#MIAwesomeList is the ultimate fall bucket list in Michigan where you can experience Michigan to its fullest – from unique twists on the classics to the hidden gems and haunts known only to the locals.
We believe ALL of Michigan is great and we want to help you experience it to the fullest this season. And, now is the perfect time to explore in your own big, backyard – Michigan all while supporting local businesses and attractions!
The bucket list includes over 30 ways to explore Michigan with links off to more detailed guides to help you plan your experience.
#MIAwesomeList is brought to you by the Awesome Mitten and our partners at Mt Pleasant CVB, Alpena Area CVB, Cadillac Area CVB, and Explore Flint & Genesee.
We can’t wait to see what memories you create this fall!
Click on an item below to zip right down to that adventure!
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If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life this fall, Mt. Pleasant and Isabella County are ideal destinations for you and your family. There are over 20 city and county parks and nature preserves in the area, totaling more than 1,000 acres of outdoor recreational space.
The George K. Baderschneider Riverwalk Trail in Mt. Pleasant is a 1.8-mile-long path that connects five major city parks and passes through some of the area’s most scenic landscapes. It runs from Chipp-A-Waters Park to Pickens Field.
If you want to extend your hike, this universally accessible trail connects to the 3-mile barrier-free Mt. Pleasant Riverwalk Pathway. The trails combine natural and urban environments to promote healthy living.
Alpena, located in northeast Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron, is known as the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes. Outdoor recreation, interactive indoor activities, and fun events abound in the area.
The fall colors in Alpena and Northeast Michigan usually peak in the middle of October. Whether you visit in late September or late October, the orange, red, and yellow hues in the trees will be visible. You can also participate in a variety of recreational activities and unique adventures.
There are also a number of events and festivals that will appeal to people of all ages. Whatever your family’s interests are, the Alpena area is an ideal destination with something for everyone!
Surrounded by nature, Cadillac Michigan is a fall paradise for leaf peeping. This city on the lakes is united by rivers and connected by trails, offering fantastic views in every direction.
Following the fall color tour routes is a great way to see the fall colors and experience the season in and around Cadillac. The In-Town Cadillac Route takes you through downtown, past top-rated restaurants and boutique shops.
Around Cadillac Route includes approximately 200 miles of hiking trails, farms and markets, and fall overlooks in Greater Cadillac’s west and east segments. It also crosses the Pine and Big Manistee rivers and passes through a variety of colorful canopies.
Hiking is popular activity for most of the year throughout Genesee County. But, the leaves changing to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows makes this activity even more enjoyable.
Flushing County Park’s trails cross the Flint River via a footbridge, providing an excellent photo opportunity. Beautiful views of the changing leaves can be found everywhere you look. There are also ball fields, tennis courts, picnic areas, and a playground on the 105-acre property.
The For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum is one of the best places to walk through the fall colors. It’s just a 10-minute drive from downtown Flint and is universally accessible with several miles of trails.
Did you know that Michigan is the third biggest apple-growing state in the country? It is no surprise that visiting apple orchards is a big fall activity in the state. And with apple orchards, of course, comes hard cider.
There are many great cider mills to visit in Michigan. One of the best ones is Almar Orchards, located in Flushing. This one-of-a-kind orchard and cidery isn’t just one of the most popular in the state — it is also one of the oldest. It has been in operation and even in the same family since the 1850s!
Almar Orchards is home to the award-winning Scrumpy hard cider. This unfiltered, classic hard cider has been made at the orchard for many years, and visitors come from all over Michigan to get it. There are seven total hard cider blends made from several apple varieties.
If hard cider isn’t your thing or you want something more family-friendly, apple picking is an essential fall activity! There are countless apple orchards in Michigan, so you can count on being able to access one in just a short drive, even from the city.
Apple season in Michigan starts as early as July and goes as late as November, depending on the apple variety. That means that you have plenty of time to enjoy this family-friendly activity.
Robinette’s Apple Haus is located in Grand Rapids, MI. This West Michigan orchard truly offers something for all ages, from a farm market where you can find fresh baked goods, jams, kettle corn, and other treats, to pick-your-own fruit, and wine tastings in the orchard winery. Apple season kicks off early here, with early varieties such as Lodi and Paula Red starting in July.
If you’re not located near Grand Rapids, check out other amazing apple orchards in Michigan, such as Post Family Farm, Crane Orchards, Diehl’s Orchard and Cider Mill, and Knaebe’s Munchy Crunchy Apple Farm.
Drummond Island is one of Michigan’s top tourist destinations in the Upper Peninsula. This enormous island is 249 square miles, most of which is unspoiled state park land! Needless to say, this is the perfect place to explore and enjoy the brilliant autumn foliage.
One of the best ways to explore Drummond Island is to rent an AV. Beaver ATV Rentals offers low rates to make your trip fun and worry-free. There’s no catch: once you rent your machine and your helmet, you are free to explore the island!
If an ATV isn’t your style, there is plenty more to do on Drummond Island. Fall is the perfect time to visit, since most of the island will be ablaze with color. The area includes countless fascinating natural areas and hiking trails, as well as the Drummond Island Historical Museum. If you prefer to hit the water, there are options for chartering a sailboat for an afternoon, too!
On the waters of Lake Huron is Mackinac Island, one of Michigan’s most beautiful and popular destinations. Visiting this island feels like taking a step into the past, and it is a popular place for events, weddings, and outdoor adventures.
Part of the island’s picturesque appeal comes from its reputation as a summer destination for the upper classes during the 19th century. Today, the island still has many of the Victorian-style architecture of the time.
Summer vs autumn on Mackinac Island is a topic of hot debate. While it’s a popular summer destination, the island is breathtaking when the fall colors emerge. However, you won’t be able to drive to get a good view, as cars are strictly banned. The way to get the best view of this stunning island? A once-in-a-lifetime helicopter tour! If taking to the air isn’t your style, horse-drawn carriage rides are another popular choice.
If you happen to find yourself near Tahquamenon Falls State Park this autumn, there is only one thing to do — hop on the trolley to get the best view! This breathtaking nature preserve is known as one of the best places in the Upper Peninsula to chase waterfalls.
The park features many miles of hiking trails, and its crown jewel — the 50-ft-tall, 200-ft-wide Upper Falls — is a tourist attraction for countless visitors every year. But these are far from the only falls in the park!
The best way to catch the best views of waterfalls and autumn foliage alike is by hopping aboard the Toonerville Trolley. This tour lasts a full day, offering all the experiences and views of Tahquamenon Falls as you have never known them before. The tour starts out on the historic trolley ride through the forest and finishes with a 21-mile riverboat excursion to see the falls.
Did you know that Deer Gun Season Opening Day is an unofficial Michigan state holiday? Suffice it to say that Michiganders love their hunting. If you are looking for a great place to hunt in Michigan this fall, check out Portland State Game Area. This Clinton County area is considered the best in the state for hunting white-tailed deer.
Deer Regular Firearm Season kicks off in late November, though you can hunt with a bow and arrow as early as the first week of October. The area is also known for its pheasant hunting, and you may be able to find other game such as Canadian geese, ruffled grouse, wood hawks, and ducks.
If you plan to go hunting in Michigan this fall, make sure you have your necessary permits!
The Chippewa River Trail is one of the most breathtaking places to enjoy the Michigan fall foliage — this time, from the water. The river is 92 miles long, winding through a wide variety of woodland, farmland, historical buildings, public parks, and much more. It is perfect for trips of all kinds, whether you’re looking for an all-day trek or a pleasant, short outing.
In the fall, this becomes a popular spot for enjoying some outdoor exercise in a beautiful spot. Thanks to the abundant woodlands, the area around the river explodes into color every autumn. As long as the weather is pleasant, you will find people hitting the water to canoe or kayak and admire the colors.
If you’re looking for a stop along the river, there are plenty to be had. The river flows alongside many public parks, fishing areas, and other recreational facilities. One of the most popular is the town of Mt. Pleasant, where you can enjoy a picnic in the riverside city park.
If you are a lover of craft beer, there’s nowhere better to be in the autumn than in Michigan. Around the state, craft breweries are releasing signature autumnal brews for events such as Oktoberfest.
While there are tons of great breweries in Michigan, none of them celebrate fall better than Lansing Brewing Co. This top-notch brewery is the host of the annual Brewtoberfest Festival! As the name implies, this fall celebration is all about having fun with authentic German food and craft beer. You’ll find people partying to polka music, many of them wearing lederhosen.
If beer isn’t your thing, you can still have a great time. The event also serves wine and cocktails, ensuring that everyone can find a drink they enjoy. All you pay is an entry fee to get a custom beer stein and endless drinks and food. To make it even better, half the ticket cost goes to charity!
Stony Lake Stables is a privately-owned stable offering family-friendly horseback riding for people of all ages in New Era, MI. Here, you can find one-hour to 90-minute trail rides taking you through some of the most scenic spots of West Michigan.
Stony Lake Stables offers rides for everyone age 3 and up — even if they have never been on a horse before! Children ages 1 and 2 are welcome to participate as well but must ride with an adult. There is also a therapeutic horseback riding program for differently-abled kids and adults.
The trail rides wind through fields and forests, swamps, riverbeds, ravines, and much more. While it is a popular activity at every time of the year, it is downright unmissable in the autumn. During this time, the forest explodes into Michigan’s legendary fall colors, which are set off to perfection from horseback. This peaceful and fun activity is one you won’t want to miss in the Michigan fall.
Thanks to the fact that 53% of the state is forested, Michigan is one of the best places to enjoy stunning fall foliage. And it stands to reason that taking a drive to see the fall colors is a popular activity at this time of the year.
One of the most popular routes is along old US Highway 27. This 75-mile road runs from Coldwater to Lansing along the path of a former Native American trail. It features sights of beautiful farmland, forest, and many historical buildings.
If you’re looking for a scenic fall drive elsewhere in the state, there are plenty to be had! These other places to see fall colors in Michigan offer views of lakeside woodlands, farmlands, and much more. Some of these are longer routes, while others are just right for a quick afternoon drive.
Love the fall foliage and historic trains? Head over to an SRI depot, where you can take a fall colors tour on an authentic steam engine! This is one of the most interesting and unique ways to enjoy fall in Michigan, perfect for a weekend excursion.
The Pere Marquette 1225 is a steam engine built in 1941. This huge train comes in at 16 ft tall, 101 ft long, and 440 tons. In other words, it is a real beast!
The train, which was restored in 1957, is now used exclusively for tourism. Though the SRI (or Steam Railroad Institute) is officially located in Owosso, visitors can board the fall color tour at depots from Petoskey to Cadillac.
The excursion offers scenic views of forest, towns, waterways, and much more. Depending on where you plan to board and exit, the trip can last as long as you please. Various depots also offer shuttle services to get you back to your vehicle.
The Dow Gardens are one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Michigan. Located in the town of Midland, this historic garden covers an astounding 110 acres and hosts thousands of visitors every year.
The gardens are a great place to visit at any time of the year, whether you want to attend an educational program or simply take a pleasant stroll. Each part of the gardens has totally unique features, from the herb garden to the Exploration Garden, Children’s Garden, Color Garden, Stream Walk, and many more.
The Canopy Walk is one of the most unique and amazing features of Dow Gardens. This four-story transparent walkway lets you literally walk through the sky, enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the grounds. This is especially beautiful during the autumn when it gives you the chance to see the brilliant fall foliage from a perspective you have never experienced before.
There’s admiring the fall colors and then there’s admiring the fall colors as you soar through the air on a zipline! At Frankenmuth Aerial Park, you can take to the sky on a zipline and high ROPES course in the woods.
The park offers visitors of all ages the chance to swing, climb, and zipline through the trees. While this is an amazing experience at any time of the year, it is especially beautiful during the autumn when the trees are at their most brilliant. The park even offers glow ziplining so you can visit at night!
If you’re not located near Frankenmuth, don’t fret — there are plenty of other ziplines throughout the state. Check out Riverfront Zipline in Allegan, Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park in Mackinaw City, and TreeRunner Adventure Park in West Bloomfield. These parks are all open throughout the year and offer an amazing way to view Michigan’s legendary autumn foliage.
Looking for an autumn activity in Michigan that’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before? Take a visit to Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman, MI. This resort and event space has been rated one of the best tourist destinations in the country, with events from murder mystery weekends to outdoor excursions.
One of the most popular activities is the resort’s famous elk viewing, which has won awards and been described as a “real-life fairytale”. Visitors are welcome to take a carriage or sleigh ride to see the resort’s wild Rocky Mountain elk herds in their natural habitat, a woodland elk preserve. The ride takes you through picturesque forests and over natural streams in a carriage drawn by draft horses.
The event closes out with a five-course dinner and wine tasting, crafted by an award-winning food artist. This experience is the perfect romantic autumn getaway for you and your significant other!
Lumberman’s Monument is located in the Huron-Manistee National Forests near Cadillac. This unique monument is just one feature in a whole area of things to do and see, so you may want to make a whole day of it!
The Lumberman’s Monument is situated on a forest overlook offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding forest. The large statue, depicting a lumberjack, is just the start of a whole monument to the history of the lumber industry in northern Michigan.
The outlook also features a museum with exhibits about the lumber industry in the area and how it shaped Michigan’s culture throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, especially during the Great Depression. Part of the museum is also dedicated to forest firefighters, particularly those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. If you love beautiful views and unique historical perspectives, you won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind monument!
Alpena is a small city that lies on the shore of Thunder Bay in Lake Huron. The city is home to just over 10,000 residents and features a variety of historic buildings. But while it is a lovely place to visit due to the history and the nearby lake, its biggest draw is its Dark Sky Parks.
These three parks include Rockport State Park Recreation Area, Negwegon State Park, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park, all located just outside Alpena. These nature preserves were officially designated as Dark Sky Parks in 2016, which means that they are untouched by artificial light pollution. As such, they offer some of the clearest stargazing in the state.
There is truly nothing like enjoying the sheer darkness of a rural park with an unfettered view of the constellations. On clear nights, lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis as well as all the autumn constellations of the Northern Hemisphere.
Of all the road trips to take throughout Michigan, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is one of the best-known and most popular. This quick trip is only seven-and-a-half miles long, yet it is packed with amazing things to see, from beautiful scenery to historic structures.
Winding along the shore of Lake Michigan, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers unparalleled views of the Sleeping Bear sand dunes, Glen Lake, and Lake Michigan itself. The route kicks off over the famous covered bridge, considered one of the most picturesque locations in Michigan. The bridge, which was built in the 1960s, is particularly beautiful when surrounded by brilliant fall foliage.
There are also a variety of nature trails and overlooks along the route, which are perfect for quick excursions and picnics. These offer an unparalleled variety of Michigan nature, from overlooks of the lakes and dunes to Cottonwood Trail, the forest of centuries-old cottonwood trees.
If you love playing golf, there is no better place to enjoy an autumn game than Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac, MI. This famous ski and golf resort was opened in 1938, making it one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States.
Before the snow falls, however, people flock to Caberfae to enjoy a game of golf. During the autumn, the surrounding scenery makes it a beautiful place to take in the fall colors and crisp air as you hit the course.
The 9-hole golf course has been a fixture since 1995 and attracts countless visitors every year. As you play through, you’ll get to enjoy a variety of terrain including woodlands — which also offer even more beautiful views.
If you’re not a golfer, you’ll still enjoy a visit to Caberfae during the autumn, when it becomes a popular destination for hikers or people looking for a peaceful, beautiful getaway.
The Michigan Tunnel of Trees is one of the most famous scenic fall drives in the state. Of course, you can hit the road at any time of the year. But because of the forest setting, it is most popular in the autumn, when the foliage is at its most brilliant.
This 20-mile stretch of M-119 runs along the coast of Lake Michigan on the Lower Peninsula. It follows the coastal bluffs, offering breathtaking views of Sturgeon Bay on one side and Little Traverse Bay on the other.
The road is narrow and winding, so you will want to take it slowly! Though the route itself isn’t long, you might find yourself spending a few hours driving it, since there are many attractions along the way.
If there is one thing that Michiganders love, it’s a sports game, and fall is tailgate season. If you want to tailgate like a Michigander, you might want to head to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, fondly nicknamed “The Big House”. People from all over the state come here throughout the fall to watch University of Michigan football games, both in the stands and outside in the lot.
Of course, UM isn’t the only place to catch a football game! College football is enormously popular throughout the whole state. You’ll find people flocking to Michigan State in East Lansing, Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti, and Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant.
Hardcore football fans will want to sit in the stands. But tailgating is a time-honored Michigan tradition, and many people think it’s more fun. Even people who don’t follow football enjoy the community and excitement (and the food)!
Fall can be a very romantic time of year to plan a Michigan getaway. Flint and Genesee County, with their vibrant colors all around, offer charming towns with scenic views.
Downtown areas can be captivating, cozy places to walk with a loved one at any time of day or night. You can stroll the picturesque sidewalks of boutiques and cafes in several Genesee County downtowns while holding hands. However, Fenton, Flint, and Flushing are our top three choices. Each downtown is rich in history and distinct in its own way.
If you’re looking for the ultimate Michigan-style fall family fun, make sure to check out the Tollgate Pumpkinfest. This annual celebration takes place at the historic Tollgate Farm and is sponsored by MSU. It includes all the classic fall family activities and much more.
For only $5 per person, you can enjoy activities such as pumpkin picking, wagon hayrides, straw play, live musical performances, field games, pumpkin painting, a straw maze, and much more. Of course, these aren’t the only things that you can enjoy while you’re there. Tollgate Pumpkinfest also offers one-of-a-kind fall fun such as inflatable archery, pumpkin bowling, and even a pumpkin trebuchet!
Tollgate Farm is a 160-acre historical farm now owned by MSU. The property, which dates from the 19th century, now serves as a nature reserve and a place of agricultural education for children and adults alike. Pumpkinfest is just one of many events that take place here throughout the year!
Autumn in Michigan is sunflower season, and there are few better places to enjoy these brilliant blooms than at DeBuck’s Sunflower Farm! This Belleville, MI flower farm includes 15 acres of sunflowers and five acres of lavender and adds more blossoms every year. Though the farm has only been growing flowers since 2017, it has quickly become one of the most popular spots for fall fun.
Running from late August to early September, DeBuck’s annual Sunflower Festival is not to be missed. During this event, visitors can pick their own sunflowers, take photos, do arts and crafts, enjoy great food, and listen to live music.
If you’re not going to be near DeBuck’s, there are many other sunflower farms to visit throughout the state! If you’re looking for some beautiful fall blooms, check out Hall Farms in Rock, Degen Farms Sunflower Fields in Montague, or Gorby Sunflowers in Allegan.
There are countless ways to enjoy the fall colors in Michigan, from kayaking down a river to ziplining above the trees. But sometimes, it just doesn’t get better than a good old-fashioned hike. There are countless hiking trails in Michigan that offer amazing scenic views at the summit.
Mt. Baldhead, located in Saugatuck, is a nature park and hiking trail located just a short distance from the Kalamazoo River. It is a popular spot for hiking, running, and exploring at every time of the year. But autumn is a particularly great time to visit thanks to the stunning view from the summit of Mt. Baldhead.
The hill features 302 wooden steps. Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to enjoy a view that includes the surrounding countryside, including the towns of Saugatuck and Douglas, as well as the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. It’s the perfect spot for a beautiful autumn hike!
Of all the amazing fall festivals in Michigan, the annual Oktoberfest celebration in Iron Mountain has to be one of the best. Just like the traditional Oktoberfest, it actually takes place in late September and features all the trapping of a classic Bavarian fall party.
The event features lederhosen and dirndls galore, as well as authentic Michigan-brewed German beer, polka music, and German cuisine. Iron Mountain’s Oktoberfest isn’t just known for its great music and beer, however! It is also a place where anyone can compete in community games, from races to stein-holding competitions and even a beauty pageant.
There are plenty of activities for kids as well, including a bounce house, face painting, balloon animals, and much more.
Visiting a pumpkin patch or a corn maze is one of the quintessential fall experiences in Michigan. If you’re in the Upper Peninsula this fall, you will want to visit Getzloff Corn Maze, located just outside Escanaba. This seven-acre corn maze is one of the largest in the area, so it’s not hard to see why it is incredibly popular!
The Getzloff corn maze is also known for its yearly theme. In 2021 it featured a memorial to the victims of 9/11 with the message “Never Forget”. But the theme changes every year, so you’ll never know what to expect!
Of course, the maze is far from the only attraction at Getzloff Farm. There is also a pumpkin patch, hayrides, a petting zoo, and a playground.
Wait, why would you go to a ski jump, much less take a ride on the chairlift, long before the snow starts to fall? For the amazing view, of course! Copper Peak Ski Jump in Ironwood, MI, is one of the best places in the Upper Peninsula to get a bird’s-eye view of the stunning fall foliage.
The facility is well-known as one of the largest skiing hills in the state. But it continues to be popular throughout the year, when it offers a one-of-a-kind adventure ride. This lets visitors climb aboard the chair lift and get a view like never before.
So why exactly is the Copper Peak Adventure Ride so amazing? This chair lift ride rises 800 feet in the air to the crest of a volcanic cliff. From the air, you can see a view encompassing 2,500 square miles, three states, and even across the Canadian border!
Sugarloaf Mountain is located in Marquette, MI (or rather, just about six miles outside the town). This beautiful spot is a popular place for hiking. It features two trails — classified as easy and difficult — so that visitors of all ages can enjoy the walk. The easy trail has a more gradual incline and may take longer to reach the summit.
No matter which trail you choose, hiking up Sugarloaf Mountain will bring you up close and personal to natural Michigan. The trails are surrounded by forests, making it a beautiful hike during the autumn.
The most popular attraction by far is the view from the summit. From here, you can see Lake Superior as well as Presque Isle Park, Hogsback Mountain, Big Bay, and the surrounding forests.
If you’re looking for other hiking trails for autumn in Michigan, check out this list, which includes Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Jordan Valley Pathway, and Hartwick Pines State Park.
Every art lover will want to visit Art Prize if they are in Michigan for the fall. This Grand Rapids festival takes place every September and October and celebrates independent artists of all kinds.
This international competition and festival allows artists from anywhere in the world, working in any medium, display their work publicly in the city. Art Prize takes over the entire city, with venues from museums to galleries, stores, bars, public parks, and even on outdoor structures. During this three-week-long event, the public is welcome to view all the art pieces and even meet the artists to learn more about their work.
If art isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of fall festivals that you’ll want to hit up in Michigan. Some of the most popular include the Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival in Paw Paw, the UP Fall Beer Festival in Marquette, and the Port Huron HoboFest.
Visiting a pumpkin patch is one of the quintessential fall experiences in Michigan. If you’re looking for a top-notch pumpkin farm in Michigan, check out Gull Meadow Farms. This amazing farm is located just outside Kalamazoo and is a favorite of people all over the state.
When autumn arrives, it is time to head to Gull Meadow Farms. Though the farm officially opens in April for strawberry, raspberry, tomato, and lettuce picking, it really shines during the fall when pumpkin and apple season arrives.
There are plenty of fun fall activities here, including a corn maze, hayride, and petting zoo. However, one of the most popular things to do is visit the pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkin. Everyone is welcome to participate in the annual pumpkin-carving competition right on the farm!