Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Easy DIY VSCO Girl Hydroflask Costume

Is your teen daughter into the whole VSCO Girl thing? Help her make a fun and super easy hydroflask Halloween costume as a funny twist on VSCO girls!

Does your teen daughter love the whole VSCO Girl movement? Make this easy DIY VSCO girl Hydroflask costume for an easy, fun, and unique Halloween costume this year!

The VSCO girl phenomenon this year has taken over my house. If you also have teen or tween girls, you are probably experiencing the same thing! Crocs, oversized t-shirts, shell necklaces, Birkenstocks, sksksksk, and....sticker covered Hydroflasks.

Well, my daughter wanted to be something VSCO girl related for Halloween this year, but she didn't want to just be a plain old VSCO girl—that's way too obvious! Besides, I'm sure there will be plenty of VSCO girls out trick-or-treating this year.

So she and one of her besties put their heads together and decided to be actual Hydroflasks.

Yes, my daughter is going to be a water bottle for Halloween.

Before I talk about the actual costume they came up with, I must put a little plug in for Hydroflasks (affiliate link).  My daughter saved up and bought herself one, and it has to be the best water bottle ever. She will fill it with ice water in the morning and the ice has not even melted after all day of school, basketball practice, and dance—and she usually refills the water at least once! (She got this 40 oz Hydroflask.) I can see why VSCO girls love them—they are pretty and they are actually amazing water bottles.

So back to the Hydroflask costumes. I picked up Sophia and her friend from school last week and we ran to the store to figure out supplies. A few days later, they came over again and put their costumes together—they were fast and easy and they turned out super cute!

How to make a Hydroflask costume

Supplies needed:
(affiliate links)

Plain T-shirt (any color)
2-3 spools of tulle in the same color as the t-shirt
1" wide elastic
White fabric paint (black if you choose to be a white hydroflask)
Mardi Gras beads (optional, but fun)
Crocs (totally optional, but a nice VSCO girl touch)


Print out the Hydroflask logo—you can download one by filling out the form below.

Cut out each piece of the logo and place it on the T-shirt.

Trace around the pieces with the fabric paint, removing each piece as you go.

DIY Hydroflask t shirt

Once all pieces of the logo are traced, you can fill them in with the fabric paint.

Leave overnight to dry.

DIY Hydroflask t-shirt

Measure elastic to fit around waist, sew together.

Cut tulle into similar-sized strips.

Tie tulle onto elastic.

Wear with leggings and Crocs if you have them.

Add the Mardi Gras beads for a metallic lid touch.

Does your teen daughter love the whole VSCO Girl movement? Make this easy DIY VSCO girl Hydroflask costume for an easy, fun, and unique Halloween costume this year!

The girls did all of this by themselves in a couple hours one afternoon. The only thing I had to lift a finger for was to take them shopping and print out the Hydroflask logos. They had a blast doing it and ended up with super adorable and unique Halloween costumes!


Does your teen daughter love the whole VSCO Girl movement? Make this easy DIY VSCO girl Hydroflask costume for an easy, fun, and unique Halloween costume this year!

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Friday, September 13, 2019

What is Your Risk for Heart Disease?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Beaumont for IZEA Worldwide. All opinions are 100% mine.

A couple of months ago, my husband and I came back from walking the dog to find an ambulance at our next door neighbor's home. As it turned out, our neighbor—a single guy in his 40s—had had a sudden heart attack and passed away.

This guy was literally only two years older than my husband and me. People just shouldn't be dying of heart attacks in their 40s! It was especially surprising to us because he wasn't overweight and he rode his bike all over the place. But when we went to his funeral, we learned that he had had some signs of heart disease in the past year and had been working with his doctor to get his heart healthier.

Such a tragedy! And it really scared us—we aren't as healthy as we could be, and we definitely don't want to be worried about heart attacks at this point in our lives. Obviously, we don't want to have to be worried about it ever, but when you have kids still living under your roof it seems particularly awful. And knowing that it does happen to people who are our same age made us think more seriously about it.

Want to know what your risk for heart disease is and how to lower it? Take this quiz from Beaumont Health to find out.

Because this was something I was already thinking about, I was really excited when I was contacted by Beaumont to write about their free heart risk assessment.

I took Beaumont’s free heart risk assessment myself and was relieved to learn that I am at a low risk for cardiovascular disease (yay!).  I also learned that my heart age is a little younger than my actual age (also yay!).

Want to know what your risk for heart disease is and how to lower it? Take this quiz from Beaumont Health to find out.

You just need to answer a few questions about things like your weight, diet, exercise, and family history to help the test determine your risk. There are some surprising risk factors of heart disease and taking this quiz helps you to know what those factors are for you personally.

Once you have taken the questionnaire, you will be emailed a comprehensive report about your personal heart health and risk for cardiovascular disease (see video below to see part of my report and how that works).

The report not only outlines the risks you do or do not have for heart disease, it tells you how you can change the things that are possible to change (some things, such as family history, cannot be changed).

My report listed one high risk factor (my weight), and one moderate risk factor (my blood pressure), with the rest being low. Luckily for me, these are both things that I can change and am already working to change. The assessment gave me extra motivation to eat healthier and exercise more.

Want to know what your risk for heart disease is and how to lower it? Take this quiz from Beaumont Health to find out.

Since the best way to prevent heart disease is understanding and managing the risk factors—this heart risk assessment is invaluable!

As a mom of teens, I want them to see me having healthier habits and doing whatever it takes to keep my heart healthy and strong. I want them to know that I want to be around for them a long time and I want them to learn to develop these habits while they are still young.

If you are wondering what your own heart risk is, make sure to go take the Beaumont’s free heart risk assessment and get your free report. If you find you have a risk, make sure you know these 5 heart healthy habits you can start today, and follow up with a doctor for help.

It seriously only takes a few minutes out of your day—go do it. It's worth it to know.

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

How to Get the Most Out of Amazon Prime Day (2019)

Amazon Prime Day is here again!

I LOVE Prime Day! I think it's even better than Black Friday, so it's essentially Christmas in July except more amazing. There are always some pretty amazing deals to be had, but there are some tips and tricks you should know about before Prime Day actually begins—which is at 3:00 am Eastern time on July 15, 2019 (midnight Pacific time).

You can see all the lightning deals here: Prime Day Homepage

NOTE: People seem to be having issues getting to the Prime Day Homepage where you can access all of the lightning deals. I have found that you can get to it through the Black Friday page instead. If you are having issues, click here: PRIME DAY LIGHTNING DEALS

How to Get the Most Out of Amazon Prime Day

(affiliate links)

1. Sign up for Amazon Prime

This is the most important thing! Amazon Prime Day is only for Prime customers, so you can't get the deals if you aren't a Prime member.

Sign up for a 30-day free trial right now so you're ready to go when Prime Day hits.

If you are a student, you can sign up for a 6-month free trial.

2. Install Amazon Assistant

If you install Amazon Assistant on your desktop you will get $10 off your Prime Day order of $50 or more. Amazon Assistant helps you watch deals by giving you notifications throughout the day on the items you are interested in.

3. Download the Amazon App

If you prefer to watch the deals from your phone instead of a computer, download the Amazon App. You will get a $10 Amazon credit after signing into the app for the first time and another $10 credit after making your first in-app purchase. 

Once you have downloaded the app, click on "Today's Deals & Upcoming" in order to view all deals 24 hours before they are live. If you like an item, simply click on "Watch This Deal" and the app will alert you when the sale price starts.

You can also enter "sneak peek" into the search bar to find the Prime Day Deal sneak peeks. Use the "watch this deal" feature and make sure your app notifications are turned on so you know when the deal goes live.

Note: Amazon does not say what the price will be on these deals. You'll have to wait for them to go live to find out if it's a good enough deal for you to actually buy it, but this is a great way to see if there are items you've been wanting to buy or would like to buy.

4. Add items to your wish list

If things on your wish list go on sale during Prime Day, Amazon will email you. You will want to keep a close eye on both Amazon and your email during Prime Day so you can be sure to get the great deals on the things you want most. Create your wish list here.

5. Use Alexa

If you do have an Amazon Echo or the Echo Dot, you can ask Alexa for special Prime Day earlybird deals and she'll give you the information. Also, both the Echo and the Echo Dot will be on sale for Prime Day for killer deals. If you've been wanting Alexa, get them now.

Alexa will still be able to help during the main part of the sale as well, so if you have her, use her!

Use this link to enter to win cool daily prizes during Prime Day. Things like robotic vacuums, laptops, and scooters are up for grabs.

Find exclusive Prime Day coupons only for Prime members here: Prime Coupons. Find deals like 30% off Coca Cola products or 20-50% off specific products.

Cool Deals for Prime Day

Here is a list of some cool things that are being offered just for Prime Day. Below that you will find a list of products that I have dug up and am excited about. I will keep it updated throughout the Prime Day event, so keep checking back!

  • Backup your photos on Amazon photo and get a $15 credit
  • Get $10 to spend on Prime Day when you spend $10 in store at Whole Foods. Scan your Prime Code or use your mobile number at checkout in Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. between 7/03/1 and 7/31/19 on a single purchase of $10 or more (can only be done once).
  • Reload your Amazon gift card balance with at least $100 and get a $10 reward. If you know you are going to spend at least $100, it's a great option to get a little bonus. You must be a Prime member to take advantage of this deal.
  • Get a free pair of Disney headphones when you sign up for FreeTime Unlimited. Save 40% on a yearly subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. This is great for kids and gives them access to thousands of kid-friendly tv shows, apps, games, books, and more. It gives you control over how long they are online, setting goals, and more.
  • Subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited for only 99 cents for the first four months.
  • Get 3 months on Audible for only $4.95 a month. That will save you $30.
  • Purchase from a huge assortment of magazine subscriptions and get prices as low as $1.99 per year for the subscription.

My favorite Amazon Prime Day deals

Remember, I don't know what the prices will be yet, or when they will go on sale during the event, but these are some things I know will be on sale that I'm excited about. I will update this list throughout the entire event.

Amazon Alexa products

Amazon Echo dot—$22 each or 3 for $59.99

Amazon Echo Show—$49.99

Apple Airpods

Apple Watch Series 4

Blink Indoor Home security system

Save 40% on smartphones

SunBrella sport and sun umbrella—extra 20% off at checkout

Harry Potter complete 8 DVD collection $22.49

Revlon one step hair dryer and hot air brush

Yankee Candle

Fire TV Stick (includes $45 Sling TV credit) —$14.99

Magic Bullet Blender

Herschel backpacks

Dyson Animal Pro V7 Cordless Vacuum—save $120

Ergobaby baby carrier—save $60

Mueller Onion chopper pro—Um. I want this thing. It looks amazing.

Bissell PowerFresh steam mop

Hamilton Beach indoor grill

Toshiba 50 inch smart TV

6 pack wool dryer balls

Sylvania smart light bulb

Logitech lag-free wireless gaming mouse

The Office complete DVD series—save $20

King Sized microfiber sheets—$24.97

Taylor Swift Lover bundle—This sort of cracked me up, but if you've got a diehard Taylor Swift fan at your house this would be a fun gift!

HP Chromebook

Cool gel memory foam mattress—save $150

Ninja Pressure cooker/steamer/air fryer combo—$100 off

ThermaCell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller 

Eero pro wifi system—$200 off

Utter Nonsense family edition game

Unstable Unicorns game

Spike Ball—This game is very popular among my kids and their friends and this is a good deal.

30% off Adidas

40% off Under Armour

Vegetable spiralizer

30 count Elmer's glue sticks—great deals for teachers stocking up classrooms

12 pack highlighter pens—also great for teachers

Pilot FriXion erasable pens—my favorite pens to use for planners!!!

XBox One S $199 ($100 off)

23 and Me DNA test (ancestry and health)—50% off! Great deal. My husband and I did these and it's so cool to see the results.

Circle with Disney—I love mine for limiting screentime.

6 quart Instant Pot—This thing has changed my life. If you don't have one hop on this deal NOW.

Roomba vacuum

~~There are three different types of Roomba to choose from

~~If the Roombas are still too pricey, try this iLife robotic vacuum on lightning deal

How to use Amazon to get the most benefit and save the most money on Amazon Prime Day this year.

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

12 Ways to Get Rid of Stinky Feet for Good!

Does your kid have horrible foot odor? Is the smell so bad every time they take their shoes off that the whole family has to run for cover? Here are several ways to get rid of stinky smelly feet for good!

Getting rid of horrible foot odor can feel like an uphill battle. Try one of these proven remedies to banish the stink in your house for good!

I am the mom to three teenage girls, and I had no idea how much a girl's feet could stink! I mean, I grew up with brothers and I know boys' feet stink, but my girls definitely rival their uncles in the horrible foot odor department.

My two left at home are both avid soccer players and runners and I was just about done with my mudroom smelling like stinky feet all the time. It stunk during track season, cross country season, and soccer season. And then, because their feet and shoes were cross-contaminating each other all their shoes would smell bad. Dance shoes, ski boots, dress shoes—all of them.

I couldn't handle it anymore, and I decided to figure out how to get rid of the teen stinky feet once and for all!

Do you or your kids have HORRIBLE FOOT ODOR? Smelly feet can be super hard to get rid of, but here are several ways that you can get rid of the stinky feet for good—most of them you probably already have in your house.

How to get rid of your kid's stinky feet for good!

It's important to understand why their feet stink so badly in the first place.

It is all about bacteria.

Their feet sweat, the sweat creates a lovely, damp environment for the bacteria to grow, and that bacteria stinks.

Unfortunately, once shoes (and even socks) have been exposed to this stinky bacteria, it almost feels like a losing battle. The shoes stink, and then the socks worn with those shoes the next day will stink, and then the feet stink.

So the bacteria has to be eradicated from all three places—feet, socks, and shoes—if you're ever going to get rid of the smell.

I researched a bunch of methods, and have tried several of them. I'm going to share with you everything I have learned as well as what worked and what didn't work for us.

Hopefully you'll be able to find something that works for you, too!

How to get the smell off of feet
(affiliate links)

Foot sprays

We tried Gold Bond No Mess Powder Foot Spray and Odor Eaters Stink Stoppers for Kids and Teens directly on the foot. Both lessened the smell, but did not completely eradicate it.

The Odor Eaters smells better than the Gold Bond and I felt it did a better job of taking the smell off of the foot. However, if you don't spray every inch of the feet, some smell will remain. But this is a good quick solution.


Using just normal deodorant that you use under your arms actually works pretty well. We just had the kids put the Secret baby powder scented deodorant all over their feet before putting on clean socks.

Deodorant is already formulated to kill bacteria, so this is a good solution. If you are using an anti-perspirant formula, then it's even better because the feet won't sweat as much. Spray deodorant would probably work better than the solids, but we didn't have any so I didn't try it.

Mouth wash

Yep. The Listerine you likely already have in your medicine cabinet can help fight stinky feet. Just pour some in a bowl and soak the feet in it.

Just like deodorant, it is already formulated to kill bacteria. Just make sure the feet are completely dry after soaking them before putting socks and shoes on.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Try soaking the feet in ACV for 20 minutes every day for a week. This should get rid of the smell.


I don't know if you've seen their clever commercial, but as soon as I saw it, I bought some—specifically with stinky feet in mind.

I bought the lavender sage tube, and I am impressed. This stuff really makes a huge difference. As soon as we rub it on their feet the smell is gone. And it stays gone for a while, unlike with the foot sprays.

It's a little spendy, but I feel it was worth it for us—plus a little goes a long way.

Take supplements

One of the reasons for stinky feet could be a zinc deficiency apparently. Taking zinc supplements will help if that is the reason for your kids' stinky feet.

Other supplements that may help include Colloidal Silver and Probiotics.

I had my girls start taking probiotics by Hyperbiotics, which I love. I gave them the Pro-15 formula (I take the Better Body formula religiously) and it's possible this has made a difference. I can't say for sure because we tried so many other things but it's never a bad idea to take probiotics since they encourage a proper balance of bacteria in our bodies.

100% cotton socks

First of all, make them wear socks all the time. I know girls don't always like to because of the fashion part of it, but even if you buy them the no-show socks, it will help.

All socks should be 100% cotton if possible, because they allow the feet to breathe the most, which means they will sweat less.

Finding 100% cotton socks that are also cool enough for my teens has been difficult, though.

My girls love these Nike socks for sports, and while they are not 100% cotton they use Nike's dri-fit technology and seem to do okay. They like these no-shows for when they want to look like they aren't wearing any socks—they are 80% cotton.

As long as socks are clean and dry, they will help to stop the sweating and the stink, but if you can find 100% cotton that your kids will wear—all the better.

How to get the smell out of shoes and socks

Foot sprays

The same foot sprays that I used directly on my kids' feet can also be used in shoes.

I found the Odor Eaters Stink Stoppers for Kids and Teens worked really well as long as I sprayed their cleats and running shoes immediately.

The stink would always still be faintly there, though, so it really is just a stop gap since you can't wash their shoes every day (and I have never actually tried to wash soccer cleats).

Wash with an enzyme cleaner

When you do wash their shoes in the washing machine, use an enzyme cleaner that is designed to break down bacterias and get rid of smells.

Nature's Miracle is one that people use to get pet smells out of carpet, and it is supposed to work well on stinky shoes, too.

Since I had it on hand, I used the EnviroKlenz laundry enhancer that I use to get the stink out of my dishcloths and towels, and that worked very well for us. All stinky shoes and socks smelled fine once out of the laundry.

You can use code overstuffed20 to get an extra 20% off your order at EnviroKlenz.

Shoe deodorizer balls

We have tried these deodorizer balls. They help, but don't entirely fix the problem. They at least helped to make the mudroom smell better when we remembered to put them in the stinky shoes overnight.

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is a good natural odor absorber. You can buy these shoe bags that are filled with it to put in shoes overnight.

I have not tried these, but I have used similar room deodorizer bags made with activated charcoal, and they worked great. So I would think the shoe deodorizers would be at least somewhat helpful for the stinky shoes.

Baking soda

You can fill clean socks with baking soda and stick them in the shoes overnight. This will also help absorb odors. I have just poured the baking soda straight in as well—it's messier, but it helps.

Remember—if you don't treat both the feet and the shoes/socks, you will never get rid of the problem entirely.

When you purchase new shoes, make sure that the feet have been treated and do not stink at all before allowing your child to wear them!

It's a battle, but we have managed to be foot stink free for a few months now!

Good luck!

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Cell Phone Rule for Teens That Most Parents Forget

Establishing cell phone rules for your teenagers is something all parents should do—but make sure you don't forget this important rule! 

When you are making all the rules for cell phone usage when your teenager gets their first phone, do not forget this very important rule.

School's been out for a couple weeks now and my teenagers are enjoying the summer days.

Even though I'm a big proponent of limiting their screen time use, I am a little more lax during the summer. They don't have as much responsibility as they do during the school year, and a large part of their social life requires using their cell phones.

I'm totally okay with the fact that they use their phones a little more during the summer. I'm totally okay with the fact that their phones are how they talk to their friends all day and how they set up all of their hang outs for long summer days.

But the number one reason my kids even have cell phones is for ME.

Each one of my three daughters got their phone when they became busy enough that I had a hard time tracking them down. I got them a phone when I was tired of having to text all of their friends to get a hold of them—even if I knew where they were.

My kids have phones so I can communicate with them. All other "perks" of having a phone—social media, camera, google, oh, and did I mention social media?—are just nice for them to have.

For this reason, a big cell phone rule in our house is that they must always answer my phone calls and texts, and they have to share their location with me so I can see where they are should I choose to look at the Find My Friends app.

But that is not the rule I forgot to make.

And I'm pretty sure it's not the rule you forgot to make, either.

When you are making all the rules for cell phone usage when your teenager gets their first phone, do not forget this very important rule.

I finally realized that I had forgotten to make this rule just the other day when I was driving my 13-year-old daughter to the beach to meet some friends.

"How long do you plan on staying?" I asked.

"I'm not really sure yet—I'll text you when I know."

I knew that she had been on her phone a lot that morning, and I also knew that she hadn't remembered to plug it in the night before, so I asked her what her phone's battery percentage was.

"Uh...11 percent."


Well, that wasn't likely to last her more than another half an hour, so I told her to be sure to call me from a friend's phone so I knew what the plans were.

She did call me, but I don't like not being able to get a hold of her if I need to.

The next day, she was headed out to do something else with her friends and I asked her again what the battery percentage was.

27%. Definitely an improvement...but not much of one!

After the third day of her going out with friends and having her phone die on her I finally made the new cell phone rule that I should have made a long time ago.

Here's the latest cell phone rule at our house:

Keep your phone charged!

I even went so far as to tell my 13-year-old that I would not be taking her to any activities if her phone was less than 80% charged. It is that important to me that I am able to get a hold of her if necessary, and that she is able to get a hold of me.

All three of my daughters have this issue of not charging up their phones until it's too late. Consequently, they don't think ahead when they are about to go somewhere and inevitably end up with a dead phone—and a frustrated mother.

I went ahead and ordered an external battery pack for each of them in the hopes that this will help. Of course, they will need to make sure that those are also charged if that is going to work.

Maybe this is just a me and my kids problem—but somehow I don't think so. 

So, while you are drawing up your cell phone contracts and making social media rules for phone usage, don't forget to put at the top of the list: Keep your phone charged.

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Bucket Full of Sunshine—Free Printable & Gift Idea

A Bucket Full of Sunshine—an adorable gift idea! Just fill up a yellow bucket with yellow goodies from Dollar Tree and use this free printable to make someone's day brighter!

A Bucket Full of Sunshine—an adorable gift idea! Just fill up a yellow bucket with yellow goodies from Dollar Tree and use this free printable to make someone's day brighter!

A couple days ago my daughter found out her friend was having a really bad day. She'd gotten some pretty upsetting news and Sophia wanted to do something nice for her to brighten her day.

You can download the Bucket Full of Sunshine printable at the bottom of this post.

She came up with the idea to give her a box full of sunshine, so we headed out to Dollar Tree to buy anything yellow that we thought her friend would like.

We found all sorts of fun yellow things:

(affiliate links)

Fill a bucket with yellow items from the Dollar Store and brighten someone's day with a bucket full of sunshine!

Finally, you'll need a yellow beach bucket, also available at Dollar Tree.

Download this FREE PRINTABLE and brighten someone's day with a bucket full of yellow goodies from the Dollar Store! Makes a great teacher appreciation gift or a just because gift for anyone!

Total cost for everything at Dollar Tree was $13.00. We could have easily put some of it back and still had a really adorable and fun gift for even less, but this was perfect for us.

When we got home, I made a cute printable to go with the bucket and printed it out.

Sophia cut it out, punched a hole in it, and I found some yellow chevron ribbon in my stash to tie it onto the bucket.

Download this FREE PRINTABLE and brighten someone's day with a bucket full of yellow goodies from the Dollar Store! Makes a great teacher appreciation gift or a just because gift for anyone!

The best part was driving it over to her friend's house and seeing her light up when Sophia handed her the bucket.

I love watching my girls do thoughtful things for their friends—it makes my heart happy. I'd have to say my day was made just as bright and sunshiny as Sophia's friend's day was!

To download:

Enter your email address into the form below and the printable will be sent straight to your inbox.


A Bucket Full of Sunshine—an adorable gift idea! Just fill up a yellow bucket with yellow goodies from Dollar Tree and use this free printable to make someone's day brighter!

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

Budget Friendly Things to Do on Mackinac Island

Are you planning a vacation to Mackinac Island on a budget? Here are some great things to do on Mackinac Island that are FREE or cheap to help you save money and still enjoy all the island has to offer!

Biking around Mackinac Island is an inexpensive way to enjoy the island and see several sites. It only takes a couple of hours to bike the 8.2 miles around and is a favorite tourist activity.

I love Mackinac Island so much. If I were wealthy, I'd seriously buy a summer home there and spend as much time there as I possibly could!

I'm not wealthy, but I do at least live in Michigan, so going to Mackinac Island once or twice a year isn't difficult. It only takes a few hours to drive there for me, so I don't have to worry about travel expenses too much.

However, once on the island, the money can add up quickly. There are lots of things to do, and while some of them are pretty spendy, there are plenty of things to do on the island that are really cheap or even totally free.

I have done all of the things I recommend in this post—all photos included were taken by me on the 6 trips I have taken to Mackinac Island. Did I mention it's one of my favorite places on earth?

How to do Mackinac Island on a budget. There are many free and cheap things to do on Mackinac Island, so if you're planning a vacation there, don't let your budget stop you. You can definitely save money while doing Mackinac Island!

Free or Cheap Things to Do on Mackinac Island

Stay in St. Ignace

One of the most expensive parts about your Mackinac Island trip will be the accommodations. There are a lot of really great hotels to stay in, but unless you're able to find a really great deal, they will be pricy.

One way we have gotten around that is to stay in St. Ignace. We are always able to find rooms there that are significantly cheaper than any that are on the island. Sometimes we just stay the first night in St. Ignace to save a little money, and sometimes we spend the entire trip in St. Ignace and take the ferry over to the island every day.

You will want to make sure you look at the cost of ferrying daily vs. the price of the hotel. It might still be worth it to stay on the island when you factor in the cost of the daily ferry. It just depends what room rates you're able to find.

Check mackinacisland.org to find all deals on island lodging.

Travel during the off-season

Just like anywhere else, if you go to Mackinac Island during their Peak Season, everything is more expensive. There are always some really great deals to be had on lodging if you go on the off-season, which for Mackinac Island is May, September, and October.

I have done a couple trips in May and while it is more likely to be cold and rainy, the island is still its beautiful self and I still had a great time.

Another bonus of traveling during the off-peak times is that it will be much less crowded, which is always nice.

Walk/hike the trails

Mackinac Island has over 140 miles of trails throughout the island. Most of them are in the Mackinac State Park, but many of them are close to the downtown areas and are easily accessible.

A couple years ago, my friend MaryFran (my Disney expert!) called me and said she was going to hike all 140+ miles on Mackinac Island and I could come and do it with her if I wanted.

Mackinac Island has over 140 miles of trails in the state park and on roads. There are so many beautiful things to see and learn on these trails and they are completely free to hike!

She started right away, and has a map of the island that she has highlighted and marked up to keep track of which trails she's done (see above photo).

I've gone on two trips with her and we knocked out maybe 20 miles between those two trips so there is a LOT more to see—which means a lot more reasons to go to one of my favorite places on earth!

If you love hiking and nature walks, there is no more beautiful place to do it than Mackinac Island—and it's completely free!

Make sure to pick up your own map from the tourism bureau downtown. You can also buy a trail guide for about $1.00 which is definitely worth purchasing.

***The next few items on the list are all great things to find while hiking/walking/biking the trails and roads of the island.***

Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf is a 75-foot-tall landlocked rock in the middle of Mackinac Island. It's a pretty cool formation and definitely worth seeing!

It is not a long walk from downtown at all.

Sugar loaf on Mackinac Island is a cool site to see while hiking the trails on the island.

When we hiked to Sugar Loaf we hiked down from Fort Holmes so we were able to see it from above.

Then we hiked down to the rock and ate our picnic lunches there (packing food is another great way to save money on the island!). My girls and MaryFran's girls took some funny perspective photos at the rock, too.

Sugar loaf on Mackinac Island

They clearly were having a great time hiking around the island, which made me really happy!

Anne's Tablet

Anne's Tablet is an art nouveau sculpture that was installed on Mackinac Island in 1916. It is a memorial to local author Constance Fenimore Woolson and her first novel, Anne.

Anne's tablet on Mackinac Island is a sculpture to hike up to with a gorgeous view.

The tablet itself is pretty cool, but the view from the tablet is phenomenal. There are stone benches all around so you can enjoy the vista overlooking the marina and just sit in nature.

There is also a journal hidden in a tree and under some rocks near the tablet for people to write in. It's fun to look through the entries and we always enjoy writing in it ourselves.

Sign the journal when you visit Anne's Tablet on Mackinac Island

The last time we went, the journal was brand new because the older one had become full and I'm not sure where the older journals can be viewed, or if they can. But it's been a while and I'm sure even the newer one has lots of entries now!

Arch Rock

Arch rock is one of the island's most famous landmarks. It is a natural limestone arch that is 146 feet above the shore of Lake Huron.

You can get to Arch Rock several different ways—you can hike up to it from behind Mission Point Resort, you can bike or walk to it on M-185 (the highway that goes around the exterior of the island) and climb the stairs, or you could take a carriage tour which always stops at Arch Rock.

Arch rock is one of Mackinac Island's jewels—be sure to go up to the top to get the full Arch Rock experience.

I've done it each way, and they are all a great way to see this site. The only truly free way to do it is to hike from behind Mission Point or to walk along the highway and climb up.

The view from the top is another magnificent view that isn't to be missed.

Once, we saw a marriage proposal written in rocks just below the Arch—it would have been pretty cool to see it right when it happened!

Skull Cave

Skull cave is a small cave that has interesting stories behind it. If you go on the carriage ride, your tour guide will tell you all about those stories, but you can just as easily look them up yourself.

It is a short walk from downtown.

Somewhere in Time Gazebo

If you are familiar with the movie Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, you know it was filmed on Mackinac Island. While the Grand Hotel is the biggest landmark from the film, there are a few others hidden around the island.

One of the favorites is the gazebo which is located on Anne's Tablet trail in the middle of the state park. It's kind of tucked away but if you know where to look, you will easily find it.

The gazebo from Somewhere in Time is fun to visit on Mackinac Island

When we went with our daughters and their friends, they all had some fun doing romantic photoshoots in it. You can also book a wedding in it—pretty cool for Somewhere in Time fans!

British Landing

British Landing is a beach area about 2 miles from downtown on M-185. We have always biked to it, but you can also walk.

Historically, British Landing plays an important role in the War of 1812 and the surrender of Fort Mackinac. You can view some of the historical information there, plus a cannon!

British Landing on Mackinac Island is a historical beach spot where you can swim, learn about history, find cool rocks, and enjoy the view of the Mackinac Bridge.

When we are at British Landing, we love to stop at the beach for a while and enjoy the view, and sometimes even swim if it is a nice day. There are public restrooms nearby where you can change into swimsuits if you decide you want to get in the water.

It's a rocky beach full of beautiful, smooth, white rocks so don't expect sand! The rocks have their own allure, though, and my children love throwing them into the lake.

British Landing on Mackinac Island is a historical beach spot where you can swim, learn about history, find cool rocks, and enjoy the view of the Mackinac Bridge.

There is a lovely view of Mackinac Bridge from British Landing, too, and there are always lots of boats and ships to watch.

Fort Holmes

Fort Holmes (also known as Fort George) is a small fort made of earth and wood at the highest point of the island. It was built during the War of 1812 as a way to help defend Fort Mackinac.

Fort Holmes is located on the highest point of Mackinac Island

Fort Holmes was just recently restored by Mackinac Island State Park in 2015, and I hiked to it for the first time in 2017.

They have done a really nice job with the fort. There is no admission fee, and while there are also no live demonstrations, there are plenty of interpretive panels inside where you can learn all about the Fort and its role in the War of 1812.

Again, my girls and their friends always have a great time doing funny photos at historic sites.

Fort Homes is a free historical site to visit on Mackinac Island.

And since it is located at the highest point of the island, the view of the Straits of Mackinac is absolutely gorgeous! This is another point we have stopped to have a picnic lunch—there are picnic tables nearby—because the view is worth sitting and enjoying.

Fort Holmes is located on the highest point of Mackinac Island

Surrey Hills Square Carriage Museum

This museum shows various types of carriages that were used on Mackinac Island through the years.

If you pay for the carriage tour of the island, you will stop here, but is free to the public if you prefer to walk up to it.

Surrey Hills Square Carriage museum on Mackinac Island

It isn't a very big museum, but I always find looking at the different carriages really interesting. There are also gift shops and a couple food venues (think hot dogs and candy mostly) available.


Letterboxing is something our family really loves doing and there are quite a few letterboxes hidden on Mackinac Island. The below photo is of my oldest daughter finding a letterbox on our very first trip to Mackinac Island in 2010.

Letterboxing on Mackinac Island

We have found all of the letterboxes on the island, except one. We've looked for it a few times but I think it must have been moved or taken. Looking for them has allowed us to hike or walk many of the trails on the island with purpose—my girls went through a period of really loving letterboxing so it was a great way to get us outdoors and seeing lots of new places!

Letterboxing is always free, you just need a few supplies initially. You can read all about how to get started with this fun family activity here: How to go letterboxing.

***The rest of the items on this list are not free, but can be done for cheap and are things I highly recommend doing while on Mackinac Island.***

Bike around the island

If I had to pick a favorite activity to do on Mackinac Island, I wouldn't even have to think about it. It's definitely biking around the island.

Biking around Mackinac Island is a great way to see all the island has to offer and is a fun family activity

Sometimes you can get a free bike rental along with your hotel stay, which I have done a couple of times when staying at Mission Point Resort. But even if you can't find a deal like that, bike rentals on the island are reasonable.

We just rent our bikes for the time it takes us to ride the 8.2 miles around the island with a few stops at British Landing, Arch Rock, and a couple nature trails. It usually takes us about 2.5 hours to do and is approximately $100 for our family of 5.

Biking around Mackinac Island is a great way to see all the island has to offer and is a fun family activity

All of the shops have things like tagalong riders and bike trailers available for rent if you have young children who can't ride their own bicycle yet. I've even seen people put their dogs in the trailers! I also love how all the bike rentals have baskets so you have somewhere to put all your things while you're riding.

If you would like to bring your own bike across on the ferry, that will cost $8-$12 per bike, depending on the ferry company you use. This might work great if you already have a bike rack on your car—plus you would have your bike available to you the entire time you are on the island.

Biking around Mackinac Island is a great way to see all the island has to offer and is a fun family activity

I admit I don't always wear a helmet while biking the island, but I sometimes remember to pack them with us. If you are a stickler about the bike helmets, make sure to bring your own so you don't have to rent.

You can sign up to receive special offers for bike rentals here: Mackinac Island bike rentals.

Butterfly House

There are two different butterfly houses on the island, but I have only gone to the original Butterfly House.

The original butterfly house of Mackinac Island is a popular and inexpensive tourist destination

My girls love going—it's so fascinating to watch the butterflies and learn about the different varieties. They also have an area where you can see the cocoons and watch some new butterflies emerge.

The rates are $12 for 12 & up,  $8 for 5-11, and free for 4 & under. That said, we always purchase a package with our ferry tickets that includes a visit to the Butterfly House at a discounted rate.

The original butterfly house of Mackinac Island is a popular and inexpensive tourist destination

Read more about what I think of the Butterfly House here: Mackinac Island Original Butterfly House

I actually have brought my dSLR to the island a few times and gotten good photos of the butterflies, but usually I don't bother.

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel is definitely one of the gems of Mackinac Island. It's the first thing you notice when you come in on the ferry and it is truly beautiful.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

However, to stay in the Grand Hotel is a pretty penny! But you can still see it a number of different ways.

You can pay a $10 admission fee to see the hotel and enter the grounds. I have never actually felt the need to do this yet, but I am sure I will eventually.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

The hotel and part of the grounds is easily visible from the street, and that has been enough for us thus far.

Non hotel guests can enter the gift shops to buy a souvenir.

Non hotel guests can eat at the hotel. Be aware you must dress for dinner and the meals are spendy—per person rates are $30 for breakfast, $50 for lunch, and $85 for dinner. Again, I have not chosen to spend my money on this, but the option is there.

Sadies Ice cream parlor at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is a cheap way to visit the hotel without having to pay the entrance fee.

The way we usually choose to visit the Grand Hotel is via Sadie's Ice Cream parlor. It is open to the public, part of the hotel, and it's really good ice cream to boot! The ice cream is much cheaper than dinner at the Grand,  but slightly higher than a run-of-the-mill ice cream shop.

Fort Mackinac

If you are a history buff you really won't want to miss Fort Mackinac.

Fort Mackinac

They have wonderful educational displays and reenactments, including the firing of the cannon. I learned a ton about fur trading and the War of 1812 from visiting it and the other historical sites downtown that are included in the entrance fee.

The rates are $13.50 for 12 & up, $7.50 for 5-11, and free for 4 & under.

Just like the Butterfly House, you can usually find a package with your ferry ticket that includes Fort Mackinac tickets. Many hotel packages also offer tickets to the fort at a discount.

View from Fort Mackinac


If you are hoping to visit Mackinac Island, don't let money stop you. There is so much to do on the island that fits into a low budget vacation. If you do everything that I have listed here, you will be kept busy for several days and will spend very little money!

Food is an entirely different issue, so I will be addressing that in a separate post soon.

Happy travels!

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