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Michigan Fall Bucket List: FUN Things to DO in Michigan

things to do in michigan in the fall: michigan fall bucket ilst travel guide

Michigan Fall Bucket List: FUN Things to DO in Michigan

Must-Do Michigan Fall Activities

There’s nothing quite like Michigan in fall.

In fact, we’ll let you in on a little secret: autumn is our FAVORITE season in Michigan.

Yes, of course, we love our summers spent splashing on a Michigan beach, but there’s something almost magical about fall in Michigan.

The feeling starts in late August, when you start to spot hints of red and yellow at the tops of the trees. Next, you’ll start to feel a swift breeze, cool on your skin, and you know the fall season is right around the corner.

Autumn is here, now, filled with opportunities for outdoor adventure and fun fall activities like fall color tours, scenic drives, trips to corn mazes and pumpkin patches, arts and crafts fairs, and all kinds of apple festivities.

Your Michigan Fall Bucket List

So what’s on YOUR Michigan Fall Bucket List?

Is it a wagon ride across a Michigan farm on a crisp, cool evening? Or maybe trying the hard ciders at Frankenmuth Oktoberfest? Or fall foliage bike tours on a north country trail?

The options for fall fun are endless.

We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Michigan in the fall (including some fall events like harvest festivals and farmers markets) with links to helpful maps.

Best Michigan Apple Orchards and Cider Mills

Michigan Cider Mills and Apple Orchards

Visiting a cider mill or apple orchard is a Michigan rite-of-passage, and from Grand Rapids (West Michigan IS part of the fruit belt) to Ann Arbor to the Upper Peninsula, the entire state is alive with the scent of apples and cinnamon in the fall.

Yes, you can still find freshly-baked donuts and tart apple cider, but the Michigan apple scene has expanded in recent years. Many cider mills and orchards offer much more, such as playgrounds and petting zoos, food trucks, live entertainment , and more.

Here are some apple orchards and cider mills to add to your fall bucket list, and you can find even more in our guide to the Top Michigan Cider Mills and Apple Orchards.

Knaebe’s Apple Farm and Ciderworks
2621 S Karsten Rd.
Rogers City, MI 49779

Located in Rogers City in northeast Michigan, this family-run Cider Mill has a main barn housing a bakery where you’ll find cider, donuts, and additional baked goods and a separate barn where you can try wood-fired pizza hard ciders. As you travel Michigan’s Lake Huron coast this fall, be sure and add this special spot to your list.

Wiard’s Orchards
5565 Merritt Rd.
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Every day is an apple fest at this must-visit spot in southeast Michigan. They can keep just about every adult and kid active with an endless list of things like a bounce house, mini-golf, animal petting zoo, playgrounds, tractor rides and yes, even a haunted house (more like 5!).

Plymouth Orchards
10685 Warren Rd.
Plymouth, MI 48170

This low-key cider mill, just outside Ann Arbor, has been a Metro Detroit family favorite for years. U-Pick apples and some of the very best donuts and cider you’ll find around.

Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery

It’s not fall in West Michigan if you haven’t stopped by this Grand Rapids MI mainstay. A visit to Robinette’s Apple Haus is like your very own fall festival with U-pick apples; a popular corn maze; a bakery serving lunch; a winery and lots of kids activities. The best part? It’s dog-friendly.

Gull Meadow Farms
8544 Gull Rd.
Richland, MI 49083

This family-fun MUST is located just outside Kalamazoo in southwest Michigan’s beautiful farmland. You’ll find cider donuts along with an amazing bakery; wagon rides; sunflower fields; and an unforgettable, giant corn maze, too. Gull Meadow Farms in located near Gull Lake, a popular vacation destination that’s pretty all year long.

Rennie Orchards
11221 Monroe Rd.
Williamsburg, MI 49690

Apple-picking isn’t the only activity on this family-friendly farm, and it’s easy to spend an afternoon here. There’s so much to do here: in addition to a kids hay bale maze, a log cabin, and teepee, kids of all ages can take a scenic ride on a scenic hay wagon…just a perfect way to spend a fall afternoon.

Sunny G Orchards
N9512 Cty Rd 354.
Stephenson, MI 49887

Located in the very southwest corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this family-owned and operated apple orchard is growing. With 10 varieties of apples from which to choose, they also offer hayrides. This is a working farm, and if you’re lucky, you might get a peek or two at some of the animals on the farm when you visit. This is pure Michigan fall fun at its best.

Cranes Orchard
6054 124th Ave.
Fennville, MI 49408

This U-pick fruit orchard near Saugatuck is well-known for its epic “Pie Pantry” featuring some of the best baked goods you’ll ever taste. There’s a restaurant and winery, too.

Best places to see Michigan fall colors

Michigan Fall Color Tours and Scenic Color Drives

There’s no better way to experience the splendor (and that’s no exaggeration) of Michigan’s fall colors than by taking an autumn road trip. Michigan’s peak fall color season (that’s when the fall foliage is at its most brilliant) starts in late September ends in October, depending on where you are in the state.

This year (2022), the extended warm summer and other meteorological factors resulted in an extended season of peak color, giving travelers more opportunity to get outside and catch a glimpse of Michigan fall foliage at its very best.

Here’s some of our favorite spots to find Michigan fall colors. Don’t forget to use our top-rated Michigan Peak Fall Color Map to find the best time to plan your travel.

Hungarian Falls in the Keweenaw Peninsula

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the heart of Copper Country, this is a quiet, pristine spot to take in fall color. Hungarian Falls is in the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula and is a collection of waterfalls of varying heights (one with a 50-foot drop) within a two-mile hike along Dover Creek.

Surrounded by the thick forest of the Keweenaw Peninsula, you’ll find spectacular fall color and the peaceful sound of the rushing water as it heads down into Torch Lake…a truly lovely spot in all seasons. We recommend taking a side trip to Copper Harbor at the tip of the peninsula, if you have the time.

Where to Stay: We like to stay in Houghton, about 15 minutes south. You’ll find a collection of mom-and-pops as well as several large chains. Michigan Tech University is here, and they offer overnight accommodations, too.

Where to Eat: Lots of good dining choices in the Houghton-Hancock area. Don’t miss Roy’s Pasties.

Tahquamenon Falls

Visit Tahquamenon Falls and you’ll get two Michigan waterfalls for the price of one: the larger and more dramatic Upper Falls and the five, cascading falls that make up the Lower Falls.

Popular Tahquamenon State Park is popular any time of the year, but we like it best in the fall when there are not as many visitors and we can relax as we walk along the trails, surrounded by the sound of rushing water. Surrounded by a mix of colorful hardwoods and pine trees in the autumn months, this is a must on your Michigan fall color tour.

Where to Stay: We usually stay in Paradise, MI (and who doesn’t want to stay there?). You’ll find some clean, comfortable independently-owned spots. We like the Magnuson Grand Hotel Lakefront.

Where to Eat: Don’t miss the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub.

Glen Arbor

You’ll find some of northern Michigan’s most spectacular scenery in Glen Arbor, and it’s not just the views from the gorgeous Lake Michigan beaches. Set right in the middle of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the rolling terrain lights up in the fall when the leaves start to change color.

While Sleeping Bear Dunes is a great summer destination, the natural beauty continues all year round, especially in autumn. It’s a perfect spot to find some outdoor adventures, whether you’re hiking or biking in the dunes or kayaking along the Lake Michigan shore.

Where To Stay: Glen Arbor is home to one of our favorite resorts in the lower peninsula, The Homestead. This full-service luxury resort is set on Lake Michigan right in the middle of the dunes. Need we say more? Choose from a wide range of accommodations including large condos to standard hotels rooms. The best part? It’s pet-friendly.

Where To Eat: Make your way to Art’s Tavern on M-22 in downtown Glen Arbor. Order a burger. That’s all you need to remember.

Oscoda and the AuSable River Area

Every year, the fall foliage colors and fun autumn opportunities burst at the seams in northeast Michigan’s Au Sable River near Oscoda, Michigan. The Au Sable area reaches fall peak conditions between September 15 and October 15.

You’ll find one of our tried and true spots for Michigan fall fun along the banks of the mighty AuSable River; home to dams, ponds, and spectacular dune overlooks. Besides the beachside adventures that Lake Huron’s coast has to offer, the Au Sable River is a picturesque landscape of color change, reflected in the river’s surface.

Here, you can hike the trails along the bluffs overlooking the river; kayak, canoe, and boat along the rivers and dams, taking in amazing fall color in Michigan along the way.

Where To Stay: You’ll find many small, independently owned cottages and cabins hugging Lake Huron’s shoreline from Oscoda north to Greenbush and Harrisville. We have stayed many times at Sid’s Resort, Paradise Beach Resort, and Stefan’s R&R Resort. All were clean, comfortable, and have some of the prettiest Great Lakes beach frontages around.

Where To Eat: There’s a new-ish spot along US-23 that we tried and loved: The Red Fork in Greenbush. If you go, don’t miss the Margherita pizza.

More Michigan Destinations for Fabulous Fall Color:

michigan pumpkin patches

Michigan Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes

They’re popping up on every corner come autumn: sprawling pumpkin patches and corn mazes. There’s nothing quite like wandering through a labyrinth of corn stalks under a blue, sunny fall sky, with a mug of crisp cider in hand.

Here are a few of our favorite spots:

Frankenmuth Corn Maze

One of the greatest corn mazes in Michigan is in mid-Michigan. It’s not just wandering among the golden stalks – Frankenmuth makes their corn maze a treasure hunt, leading you through with fun mysteries to solve and tricky riddles to keep you guessing.

You can also enjoy courtyard games and the farm animals during your visit. Time your visit right and you’ll be able to spend some time exploring downtown Frankenmuth, also known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria.

Frankenmuth is one of Michigan’s most popular tourist attractions, and with good reason. From the downtown streets lined with cute shops to explore to the fabulous chicken dinners from the iconic Zehnder’s Restaurant, Frankenmuth is a must-visit. Read more about visiting Frankenmuth here.

Bethke Farms

You’ll find thousands of pumpkins – big and small – at Bethke Farms in Grand Haven, so there’s one waiting to be picked by you. The corn maze and pumpkin patch at Bethke Farms are just the beginning.

You can explore the farm with a fun hayride or take an autumn walk along the path. There’s even a pirate ship play area for kids to enjoy. Don’t forget the dog: leashed pets are welcomed warmly at Bethke Farms.

Long Family Farm, Orchard and Cider Mill

They sell a variety of garden vegetables and even have an apple guide and apple recipes on their website so you can take your orchard experience home with you.

The Long Family’s orchard and cider mill isn’t afraid to bask in the golden fall glory. Located in Commerce Township, this farm seeks to make every visitor feel welcome when they come for fresh sweet corn, pumpkin patches, and the corn maze.

Getzloff Corn Maze

When it comes to family farms and cider mills, this Michigan fall market and pumpkins farm stand out as one of the best.

Hayrides, a massive corn maze, a super-slide, and a pumpkin patch teeming with large, orange pumpkins are just some of the highlights of this fun spot. You’ll find seven whole acres of Upper Peninsula fall fun at this farm located just outside of Escanaba.

michigan tunnel of trees

Find More Things to Do in Michigan in the Fall

Drive the Tunnel of Trees on M-119

M-119 north of Petoskey is one of northern Michigan’s not-so-best-kept-secrets: a beautiful scenic byway north of Harbor Springs that takes you under a leafy ceiling of leaves and hardwood trees…deep greens in the spring and summer and beautiful reds and golds in the autumn months.

Michigan’s Tunnel of Trees is a perfect spot for Michigan fall color tour, and it’s worth exploring in the summer and winter months, too. If you enjoy scenic drives, you’ll fall in love with Michigan’s Tunnel of Trees. You can pick it up in Harbor Spring and follow the road north along the Lake Michigan coast all the way up to Cross Village.

ultimate guide to the best traverse city wineries

Michigan Fall Wine Tours

There’s nothing quite like visiting a Michigan winery in the fall, sipping a glass of wine and gazing out at a panoramic view of vineyards before you.

Michigan is home to some of the country’s top wineries. With five American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) spread across the state, Michigan produces a wide variety of wines, from a selection of reds along the Southwest coast to sweet white types on the tip of the mitten and several award-winning hybrids from inland.

Use our Ultimate Guide to Michigan Wineries to plan your wine tours. We also have these guides to help you plan your visit:

Michigan Craft Beer Tours

Sure, you can find a craft beer festival throughout Michigan in the fall, or even a beer tent at a local harvest festival.

You can also create your own, complete with personalized beer tastings with our Guide to Michigan Craft Breweries, found here. We also have a top-rated guide to Traverse City breweries, which you can find here.

October Scary Fun: Haunted Houses and More

Looking for Halloween events and things to do in October? We’re got an Ultimate List of Michigan Haunted Houses and Haunted Attractions here. We also have a guide to Haunted Places in Michigan, complete with creepy historical sites, spooky lighthouses, and other spots guaranteed to scare you silly.

Michigan Fall Color Questions and Answers

Q. What is there to do in Michigan in the Fall?

A. Michigan’s fall travel season is almost as busy as the summer with things to do and places to see. In autumn, the entire state of Michigan lights up in a brilliant show of fall color, and scenic color drives to see the leaves peak fall color are popular. Visits to apple orchards, cider mills, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, haunted houses are just some of the fall activities and things to do in Michigan.

Q. Does Michigan have Fall?

A. Yes, Michigan has a beautiful fall season highlighted by amazing show of foliage changing to brilliant reds, yellows and gold. The fall color change starts in the northern part of the state, the Upper Peninsula, and slowly works its way south over a 6-8 week period.

Q. When do Fall colors peak in Michigan in 2022?

A. It depends where you are in the state. Color viewing predictions have the peak fall colors beginning 9/20 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan working their way south as the weeks progress.