Michigan locals and travelers alike have loved watching the trees change colors for decades. Back in 1937, WMTA reprinted a color tour map titled Flaming Forests of Michigan. Today, these routes hold up, but there are many new ways to experience these fall colors. From boat rides in South Haven to chairlifts up north, see how the trees have changed colors throughout West Michigan.
Fall Colors in Southern West Michigan
Enjoy peak autumn color during Arts and Eats, a free self-driving tour of Allegan and Barry Counties, Hastings, and the surrounding rural region on October 21st and 22nd. Over two days, art, local food, and agriculture in out-of-the-way places come together for you to discover. Visit local artisans in their studios and working farms featuring specialty food crops, fiber, and heritage animals. Don’t forget to stop in one of the many local restaurants and eateries that serve food made with ingredients from area farms and producers.
Lemon Creek Winery in Berrien Springs is the perfect place to stop on your fall color tour! Not only will enjoy the colors of the trees, you will also experience the beauty of their vineyard in the fall. Enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine outside amongst the fresh aromas of grapes being harvested and pressed on location. You can also venture into the orchard to pick fresh apples (children are always welcome!).
The beauty of Michigan’s fall foliage will be in full bloom at both Bell’s Brewery’s Kalamazoo and Comstock locations, along with the route between them. Enjoy the short seven-mile drive from the Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo to the brewery in Comstock, while taking in the magnificent fall colors Michigan is known for. Or, hop on your bike and ride the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, which runs from the Eccentric Café directly to Bell’s main brewery. To complete the fall experience, a special tour will be offered to celebrate their annual Roll out the Barrel celebration, and new weekly and monthly specials with a seasonal focus will be featured.
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings is offering two events on Saturday, October 28th for those looking to experience the fall colors. From 8am to noon, attend the Autumn Photograph Workshop with Josh Haas. Nature photography takes not only being aware of lighting, color, background, and foreground, but also luck! The workshop will include taking outside photos and reviewing those photos with coaching on composition and lighting from Josh. Test your skills in the evening on the Candlelight Trails from 7pm to 9:30pm. Enjoy a lovely evening on candlelit trails while taking in the colors, smells, and sounds of fall. Stargazing and storytelling also may be available if the weather is clear.
Enjoy the fall colors along the Black River in South Haven while aboard the Michigan Maritime Museum‘s charming river launch, Lindy Lou. These hour-long guided cruise on the historic replica Truscott Launch will steal your heart and makes for the perfect romantic river excursion as it travels up the Black River. Tickets for Lindy Lou are $15 per person and include Museum admission. Cruises are offered the entire month of October.
Dawn Edwards brings her beautiful work to the Bailey Museum in South Haven with the Eco Printing Workshop. Dawn did an introductory program about eco printing this summer at the museum, and the museum fell in love with her exquisite works. You will learn the technique of using natural items like leaves and stems to create a beautiful piece of wearable art. This is the perfect opportunity to create art using the fall colors.
Find out what fall’s all about in Saugatuck with a Lakeshore Lodging stay. With beautiful natural spots to take in the fall colors, a variety of great apple orchards and pumpkin patches, and Lakeshore Lodging’s selection of cozy places to call home, the Saugatuck area is perfect for an autumnal retreat.
Sit back and enjoy the fall colors from the seats aboard a historic steam engine train with Coldwater Country’s unique Fall Color Run, available Sundays in October. Board the train for either the 11am or 2pm ride through the countryside. The train makes a stop for visitors to pick out a special jack-o-lantern to take back home.
Discover the colorful backroads along the Lake Michigan coastline between South Haven and Saugatuck, an area designated as Lakeshore Harvest Country. Situated along a 30-mile stretch in Michigan’s “Fruit Belt” region, the orchards, vineyards, and farms in this area take full advantage of the “lake effect” climate that Lake Michigan offers. Home to 18 different farm markets, wineries, cideries, artist studios, restaurants, and other agricultural treasures, this area is bursting with the fall bounty.
Fall Colors Fun in Central West Michigan
Observe autumn’s changing palette from an up-close-and-personal perspective! Visit Kayla Rae Cellars and walk the White Pine Trail or launch your kayak or canoe from the parking lot to paddle the Rogue River. Small-town Rockford, with its scenic dam and local shops and restaurants, is a charming stop on your search for all the changing fall colors.
Gather your family and friends to experience the vibrant fall colors at the Depot-to-Depot Fall Color Tour in Muskegon! This free self-guided tour is offered October 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th. “Color Tourers” can pick up a map at either the Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau or at the White Lake Area Chamber Depot. Using the map as a guide, you’ll have the opportunity to visit stops along the way and win great prizes! Refreshments will be served at both the Muskegon and Whitehall Depots, and kids will receive a free pumpkin that they can decorate on site.
There is a beautiful color tour of Mecosta County, and a brochure to follow can be found on their website under the brochures tab. You may drive the route, or take a unique tour by renting a canoe or kayak and going down the Muskegon River to explore the fall colors from a new perspective.
Fall Colors in Northern West Michigan
Crystal Adventures Lodging & Rentals in Thompsonville is offering discounts on lodging rates and ATV color tours from now until the leaves are gone. Stay in beautiful northern Michigan and experience the fall colors in a new and unique way, as you ride through the woods in an ATV.
From now until October 21st, Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville is offering their Fall Color Chairlift Rides, giving you the chance to ride up the mountain to see all of the fall colors. Enjoy panoramic views of three counties and top-of-the-mountain attractions, including live musical entertainment, a family sand box, snack bar, cash bar, and more. New this year is the Fall Chairlift Scavenger Hunt, offered every Saturday until October 21st. Ride up the lift and walk down the mountain to find the clues!
Fall is a beautiful time to explore northern Michigan wineries. This fall, experience Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay in a whole new way! After you take in all of the fall colors, go on a 45-minute guided tour through the breathtaking property, including the exclusive inn, centennial barn, and wine cave while learning the history of this iconic 160-acre estate and its wine. The tour concludes with a premium tasting (souvenir glass included), featuring award-winning wine, cider, and spirits.
The Island House Hotel on Mackinac Island is celebrating fall with a variety of packages to help you get the most out of your stay. The island is beautiful in the fall, making it the perfect place to visit for the fall colors. You won’t have access to your car, so you’ll need to cycle, ride a horse and carriage, or take a boat around the island to see the changing season.
Surround yourself in color and fine wine. WaterFire Vineyards in Kewadin offers expansive views of fall foliage. Stop in for a tasting and experience even more as you’re surrounded in northern Michigan fall colors.
The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail’s Hunt for the Reds of October event is the perfect enhancement for your fall color tour! Tickets are only $10 for a featured red pouring at each of their 22 wineries, plus a souvenir glass. Each ticket includes a $5 donation to the American Red Cross. This event is Mondays through Fridays during the entire month of October, giving you more than enough opportunities to check out the festivities.
Let the Beaver Island Boat Company welcome you to autumn, island style! Hop on the boat in Charlevoix and travel 32 miles into mighty Lake Michigan to the rustic and secluded Beaver Island. Stroll the streets with a cup of cider, say hello to the friendly locals, and learn why island life is so unique. The boat ride will surely be breathtaking while you dock in Paradise Bay in the warm golden fall colors and lighthouses in the distance. Escape to America’s Emerald Isle and discover the beauty of northern Michigan.
The Mackinac area, especially Mackinac Island, is gorgeous in fall color season. Visit the Mackinac State Historic Parks to get a stunning view from Fort Mackinac, or go to the highest point on Mackinac Island, Fort Holmes, for an incredible view of the fall colors and the island.
At Hotel Walloon on Walloon Lake, you’ll be able to go on a unique tour of the fall colors. Tommy’s Watersport, just steps from the hotel, is offering fall color tours around Walloon Lake. Hop on a boat and take a trip around the lake before coming back to the hotel for dinner.
Jutting north between the azure arms of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay lies the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, one of northern Michigan favorite fall color tours. The area stretches 19 miles north and only four miles wide at its broadest point, all along M-37. The peninsula is home to nine distinct wineries that comprise the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula. Along with wine tasting, enjoy the fall scenery, beautiful beaches, exquisite restaurants, and historic lighthouse. This fall, discover the beauty of the Old Mission Peninsula and experience the award-winning wines of the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula.
Shanty Creek Resorts sits on 4,500 acres of property in Bellaire, making it the perfect basecamp for a fall fun getaway. Set in the middle of all things northern Michigan, enjoy a fall color driving tour of the area. Some truly serene places to go include Deadman’s Hill, Torch Lake Route, and Shanty Creek’s very own chairlift to the top of Schuss Mountain.
Stay at Coyote Crossing Resort in Cadillac and receive the Fall Color Tour Special: stay three weekdays for the price of two! Use the extra day to explore northern Michigan, visiting some of the best color tour spots the area has to offer. When you’re done for the day, come back and stay at the cozy resort.
Soak up the colorful fall season along the Bay View Wine Trail, in and around the greater Petoskey area. As part of the 2760-square-mile Tip of the Mitt American Viticultural Area (AVA), this six-county area in the northern Lower Peninsula is home to 10 wineries. Located further north than any of Michigan’s five total AVAs, this region offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to growing grapes. Discover these wineries for yourself throughout the fall season.
The famous Tunnel of Trees scenic driving route is one of five beautiful fall tours highlighted by the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. Along the way, visit charming towns like Boyne City & Boyne Falls, Petoskey, Walloon Lake, Alanson, Bay Harbor, and Harbor Springs. Take a look at what’s waiting for you in these inviting waterfront communities in northern Michigan.
Look no further than Charlevoix to experience northern Michigan’s fall colors. During the month of October, fall colors are at their peak. Stop at Friske’s Farm Market in Atwood to enjoy numerous tasty treats like apple pie, you-pick apples, and apple cider. The drive around Lake Charlevoix is a great color route, taking you through both East Jordan and Boyne City. The surrounding countryside is full of gently rolling hills and abundant foliage that is sure to satisfy anybody looking to see the colors. After a day of exploring Northern Michigan, stop downtown Charlevoix for dinner, a craft beer, or a tasty treat.
Cycling joins canoes and cars as color tour transportation in Grayling. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a leisurely drive down the backroads, cycling through Hartwick Pines, or taking in the riverside colors while canoeing the AuSable and Manistee Rivers. You can tailor your color tour route, making it as long or as short as your want, in addition to your preferred mode of transportation.
Travel to Sault Ste. Marie to see the fall colors in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here, you can visit Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point, or drive along the Curly Lewis Highway, which follows Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay. The mature trees line the road, giving you a tunnel feeling in spots along the highway. Catch it at the right time and the looming trees are filled with vibrant colors of the fall season. Other scenic drives and trails include the Monocle Lake Hiking Trail and Mission Hill Overlook, Hiawatha National Forest’s Big Pine Picnic Area, and the Tahquamenon Falls State Park area.
Visit Traverse City this October for the fall color season. Follow M-22 along Grand Traverse Bay through Suttons Bay, Omena and Northport. Then, turning abruptly southwest, skirt the Lake Michigan shore through Leland, Glen Arbor and Empire. When autumn comes to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, it’s easy to see why viewers of Good Morning America called this landscape the “most beautiful place in America.” Each fall, an amazing transformation takes place, as the towering bluffs and islands burst into sheets of flaming scarlet, orange, and gold, made even more dramatic being set against the deep indigo blue of Lake Michigan.
As the days grow cooler, the colors get warmer in Marquette County. Venture north and choose a fall color driving tour, or take time to hike to a waterfall or to the top of a scenic vista to enjoy a view with memories that will last long after the leaves have scattered. For a comprehensive list of opportunities to enjoy autumn colors in Marquette, visit their website!
The Straits of Mackinac area offers dozens of ways to explore the changing of the seasons. Take a hike, explore nearby waterfalls, view wild elk, take a scenic drive, gaze at the moon and stars, go on a cemetery tour, climb a lighthouse, and more. The Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau has compiled a list of 17 ways to fall in love with this new season in Pure Michigan. No matter how you choose to take in the autumn season, be sure to bring your camera and share photos on social media with the hashtag #MakeItMackinaw and #MackinawCity.
Fall Colors Throughout West Michigan
Beer Tourism is a growing part of Pure Michigan, and the Michigan Brewers Guild is proud to represent nearly 250 craft breweries around the state that contribute to this sector. Fall is an especially great time to sip on a locally-made beer, from the seasonal ales made with freshly-harvest hops to pumpkin beers which celebrate the season, Michigan is surely the Great Beer State. Whether you’re traveling along the I-94 corridor, the West Michigan Pike along Lake Michigan, the US-23 Heritage Route on the sunrise side or the scenic M-119 Tunnel of Trees out of Harbor Springs, you’ll find dozens of breweries ready to serve you a pint of handcrafted seasonal beer.
Fall Colors Near West Michigan
The Art Gallery of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario offers Fall Colour Painting Tour, including guided tour for the exhibitions and mini-painting lesson inspired by beautiful fall colours and the Group of Seven style.