The friendly communities of Harbor Country beckon the wanderer to slow down and savor the quieter side of life after the summer crowds have come and gone. Whether it’s a quick day trip or an overnight getaway, the fall provides a variety of things to do and places to roam when the colorful days are shorter and the crisp nights are longer. There is the luxury of a lingering tempo to get to know the shopkeepers and innkeepers who have stories to tell and time to tell them.
Discover the best of stunning scenery in this corner of Michigan by following The Harbor Country Fall Motor Tour. The self-guided tour guides the traveler along country back roads with easy stops to shop, a place to pick a pumpkin or grapes, great eats and cozy lodging to wind down. The route map can be downloaded at HarborCountry.org – Things To Do.
Trees ablaze with color can be appreciated by the casual hiker on rambling paths in the 22 nearby parks. The Galien River County Park with a tree top canopy overlook, holds the viewer 300 feet aloft the watershed to behold the grassy marshes and gentle river below. More autumnal vistas can be viewed from above at the Warren Dunes State Park featuring Tower Hill- a whopper of a dune, standing at 24 stories tall. Climb up to gather an inspiring view of cool dark-blue waters lapping up to color-splattered forests. Motorists traveling along the roads that border Warren Woods State Park drive through a spectacular tunnel of trees brilliantly dressed in autumn hues. Hike, bike, paddle or drive through the stunning ambers and golds of its virgin woodlands.
Juicy wafts of grapes and apples ready to be plucked delight the senses when driving through the vineyards and orchards that carpet this abundant growing region. U-pick farms and over twelve wineries are abuzz with appreciative pie bakers and wine tasters. Green, yellow and red apples are picked and piled into baskets at Williams Orchard, destined to become caramel apples, fritters and brown betties. The emerald rows of vineyards are heavy with fruit. The Harvest and Wine Festival in New Buffalo features a gallery of the best wines in the area and celebrates everything fall, all in one place, with tasty food, live music and family fun on October 12. More fun for kids of all ages can be found at Dinges Fall Harvest in Three Oaks. Adopt the perfect jack-o-lantern or hop aboard a hayride and search through the corn maze on a trek to this family-owned farm.
Explore the recessed corners of the many antique and repurposed shops in Harbor Country. Watch for little gems at pop-up markets, such as the Blue Moon Vintage Market the fourth weekend of every month. Or browse the one-of-a-kind creations of our artist denizens at art galleries that dot the map.
Sports fans have their choice of local spots to view the game, where crowds are lively and the home-grown brew is crafted just blocks away. Most notably, Greenbush Brewery in Sawyer and Ghost Isle Brewery in New Buffalo, appear on many “must-visit” brewery lists. Spirits are famously conjured at the Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, where visitors can sip whiskey, take a tour or putt a round on the 18 hole putting green course- Welter’s Folly.
Suppers that warm the soul and breakfasts to fill the belly are served up at special prices every day of the week at amiable eateries throughout Harbor Country. Don’t be surprised to chat with the chef while delighting in the dish in front of you. Home cooks and culinary extraordinaire battle for bragging rights at the Skip’s Chili Cook Off during the last day of the Skip’s European Farmer’s Market on October 13, located in New Buffalo. Growers, crafts people and food conjurers set up shop every weekend throughout the early fall. Hot mulled cider and homemade pumpkin bread are sure to make an appearance.
Cozy inns and cottages keep the home fires burning to welcome you to a home away from home. Many lodging providers offer seasonal rates to make an overnight or mid-week stay in Harbor Country a sensible choice. Snuggling up in a wooly blanket on a porch to listen to the crickets and leaves rustle in the twilight is a great wrap of a Harbor Country Fall Motor Tour day.