8 Best Things to Do in Michigan in Fall

Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

When the fall season rolls around, many people flock to the Northeast to spend time among the colorful leaves and in the festive small towns. However, the Midwest has some spectacular fall foliage and fun destinations. Michigan, in particular, is an autumn lover’s paradise thanks to crisp and cool temperatures, exciting festivals, beautiful places to camp, and plenty of reds, oranges, and yellows to satisfy every nature photographer. Here are the eight best things to do in Michigan in the fall.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.

Take a Driving Tour of the Fall Colors
Road through red colored trees in Michigan

Take a Driving Tour of the Fall Colors

Most people think of driving as a way to get from point A to point B, but in Michigan, there are many opportunities to take a leisurely drive and enjoy the journey. Some of the best areas to take a fall colors auto tour are along Lake Michigan, in the wine country of Northern Michigan, and near Lake Charlevoix. The M-22 is a famous scenic drive that goes along the Leelanau Peninsula. Plan to spend a sunny fall day driving along the scenic route and making stops along the way to get out and take photos, and pop into a local shop or café. The fall colors peak on the Upper Peninsula well before they do on the Lower Peninsula, so keep that in mind as you plan your trip.

Go to a Festive Pumpkin Patch
Fresh picked pumpkins ride in a rustic red wooden wagon

Go to a Festive Pumpkin Patch

There is also no shortage of pumpkin patches in Michigan, so it’s easy to find a festive one to spend a fall day at when you’re here. DeBuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Belleville is a fun pumpkin patch recommendation. Zeeland’s Pumpkinfest is also incredible with a 5K run, pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin scavenger hunt, and many more activities to celebrate our favorite fall vegetable. Other highly recommended pumpkin patches that may be more in your travel route include Johnson’s Giant Pumpkins in Saginaw and Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch in Midland.

Hike on the North Country Trail
Bridge over the Black River in the Ottawa National Forest on the North Country Trail in Michigan

Hike on the North Country Trail

There are many unique places to hike and bike in Michigan in the fall, but one of our favorites is the North Country Trail. This trail is over 4,600 miles long and travels through eight states. Therefore, it’s perfect for a multi-day backpacking adventure or even a day hike to see some particularly colorful sections around West Sturgeon Bay. The trail passes through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Lower Peninsula through the Manistee National Forest and various parts of the state. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness are excellent nature hiking areas to see the fall colors.

Attend an Oktoberfest Celebration
Frankenmuth Oktoberfest

Attend an Oktoberfest Celebration

Michigan is home to a fantastic collection of breweries, and good beer is part of the local culture here. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this is also a great state to celebrate Oktoberfest. Frankenmuth is probably the best place to be during Oktoberfest season in Michigan, and the town even goes by the nickname “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” – the place to be for traditional German beer, wiener dog races, delicious food, and polka dancing. Another fun Oktoberfest celebration takes place in the Michigan town of Ludington with the famous Bell’s Brewery.

Experience Halloween on Mackinac Island
Halloween at The Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island

Experience Halloween on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is best known as a summertime weekend getaway with tours, quaint shops, and sweet treats. But this island also has a fascinating history that comes alive during Halloween. The Grand Hotel hosts a Murder Mystery Weekend where you can dress the part and fully immerse in this interactive experience with meals, receptions, and live entertainment. You’ll also find costume contests, trick-or-treating, and entertainment at downtown bars. Mackinaw Manor is actually on the mainland in Mackinaw City. It is a haunted house with lots of special effects to prepare you for the season. Another significant part of Michigan to be around Halloween is Harbor Springs, an annual festival on the waterfront, trick-or-treating, a Halloween parade, and other festive events.

Go to a Local Apple Orchard
Apple Orchard in Michigan

Go to a Local Apple Orchard

Michigan is one of the top places in the country for apple picking, and there are lots of orchards here that welcome visitors looking for that quintessential fall experience. One great apple-themed destination is Charlevoix, which has an annual Apple Fest to celebrate the harvest season. You’ll find everything from arts and crafts to a petting zoo, face painting, and live waterfront music. We also love heading to Grand Rapids to check out Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery in the fall. Meanwhile, Fennville offers U-pick and a corn maze at Crane Orchards. Also, don’t forget about apple cider! Some wonderful cideries in Michigan include Vander Mill Cider Mill & Winery in Spring Lake and Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills.

Camp at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Elliot Falls spills over sculpted rock at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising

Camp at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an incredible place to visit any time of year, so we highly recommend seeing it in each of the four seasons. You can see the brilliant colors along the Lake Superior coast in the fall. Here you can hike, camp, and sightsee to experience the impressive rocky beaches, cliffs, sand dunes, and rivers flowing into the lake. Drive-in camping and backcountry camping options are available, and this is also a popular area for fishing, road biking, and hunting. Pets are allowed in some designated areas on the National Park Service’s website.

Experience the Hype of Football Season
University of Michigan football team faces off against Western Michigan Unversity

Experience the Hype of Football Season

Football is also a way of life in the fall in Michigan, so make a point to attend a football game here this fall. Plan a trip to Ann Arbor to see the University of Michigan Wolverines or East Lansing to cheer on the Michigan State Spartans. Or, for some NFL action, head to Detroit to watch the Lions compete against their rivals on the football field. The Lions have a long-standing tradition of playing a game on Thanksgiving Day, which is a fun way to spend Turkey Day in the stadium or at a local sports bar.

You May Also Like
13 Best Resorts in the Catskills, NY