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24 Ways to Enjoy the Fall Colors

With the cooler weather, the gorgeous red, yellow, orange, and brown foliage arrives, painting the landscape in its Autumn best. Whether traveling by car, bike, foot, or boat, now is the perfect time to head out to capture Mother Nature’s annual show. Use this list of color tour destinations around West Michigan to plan your trip!

 

1. Fall Colors in the Keweenaw (UP) 

For many travelers, autumn is their favorite time to visit the Keweenaw Peninsula. As the summer temperatures wane, the Keweenaw’s landscape experiences a vibrant change from a sea of green to waves of orange, red, and gold. The dramatic change happens a little earlier in the Upper Peninsula than in many parts of the country because of the cooler climate, so pack your best flannel(s) and experience the Keweenaw in its full fall glory.

 

2. Foliage Cruise Along Lake Superior (UP) 


Photo credit: Aaron Peterson

From tunnels of color to historic attractions, Marquette is home to four fall foliage cruises that are full of sights loved by locals and visitors alike. These specially curated road trips offer a wonderful opportunity for nature lovers to hop in their cars and explore the scenic wilderness that gives Marquette County its charm.

 

3. See and Taste the Fall Season (North) 

Experience the beautiful fall foliage while tasting Michigan-made beer or wine, as well as fall-themed hors d’oeuvres at the Treetops Color Tour & Progressive Dinner October 10th and 17th at Treetops Resort in Gaylord. 

4.Take a Scenic Backroad in Grayling (North)

The contrasting evergreen and hardwood forests of Northern Michigan are spectacular in autumn. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a leisurely drive down the backroads, biking or hiking through Hartwick Pines State Park, or taking in the riverside colors while canoeing down the world famous AuSable and Manistee Rivers. Find color information and recommended routes and stops from the Gralying Visitors Bureau.

5. Drive through the Tunnel of Trees (North) 

The Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau has made things easy for you to enjoy the best of fall. They have five color routes – including the famous Tunnel of Trees all laid out for you. Follow this link to a colorful escape to Bay Harbor, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Alanson, Boyne City/Boyne Falls, and the surrounding communities.

6. Unwind With A Relaxing Fall Retreat (North) 

Looking to experience something special this fall? Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and natural beauty, Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville offers a variety of ways to plan the retreat you’ve been dreaming about. Ride the chairlift and enjoy panoramic views of three counties, hike through the densely-wooded Michigan Legacy Art Park, or hit the links for some fun and fresh air — reserve your tee times here. Indulge in a spa service with Crystal Spa Days through November 29th. Plan your fall retreat today and enjoy lodging starting at $127 per night. Book online or call the Reservations Department at 844-272-4002.

7. Traverse City Color Among the Vines & Waves (North)


Photo: Inland Seas Education Association

Fall is a favorite time to visit Traverse City! The Hunt for the Reds of October takes place weekdays during the month of October. For the entire month, your ticket gets you a complimentary pour at each of more than 20 participating Leelanau Peninsula Trail wineries offering diverse red wines. October 10th and 11th, join Inland Seas for their Fall Color Sail. On this two-hour sailing adventure, you’ll feel the crisp fall air on your face and observe the beautiful changing trees. With harvest in full swing at Black Star Farms, this is an exciting time to visit! Late autumn produce from the Chef’s Garden will be featured at Black Star Farms Arcturos Dining Series | Harvest Bounties October 23rd

 

8. Panaramic Views in Bellaire (North)


Photo: Shanty Creek Resort

With scenery in every direction at the 5,000 acre Northern Michigan resort, you can’t miss taking in the fall color at Shanty Creek. With fresh air options like chairlift rides, hiking at Grass River Natural Area and Glacial Hills, or a leisurely drive around the Chain of Lakes, fall is the perfect time to spend up north in Bellaire.

9. Plan a Scenic Walk in Cadillac (North) 

Fall in Cadillac can be the most idyllic time of year for scenic walks along the lakeshore and self-guided tours through local roads with great views of the changing leaves on the trees. Due to the higher elevation, colors turn one week earlier than neighboring areas. The local businesses and farms are all decked out to bring you the festive spirit of the season. Find fall color routes, day trips, and more in the Greater Cadillac Area.

10. Take a River Color Tour (North)

Looking for a unique way to capture the beauty of the fall colors in northern Michigan? Two of the Mitten’s premiere paddlesport rivers – the Pine and the Big Manistee – wind their way through beautiful river valleys, revealing new color palettes at every bend. The Pine River Paddlesports Center in Wellston is here to make your fall color tour on the river an absolute breeze. From kayaks and canoes, to SUPs and rafts, the helpful staff at PRPC is ready to fit everyone in your crew to watercraft that fits each individual’s size and experience level. PRPC is open seven days a week through the first of November. Come experience Michigan’s colorful Autumn canvas from an incomparable view that only the river valley can offer.

 

11. Hike to Mt. Pleasant’s Highest Point (Central)  

Mt. Pleasant is the perfect spot for unexpected fall color. With more than 1,000 acres of parkland in the Mt. Pleasant area, you can always find a good hike. Visitors can also view the changing of fall colors from the Chippewa River by renting kayaks and canoes. The Chippewa Watershed and Conservancy is also hosting a guided hike to Mt. Pleasant’s highest point, Bundy Hill Preserve. This is one of the best places to be during the fall color season. 

12. Mecosta County Color Tour (Central) 

With fall on its way, so is the Mecosta County Fall Color Tour. The newly updated Color Tour map will take you on a wonderful tour of Mecosta County as the roads explode with color! You can either stop in to the Welcome Center in Big Rapids or visit their website to pick up or download the Color Tour brochure.

13. Enjoy the Colors of the Season Around Ludington (Central)

If you’re ready for a breath of fresh air and some relaxation this fall, the country roads in and around Ludington are the perfect driving routes to experience the vibrant colors of the season. Discover scenic towns and villages with plenty of options to be outdoors along the way, namely, nature walks, U-pick farms, and picnic and recreation areas. Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo in New Era is the perfect stop on your color tour along US-31 between Muskegon and Ludington.  Pop in for a delicious bag of homemade kettle corn, or treat yourself to their signature apple cider slushie and donut pairing! Visit the pumpkin patch, go on a wagon ride to pick your own apples, or take in all of the amazing activities and animals as you enjoy the crisp fall air in the beautiful outdoor setting.

 

14. Depot to Depot (Central)

Experience Michigan’s beautiful autumn with this fun fall tradition. Visit Muskegon presents the 16th Annual “Depot to Depot Fall Color Tour” October 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th. For four Saturdays, celebrate the vibrant colors of Muskegon County’s woods, dunes, and water! Drive your car or ride your bike along this self-guided route that stretches from the Muskegon South Pierhead Light to the White River Light Station. Travel on some of Muskegon’s and White Lake Area’s most scenic roads along Lake Michigan and the West Michigan Pike Byway. Visit historic sites, enjoy nature, and snap some “selfies.” Use hashtag #D2D2020 on social media when you check-in at stops and share your color tour photos for a chance to win prizes. The more check-ins, the more entries! 

15. Lansing’s Fall Color Road Trip (South)


Photo: Matt Mohundro

If you’re looking for a quick road trip that allows you to take in the kaleidoscope of fall colors all while providing stops to sample delicious, uniquely Michigan tastes, Lansing has you covered. Click here for a weekend itinerary that can be customized and enjoyed whether you want a romantic escape or a fun outing with the kids.

16. Pedal Through Barry County’s Scenic Trails (South)

You can enjoy cycling and beautiful colors along some of Barry County’s most scenic gravel roads and trails during the Founders Fall Fondo on Saturday, October 3rd. This group ride will follow the 18, 36, or 62 mile routes of the Barry-Roubaix course. The ride will start in the City of Hastings and once you are on the course, you can choose the distance you would like to ride. All routes are marked with permanent directional signs. Best of all? All proceeds from this event will benefit the Barry County Animal Shelter.

17. Discover Kalamazoo (South)

The fall season is hands down one of the best times to visit Kalamazoo! Discover Kalamzaoo has put together a day trip itinerary highlighting some of the many unique ways to have fun and explore the changing scenery while also ensuring that you set foot in almost every area of Kalamazoo County. Be sure to add these stops to capture the best fall colors.

18. Walk with the Birds (South)

Enjoy the season with a walk among the gorgeous fall colors at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta and the W.K. Kellogg Manor House in Hickory Corners. The grounds of W.K. Kellogg’s former summer estate are open daily from dawn to dusk. The historic Manor House is open for self-guided tours by appointment Monday through Wednesday. Contact the Manor House at conference@kbs.msu.edu to schedule your visit. The Bird Sanctuary grounds are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors can pay admission, purchase corn to feed waterfowl, and shop the Resource Center and Gift Shop through a walk-up window.

19. Hike & Bike the Trails of South Haven (South)


Photo: Mark McCulfor

The best place to view the fall colors in South Haven is on one of the nature trails! Hike or bike the Kal-Haven and Van Buren Trails, or kayak the Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail under a canopy of fall colors.

20. Take a Private Ride to Wineries in South Haven (South)

Moveportz Private Car Service is providing Wine Tours from South Haven and surrounding towns to all wineries located in Southwest Michigan, including Fenn Valley VineyardsCogdal VineyardsMcIntosh Cellars, and more. Book a private car for two persons or a van with the capacity of 15 with up to five winery stops. In addition, if you want to have more of a party atmosphere, Moveportz can provide access to a luxury party bus, which has a capacity of 14 people and the latest amenities. Call 269-270-6690 to speak with the scheduling coordinator to make your reservation.

21. Offroad Fall Fun (South) 

Bundy Hill Offroad in Jerome is 300+ acres of stunning scenery and wildlife. As you are riding through the different trails you will see the magnificent fall colors! Fall color tours are $5 a person, minimum of two people, Wednesday thru Sunday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm, until November 14th. Call 517.917.0493 to schedule your fall color tour. 

22. Maple Flavored Fall Celebration (South) 

Celebrate the vibrant fall colors of Southwest Michigan at Maple Row Sugarhouse’s Fall Color Tour in Jones! Maple events begin October 11th at 10:00am. Tour the Sugarbush and learn how they collect maple sap. Enjoy samples of many different maple products and learn how the French colonials made maple syrup and maple sugar. New this year will be Civil War reenactors. The unique maple food trailer will be serving all kinds of maple products for you to purchase and enjoy, including maple brats, maple baked beans, maple ice cream, and of course their famous Apple Cider Slushie. Visit the mobile Maple Store and buy a maple gift for a friend or yourself. Activities run rain or shine and admission is free.

23. Fall’s Fantastic Foliage In Southwestern Michigan (South) 

Travel along jewel-colored roads this fall through Southwestern Michigan. This area, bordering Lake Michigan’s southern end, seems to catch fire when the leaves explode into many red, brown, yellow, and orange hues. The countryside is warm with color from some 31 varieties of northern broad-leaf trees. The peak time for southwest area fall color is from mid-October through the beginning of November.

24. View from the Water (South) 

Looking for a new way to experience the beauty of fall color? Look no further than south central Michigan’s Coldwater Country! Home to more than 100 lakes, including two chains of lakes, it’s easy to spend the entire day on the water. Launch a boat, kayak, or canoe at one of the many public access points, or rent a boat from one of the area marinas to get out on the water for a fresh, new, and naturally distant, perspective of Mother Nature’s magnificent fall color show.