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8 Best Things to Do in Michigan in Fall

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.

Take a Driving Tour of the Fall Colors Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan in the fall
Credit: Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan in the fall by Bigstock.com

Take a Driving Tour of the Fall Colors

What Is It? 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.

Why Do It? 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.

Good To Know: 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 Pumpkins
Credit: Pumpkins by © Mvogel | Dreamstime.com

Go to a Festive Pumpkin Patch

What Is It? DeBuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Belleville is a fun pumpkin patch recommendation. Zeeland’s Pumpkinfest has a 5K run, pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin scavenger hunt, and many more activities to celebrate our favorite fall vegetable.

Why Do It? 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.

Good To Know: 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
Credit: Bridge over the Black River in the Ottawa National Forest on the North Country Trail in Michigan by www.bigstock.com

Hike on the North Country Trail

What Is It? 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.

Why Do It? It’s perfect for a multi-day backpacking adventure or even a day hike to see some particularly colorful sections around West Sturgeon Bay.

Good To Know: 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
Credit: Frankenmuth Oktoberfest by frankenmuthfestivals.com

Attend an Oktoberfest Celebration

What Is It? 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.

Why Do It? 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.

Good To Know: 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
Credit: Halloween at The Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island by Grand Hotel

Experience Halloween on Mackinac Island

What Is It? 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.

Why Do It? 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.

Good To Know: 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
Credit: Apple Orchard in Michigan by Emmalee Couturier via Unsplash

Go to a Local Apple Orchard

What Is It? Charlevoix has an annual Apple Fest to celebrate the harvest season with 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. Fennville offers U-pick and a corn maze at Crane Orchards.

Why Do It? 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.

Good To Know: 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
Credit: Elliot Falls spills over sculpted rock at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising by bigstock.com

Camp at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

What Is It? At Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, you can hike, camp, and sightsee to experience the impressive rocky beaches, cliffs, sand dunes, and rivers flowing into the lake.

Why Do It? It 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.

Good To Know: 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
Credit: University of Michigan football team faces off against Western Michigan Unversity by www.bigstock.com

Experience the Hype of Football Season

What Is It? 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.

Why Do It? Football is also a way of life in the fall in Michigan, so make a point to attend a football game here this fall.

Good To Know: 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.

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