15 Fun Fall Things to Do in Northern Michigan
If you didn’t already know, now is the time to find fall things to do Northern Michigan.
It’s a great time to celebrate in northern Michigan: the leaves on the trees are changing colors, the air is cooler and there is plenty of fun to be had before the first snowflake hits the ground.
The best way to spend fall is in Northern Michigan, with its gorgeous scenery, tasty food, along with outdoor and indoor activities galore.
Whether you’re looking for a family activity, planning a day trip, or looking for outdoor adventures, there are plenty of fun activities and pure Michigan fall events to enjoy.
Planning to visit Northern Michigan soon? Read on to find 15 fun fall things to do in Northern Michigan.
Fall Things to Do in Northern Michigan: See Michigan Fall Foliage
1. Take a Michigan Fall Color Drive
Northern Michigan’s spectacular autumnal leaves in shades of orange, red and yellow are a must-see in the fall.
While there are numerous spots to take fall colors tours to see the foliage, M-22 is a great place to start. This stretch of highway spans from Manistee to Traverse City along the Lake Michigan coast and everything in between. Even if it’s cold and rainy you can still get prime viewing of the foliage from the car.
Travel a little farther north for Michigan’s famed “Tunnel of Trees.” Start in Harbor Springs and follow the narrow road of M-119 that hugs the Michigan border through a wooded 20 miles of color and light to Cross Village. It’s one of the most scenic fall drives in the country, with lots of fun spots to explore. If you’re looking for a family fun trip idea, don’t miss Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs.
2. Visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park
41382 West M-123 in Paradise, MI,
Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a stunner year-round, but even more so during the autumn months. Bundle up and hike the park trails for a view of the falls.
Located in the eastern U.P., just about 90 minutes over the bridge, the park spans more than 50,000 acres. Follow the trail to the Lower Falls or opt to continue on to the Upper Falls to see one of Northern Michigan’s best attractions is truly paradise.
Tahquamenon Falls are the largest falls east of the Mississippi, and one of the top travel destinations for visitors in the autumn time.
3. Drive Across the Mackinac Bridge at Night to See the Lights (Or View it From Shore)
The Mackinac Bridge is one of the most notable landmarks of Northern Michigan, stretching across the Straits of Mackinac approximately five miles, and connecting the Lower Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula.
After the sun goes down, the ‘Mighty Mac’ lights up. If you prefer to see the lights from shore, you can do so from both sides of the bridge. From the Lower Peninsula, try Alexander Henry Park in Mackinaw City and Bridge View Park in St. Ignace if you’re in the Upper Peninsula.
4. See the Northern Lights
During fall, the Northern Lights are highly visible in upstate Michigan. For dedicated night sky watchers (and the rest of us, too), there’s nothing more exciting than the chance to take a peek at the elusive Northern Lights in Michigan.
The Upper Peninsula is one of the best places to see the lights due to clear night skies, after 9 p.m. is best. Places like the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are perfect Northern Lights viewing areas. You can also visit Michigan Dark Sky Parks including Headlands in Mackinaw City near the inland waterways, or Rockport State Recreation Area on Lake Huron.
You can use our Guide to Viewing the Northern Lights to find a good spot for viewing the Aurora Borealis in Northern Michigan.
Fun Fall Outdoor Activities in Northern Michigan
5. Attend a Local Football Game
Whether its high school or college, cheering on your favorite football team with friends and family is a great way to spend a fall weekend in Northern Michigan.
If it’s a high school game, be sure to bring a jacket for a breezy Friday night game under the lights. If you’re attending a Northern Michigan Wildcats game on a bright Saturday afternoon in Marquette, you might need to remember your sunglasses.
6. Shop at a Farmers Market
Browsing booths at a farmers market before purchasing fresh produce, baked goods and other handmade products from local vendors is one of my favorite fall outings.
Traverse City, Petoskey, Charlevoix and Alpena have markets worth visiting during the fall season.
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, located at 830 Cottageview Dr # 101 in Traverse City, has an an outdoor market that runs through the end of October, before it moves indoors in November for the winter.
7. Pick Out a Pumpkin at the Patch and Carve It
It’s not fall without carving a pumpkin, but searching one through rows and rows of different shapes, sizes and colors until finding the perfect one is part of the fun.
Northern Michigan has a few pumpkin patches, where the biggest and shinniest pumpkins of the season might just be waiting.
Fleming Farms at 4264 Martindale Road in Gaylord, MI has a huge patch with plenty of carvable pumpkins to pick from.
8. Attempt a Corn Maze
When picking out a pumpkin, check to see if the patch has a corn maze. Mazes can be a great bonding experience for friends and family during the fall. Even if you get lost trying to find the exit and have to retrace your steps, a corn maze is sure to create laughter among those participating.
Getzloff Corn Maze at N15891 Co Road 551 in Wilson, MI is a good option if you’re visiting the Upper Peninsula. Established in 2009, the farm has a giant corn maze in addition to hayrides, animals and activities for kids.
More Fun Fall Things to Do in Northern Michigan
9. Visit a Museum in Northern Michigan
The museums in northern Michigan may well be one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets. Sure, everyone knows about the stunning natural beauty of northern Michigan that draws visitors all year long. The opportuntities for outdoor activities are endless: hiking, biking, swimming, boating, fishing… and more!
Northern Michigan has an ample amount of educational, family-friendly museums for visitors to learn all art, science and the history of Michigan, including the Mackinac Bridge.
10. Have a Night (or Afternoon) Out at the Theatre
For those who prefer art, the theatre is always a safe bet for indoor activities. If you’re traveling to Northern Michigan this fall, consider catching a musical, play, opera or other music event at one of the performing arts centers in the area.
The City Opera House in Traverse City, Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Petoskey and the Forest Roberts Theatre at Northern Michigan University in Marquette are a few places to catch a show. Ticket prices vary depending on the type of performance.
11. Eat Fudge in Mackinaw City
Fall is a perfect time to visit both Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island. Take a break from your fall colors tour with a Northern Michigan delicacy: fudge.
There are dozens of fudge shops in Mackinaw City and on Mackinac Island, but Aaron Murdick’s Fudge at 219 E. Central Ave in Mackinaw City, MI is my family’s favorite.
Aaron is the great-great grandson of Newton Jerome Murdick who opened the first fudge shop on the island in 1887, the famous Original Murdick’s Fudge. To this day, he uses the same family recipes created by great-great grandpa Murdick.
12. Visit One of Michigan’s Haunted Places
What better time than autumn to scare yourself silly visiting one of Michigan’s haunted spots? From an endless Great Lakes coastline dotted with some haunted lighthouses to old hotels and theaters with spooky pasts, you’ll have your full pick of spooky spots to explore.
You might consider visiting Fort Mackinac for a real scare.
This Revolutionary War-era fort housed soldiers and engaged in battles using cannons and rifles. Today, the fort is protected as part of Mackinac Island State Park and has been restored, but its history of violence leaves it teeming with spiritual energy.
There are a few known hot spots in and around Fort Mackinac where visitors have encounters with the paranormal: In the Post Hospital, now a museum providing a peek into 19th-century medicine, severed limbs appear in photos.
13. Celebrate Halloween in Northern Michigan’s Avalanche Bay
1 Boyne Mountain Rd. , Boyne Falls, MI
Halloween Hoopla at Avalanche Bay is one of my favorite Hallowwen events in Michigan. Head up to Avalanche Bay, one of Michigan’s top indoor waterparks, and let the fun begin. Bring your costume and Halloween spirit while engaging in entertainment for all ages.
Activities like chairlift rides, trick-or-treating, bonfires & smores, and more will create lasting Halloween memories that will be cherished for years to come.
14. Visit a Traverse City Winery or Brewery
For those looking for a fun adult get-away this fall, Traverse City is the place to find dozens of breweries and wineries, espcially along the Old Mission Peninsula. Whether it’s with friends, family or a significant other, a trip to one of these places is a fun way to try new things. You might even find a new favorite drink.
15. Enjoy Donuts and Cider From a Mill
Dipping a warm, handmade donut – take your pick of powdered sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin, cider or cake – into a large glass of cold, fresh apple cider after a day at the pumpkin patch is a fall tradition like no other. You can even try a frozen, crisp apple cider slushie, perfect for those warm fall says.
Northern Michigan cider mills can be found in Traverse City, Harbor Springs, Williamsburg and Rogers City in Northern Michigan. One of my favorite things to do is visit the Charlevoix Apple Fest, one of the top annual events in northern Michigan in the fall. Held Friday, Oct 14 –16, this fun fall festival celebrates everything apple! You’ll find delicious food, arts and crafts, and more.
BONUS: Pick Apples From an Apple Orchard and Bake a Pie
Fall in Michigan is a wonderful thing: Michigan’s fall colors light up the entire state. From the Porcupine Mountains and the Keweenaw Peninsula to southeast Michigan and southwest Michigan, you’ll find apple picking, harvest festivals, farm markets and ton of fall fun across the state.
Michigan is known for its sweet cherries, juicy strawberries and plump blueberries in the summer, but in the fall, apples take the spotlight. Instead of enjoying said apples in the form of cider, they’re also available for picking.
If you stop at any Northern Michigan cider mills and orchards for donuts and cider, be sure to pick up some apples before you leave.
One of my favorite’s is Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm at 2621 S Karsten Road in Rogers City, MI has wood-fired pizza, cider, baked goods and of course, apples. You can even buy a frozen apple pie to take home, which comes complete with baking instructions.
Happy fall travels in Northern Michigan and don’t forget a sweater!
More Fall Things to Do in Northern Michigan
About the Author –
Madeline Warren is a content writing intern for mymichiganbeach.com. After growing up in the Lansing area, she now attends Michigan State University where she majors in Journalism with a minor in Public Relations. In additon to My Michigan Beach, she has bylines in The State News at MSU and The Lookout at Lansing Community College. In her free time, Madeline loves spending time with her family, friends and dog, attending concerts and sporting events and of course, finding new places to travel.