Mustang Lounge’s annual New Year’s dinner party, 906. 847.9916. Either way, drink up—you won’t be getting behind a wheel on Mackinac Island!

Lodging is limited this time of year, though cozy rooms are still to be found. Here’s the list of what’s open:

Just two restaurants are open (but who needs more!):
Cawthorne’s Village Inn and the Mustang Lounge

Additional Provisions:
Doud’s Market carries libations, deli items, pizza, coffee, fruits, veggies and just about everything else you might need on your island getaway.

More Mackinac Island Travel Ideas:

Photo(s) by Tom Chambers