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 pretty spectacular destinations for fall foliage and fun as well. Michigan, in particular, is an autumn-lover’s paradise thanks to crisp and cool temperatures, exciting festivals, and plenty of reds, oranges, and yellows to satisfy every nature photographer. Here are eight of the best things to do in Michigan in the fall.
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Take a Driving Tour of the Fall Colors (Nearby Hotels)
Most people think of driving as a way to get from Point A to Point B, but in Michigan, there are lots of opportunities to take a leisurely drive and truly 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 a 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 (Nearby Hotels)
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. A couple fun pumpkin patch recommendations are Higgins Pumpkin Farm in Onaway and Zeeland’s Pumpkinfest, which has 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 DeBuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Belleville, Johnson’s Giant Pumpkins in Saginaw, and Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch in Midland.
Hike on the North Country Trail (Nearby Hotels)
There are so many amazing 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 actually travels through eight states. Therefore, it’s perfect for a multi-day backpacking adventure or even just a day hike to see some of the particularly colorful sections around West Sturgeon Bay. The trail passes through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as the Lower Peninsula through the Manistee National Forest and various parts of the state. Other excellent hiking areas to see the fall colors are Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness.
Attend an Oktoberfest Celebration (Nearby Hotels)
Michigan is home to an awesome collection of breweries, and good beer is part of the local culture here. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this is also a great state to celebrate Oktoberfest in. 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.” This is 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 (Nearby Hotels)
Mackinac Island is best known as a summertime destination with tours, quaint shops, and sweet treats. But this island also has a fascinating history that really comes alive during Halloween season. Mackinaw Manor is a haunted house with lots of special effects to get you spooked for the season. Also, the Grand Hotel hosts a Murder Mystery Weekend where you can actually dress the part and be fully immersed in this interactive experience with meals, receptions, and live entertainment. Also, in the area you’ll find costume contests, trick-or-treating, and entertainment at downtown bars. Another great part of Michigan to be around Halloween is Harbor Springs, which has an annual festival on the waterfront, trick-or-treating, a Halloween parade, and other festive events.
Go to a Local Apple Orchard (Nearby Hotels)
Michigan is one of the top places in the entire 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. Here 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, Fernville 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 (Nearby Hotels)
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an incredible place to visit during any time of year, so we highly recommend seeing it in each one of the four seasons. In the fall, you can see the brilliant colors along the Lake Superior coast. 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 areas and designated specifically on the National Park Service’s website.
Experience the Hype of Football Season (Nearby Hotels)
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 to 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 either in the stadium or at a local sports bar.