Fall: It’s that time of year when thousands of people head to Northern Michigan for color tours and autumn vacation fun. But did you know that you can get all the joy of an “Up North” vacation while hanging out in Mid-Michigan? Here are a few stops you might consider for your own autumn staycation if “Up North” isn’t in the cards:
Instead of Grand Traverse…
Try the Pioneer Wine Trail: A part of many trips “Up North” is a visit to a winery (or two or three…). You can get the wine tasting experience with award-winning wines in Southeast Michigan with the Pioneer Wine Trail. This trail of eight wineries (in ten locations) meanders throughout Southeast Michigan, and each winery has their own style. For example, Burgdorf’s Winery in Haslett features many Michigan State Spartan-themed wines due to its proximity to campus and locally sourced grapes.
Pro Tip: Wineries are great places to do a little shopping. Check out the gift shops and get a jump-start on your holiday shopping lists.
Instead of Mackinac Island…
Visit Velvet – A Candy Store: This new sweet shop and ice cream parlor opened this summer in East Lansing. Owners Trisha and Erik Berakovich operated a Velvet location on Mackinac Island for two years before relocating to East Lansing. They feature Mackinac Island fudge, assorted sweets and chocolates, and ice cream, all made on premises. General manager Ryan Gaffney says you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose – but you really should try the chocolate covered pretzels!
Pro tip: If you time it right, you’ll be able to see the staff making a fresh batch of fudge in the front window. Good luck walking past when the lovely smells are wafting out the doorway!
Instead of the Tunnel of Trees…
Visit the campus of Michigan State University: MSU’s campus was named one of the ten best U.S. college campuses to view fall foliage by AccuWeather.com, and was featured in the September/October issue of Midwest Living. With 21,653 individual trees on its 2,100 acres, there is bountiful autumn color.
Pro tip: Head to the Sacred Space. This area in the center of the old part of campus – near Beaumont Tower – features large oak trees with vibrant colors, and great old architecture.
Instead of Sleeping Bear Dunes…
Head to “The Ledges” at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge: If outdoor adventure is your thing, this Eaton County park is the place to be. The 78-acre park is open year round with picnic sites, three miles of nature trails, volleyball and basketball courts, a canoe and kayak launch (bring your own boats), 18 holes of disc golf, and more. During the winter, there is also a public sledding hill and cross-country ski trails. Take your furry friend along – as long as he is on a leash. The vehicle entry fee is $3.00 / day for county residents and $5.00 / day for non-residents.
Pro tip: Take a camera, and explore the different trails. They’re beautiful! Grab a trail map from MichiganTrailMaps.com before you go. Pack a blanket and have a picnic lunch.
What did we miss? What are your can’t miss stops for an autumn staycation in Mid-Michigan? Share your ideas in the comments!