Michigan is a popular tourist destination throughout the summer thanks to the Great Lakes. These offer countless opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, and more. But when the temperature drops and the trees change, some say Michigan is at its best.
Admiring the autumn colors is a whole activity in Michigan. Here are a few of the best Michigan towns for fall foliage this year!
Houghton Michigan is located on the Keweenaw Peninsula, which extends into Lake Superior. The entire area is known for its stunning autumn colors, making it a popular destination throughout the season. These are offset by the sights of the lake and surrounding natural attractions.
Just a short distance outside Houghton, you’ll find yourself in Michigan’s backcountry, where roads wind through thickly forested areas.
Also, the Keweenaw Waterway is a popular place to admire the autumn scenery, surrounded by farmland and forest. You can enjoy the views from the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, which leads into Houghton.
Mackinac Island is a popular tourist attraction throughout the summer thanks to its beautiful lake views and countless things to do. But, this tiny island is well worth a visit in the fall too. You’ll likely encounter fewer crowds and experience slightly cooler but still pleasant weather during this time.
Mackinac Island is famed for its fall color tours, which allow visitors to see the island and its surroundings like never before. As cars aren’t permitted, these tours happen on foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriages, with views of the forests and coastline in breathtaking scarlet, orange, and yellow.
Leland Michigan is a tiny community on the Leelanau Peninsula. Known for its unique fishing neighborhoods, it enjoys a combination indoor/outdoor lifestyle throughout the summer and fall.
The community has extensive boardwalks so that visitors can enjoy lake and coastline views while shopping, dining, and exploring. In the autumn, that means having the chance to enjoy breathtaking fall colors.
It is also a great stop on a fall color tour as it is located deep in rural Michigan. You’ll enjoy colorful forest, farm, and coastline views as you make your way around the Leelanau Peninsula near Leland.
Holland is one of Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s no secret why. Located on Lake Michigan, Holland State Park offers unparalleled views of the waterway and nearby bluffs. But even this beautiful spot is just one option for enjoying the fall colors.
Another great spot in Holland is Mt. Pisgah, which offers a bird’s-eye view of Lake Macatawa and the surrounding forests and bluffs. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking, walking, and biking around Holland’s many trails to catch the fall foliage as it can’t be seen anywhere else.
Grand Marais has become a much-loved place to visit in Michigan thanks to its abundant natural attractions. These include the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which offers a variety of stunning sites on the coast of Lake Superior.
Pictured Rocks contains forest trails, sandstone cliffs, and hidden waterfalls. These are all worth visiting anytime, but autumn is particularly beautiful.
The contrast of the blue lake, red cliffs, and vibrant fall foliage makes a stunning and colorful sight worth a special trip, even if Grand Marais isn’t your usual haunting ground.
Grayling is a small city in the Lower Peninsula best known for its canoeing and fishing offerings as it is located on the Au Sable River. But, the surrounding forests and state parks make this spot a pleasure to explore in the fall.
The area is home to nearly 10,000 acres of preserved land, which you can explore on bikes, in boats via the waterways, or on foot. Hartwick Pines State Park is one of the area’s most famous fall foliage sites.
The park includes an old pine forest with various deciduous trees, including hemlocks, maples, and beeches.
Grand Ledge might not be the first city to come to mind for enjoying the fall colors of Michigan, namely because this city doesn’t touch one of the Great Lakes — although it does border the Grand River.
Nevertheless, it is well worth a visit. This is mainly because of Oak Park, the riverside climbing park. This rock-climbing mecca is along the sandstone cliffs by the Grand River.
Even if you’re not a rock climber, you may want to visit Grand Ledge to admire the fantastic fall colors and river from the top of the famous cliffs.
Paradise Michigan is aptly named. This beautiful community is hidden away in the Upper Peninsula on the coast of Whitefish Bay. It stands on the edge of Tahquamenon Falls State Park, an enormous nature preserve spanning 50,000 acres.
Highlights of the park include breathtaking forests and several waterfalls. It’s a beautiful place to explore in the autumn when the fall foliage is at its most brilliant.
But, the park isn’t the only place in Paradise to enjoy the fall colors. Also, visitors enjoy the changing trees from the shore of Whitefish Point, a bird migratory route just north of the community.
Alpena is undoubtedly one of Michigan’s most famous destinations for lovers of the outdoors. Located on the edge of Thunder Bay on Lake Huron, the area is known for its beautiful natural areas, which include remote forests, freshwater lakes, and land preserves.
There are countless places nearby for nature lovers, which are at their best in the autumn. You can take in the fall colors from a kayak on Lake Huron, Rockport State Park’s beaches, or the quiet, remote shores of Beaver Lake. Each one offers unique views of Michigan’s unparalleled autumn foliage.
Most people aren’t familiar with the Village of Ontonagon. This small, rural village is within a short distance of the Porcupine Mountains alongside Lake Superior. Locals consider it an extremely popular spot for outdoor activities — from hiking to fishing, boating, and exploring waterfalls.
Unsurprisingly, the area also offers endless viewing opportunities for fall colors. Hiking trails are popular. The Hike of The Clouds, for example, provides an incomparable bird’s-eye view of the forests and mountains in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Meanwhile, the O Kun de Kun Trailhead is a short loop winding through beautiful forests and past breathtaking plunge waterfalls.
Marquette, a city on the Upper Peninsula along the shores of Lake Superior, has become a popular tourist destination for many reasons. Its outdoor attractions make it an appealing vacation spot at any time of the year — whether you want to enjoy the beach or go skiing on Marquette Mountain.
The fall is a particularly beautiful time, however. Forests and mountains surround the city, so many spots offer a bird’s-eye view of the whole area. Hikers enjoy taking a trek up Hogback Mountain or alongside Yellow Dog Falls to see Michigan fall colors at their finest.
Planning Your Tour of the Best Michigan Towns for Fall Foliage
Let’s be honest — there’s no wrong spot to visit in Michigan in the fall. After all, more than 53% of the state is forested. These spots are perfect for admiring the fall colors because they offer unique scenery, fun hikes, and other one-of-a-kind activities.
Some people even enjoy making their own fall color tour by driving along the Great Lakes coasts. No matter how you do it, exploring Michigan in the autumn is an adventure!