Below an azure sky, soft sunlight filters through dazzling orange and crimson leaves fluttering in a crisp breeze. At the Big Lake, waves tumble and crash against the beach, roaring and splashing over the pier as a lighthouse stands sentinel. Along back roads, farm stands are stuffed to the brim with the season’s colorful bounty of apples, pumpkins and more. This is Michigan in the fall. Here are some of the best things to do in Michigan this fall.
Michigan Apple Orchards
Visit a Michigan apple orchard and pick your own apples. Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the nation. Most of Michigan’s orchards are located on the west side of the lower peninsula near Lake Michigan. The lake’s influence on the weather makes perfect conditions for growing the juicy, red fruit. There’s nothing like taking the first, sweet bite from an apple you just plucked fresh from the tree. Many orchards also feature a variety of fun activities including hayrides, go-carts, and a petting zoos. Orchard stores sell a variety of homemade baked goods, pantry items and produce, including apple cider and doughnuts, a Michigan fall tradition.
Apple Cider and Doughnuts
Apple cider and doughnuts, are a must-eat when you visit Michigan in the fall. This is an autumn tradition for Michiganders. Most u-pick apple orchards offer warm, homemade doughnuts for sale to go along with their gallons of apple cider. If you can’t make it to an orchard, you can pick up apple cider and doughnuts at local farmer’s market and grocery stores. Eat the doughnuts on the spot or take them home to enjoy later around the fire pit.
What’s fall without pumpkins? Michigan has many u-pick pumpkin patches where you can select the perfect Jack-O-Lantern to bring home and carve for Halloween. Sometimes apple orchards have a pumpkin patch too. The pumpkin patch also make a great backdrop for some Instagram-worthy photo-ops. As with the orchards many pumpkin patches offer yummy homemade treats for sale as well as variety of family-friendly activities like corn mazes.
Visit the Beach
Swimming in the Great Lakes in fall isn’t on the roster. The temperatures are way too cold and the water gets dangerously choppy. But these huge inland seas are still amazing in Autumn. Head to the beach on a windy day, and you’ll be awed by the power and sound of the huge waves. Bring some blankets and chairs and stick around for fall’s spectacular sunsets. The Great Lakes offer beautiful sunsets year round, but in fall the sun’s angle combined with cloud cover makes them extra-special. Some beaches even allow you to have a campfire. A word of caution, please stay off piers if the waves are big. You can easily be washed off and carried away by the powerful currents.
Take a Hike
Michigan has hundreds of miles of hiking trails through our plentiful forests. This a great way to see the beautiful fall colors up close. Fall hiking is especially spectacular in the Upper Peninsula at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The crisp air, sound of leaves crunching underfoot and sweet smell of the woods adds to the autumn experience. Keep your eyes peeled and you might even spot wildlife like turkey, deer or even a bear, oh, my!
Go on a Fall Color Tour
Take a fall color tour through the Michigan countryside. Fall color starts to appear in early to mid-September in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and finishes off in the southern Lower Peninsula in late October. Find a fall color forecast online to see when colors will peak at your destination. Combine your color tour with stops at local farms and beach towns for the perfect Michigan fall weekend getaway.