Chippewa River Water Trail
· · ·

How to Plan the Perfect Family Fall Weekend in Mt. Pleasant

If you’re looking for a friendly city in which to enjoy an unforgettable family getaway, Mt. Pleasant is one of the friendliest places to visit in Mid-Michigan. On top of that, the city and Isabella County are full of fantastic things to enjoy in the fall.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, you’ll find plenty of fall things to do in Mt. Pleasant.

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

Thanks to Mt Pleasant CVB for being 2022 #MIAwesomeList Fall Bucket List partners!

Fall Outdoor Things to Do in Mt. Pleasant

If you’re looking for a place to disconnect from the everyday hustle and bustle this fall, Mt. Pleasant and Isabella County are perfect for you and your family. The area is home to over 20 city and county parks and nature preserves, totaling more than 1,000 acres of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch

One of the biggest fall attractions in the Mt. Pleasant area, Papa’s Pumpkin Patch was founded by retired Central Michigan University professors who believed that having fun and playing is essential for good mental health. Best of all, the farm is more than recreational — it’s educational too!

Alongside several educational activities, families can enjoy U-pick apples and pumpkins, eating doughnuts and fresh apple cider, wagon rides, and the farm market with fresh jams, jellies, gifts, and more. On top of that, Papa’s Pumpkin Patch has one of the best corn mazes in the area.

Kissinger Farm

For a unique fall experience in the Mt. Pleasant area, head to Kissinger Farm for horseback riding. Located in the countryside of Shepherd Michigan, the farm offers farm tours and trail rides for all ages.

All of the horseback rides through the woods are led by experienced riders and are at a walking speed. Since you’re riding through the woods, you’ll get a great look at the stunning Mid-Michigan fall colors along the way.

Kissinger Farm - Shepard, Michigan - Kissinger Farm
Kissinger Farm | photo via Kissinger Farm

GKB Riverwalk Trail

The George K. Baderschneider Riverwalk Trail in Mt. Pleasant is a 1.8-mile-long path that runs from Chipp-A-Waters Park to Pickens Field, connecting five major city parks and passing through some of the most scenic landscapes in the area.

This universally accessible trail even connects to the barrier-free, 3-mile Mt. Pleasant Riverwalk Pathway if you want to extend your hike. Together, the trails blend the natural and urban environments to promote healthy lifestyles.

Island Park

Behind Mt. Pleasant City Hall, Island Park offers a long list of recreational activities across its 50 acres. The canoe landing allows you to paddle the Chippewa River, or you can walk the paved trail or fish from the fishing deck.

Also, you can play basketball, softball, and tennis on lighted courts and fields. There are even plenty of facilities for playing horseshoes, pickleball, and shuffleboard. Plus, you can use the on-site grills and tables for picnics.

Island Park is home to a Skate Park and Timber Town as well. The Skate Park is open from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., while Timber Town is a city playscape designed for children.

Deerfield Nature Park - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Chippewa River Water Trail
Deerfield Nature Park | photo via @thatt_photo

Deerfield Nature Park

If your family loves to walk among the fall colors, Deerfield Nature Park has 8 miles of trails. The paths traverse more than 591 acres of land, and some of them run next to the Chippewa River and cross over via four bridges — a covered bridge, a footbridge, and two suspension bridges. You can bike the trails too.

In addition to picnic areas, the park has a launch for canoeing and kayaking the river, spots for river fishing, facilities for horseshoes and volleyball, and two 18-hole disc golf courses. The Deerfield and Wildwood disc golf courses have amateur and professional tee pads.

Related: 14 Best Disc Golf Courses in Michigan to Play

Chippewa River Water Trail

Since the Chippewa River is considered Michigan’s freshwater jewel, it’s perfect for enjoying a leisurely paddle in a canoe or kayak. Heavily wooded banks along the river are awesome for leaf-peeping.

The Chippewa River Water Trail flows alongside Mt. Pleasant’s five main city parks, running through a mix of farm country, residential neighborhoods, and woodlands. Several bluffs along the river add to its beauty.

The best places to launch are Chipp-A-Waters Park and Mill Pond Park. Chipp-A-Waters Park is a haven for wildlife, while Mill Pond Park has fantastic river access for paddle boating, fishing, and more.

Chippewa River Water Trail - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Chippewa River Water Trail | photo via @lancegascho

Canoe, Kayak, & Tube Rentals and Tours

If you need equipment for paddling or riding the Chippewa River, Chippewa River Outfitters has canoe, kayak, and tubing equipment. On the other hand, you could take a guided tour of the river. Buckley’s Mountainside Canoes offers several options — from one-hour paddling tours to overnight tours.

While the water is still warm in the early fall months, Floaters Tubing provides a 90-minute tubing tour from Nelson Park and a four-hour tubing tour out of Chipp-A-Waters Park.

Related: A Fall Color Tour on the Chippewa River Water Trail

CMU Disc Golf

To play a unique round of disc golf, head to the CMU disc golf course. This 18-hole course is one of only four of its kind on a Michigan college campus. It’s a great way to test your skills among the fall foliage.

Cmu Disc Golf - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Fall In Mt. Pleasant
CMU Disc Golf | photo via Central Michigan University

Indoor Things to Do in Mount Pleasant in the Fall

Autumn is a beautiful season for exploring the great outdoors, but the weather doesn’t always allow it. That’s why we’ve put together some indoor activities and things to do during your visit to Mt. Pleasant.

CMU Adventure Seminars

Located on the university campus, CMU Adventure Seminars is an immersive, fun challenge for all ages. It features a rock climbing wall in the Finch Fieldhouse gymnasium that’s suitable for beginners and experienced climbers.

The A-Wall is open to the public, but reservations are encouraged as hours vary.  It may be reserved alongside the High Ropes Course, which is situated above the wall.

The Jump Station

Providing a safe indoor play area for kids and adults alike, The Jump Station has a variety of ways for your family to exert energy when you can’t go outdoors. The Trampoline Park has a dodgeball area, foam pit, freestyle jumping area, and trampoline basketball hoop.

This attraction has an Inflatable Park too, which features four large bounce houses for children ages 10 and younger. No matter where you want to spend your time here, you can make some great family memories.

Martin Arena - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Fall In Mt. Pleasant
Martin Arena | photo via ICE Arena

Martin Arena

If you and your family just can’t wait for winter to go ice skating, Martin Arena schedules open public skate times on its ice rink. The facility supports local hockey and figure skating teams as well. You can rent skates if you don’t have your own, and snacks are available at the concession stand.

Central Escapes

Is your family interested in escape rooms? At Central Escapes, you can join a real-life game experience that involves searching for clues, solving puzzles, and trying to escape in just 60 minutes. It has four themes, and you can charge your smart devices in the wall lockers while you play.

Cyber Quest At Soaring Eagle Casino - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Fall In Mt. Pleasant
Cyber Quest at Soaring Eagle Casino | photo via Cyber Quest Arcade (Mt. Pleasant, MI)

Cyber Quest at Soaring Eagle Casino

Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort isn’t just for adults. Its Cyber Quest arcade-like games are perfect for family-friendly entertainment. All of the games are non-violent, and the play space is bright and colorful. Plus, the rewards for playing make redeeming prizes fun.

Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum

Inspiring creativity and curiosity in the community, the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum is a haven for young kids, especially when they’re stuck indoors because of rain. The museum has a wide variety of exhibits where they can learn while using their imaginations, such as:

  • Beemazium
  • Exploratorium
  • Friendship Field 2.0
  • Luminary Lab
  • One World
  • PleasANT Park
  • Racing Airways

Related: A Rainy Day With Kids (EEK!) at the Mt Pleasant Discovery Museum

Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Fall In Mt. Pleasant
Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum | photo via Mt Pleasant Discovery Museum

Mt. Pleasant Fall Events for All Ages

While autumn is synonymous with apples and pumpkins, there’s even more to celebrate in Mt.  Pleasant. Plan your fall getaway during one of these events and festivals.

Zonta Applefest

Sept. 24, 2022

Celebrating all things apples, Zonta Applefest at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch is organized by the Mt. Pleasant Zonta Club. It’s one of the biggest fall festivals in Mid-Michigan, welcoming thousands of people every year to enjoy arts and crafts, baked apple goods, cider, doughnuts, live music, and more.

Since it’s held at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, families can hop on wagon rides and play children’s games as well.

Mt. Pleasant Craft Beer Festival

Sept. 24, 2022

Adults in families that love to travel together and try new brews will likely enjoy the Mt. Pleasant Craft Beer Festival downtown. Organized by the Mt. Pleasant Jaycees, this festival features craft beer, cider, and seltzer for anyone aged 21 and older. There are food vendors and live music too.

Mt. Pleasant Craft Beer Festival - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Fall In Mt. Pleasant
Mt. Pleasant Craft Beer Festival | photo via Mt. Pleasant Craft Beer Festival

CMU Fall Sports

If your family is passionate about sports, check out a Central Michigan Chippewas game. The university’s athletics department features cross country, football, and soccer games throughout the fall. Fire Up Chips!

While you’re on campus, you could stop by the Marcy Weston Athletics Hall of Fame in the CMU Events Center atrium. It’s decorated with plaques that recognize every induction class. Also, touch-screen kiosks include member biographies, photos, and videos.

Family-Oriented Restaurants in Mt. Pleasant

You might be overwhelmed with the sheer variety of restaurants in Mt. Pleasant and the surrounding area because there are more than 100 to choose from! To get you started, here are a few that we recommend for families.

Dog Central

Home to famous dogs and legendary Late Nights, Dog Central has all kinds of hot dogs — from traditional favorites to inventive concoctions. The restaurant has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” show and proudly serves custom, 100% pork Dearborn Sausage hot dogs.

While you can pretty much put anything on your hot dog — including mac n’ cheese — what makes these dogs so special is that they’re hardwood smoked before arriving and then either grilled or deep-fried to your liking.

And, if you’re out late and need a snack, you can stop by Dog Central. It’s open until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Freddie's Tavern - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Fall In Mt. Pleasant
Freddie’s Tavern | photo via @thetravelingfoodist

Freddie’s Tavern

Established in 1981, Freddie’s Tavern is a fun place for families to enjoy a good meal. The menu features burgers, chicken, pizza, and more, including a kid’s menu. Plus, the bar offers drink specials.

The fun part, though, is playing on an air hockey table, two billiards tables, and three dart boards. The restaurant also has 10 flat-screen TVs and a digital jukebox for more entertainment.

Pisanello’s Pizza

For pizza in a low-key atmosphere, head to Pisanello’s Pizza in the heart of downtown Mt. Pleasant. It has been serving the area for more than 50 years using only quality ingredients. In addition to pizza, you can order one of its famous subs, large salads, or wings. Or, you can hit the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.

Doozies Ice Cream Place

Serving ice cream favorites in Mid-Michigan, Doozies Ice Cream Place has a range of frozen desserts — more than 20 hand-dipped flavors, more than 85 Arctic swirl flavors, floats, malts, hand-spun shakes, and countless sundae combinations.

On top of that, it has a growing selection of diabetic-safe, lactose-free, and vegan soft serve ice cream. The menu is always evolving, so you never know what new flavors or combinations are available.

You should hurry to Doozies Ice Cream Place because it closes the first week of October. If you don’t make it time, though, you can always go to Papa’s Pumpkin Patch for doughnuts and apple cider!

Pisanello's Pizza - Mt. Pleasant, Michigan - Fall In Mt. Pleasant
Pisanello’s Pizza | photo via @mtpleasantcvb

Mt. Pleasant Hotels & Other Lodging Options for Families

One of the most important parts of planning a family weekend or week-long getaway is the accommodations. Fortunately, there are more than a dozen hotels and other lodging options in and around Mt. Pleasant. 


With rustic cabins and modern campsites, Coldwater Lake Family Park is fantastic if your family enjoys living in nature. The campground has several recreational amenities too. Herrick Recreation Area is another fall camping option with similar facilities.

Hotels & Resorts

If you’re looking for a resort-like experience, Soaring Eagle Waterpark and Hotel is the ideal spot. It has 243 rooms at the Waterpark Hotel, 67 campsites at the Soaring Eagle Hideaway RV Park, and European-designed suites at The Retreat.

Mt. Pleasant is home to several chain hotels as well, such as Courtyard by Marriott, Baymont by Wyndham, and Comfort Inn & Suites. Find even more lodging options here, and start planning your Mt. Pleasant fall trip today!