According to one Gallup poll, only 10% of vacationers schedule their trips in September. Of the few individuals taking fall vacations, only 9% choose a destination in the Midwest. Though we tend to associate extended vacations and weekend trips with warm summer days, the fall has plenty to offer. From gorgeous nature scenes to slightly cooler temperatures to festive activities, these trips feature the relaxation and fun you desire.
If you’re looking to embrace the allure of the fall season, Michigan is one of the best places to visit. The geography, events and attractions make it simple to have a great time all across the state. Whether you want to be a tourist in your home state or you’re traveling to Michigan for a fall getaway, exploration is likely the first thing on your mind. Here are some fun ideas to start planning your itinerary.
Things to Do in Michigan in the Fall
Michigan, dubbed the Great Lakes State, is perhaps the ideal setting to make blissful autumn memories. The land is home to more than 13,000 miles of state trails and paths. Michigan is also dotted with apple orchards, pumpkin patches and harvest festivals, which offer a glimpse into a home-grown way of life. If you’re looking for some truly awe-inspiring landscapes, visit one of Michigan’s state parks — which have been open for more than 100 years.
None of that your scene? Urban dwellers may feel at home in one of Michigan’s chic microbreweries. These hidden treasures will appease your taste buds with fine beer to complement their delicious food. If you’re not hungry, you can still feast your eyes on thought-provoking pieces from the art galleries and museums around the state. Michigan has a lot to offer, and we can break it down for you. Take a look at the diverse recreation, arts, dining and shopping options you can look forward to.
Michigan is a wonderland of gorgeous foliage and terrain, which makes outdoor escapades on bike, foot or boat a visceral experience in the outside air. The state of Michigan has five national parks, several heritage areas and trails and three national forests. It is also home to the Iron Belle Trail — the longest state trail in the nation that runs from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. In addition, Michigan has 1,300 miles of designated biking trails that span the range of a leisurely ride to an intensive mountain journey.
Michigan has the nation’s longest freshwater coastline and is perfect for those who prefer water recreation. Visitors and residents can enjoy water sports of all kinds — including sailing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing — within Michigan state lines.
No matter what art medium you enjoy, Michigan has something special for you:
- Music: Michigan is the birthplace of Motown, the sound that changed America. You can learn more about this cultural phenomenon at the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan.
- Visual art: Each year Michigan hosts ArtPrize, the world’s largest open art competition that attracts half a million visitors to Grand Rapids. Equally enthralling is the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is comprised of over 100 galleries and holds one of the largest art collections in the United States.
- Museums: You can also visit The Henry Ford, a famed museum across the United States. Henry Ford, the renowned inventor and founder of this institution, sought to treasure the historical stepping stones of America with this place.
- Film: Film buffs should be just as excited to see the filming locations of some legendary movie scenes. Michigan has been the backdrop for the classic “Somewhere in Time Island.” Comic fans and film critics alike can unite to see where the notorious, box-office busting “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” took place.
As an agricultural hub, Michigan offers easy access to a diverse range of local produce. This produce and other quality ingredients add flavor and zest to the state’s most esteemed dishes, including:
- Coney dogs
- Detroit-style pizza
- Mackinac Island fudge
- Crisp apples
The restaurant scene in Michigan is sure to please, no matter your dining preference. From hole-in-the-wall gems with unheard-of flavor profiles to five-star restaurants with delightful delicacies, you can experience it all here. Nearly 300 breweries and more than 125 wineries can add a refined taste to whatever meal you enjoy.
No trip is complete without some trinkets to take home and show off. Thankfully, the state of Michigan has multiple downtown areas dotted with artisan markets and souvenir stores. These spots are perfect for picking up small gifts for friends or a memento.
If your real goal is retail therapy, you can browse specialty shops in Holland or Port Huron or head to the world’s largest Christmas store in Frankenmuth. Farmer’s markets are also scattered around the state and showcase the handiwork of locals, including anything from furniture to homemade candles.
Best Fall Activities in Michigan
Opportunities abound in the Great Lakes State. If you’re spending fall in Michigan, you can make a plan of activities based on what you find the most interesting. Let’s take a look at some fall activities that stand out.
The original Oktoberfest started in Munich, Germany. Most people consider it the world’s largest beer celebration, but it began as more than that. At its origin, Oktoberfest was a wedding bash for the union of Bavaria’s Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The city of Munich celebrated their union with food and drink for days.
The observance of this merriment has continued for over 200 years, supported by the same six Munich breweries. Frankenmuth, Michigan celebrates an Oktoberfest of its own, and the festivities were blessed by the German Parliament in 1996 to follow in the footsteps of Munich. If you like beer, high spirits and authentic German culture, this is the right event for you.
2. Higgins Pumpkin Farm
One of the most festive fall things to do in Michigan is to visit one of the dozens of pumpkin patches. With family-friendly activities for all, there are many options for you to choose from. You can enjoy the diverse pumpkin selection as Michigan pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes — including fat, round and weird-looking.
Higgins Pumpkin Farm, in particular, sells approximately 3,000 pumpkins each year, and they’ve been operational for 15 years. The pumpkin patch is open every day, and each Saturday the patch transforms into a farmer’s market.
ArtPrize showcases 19 days of art in any medium from artists located anywhere in the world. You can catch a snippet of this activity in downtown Grand Rapids in a variety of somewhat arbitrary locations. Museums, bars, restaurants and more serve as venues to exhibit the art.
The artists each have a chance to win a $200,000 grand prize based on the public’s online voting. The event is free and open for anyone to enjoy. Because of its open platform, the competition draws 500,000 visitors each year.
Best Fall Attractions in Michigan
Fall is an excellent time to explore Michigan in the open air before the winter weather sets in. With such temperate conditions, Michigan has a bunch of attractions to keep you interested.
1. Isle Royale
Michigan boasts five national parks, which bring a collective 2.5 million visitors per year. Isle Royale National Park welcomes 17,000 of those visitors. The park, founded in 1940, is situated in the middle of Lake Superior, a habitat for an abundance of wildlife.
Though an archipelago of 400 islands surrounds Isle Royale, it’s quiet, peaceful and a perfect getaway if you enjoy a serene environment. There are endless ways to enjoy the island’s beauty. You can take a ferry and spend several hours cruising through the scenery. Or you can get your hiking boots out and take a shot at the Greenstone Ridge Trail, one of the island’s charms.
2. Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is known for its strikingly untouched aesthetic. Despite being a favorite spot for vacationers, the island isn’t crowded with cars or chain hotels. Most Mackinac Island visitors come to see Mackinac Island State Park, which constitutes 80% percent of the island. It has largely remained in its natural condition since its 1895 formation.
Fort Mackinac is another Mackinac Island attraction. In 1780, it was built to ward off intruders. One of Michigan’s oldest buildings can be found at this fort, along with 13 other historic structures. You can also check out some unique weapons and look at exhibits at this location.
3. Pictured Rocks
In addition to Isle Royale, you can also find Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore within the massive stretch of Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks extends for over 40 miles of the lake’s edge. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was established in 1966 and was America’s first national lakeshore.
You can take a joy ride by car and soak up all the refreshing colors of the terrain and vegetation in this location. Make sure to stop at Tahquamenon Falls State Park and view Michigan’s most beloved waterfall. Tahquamenon’s Upper and Lower Falls have a unique and rustic orange-brown tint.
Why Visit Michigan in Fall
You can revel in the pinnacle of Michigan’s natural beauty in the fall. The season comes once a year and lasts only a few months, but that’s what makes Michigan fall precious. When you get the chance to see an explosion of autumn colors like no other, you’ll know your planning and activity choices were a worthy decision.
Almost nothing can compare to a clear, starry night and 19 million acres of forests waiting to be explored. There are a few routes where you can get a good view of the scenery in a driving nature tour:
- Detroit: This route begins in the birthplace of Motown and covers a 195-mile path. Travel across three waterways — the Algonac, Lake Orion and Port Huron — to see some of fall’s first-rate honey-toned hues. The month of October will have these colors at their peak.
- Grand Rapids: This trip will take you on another 195-mile route treading Grand Haven to South Haven to Kalamazoo. Along the way, you can make stops for wineries, farmer’s markets and sightings of the Lake Michigan horizon. Begin your trip in early October for the best sights.
- Ironwood: Traversing only two towns, this route on the western Upper Peninsula passes through Silver City and Wakefield. This 100-mile route will invigorate you with varied red tones and a sprinkle of green. You’ll also come across many country roads and waterfalls. Take this trip from mid-September to early October to enjoy the best nature views.
- Jackson: History buffs can enjoy starting in Jackson for a 195-mile trip through Ann Arbor and Monroe. Heading through the southeast Lower Peninsula, you’ll see Native American trails, an antique tavern and a battlefield. You can see the colors at their best in mid to late October.
Even if you don’t take a driving tour, you’ll be sure to catch a glimpse of nature’s beauty during your other activities. Take a moment to appreciate the colors as you work through your itinerary!
Ship a Giordano’s Pizza to Michigan
Michigan is lovely, and there’s so much to explore. With all this state has to offer, what could you possibly be missing? How about a tantalizing, Chicago-style stuffed deep-dish pizza from Giordano’s Pizza.
Imagine it. A thick crust rises around the edges of the pan. You pull out your heavy-duty cake spatula to serve the pizza because the pieces are just that big. Each slice feels heavy as it’s stuffed to the brim with Wisconsin Mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce. Your meal is enhanced by the work of an expert pizza craftsman who considers bringing you joy in the form of food to be one of his life’s duties. You devour the pie and wonder why you’ve ever eaten any other kind of pizza.
At Giordano’s, we’ve been making deep-dish pizzas for more than 200 years. Our time-honored recipe and fan-approved pizzas make their mark in Chicago and beyond. Whether you grew up in Chicago and moved to Michigan or you’ve lived in Michigan all your life, we don’t blame you for craving a slice of Chicago-style pizza. Fortunately, a Giordano’s pizza isn’t as far as you may think. You can enjoy the Michigan fall and a Chicago bite at the same time — and delivery is free! Ship a Giordano’s pizza to Michigan today and satisfy your cravings.