Michigan shines with stunning fall colors each autumn. Crisp weather, apples, scenic drives and seasonal events make it a perfect time to explore the Great Lakes State.
From U.P. waterfalls to wine country tours, here are some of the best fall activities in Michigan.
1. Go Apple Picking
Many apple orchards and farms allow visitors to pick their own apples and enjoy fall activities. Options like Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill, VerHage Fruit Farms, Erwin Orchards, and Phillips Orchard & Cider Mill offer hayrides, donuts, cider, and plenty of varieties to pick.
In addition to apple picking, harvest apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins, and other produce at u-pick orchards like Spicer Orchards, Hy’s Cider Mill, Almar Orchard, and Stohlman’s Orchard & Greenhouse. Pre-picked options available too.
2. Take a Fall Color Tour
Michigan has many scenic routes perfect for leaf peeping. Top spots include M-22 along Lake Michigan, the Silver Lake Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Highway 61 bordering Lake Superior, and Rout 33 winding through the Irish Hills.
3. Pick Your Own Pumpkins
Select the perfect pumpkin for carving or decorating at U-pick pumpkin patches. Many also have corn mazes, hayrides, petting zoos and other family activities. Top spots include Post Family Farm, Three Cedars Farm, and Erwin Orchards.
4. Attend a Fall Festival
Cities and towns across Michigan host harvest festivals in autumn. Enjoy live music, carnival rides, tractor pulls, wine tastings, pumpkin decorating, apple treats and family activities. Top events include the Cider Mill Festival in Grand Rapids, Pumpkinfest in Lewiston, and the Great Lakes Potato Festival.
5. Go on a Hayride
For nostalgic family fun, hop on a hayride at farms and orchards. Some venues even have haunted hayrides in October. Top spots include Erwin Orchards, Three Cedars Farm, McClure’s Orchard, and Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery.
6. Hike the Colorful Woods
Michigan state parks and forests glow with fall color. Top hiking spots include Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Yankee Springs Recreation Area, Hartwick Pines State Park, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, and Talcville State Forest.
7. Attend a Cider Mill Donut Festival
Beloved Michigan cider mills host special events just for their famous apple cider donuts. Frankenmuth’s Zehnder’s Sneak Peek Donut days, Uncle John’s Cider Mill Annual Donut Day, and Blake’s Big Apple Days are among the most popular. Expect fresh donuts, activities, and crowds.
In addition to cider and donuts, cider mills sell homemade jams, fudge, caramel apples, pumpkins, squash, baked goods, gifts, and fall decor. Top spots to shop include Yates Cider Mill, Three Cedars Farm, Franklin Cider Mill, and Erwin Orchards Country Store.
8. Visit an Apple Cider Mill
Autumn in Michigan isn’t complete without a visit to an old fashioned cider mill for fresh apple cider and donuts. Top picks include Three Cedars Farm, Franklin Cider Mill, Phillips Orchard & Cider Mill, Verhage Fruit Farms Cider Mill, and Hy’s Cider Mill.
9. Cheer on the Spartans or Wolverines
Take in the exciting atmosphere of a Michigan State or U of M football game in the fall. Popular traditions include tailgating, the MSU band playing the Fight Song, and over 100,000 fans filling the Big House in Ann Arbor on game day.
10. Bet on Bug Races
A quirky Upper Peninsula fall tradition, bug races let spectators bet on racing cockroaches. Join the fun at Pestico’s Pub in Ontonagon or Tahquamenon Falls Brewery in Paradise to see who picks the fastest roach!
11. View Fall Colors by Kayak or Canoe
Paddling a peaceful river or stream surrounded by autumn leaves is breathtaking. Top water trails include the Platte River, Paint Creek, Huron River, Whitefish River, and Upper Manistee River. Kayak and canoe rentals available across Michigan.
12. Visit a Haunted House
Get scared at one of Michigan’s many haunted house attractions in October. Erebus in Pontiac is four stories of high-tech frights. Other popular spooky spots include Wiard’s Orchards, Haunted Farm of Terror, Fear Factory, and Realm of Darkness.
13. Attend an Oktoberfest
Michigan puts its own spin on the German beer festival tradition. Frankenmuth Oktoberfest has German food, polka bands, and entertainment. Also popular are Boyne City’s Stiggs Oktoberfest and Grand Rapids’ Oktoberfest Weekends at John Ball Park. Prost!
14. Go on a Fall Color Train Ride
See peak fall colors from vintage train cars on routes like the Little River Railroad Fall Color Tour, Coopersville & Marne Railway’s Fall Colors & Harvest Time Train, and Bluewater Michigan Fall Foliage Train Tours departing from Owosso.
15. Shop at a Farm Stand
Stop by farm stands for pumpkins, gourds, apples, squash, cider, baked goods, and seasonal produce. Enjoy rural scenery along the way. Top options include Crane’s Pie Pantry, MSU’s W.K. Kellogg Farm Market, Green Meadow Farm, Heidi’s Farm Stand, and Mud Lake Farm Market.
16. Go Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch has one of the largest cliff rock climbing areas in the Midwest. Over 300 routes up sandstone walls appeal to climbers of all skill levels. Located just outside Copper Harbor in the colorful Keweenaw Peninsula.
17. Tour Historic Forts on Mackinac Island
Take a fall ferry ride to Mackinac Island to explore historic forts and hear colonial stories at Fort Mackinac and the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum inside Fort Holmes. The fall colors make the island especially beautiful.
18. See Beaver Island in Fall
Take the ferry from Charlevoix to car-free Beaver Island in autumn to enjoy fewer crowds, fall colors, hiking, biking, beaches, winery visits, and unique island sights like Beaver Head Lighthouse.
19. Pick Grapes at a Vineyard
Some Michigan wineries allow visitors to pick grapes at harvest time, usually late September or October. A fun family-friendly activity! Call ahead to farms near Grand Rapids, Leelanau Peninsula, Traverse City, and other wine regions.
20. Cheer on the Red Wings
Hockey season returns in the fall – catch the Detroit Red Wings NHL team in action at the newly renovated Little Caesars Arena in Downtown Detroit. Single-game tickets go on sale in September when preseason games begin.
21. Bet on Horse Races
Enjoy thoroughbred horse racing at tracks like Northville Downs and Hazel Park Raceway as the racing season continues into the fall months. Or head to Northville Downs for live harness racing with sulky drivers.
22. See Birds Migrate Through
As birds migrate south for winter through Michigan, fall brings excellent birdwatching opportunities. Top spots include Lake St. Clair Metropark, Point Pelee National Park, Whitefish Point, and Detroit River Hawk Watch.
23. Hunt for Deer Antlers
Late October through December is shed hunting season, where hikers search forests for deer antlers dropped naturally. Top public lands include Barry State Game Area near Nashville, Rogue River State Game Area, and Leelanau State Game Area.
24. Visit a Corn Maze
Challenge yourself to navigate your way out of a corn maze! Top picks include Zehnder’s Bavarian-themed maze, Erwin’s Enchanted Corn Maze, and Uncle John’s haunted corn maze. Maize craze fun for all ages.
25. Roast Marshmallows
Cozy up to a campfire and roast marshmallows for classic s’mores once fall nights turn cooler. Top spots include state park campgrounds, RV parks like Holly Oaks ORV Park, or your own backyard fire pit.
26. Explore Detroit
Visit the Motor City in autumn for fewer crowds, seasonal events, and comfortable walking weather. Highlights include the Detroit Institute of Arts, Motown Museum, Eastern Market, and waterfront parks and trails.
27. See Fall Colors in the Upper Peninsula
Head north for incredible fall vistas in the U.P. along routes like Brockway Mountain Drive and the Black River National Scenic Byway. Elsewhere, check out colorful marshlands on the Seney National Wildlife Refuge driving tour.
As you can see, Michigan offers limitless ways to enjoy the fall season through orchards, farms, festivals, sports, trails, and seasonal activities.
From cider and donuts to harvest fairs and football games, it’s a favorite time of year for Michiganders and visitors alike.