No matter where you go in Michigan during the fall, you are likely to discover unparalleled beauty and unimaginable fun. While every region has something special to offer, fall in East Michigan sets itself apart with its charming communities, sprawling farmlands, and spectacular shows of color between September and October.
These are the best fall things to do in East Michigan!
Best Fall Activities in Oscoda
The community of Oscoda comes to life in the fall when the vibrant colors of the leaves on the trees reflect onto the sparkling blue waters of the AuSable River and Lake Huron. This premier fall destination has so many things to see and do, you may find yourself wanting to extend your trip.
Fall Color Tour on the AuSable River Queen
This historic paddlewheel boat will take you on a two-hour journey on the AuSable River, allowing you to rest and relax as you glide past some of the most breathtaking displays of fall colors in the state.
Enjoy the Paul Bunyan Days Festival
Perhaps you might want to time your trip to Oscoda in the fall around the community’s Annual Paul Bunyan Days, which take place in the third week of September each year.
This festival includes classic entertainment options, such as a carnival and a craft show, as well as plenty of lumberjack festivities, such as a chainsaw carving competition and a sawdust coin dig.
If you are the type of person who loves nothing more than an old-fashioned community festival, then you are sure to love this traditional Oscoda event during fall in East Michigan.
Alpena Fall Experiences That You Can’t Miss
One of the best places to make the most out of the fall season in Michigan is Alpena, where there are attractions for those who love nature as well as those who are passionate about history.
Take a Glass-Bottom Boat Shipwreck Tour
Start your visit to Alpena with a trip on a glass-bottomed boat in order to see some of the shipwrecks that are located in Lake Huron with your own eyes. While you will spend a good portion of your trip looking down into the water, there are moments where you will be able to enjoy the sweeping views of the fall colors along the shore.
Explore the Alpena Lighthouse
After you have finished your excursion on the water, you will want to continue to learn more about the history of Alpena by touring the Alpena Lighthouse. This lighthouse is known to the locals as Little Red, and it towers 80 feet into the sky, standing out against the crystal blue waters of Lake Huron.
This unique lighthouse is markedly different from others along the Great Lakes, and many believe it is the only lighthouse built in this style in the country.
Picnic at Besser Natural Area
Perhaps one of the best ways to spend a fall day in Alpena is to picnic at a park. The Besser Natural Area is one park that affords you the opportunity to lounge on the beach as well as hike on a one-mile trail, where you can see leaves of every size, shape, and color along the way.
Have a Ball This Fall in Bay City
Whether you are looking for a night on the town or a day full of adventure, you will find that you can build the fall itinerary of your dreams in Bay City. This city has a vibrant entertainment district, filled with restaurants and shops, but it also has plenty of natural areas where you can hike, explore, and surround yourself in autumnal beauty.
Traverse the Bay City Area Riverwalk
In order to get the best glimpses of the fall colors in Bay City, you will want to walk, ride or run along the Bay City Area Riverwalk. This extensive and diverse trail system connects the community’s parks and neighborhoods and allows you to experience the best that Bay City has to offer.
The boardwalk trail that goes over the waterfront is particularly beautiful, and plenty of stretches of this trail wind past the trees as they make their annual transition to red, gold, and brown.
Visit Witzgall Orchards
You won’t want to pass up the opportunity to visit Witzgall Orchards in Bay City. Famous for being the only cider mill in town, this orchard is open from September through November, and it features more than 40 different varieties of apples.
While their apples are fresh, crisp, and delicious, it’s the warm cider and caramel apples that are the true highlight of this experience.
Celebrate Oktoberfest in Frankenmuth
If you are in search of an authentic Oktoberfest celebration, then look no further than Frankenmuth. Known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria, everything about this town’s annual Oktoberfest is quintessentially German.
The festival usually takes place during the third week of September, in order to coincide with the Oktoberfest that takes place in Munich, Germany. The Frankenmuth festival features events and activities for everyone, all designed to mimic the festival taking place on the other side of the world.
While you will spend a lot of your time filling your belly with German beer and food as you listen to German music, you will want to squeeze in the Wiener Dog Races into your daily plans at the festival. It’s easily the most adorable spectacle at the festival.
Fall Fun in Lapeer
Lapeer is sometimes considered the gateway to East Michigan and the Thumb region. This vibrant community has plenty to see and do throughout the year, but the fall is an extra wonderful time to get away to Lapeer, particularly if you enjoy farm-fresh food and fall flavors.
U-Pick Fun at Fick Farms
Fick Farms is one of the best attractions to visit in Lapeer during the fall. With a backdrop full of fall colors, a day at the farm can be spent enjoying their you-pick flower gardens or sampling the homemade baked goods that are for sale.
Of course, you won’t want to pass up the opportunity to get all of the fresh produce you need as the summer’s bounty is winding down.
Sip & Savor at Chalice Craft Winery
After you have spent some time on the farm, you can head over to Chalice Craft Winery (formerly Wills Winery) — one of the best places to sample wine in Lapeer County.
Many people are surprised by the quality of the wine at this unassuming roadside winery, but its charming atmosphere and flavorful vintages make this a must-see fall destination in Lapeer. The chocolate raspberry red wine is the perfect bottle to sip on a fall evening in Michigan.
More Fall Fun in the Thumb
Michigan is one of the best places in the country to enjoy fall colors. Color tours are extremely popular, and you’ll find people enjoying them on hikes, bicycles, boats, cars, and even trains.
Take a Fall Color Tour Around Michigan’s Thumb – Harbor Beach/Port Hope/Bay City
One of the best places to catch a glimpse of Michigan’s amazing fall foliage is around The Thumb. This route follows M-25 from Port Huron and follows the coastline, offering breathtaking views of the water and forest alike. It ends in Bay City, where you can finish the day with a meal and some activities.
This color tour is one of the most unique ones in the state, as it offers views of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay as well as the breathtaking foliage itself. Some people opt for a nature walk instead of driving in a car and enjoy a day of hiking and playing on the beach.
No matter how you choose to take it all in, there is no doubt that The Thumb is one of the best places to see Michigan’s fall colors. These are normally at their peak between mid-September and late October, though the dates vary year by year.
Go Hiking in Port Crescent State Park
If you love being outdoors, there are few places better than East Michigan. Port Crescent State Park is a favorite destination for hikers, especially in the fall. The hiking trail is only two and a half miles, making it perfect for people of almost any fitness level and kids.
Port Crescent State Park winds around nearby Lake Huron, offering scenic views of the surrounding valley. You will also pass Saginaw Bay and the Pinnebog River. Meanwhile, the town of Port Crescent itself offers some interesting monuments depicting its own history as a lumber mill and fishing town.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Port Austin in the Fall
Port Austin is located at the tip of the Thumb, ensuring that all visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Huron. This lakefront community is popular among visitors throughout the summer months, but it’s often one of the quietest places to experience the fall colors in September and October.
While the rest of the state is maneuvering the traffic on I-75 to get toward the Upper Peninsula, you can be in the Thumb soaking up the same colors and enjoying plenty of fun along the way.
Kayak on Lake Huron
In order to experience the splendor of fall from the water, consider renting a kayak or paddleboard from Port Austin Kayak & Bike. Their affordable options for rental equipment ensure that anyone can explore this community in the way that they prefer.
Explore Huron County Nature Center
After you have finished gliding on top of Lake Huron and seeing the fall colors come to life along the shore, you can head to the Huron County Nature Center to hike along the trails and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature.
Visit the Port Austin Farmer’s Market
Finally, no visit to Port Austin would be complete without a stop at its weekly Farmer’s Market, which runs through mid-October.
This downtown farmer’s market features more than 50 vendors each week, where you can pick up farm-fresh produce, warm baked goods, and handmade products.
Festive Fall Things to Do in Port Huron
Port Huron is another major metropolitan area in East Michigan where there are so many fun fall things to do. There are many community events that are planned in and around Port Huron during the fall, which makes this an exciting place to visit throughout September and October.
Enjoy Lexington Days & Oktoberfest
For example, in nearby Lexington, Lexington Days is a community festival that features engaging events, such as obstacle courses and outhouse races. There also is a car show and a craft show for enthusiasts to enjoy.
This festival typically takes place toward the end of September. If you happen to be heading to Lexington in October, then you will be able to stop by Oktoberfest. Don’t forget to dress for the occasion as you sip your favorite local brews!
Visit McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill
Fall is apple season, and there is no better opportunity to enjoy fresh-pressed apple cider from a local farm! And no trip to Port Huron in the fall would be complete without a stop at McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill.
This hot tourist attraction is a popular spot in the autumn, and it’s no wonder. In addition to selling its fresh-pressed cider and delectable donuts, this cider mill also has fun activities for the whole family.
There are regular events throughout the fall as well as the chance to pick your own apples. Kids will love the petting zoo, and the farm even hosts a haunted house in the fall.
Adults, of course, will love the chance to enjoy farm-fresh treats, including doughnuts and a variety of freshly-made apple ciders.
There is a playground and petting farm for young visitors, as well as wagon rides around the property for people of all ages. In the month of October, the cider mill comes to life with haunted attractions.
More to Explore This Fall in Michigan
These best fall things to do in East Michigan are only the tip of the iceberg of all of the Michigan fall fun there is to be had! Whether you’re looking for the best Michigan apple orchards, the best pumpkin patch near you, or the must-visit places to enjoy fall colors in Michigan, we’ve got a great line-up of articles all about the best fall things to do in Michigan!