Michigan in the fall is a dream destination for fall colors and the autumn harvest. Come late September, the trees start turning dazzling red, yellow, and orange. It’s the perfect time to get out and explore the Mitten State.
The state has plenty of pumpkin patches, apple orchards, and cider mills to soak up the Michigan fall spirit. Clear your October too schedule because, this month, these are the Michigan destinations you’ll want to visit to see as many Michigan fall colors as possible. The best part is you won’t need to travel far; you can find wonderful colors across the state.
When is the best time For Michigan fall colors?
Most years, October is the best time to see the colors in Michigan. However, the best times for fall color in the Upper Peninsula are different than in the Lower Peninsula. There’s no set time for when the colors will change, every year is different.
But in general, you can expect the colors to peak in the UP by late September to early October and in the Lower Peninsula by mid-October. Colors can last well into early November, but it depends on the year!
Smoky Mountains provides a forecast map by county in the United States. The map can help you plan any trips before colors reach their peak. Of course, it’s only a prediction, and no one can predict colors with certainty.
How long do fall colors last in Michigan?
Fall Colors do not last forever as the leaves are dying. Weather can play a large role in the lifespan of fall colors, as precipitation or heavy winds can cause the leaves to fall faster. You can expect the fall colors in Michigan to last for two to three weeks once the leaves begin to change color.
What’s the weather like in Michigan in the fall?
Expect warm summer days in September throughout much of Michigan in the fall. Things cool off slightly, but you’ll still find average temperatures in the 70s. The temperature gets cooler in October, with a bit of rain and moody days. Fall weather in Michigan can be unpredictable, so it’s best to bring a packable rain jacket and umbrella just in case!
Where to see Michigan Fall Colors
With the crisp fall air floating by, auburn trees decorating the landscape, and peak tourist crowds dissipating, fall is a great time to visit Traverse City. These precious days when it’s not too hot and not too cold are made for smaller hubs like Traverse City.
There is much to see here and drink, thanks to its 40+ amazing wineries and 20 breweries. Not to mention the beautiful coastline of Lake Superior and 18,000 acres of cherry orchards. When you aren’t exploring nature or the Mission Point Lighthouse, you can experience the restaurants, galleries, and shops on Front Street.
In October, you can get lost in Jacob’s Corn Maze and have an amazing stay at Chateau Chantal afterward. If you have time for a Michigan weekend getaway, Traverse City is one of the top places in Michigan to visit in the fall. The city can draw a crowd once the fall colors begin.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Porcupine Mountains State Park has arguably the best landscapes and natural scenery to witness the fall colors in Michigan. Here the rolling hills are blanketed in a sea of colors and ring the park’s untouched lakes. It’s one of the last great vestiges of nature in Michigan, with 35,000 acres of old-growth forest.
Visitors need to work to reach the mountains on the west side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the Porcupine Mountains rise above Lake Superior. You will discover epic waterfalls, hardwood forests, and some stunning viewpoints of Lake of the Clouds.
Most notable is the Lake of the Clouds Overlook, one of Michigan’s finest views regardless of the season. It arguably provides the best ‘fall photo’ in Michigan. Looking down at the turquoise lake, you will capture a mix of bright blues framed by fall colors.
Isle Royale National Park
Did you know Michigan has a US National Park? Yup, Isle Royale National Park is one of the many natural wonders of Michigan and a wonderful addition to the six other National Sites managed by the NPS in the state. The rocky island lies south of Thunder Bay in Canada and offers kayaking, hiking, and scuba diving.
A trip to Isle Royale National Park is the perfect fall escape before the frosty winter descends on this small island. It’s a popular destination in the summer months. However, a trip in the fall comes with beautiful foliage and fewer crowds. It also allows visitors to avoid the pesky black flies of the summer.
Fall begins picturesque hiking in peace. Watch the leaves tumble down and you stroll around the remote island. Breathe the fresh air as you explore the outskirts, bays, and coves on a boat.
All before camping under the starry sky. Get in early, however, as the park closes on November 1st. To reach the car-free National Park, visitors must take a ferry from Copper Harbor or Houghton in the U.P. There is also a ferry that operates out of Grand Portage, Minnesota. You can find more information here.
Mackinac Island (One of the best Places for Michigan Fall Colors!)
Anyone born and raised around the Midwest knows Mackinac Island as a premier destination for tourists in the summer months. The island resort is one of the most famous in the country.
However, a trip to the popular island in the fall helps you avoid the busy season and save money on accommodation, especially if you want a special stay at the famous Grand Hotel.
Mackinac Island offers some great local tours, quaint boutique shops, and plenty of sweet treats. But with the backing of the changing leaves, the island takes on a different vibe around Halloween. Mackinac Island’s spooky history is displayed with murder mystery weekends, haunted houses, and costume contests.
The city of Detroit may not immediately spring to mind when it comes to seeing the best fall colors in Michigan, but it has all we love about this time of year in one place. Many parks near Detroit are great spots to enjoy nature and the fall colors. We suggest Stony Creek Metropark, Addison Oaks County Park, Holly State Recreation Area, and Seven Ponds Nature Center.
Detroit also has a series of metro apple orchards, parks, and cider mills. Some even come with fresh donuts and a hayride for the younger ones. The Detroit Zoo has some fabulous fall events in October, including pumpkin carving and awesome spooks in the Holden Reptile Conservation Center.
Beyond apples, Detroit’s nature embraces the fall colors; explore the Dequindre Cut Greenway and the Riverwalk for Insta-worthy examples. The Detroit Fleet Oktoberfest comes to life alongside an envious collection of food trucks. Beacon Park hosts a Cider in the City event on select weekends in October, and the Detroit Zoo puts on an exciting trick-or-treat event.
If you’re a sports fan, Fall also marks the opening of a new season for the NHL Red Wings and the NBA Detroit Pistons. Catching a game of either team is one of the best things to do in Detroit.
Port Crescent State Park
On the tip of Michigan’s “thumb” is Port Crescent State Park, with 640 acres of woodlands and three miles of protected lakeshore. The state park is the perfect size to make it family-friendly, with five miles of hiking trails.
In fall, the forest that lines the sandy beach on Lake Huron turns vibrant colors. As a state park, it’s the perfect spot to escape the crowds and enjoy a quiet escape. It is also a dark sky preserve, making it a perfect spot to take in the night sky.
If you are dying to get out of the big city for the weekend, then Kalamazoo presents an excellent choice. Two hours west of Detroit, Kalamazoo blends nature and museums, so you will have plenty to do whether it is sunny or raining.
The town has miles of cycling trails, including the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, while the kids will love the Binder Park Zoo. Thanks to the Midwest Miniatures Museum, the Valley Museum, and the popular Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo will keep you busy if you feel like staying indoors. For some crisp craft beer, you’ll find several local Michigan breweries.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Hiking through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is fun in the warm summer. But come fall, you can do it again without breaking a sweat. Take away some of the traveling crowd, and have a memorable fall escape.
The park’s highlight is the towering dunes that are a trek to hike up, but with beautiful lakeside views and the crisp fall air, there’s no better time to make the journey. Other fun activities include cycling along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail or paddling on Lake Michigan on a nice day.
You can also enjoy the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a short seven-mile loop packed with everything we love about the fall. The drive is fun, with winding turns flanked by thick forests. But you’ll often stop to enjoy the views. Along the way, you’ll pass by Glen Lake overlooks, all the while surrounded by the changing leaves.
DeBuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch
Since 2009, DeBuck’s has been a must-visit for families and couples embracing fall traditions. Their amazing corn maze covers an epic 15 acres to induce a slight panic attack. If you enjoy exploring pumpkin patches for the perfect front door ornament, DeBuck’s comes with an expansive 20 acres of endless pumpkins.
But the fun doesn’t end there, with several attractions to keep you happy. These include the Super Slide, Jump Pad, Human Foosball, and much more in the Family Fun Area. Stop by DeBuck’s Sweet Treats for unforgettable donuts when you’re all tuckered out.
Point Pelee National Park
Although not technically in Michigan, Point Pelee National Park is a slice of heaven across the border in Ontario and makes for a great day trip from Detroit. Point Pelee National Park comes to life during fall as a stopping point for the migrating monarch butterflies. In September and October, you can spot thousands of these beautiful butterflies traveling from Canada to Mexico.
It is much easier to explore Point Pelee this time of year. With diminished crowds, you’ll have more space to roam, and the wonderful sense of quiet will make you appreciate this wilderness even more.
Charlevoix Apple Fest
Like DeBuck’s listed above, Charlevoix comes to life in Michigan in the fall. The Charlevoix Apple Fest is an iconic apple fest that draws people from all over Michigan to enjoy a selection of the state’s best apples and a town that knows how to put on a great show.
For two decades, the town of Charlevoix has been a gathering place for apple vendors, and you can find up to 30 varieties of apples during the festival. Beyond that, there are events for young and old, from pony rides and the petting zoo to pumpkin carving and even a 10k fun run.
Huron-Manistee National Forests
If you’re chasing fall colors, it’s tough to do better than the nearly million acres of the Huron-Manistee National Forests. They’re two separate forests that provide a huge amount of recreation space.
The trails and campgrounds are most popular along four nationally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, such as the Manistee, Au Sable, Pere Marquette, and Pine. National Park Service provides fall foliage updates through their website on this map.
Paddle down Au Sable
The middle of the year sees locals flock to Au Sable for some tubing and good times. The party atmosphere may slow down during the fall, but that’s why to visit. Au Sable becomes a peaceful paradise as the leaves turn orange and the days become crisp.
September and October are the perfect time to break out your canoe or kayak and journey down the river. Enjoy the amazing scenery, peace, and fewer hungry mosquitoes. If you’re up for a real adventure, try paddling the 55-mile stretch that comes with stunning river-side camping.
Frankenmuth for Oktoberfest
Although we mentioned Detroit’s version of Oktoberfest above, if you want to partake in the German tradition, there’s no better place to go in Michigan than Frankenmuth. The epic four-day event in September is a fall tradition for many who come to Frankenmuth. Enjoy live music into the early hours, a beer or five, and one of the most authentic Oktoberfests outside of Germany.
The town has a unique connection to Germany, and the Frankenmuth Oktoberfest is the first in the world to operate under the blessing of the original event in Munich.
On the northern Michigan Peninsula, with access to over 200 miles of coastline, beaches, and wetlands, Escanaba offers wonderful scenery in the fall. You may not be brave enough to dip into Lake Superior once the temperatures have dropped, but the tree-flanked shores come with memorable foliage.
Escanaba provides several scenic drives from downtown that show off its envious nature between watersports in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. You can also learn about the town’s past by driving the Maywood History Trail or venturing down the Peninsula Point Interpretive Lighthouse Trail.
Michigan’s Sunrise Coast
One of the best road trips during a Michigan fall is a drive down the Sunrise Coast, a beautiful Heritage Route along US-23 from Standish to Mackinaw City. Coating Lake Huron, the brilliant fall foliage will have you often stopping to appreciate the scenery.
Passing a series of quiet lakeside towns, you will see colorful hardwood trees, several lighthouses, and plenty of short hiking trails to explore the local nature. Michigan lighthouses to check out include the romantic Tawas Point Lighthouse and the classic white and red Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.
The best time of year to visit Petoskey is in the fall when the popular summer vacation town dies down, leaving behind all the time in the world to enjoy fall activities. Around Petoskey are charming lakeside towns, like Bay Harbor, and the short drives between each destination come with beautiful sights and spectacular colors. If you like wine, you’ll have to check out the Bay View Wine Trail, which comes alive during a Michigan fall.
For the adventurous soul, you can trek through the Avalanche Mountain Preserve or hike the trails around Boyne Mountain. At the same time, Petoskey’s museums will keep you busy on a rainy fall afternoon. Afterward, there are plenty of Petoskey restaurants to choose from and warm up in a cozy environment.
Ann Arbor’s personality was made for fall. Whether you’re into college football or independent bookstores and vintage clothing, this time of year in Ann Arbor is like a storybook. Although home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor doesn’t feel like a typical college town. Here historic theaters and unique shops thrive.
Surrounded by farmland, restaurants here have easy access to fresh local produce to provide amazing dining from Adventura’s to Miss Kim. The university campus is also stunning this time of year, and just walking around can be a memorable experience.
Michigan’s North Country Trail
The North Country Trail is over 4,600 miles long and travels through eight states. But if fall has come around and you’re itching for a multi-day expedition, this is the hike in Michigan to do.
The section in Michigan is 550 miles long, traversing the Upper Peninsula from east to west, where you’ll hit awesome cities like Marquette, but you can hike just some of the trail in day sections. The trail provides an unbeatable nature experience during fall, with some of the most colorful sections around West Sturgeon Bay.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Close to Munising and home to some of the best waterfalls in Michigan, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a stunning place to visit to see the Michigan fall colors. With the immense Lake Superior contrasting with the fall foliage that hugs the rugged coastline, your camera will work overtime.
The lakeshore has abundant fall hiking opportunities, jaw-dropping cliffs, and scenic rivers. Kick back with a fishing rod, or get the heart racing with some mountain biking through the blazing trees.
Popular all year long, Grand Rapids is one of the top cities in Michigan to visit in the fall. The beer capital of America takes on a different vibe during these months, thanks to the performing arts season, with several festivals held in September and October.
The fall colors completely change the city’s lush forest canopies with many urban parks and nearby nature. You will also enjoy other fall traditions, from apple picking to their very own Oktoberfest.
Plus, it never hurts to bar hope between their 80+ breweries or go to Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery for some delicious apple wine. If you are craving some apple donuts, you can’t miss Hills Bros. Orchards & Cider Mill.
The small city of St. John holds a special place in my heart as I traveled to Uncle John’s Cider Mill every October as a child. It’s here you can spend the entire day enjoying farm-fresh apple cider, apple picking, apple donuts, and pumpkin picking. It’s a popular place for families and young kids to enter the Michigan fall spirit.
This popular family farm has been in business since the 1970s, and Michigan families travel from around the state to soak up the atmosphere.
Michigan Fall Activities
Pumpkin Patches and Apple Orchards in Michigan
- Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill (Armada)
- Harvest Moon Acres (Gobles)
- Heritage Farms Market (Fremont)
- Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Patch (Saginaw)
- Higgins Pumpkin Farm (Onaway)
- The Flower Farm (Bad Axe)
- Fleming Farm (Gaylord)
- Montrose Orchards (Montrose)
- Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch (Midland)
Haunted Houses and Corn Mazes in Michigan
- Azra Haunted House Chamber of Horrors (Madison Heights)
- Erebus Haunted Attraction (Pontiac)
- Hush Haunted Attraction (Westland)
- DarkSyde Acres Haunted House (Jonesville)
- Exit 13 Haunted House (Flint)
- Awaken Haunted Attraction (Leslie)
- The Blast Corn Maze (Dexter)
- Bestmaze Corn Maze (Williamston)
- Hayes Corn Maze (Rock)
READ MORE MICHIGAN TRAVEL TIPS
I hope you enjoyed this guide on where to see Michigan fall colors! Hopefully, you found it useful. Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Michigan.
- Things to do in Saugatuck
- Things to do in Ludington
- Things to do in Holland
- Things to do in Grand Haven
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