Touring a countryside lit up with dazzling foliage is only one reason to plan a fall getaway in Michigan. The state has an abundance of things to do in fall. Diverse travelers can enjoy the cooler temperatures and brilliant fall colors in town or deep in the wilds.
If you’re looking for ideas for fall trips, take a look at these popular places to visit in Michigan.
Fall Color Scenic Drives
Even if you don’t want to venture far from home, you can find a splendid scenic drive for fall colors almost anywhere in Michigan, including the urban south. A scenic fall drive can be a spontaneous choice when thinking about things to do in fall. If you have time and the day is beautiful, then take a drive out of town.
Fall activities for couples include scenic color tours because you get to spend the day together chatting and taking pictures. If you want to plan a getaway with the best fall foliage, pay attention to peak color dates. An Upper Peninsula fall color tour is best done in September. As you move south into the Lower Peninsula, you’ll find colors peaking throughout October.
Consult the Michigan Fall Colors Map
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is amazing every day of the year, but autumn brings out the brilliance of the mature hardwoods in this northwestern region of the Lower Peninsula. The northern latitude and proximity to Lake Michigan’s shore ensure cool fall weather. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive takes you on a leisurely and winding route through the forest. Access the route off of M-109 just south of Glen Lake.
Bond Falls Scenic Site
You’ll do plenty of driving through the forests of the Upper Peninsula to reach this waterfall in Ontonagon County. You’ll find nearby parking and a picnic area. The falls are only a short walk away from the parking area. If you’re traveling with someone with limited mobility, this is a great location to connect with nature due to the presence of an accessible boardwalk with six viewing locations.
Michigan Highway 37 (M-37) From Baldwin to Traverse City
At Baldwin, you start inland in a rural, densely forested region of the Lower Peninsula. The somewhat hilly terrain grants lovely vistas of orange, gold, and red foliage sprinkled with evergreens. The road will take you through the Manistee National Forest, where you can stop and stretch your legs on numerous hiking trails if you want. Eventually, you will leave the peaceful interior and arrive at Traverse City, a popular destination in itself on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay.
Apples, Apples, Apples
Apple picking and cider drinking are quintessential fall fun activities. According to the Michigan Apple Committee, the state is the nation’s third largest apple producer. Close to 15 million trees are in production across 775 family farms.
An apple-oriented day trip is quite easy to plan because the bulk of the apple growers are in the populated regions of the Lower Peninsula and northward along Lake Michigan. This Farm Markets and Cider Mills map is ideal for finding a U-pick orchard or cider seller close to your home or along your route. You could easily add a stop at an apple orchard while on your way to other things to do in fall.
Two great cider companies are centrally located in the middle of the state on Highway 127 just north or St. Johns. They are actually just across the road from each other.
Uncle John’s Cider Mill
This location is directly accessible along Highway 127. The property includes restored barns that are now converted into gift shops, bakeries, and a tasting room for hard ciders and wines. At the main mill, customers can watch the machinery turn the freshly picked apples into cider and buy it by the glass and gallon.
Uncle John’s can get absurdly busy at harvest time, proving the appeal of apple picking as one of the things to do in fall. The place sponsors events from Spring through Fall, featuring anything from craft fairs to monster trucks.
Apple orchards surround the barns. At harvest season, guests can take hay rides through the orchards.
Phillip’s Orchard and Cider Mill
Also on Highway 127 north of St. Johns, you can stop at Phillip’s and stock up on cider. You can freeze the gallon jugs for later.
The store has plenty of fresh peaches and apples in season, and you can buy pies, donuts, and visit the hard cider tasting room.
If you love to walk among the apple trees on a crisp fall day, Phillip’s also operates a U-pick orchard where you can fill your basket and get a real fall harvest experience. In fall, guests can enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides and buy pumpkins.
College Football Very Popular Among Things to Do in Fall
Fall means football, and Michigan provides many places in a compact geographical area to see an exciting college game.
- Central Michigan University Chippewas in Mount Pleasant
- Eastern Michigan University Eagles in Ypsilanti
- University of Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor
- Michigan State University Spartans in East Lansing
- Western Michigan University Broncos in Kalamazoo
Don’t worry if none of these universities are your alma mater. Hordes of locals attend the college football games in Michigan for the fun of tailgating and watching exciting games. Attending a football game is a great choice when looking for fun things to do in the fall with friends.
If you want to watch some football this fall, you can find tickets to attend one or more games throughout the season.
The athletic departments at these schools will have schedules and information about how to get tickets to a college football game.
Michigan Fall Fishing
Cooler temperatures cool the state’s lakes and rivers, and that means the fish will be more active. The state’s waters are home to many popular (and tasty) sport species, including:
If your luck is good, you’ll find excellent fishing in the major rivers:
- Au Sable
- St. Joseph
Planning a fishing trip in Michigan can take you to some remote areas. Private and state park campgrounds are usually nearby great fishing areas. If you want some cushier accommodations, hotels, motels, and vacation rentals proliferate through the state. You might even get a little better rate when up north because the peak season for tourists ends in September, but that’s just when the fishing is getting good.
Of course, fishing charters on the Great Lakes are quite common in all the marinas. These will fill up fast when the fishing is at its best, so, if you want to book a fishing charter, you’ll need to get reservations early.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources operates a fishing report that informs you about current water conditions and reported fishing activity. You can subscribe to email alerts. These alerts will be useful if you’re hoping to plan a quick trip when the fishing is at its best.