The 11 Best Places to Visit in Michigan in The Fall 2023

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The 11 Best Places to Visit in Michigan in The Fall 2023

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Michigan in the fall, let me tell you, you’ve come to the right place!  I have traveled extensively throughout this beautiful state during autumn, and it’s truly a sight you won’t soon forget.

Fall is a great time to visit Michigan.  You’ll get your best views of the fall colors in September and early October when the landscapes burst into vibrant red, orange, and gold hues.  From the Upper Peninsula’s breathtaking views to the Lower Peninsula’s countless small towns and trails, you’ll be dazzled when you seek color in the fall months.

You might be familiar with popular destinations like Mackinac Island or Traverse City.  Of course, a road trip to these towns is a great way to take in the color, but trust me when I say there are many additional great places across Michigan waiting for discovery!

So, buckle up as we explore some of the best places to visit in Michigan in the fall – a season that transforms “The Great Lakes State” into a stunning canvas of colors.

When planning your road trip color tour, don’t worry and wonder about catching the foliage at its peak.  Pure Michigan has you covered with a Michigan Fall Color Map to help you plan for the best viewing and when to see those colors at their most vibrant!

If you’re not into tracking the colors in advance, the best way to find colors this time of year is to take a short drive to a local park and wander on foot.  But if you’re up for a real adventure, you may want to take a road trip to discover some colors outside of your own backyard.  So, let’s talk about some of the best viewing experiences in Michigan.

Planning Your Perfect Drive in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

An autumn visit to Michigan’s U.P. isn’t complete without a scenic drive along one of its well-known routes.  Of course, the colors up North begin sooner than the lower portion of the state, so if you’re an absolute color junkie, plan a few road trips during peak season, starting in the Upper Peninsula and working your way down.

Hancock and Copper Harbor

One of my favorite routes in the Upper Peninsula travels along US-41, stretching from Hancock up north toward Copper Harbor.  Here, you’ll encounter photo-perfect views of the changing foliage.  Give yourself plenty of time to explore so you can check out the historical landmarks you’ll find on your journey!

Brockway Mountain Drive

Brockway Mountain Drive, located in the Keweenaw Peninsula in Northern Michigan, also deserves mention if you plan your drive around this region during the fall season.  This route offers panoramic views overlooking the Lake Superior shoreline.  Of course, you’ll enjoy the many fall colors contrasted against stunning Copper Harbor views.

Exploring the Charms of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula

As we transition from the wonders of the Upper Peninsula, let’s talk about the beauty of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

an old barn surrounded by colorful leaves in one of the best places to visit in michigan in the fall

Tunnel of Trees Heritage Route

Many Michiganders know about the Tunnel of Trees Trees Heritage Route.  This meandering path stretches from Harbor Springs to Cross Village, boasting dense foliage that bursts into vivid color when autumn arrives.  You’ll even get a view of one of Michigan’s many covered bridges.

But this scenic route isn’t just about the awe-inspiring views.  You’ll also discover quaint towns like Petoskey and Frankfort as you travel.  These charming locations are steeped in history and culture and provide captivating views over Lake Michigan’s sparkling waters.

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Traverse City

Traverse City adds another layer to exploring the Lower Peninsula during this magical season.  Its vineyards and orchards morph into beautiful shades of fall as summer gives way to autumn – a trip through Traverse City in the fall feels a bit like walking through a painting where golden-yellow fields meet fiery-red trees under clear blue skies.

Beyond leaf peeping, you may enjoy several other activities in the area, such as attending one of the local fall festivals or exploring the trails around Presque Isle.  This area is a gateway access point for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – yet another must-visit spot for anyone seeking picturesque fall scenes.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

You will be dazzled by the views at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which showcases Lake Michigan set against colorful trees along miles of long sandy beaches.  You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a postcard.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

While in Northern Michigan, you must check out the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  Exploring the towering sand dunes and the beautiful colors of the trees is even better while enjoying the cool, crisp autumn air. 

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers breathtaking overlooks, including panoramic views of the dunes, lake, and surrounding foliage, making it an ideal spot for capturing stunning photographs.  This area’s picturesque landscapes and seasonal transformations make it a must-visit destination for fall enthusiasts.

a fence leads into colorful fall trees

The Lure of Lighthouses

You may find it easy to underestimate the beauty of our Michigan lighthouses, but you would be missing out on a unique perspective.  These historic structures are indeed beacons for sailors, and they are also fantastic vantage points to witness the vibrant fall colors.  Crisp Point Lighthouse and Fort Gratiot Lighthouse stand out among these landmarks.

Crisp Point

Situated along the shores of Lake Superior, Crisp Point Lighthouse sits in a remote location, which provides an undisturbed view of nature and its spectacular show.  This area is stunning, with the brilliantly colored leaves contrasted against deep blue waters.

Getting to the lighthouse might require taking some lesser-known paths, but that just adds a touch of adventure to your trip.  But all your efforts will seem worthwhile once you arrive at this secluded spot.

Fort Gratiot

Moving eastward toward Port Huron stands another gem – Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.  Overlooking Lake Huron, this beacon has guided mariners since 1825, making it Michigan’s oldest operating lighthouse.

Enchanting Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island, located in the heart of the Great Lakes region, lies right between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas and is a true spectacle during autumn.  The quaint charm of horse-drawn carriages and historic architecture complements the vibrant fall colors to create an enchanting atmosphere like no other.

A trip to Mackinac Island during the fall season offers more than just breathtaking visuals and horse-drawn carriage rides, though.  There’s also fudge!  Don’t miss treating yourself to a piece of the world’s finest fudge from one of the many shops on the island.

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The Grand Hotel

Your visit would not be complete without experiencing the grandiosity at the Grand Hotel.  Overlooking Lake Huron, it provides luxurious accommodations with spectacular views right from your room or while enjoying tea on its world-renowned porch.

Mission Point Resort

If you seek serenity, consider staying at Mission Point Resort while on the island.  Settled along 18 acres of Lake Huron shoreline, it’s perfect for those seeking tranquility amongst nature’s splendor.  Stroll through lush gardens adorned with colorful trees and bathed in crisp autumn air.

After exploring Mackinac’s fall offerings by foot or bike, treat yourself to one of their spa services.  You deserve a little bit of luxury, and Mission Point will deliver!

With its captivating allure and tranquil setting, Mackinac Island is one prime destination you’ll love when Michigan dresses up into its finest Autumn attire.

a road fades into the distance and is surrounded by colorful fall trees

Presque Isle

Presque Isle is home to some of Michigan’s most beautiful hiking trails.  Its vibrant fall foliage and breathtaking views make it the perfect place to explore nature.  No matter your hiking proficiency, Presque Isle has trails to suit you.  Bring your camera to capture the beautiful colors while you hike.

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Need a Place to Stay in Michigan?

Zoom in on the map to see hotels and VRBO rentals available in the area where you’d like to stay.

Where are the best fall colors in Michigan?

The best fall colors in Michigan are in the Upper Peninsula.  Areas like Copper Harbor, Marquette, and Tahquamenon Falls State Park offer some of Michigan’s most vibrant fall colors.

What is the most scenic place in Michigan?

One of the most scenic places in Michigan is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, with its stunning cliffs and waterfalls.

What is the best time to see fall colors in Michigan?

The best time to see fall colors in Michigan is in late September to mid-October when Fall foliage typically peaks across various regions of Michigan.

Where is the best place to color tour in Michigan?

The best place to color tour in Michigan is through the Tunnel of Trees Heritage Route on the Lower Peninsula.  This scenic drive offers a breathtaking color tour during autumn.

Wrapping it all Up

Michigan’s fall splendor is truly a sight to behold.  The symphony of colors across the state is unforgettable.

From the Upper Peninsula’s beauty to the Lower Peninsula’s scenic towns and trails, you will find plenty of breathtaking sights to explore. 

Don’t leave Michigan’s Lighthouses off your itinerary!  A historic lighthouse set against a backdrop of brilliant fall colors and chilly cold water of one of the great Lakes is a gorgeous image.  Remember to bring your camera and your sense of adventure!

I create content aimed at helping women in their post-50 life explore traveling to unique and compelling places just outside their back door.

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