Southcentral Michigan is lovely any time of year, but the region really comes alive in autumn. The area, which ranges from Battle Creek in the west to Ann Arbor in the east, features beautiful fall foliage, a host of recreational lakes, and several state parks and recreational areas.
There are also many colorful and fun fall festivals in southcentral Michigan as well as sporting events and historic sites. Take a look at just a sampling of the fun fall things to do in Southcentral Michigan this season.
Outdoor Fall Things to Do in Southcentral Michigan
Take in a University of Michigan or Michigan State Football Game
Fall in Ann Arbor and East Lansing means college football in Southcentral Michigan. Whether you cheer on the Spartans of MSU or the Wolverines of Michigan, the hottest tickets on Saturday afternoon from September through November are at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing and Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Take a Hike at Walter J Hayes State Park
Located southeast of Jackson County, Walter J Hayes State Park sits on more than 650 acres and features more than a dozen miles of hiking and biking trails. The park sits adjacent to Wamplers Lake, which is known for its fishing and swimming beach.
Other area parks and recreation areas include Whitney Recreational Area near Ann Arbor and Fitzgerald Park Ledges and Trails near Lansing.
Pick a Peck of Apples in Michigan
One of the best things to do in southcentral Michigan in fall is to go to a pick your own farm and pick some apples. There are a number of apple orchards in southcentral Michigan.
Once you have your basket, you can go home and make applesauce, save them for Halloween and bobbing for apples, or just enjoy them as healthy, delicious snacks.
Paddle the Huron River
Taking a canoe or kayak on the Huron River is another way to see the brilliant fall foliage in Southcentral Michigan.
The river runs from 130 miles from Oakland County into Lake Erie, passing through Ann Arbor, Dexter, and Ypsilanti.
Play a Round of Disc Golf
Southcentral Michigan is home to numerous disc golf (aka frisbee golf) courses. The best part of playing this sport is that most courses are free and discs cost much less than golf clubs. It’s a great way to get out and experience the fall landscape.
Visit Disc Golf Scene for a complete listing of courses in Michigan.
Enjoy Donuts and Cider
Wasem Fruit Farm in Milan offers U-Pick apples, raspberries, pears, and pumpkins for picking or purchasing in their farm store. In the fall, they make fresh donuts in a variety of flavors to complement their delectable cider.
Wing Farm in Ann Arbor is a 205-acre working farm that has been in operation for more than 150 years! Enjoy farm animals, a hayride to the pumpkin patch, and your choice of pumpkins ranging in size from small to enormous.
These are just two of the best apple orchards and cider mills in southcentral Michigan to explore this fall!
Southcentral Michigan Historic and Cultural Sites to Explore in Fall
Explore a Battle Creek Museum
No fall in Battle Creek Michigan is complete without a visit to one of the city’s many fascinating museums.
Choose from the Kingman Natural History Museum, the Art Center of Battle Creek and its array of changing visual arts exhibitions, and the Kimball House Historic Museum for a peek at life in Michigan during the Victorian era.
Walk the MSU Children’s Garden and Arboretum in Lansing
Fall is a perfect time to explore these grounds on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. The arboretum features several individual gardens, including the interactive children’s garden.
Best Fall Tours in Southcentral Michigan
Take a Ride on the Southern Michigan Railroad in Tecumseh
One of the best ways to see the fall leave colors in Southcentral Michigan is by taking a ride on the Southern Michigan railroad from Tecumseh, MI, south of Ann Arbor. The restored train offers regular tours in the fall that allow you to experience the area’s changing foliage from the comfort of a train car.
Follow the Cider and Donut Trail in Lansing
Apple cider and apple donuts are favorites of the Lansing MI area. You can take a 40-mile, self-drive tour of the 23 orchards, bakeries, and eateries that offer these treats. What better way to celebrate fall?
Experience Battle Creek’s Fall into the Arts Art Walk
Battle Creek’s downtown arts district welcomes visitors to shop, sip and nibble during the annual Fall into the Arts Art Walk.
Held in mid-October, the event is sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce and features musicians, crafts, photography, and paintings.
Unforgettable Fall Things to Do in Southcentral Michigan
Enjoy the Fall Zoo-tacular in Lansing
A favorite Lansing MI fall event is Fall Zoo-tacular, held at Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo several weekends in October.
The little ones can safely get into the Halloween spirit here with the zoo’s many animals as well as a straw maze, candy stations, refreshments, and a hayride.
Kids (and adults) are encouraged to dress in Halloween costumes.
Catapult a Pumpkin in Marshall
Lots of places have pumpkin carving and pick your own pumpkins, but the Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall, just outside of Battle Creek, takes fall pumpkin fun one step further.
Here, you can send a pumpkin flying (safely, of course) using the brewery’s catapult during their Pumpkin Something celebration held on a Saturday in mid-October.
There are also refreshments, a pumpkin carving contest, and lots of other pumpkin-themed activities.
Get Spooked in Ypsilanti
Check out Night Terrors at Wiard’s Orchard! Guests can select from four different haunted attractions, including a haunted hayride! It’s the perfect spot to be if you’re a fan of Halloween and the fall season! Among the haunted attractions, you may expect to be frightened by The Asylum, The Ultimate Haunted Barn, The Hay Ride of the Lost, and The Mindshaft.
Picnic at the Park & Snap Some Fall Photos
There are many great parks and playgrounds around Jackson County, perfect for packing a picnic and spending a beautiful fall afternoon together as a family. Pack a football or frisbee to toss around, or even bring along your dog when you visit one of the area’s many pet-friendly parks.
Bring a local photographer with you when you go to the park to take some fall family photos! Autumn is a great time to take pictures of your loved ones in Jackson area parks.
Southcentral Michigan Fall Events, Pumpkin Patches, and Corn Mazes
Celebrate Pioneer Day in Jackson
Pioneer Day is one of the most popular Jackson MI fall activities. The festival, held at the Farm Museum and Dewey School in Grass Lake on a Saturday in mid-October, celebrates early 19th century Michigan life.
The event includes craft demonstrations, live music, dancing, and traditional pioneer Michigan food.
Explore a Corn Maze
Try your navigation skills in one of the region’s many corn mazes. These living puzzles are carved out of cornstalks and provide a fun and challenging activity for family members of all ages.
Most open in mid to late September and stay open through Halloween.
Experience the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in Howell
Downtown Howell, MI, near Lansing, transforms itself into a Halloween wonderland for a Saturday in late October with its annual Legend of Sleepy Hollow event.
There’s live music, hayrides, treat-or-treat stations, creepy campfires, and business booths. There’s even a free music screening. This free event is fun for all ages.
Visit the Binder Park Zoo
Fall is one of the best times to visit the Binder Park Zoo as the animals are generally more active with the cooler temperatures. In addition, the treelined paths through the zoo are flush with the colors of the changing leaves.
There are also several fall events at the zoo to help you and your family make the most of this season.
Frequently asked questions about fall activities in Southcentral Michigan
Where are the best fall colors in Michigan?
There are many great places to enjoy fall colors in Southcentral Michigan. You can find colorful leaves all across the region, especially among the area’s many state and national parks.
We particularly like the Whitehouse Nature Center at Albion College (near Battle Creek) and Huron River Road between Dexter and Ann Arbor for fall color viewing.
When should we visit Southcentral Michigan for fall color?
The leaves in Michigan start to change color as night temperatures grow lower. Southcentral Michigan is one of the last regions in the state to experience fall foliage in Michigan.
The peak period here occurs, on average, between the middle and the end of September.
More to Explore During Fall in Michigan
Whether you’re looking for the best fall color drives in Michigan or a “Michigan apple orchard near me”, our fall articles cover all the best fall things to do in Michigan, including where to see fall colors in Michigan!