Autumn in Michigan: A Symphony of Michigan’s Autumnal Hues

Exploring Autumn in Michigan: The Splendid Palette of Michigan’s Autumn Colors

Autumn in Michigan extends beyond mere visual aesthetics; it’s an immersive sensory experience, captivating not only the sight but also the sounds, the scents, and an overarching aura of warmth and comfort.

The transformational hues of a quintessential Michigan autumn are indeed a spectacle. Imagine azure skies, unblemished and radiant; soft winds whispering through the trees, and the dazzling autumnal palette of vibrant red and golden leaves gracefully pirouetting to the earth.

Envision the sun’s rays dancing on a tranquil, cobalt-blue lake, or the frothy crests of the Great Lakes waves as they crash against the shoreline with their robust autumnal vigor: this is fall in Michigan.

Continue reading to uncover journey inspirations for scenic routes and destinations to explore this fall, and scroll down for a convenient interactive Google map. We also offer the most recent autumn color forecasts and a Michigan fall color update to assist you in planning your adventure!

PRO-TIP: If you’ve savored Michigan during summer, brace yourself for an amplified display of natural splendor. Autumn in Michigan equates to traversing scenic highways at the zenith of leaf-peeping season, visiting quaint local apple orchards, or partaking in a Michigan fall festival.

Michigan Fall Tours

Michigan’s Autumn Excursions

Why Experience Autumn Foliage in Michigan?

The allure is not solely in the crisp breeze wafting from the lake or the deep blue waters teeming with frothy, white-capped waves cascading onto the shore, frolicking on the expansive, sandy beach.

It’s an ambiance in the air: crisp, radiant, and spectacular. It’s fall in Michigan.

Whether you’re contemplating a day outing, extended drive tours, or merely an outdoor escapade along Michigan’s picturesque routes, planning ahead ensures you don’t miss out on any of the breathtaking natural autumnal splendor as the leaves undergo their color shift.

Michigan’s Autumnal Color Transformation

Michigan summers may be remarkable, but autumn in Michigan is an entirely different league.

There’s something uniquely enchanting about autumn in Michigan: fall festivals, apple orchards, cider mills, and plentiful farmer’s markets brimming with late-season delicacies…all set against a radiant canvas of stunning fall color.

It’s a delightful sensory overload: subtle notes of pine, cinnamon, and spice in the cool breeze, the touch of the brisk autumn air on your skin, and the flavors of fall harvests melding harmoniously in a single season.

Top Destinations for Autumn Color in Michigan

Best Places for Fall Color in Michigan

If you’re close to a Michigan shoreline (and just to clarify, you’re never further than six miles from a water body in Michigan, be it a river, a lake, or one of the Great Lakes), you can add the shimmering, turquoise water to the mix.

As autumn arrives, Michigan transforms into a breathtaking display of pure beauty, with fall colors blossoming virtually everywhere.

Whether you relish autumn in Michigan with charming pumpkin patches, chairlift rides over a mountain exploding with color, or scenic train journeys along a fall color route, there’s a spot for everyone to enjoy the autumn hues in Michigan.

Continue reading to uncover 21 Must-Visit Spots for Michigan’s Autumn Colors and Experience Michigan in Fall.

Michigan Peak Fall Color Map 2022-23

When is the IDEAL Time to Experience Fall Colors in Michigan?

Discover Fall Colors in Michigan NOW

As we approach the season of autumn, the leaves commence their magical transformation from vibrant greens to breathtaking hues of gold and deep reds. The fall foliage in Michigan’s northern regions is the first to reach its zenith, owing to the cooler temperatures prevalent there.

As the season advances, the temperatures start dipping in the southern parts of the state, triggering the color change in the foliage of those regions as well.

Refer to the Michigan Peak Fall Color Map

The Michigan Peak Fall Color Map provides a rough timeline when experts forecast the fall foliage transformation to take place and reach its most vibrant colors. Utilize this map to discover the most resplendent fall colors in Michigan.

Refer to the Michigan Fall Travel Map

The Interactive Fall Travel Map presents some of the awe-inspiring locations for autumn enjoyment in Michigan. Venture into these locations and commence planning your fall adventure in Michigan. We are unveiling 21 incredible locations to witness the mesmerizing fall colors in Michigan: Continue reading to learn more about these ideal fall foliage viewing locations.

Places to See Best Fall Colors in the Upper Peninsula

Best Locations to Witness Fall Colors in the Upper Peninsula

Porcupine Mountains Lake of the Clouds

The Porcupine Mountains, one of the most photographed locations in the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan, become even more visually captivating in the fall, when the surrounding wilderness is ignited with autumnal colors.

Lake of the Clouds – named for the mirror-like reflection of the clouds in the crystal-clear water, is a breathtaking sight at any time of the year. Nestled in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, its natural setting is perfect for hiking and exploration.

During autumn, the beauty of the Porcupine Mountains wilderness is nearly overwhelming, especially when viewed from the M-107 Scenic Overlook, which is fully accessible. Allocate enough time to leisurely explore the trails in this ancient forest in the western upper peninsula in all its autumnal splendor.

Plan Your Journey: Traveling back to the historic town of Ontonagon, where we typically stay when visiting the Porkies, is a scenic half-hour trip. Here, you can explore the lighthouse and county historical museum, and gain insights into local history and culture. Consider staying at Peterson’s Cottages, a comfortable and impeccably clean establishment just a minute’s walk from Lake Superior. You can choose from one- and two-bedroom cottages, chalets, or a three-bedroom house. Tucked away in the woods, it’s a sight to behold in the fall.

When is the IDEAL Time to Experience Fall Colors in Michigan?

Discover Fall Colors in Michigan NOW

As we approach the season of autumn, the leaves commence their magical transformation from vibrant greens to breathtaking hues of gold and deep reds. The fall foliage in Michigan’s northern regions is the first to reach its zenith, owing to the cooler temperatures prevalent there.

As the season advances, the temperatures start dipping in the southern parts of the state, triggering the color change in the foliage of those regions as well.

Refer to the Michigan Peak Fall Color Map

The Michigan Peak Fall Color Map provides a rough timeline when experts forecast the fall foliage transformation to take place and reach its most vibrant colors. Utilize this map to discover the most resplendent fall colors in Michigan.

Refer to the Michigan Fall Travel Map

The Interactive Fall Travel Map presents some of the awe-inspiring locations for autumn enjoyment in Michigan. Venture into these locations and commence planning your fall adventure in Michigan. We are unveiling 21 incredible locations to witness the mesmerizing fall colors in Michigan: Continue reading to learn more about these ideal fall foliage viewing locations.

Best Locations to Witness Fall Colors in the Upper Peninsula

Porcupine Mountains Lake of the Clouds

The Porcupine Mountains, one of the most photographed locations in the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan, become even more visually captivating in the fall, when the surrounding wilderness is ignited with autumnal colors.

Lake of the Clouds – named for the mirror-like reflection of the clouds in the crystal-clear water, is a breathtaking sight at any time of the year. Nestled in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, its natural setting is perfect for hiking and exploration.

During autumn, the beauty of the Porcupine Mountains wilderness is nearly overwhelming, especially when viewed from the M-107 Scenic Overlook, which is fully accessible. Allocate enough time to leisurely explore the trails in this ancient forest in the western upper peninsula in all its autumnal splendor.

Plan Your Journey: Traveling back to the historic town of Ontonagon, where we typically stay when visiting the Porkies, is a scenic half-hour trip. Here, you can explore the lighthouse and county historical museum, and gain insights into local history and culture. Consider staying at Peterson’s Cottages, a comfortable and impeccably clean establishment just a minute’s walk from Lake Superior. You can choose from one- and two-bedroom cottages, chalets, or a three-bedroom house. Tucked away in the woods, it’s a sight to behold in the fall.

Copper Harbor

Copper Harbor

Situated at the extreme northern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula lies the quaint town of Copper Harbor.

Nestled in the scenic beauty of Lake Superior, this little gem in the Keweenaw Peninsula is a treasure trove of magnificence, compacted in a relatively small vicinity. It is not just Lake Superior that adds to its charm, but also the much-loved Lake Fanny Hooe, a favored spot for fishing enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and photography aficionados.

The intense blue hues of this picturesque inland lake create spectacular photo opportunities, especially when the foliage wears its vibrant fall colors. The towering, pristine Copper Harbor Lighthouse seems to shine even brighter during autumn, contrasting beautifully against Lake Superior and the encircling autumnal forest.

Plan Your Adventure: It is definitely worth spending a few days here during your autumnal color tour. Visit the lighthouse and the rest of Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, then journey across the harbor to the nine-acre Hunter’s Point Park for an even grander display of fall colors. Consider staying at this private condo at the Lake Fanny Hooe Resort. This cozy, beachfront accommodation features a deck with a lake view, perfect for embarking on your own color tour!

Calumet

A trip to the village of Calumet, located in the Keweenaw Peninsula, is akin to a historical journey back in time when the region flourished as a hub of copper mining, supplying abundant quantities of the precious mineral globally.

The National Historic Park, a tribute to the prosperous copper mining era of the Upper Peninsula, is a collection of historic structures across the region that chronicle the area’s ascension to a copper mining powerhouse.

Plan Your Journey: Traverse the historic town and its buildings in autumn, set against the backdrop of resplendent Michigan fall colors, for an unforgettable fall color tour. The AmericInn by Wyndham is ideally situated in Calumet and offers comfortable, clean rooms and a daily continental breakfast. The indoor saltwater pool is a highlight, and it’s a perfect base for exploring Michigan’s northern tip.

Muinising, Michigan in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Munising, Michigan in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Visiting the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore during fall is an absolute must for your autumnal color tour.

We recommend starting in Grand Marais, leisurely making your way along the coast, with a planned stop in Munising. The national lakeshore, stretching across 42 miles, truly comes alive with fall colors in the Munising vicinity.

The towering sandstone cliffs, crowned with vibrant hues of red, yellow, and gold, make for an impressive sight, whether viewed from a kayak or on foot during the fall. The area also offers sand dunes, secluded beaches, and waterfalls to discover. Don’t miss out on visiting Munising Falls and Grand Island, which is just a short ferry ride away from Munising.

Plan Your Excursion: Use our Guide to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to delve deeper into the area and plan your fall color tour. Ensure you experience all the highlights from this breathtaking region. Consider staying at the Pictured Rocks Inn and Suites, a personal favorite. Choose from standard rooms or suites, unwind in the indoor pool and hot tub, or enjoy the sauna. As an added bonus, it’s just a short stroll to the Lake Superior shoreline.

Marquette

Marquette

The trendy and vibrant city of Marquette is rapidly expanding, with much of its appeal attributed to the area’s natural splendor.

Bordered by the Lake Superior shoreline on one side, it’s enveloped by dense forests teeming with trails for hiking, biking, and exploring. As fall approaches, Northern Michigan University students return to campus, infusing the town with an invigorating energy.

Take a leisurely stroll around downtown Marquette, discovering local breweries and eateries, boutiques, and art galleries before heading to the harbor for some truly breathtaking views.

Presque Isle Park, home to the famous Black Rocks Cliffs, and McCarty’s Cove are two locations you shouldn’t miss. Their beauty is particularly enhanced during the fall, epitomizing Michigan’s autumnal splendor along the Lake Superior coast.

Plan Your Stay: Two excellent accommodation options are available here, each with a unique feature. The Hampton Inn Marquette Waterfront is perched on the shores of Lake Superior, offering stunning views. It is immaculately clean and boasts the cozy Hampton Inn pillows. Amenities include a pleasant pool, hot tub, and a hearty breakfast each morning. The Ramada Inn is another great choice, with its pet-friendly policy. It offers spacious, clean rooms and suites, an indoor pool, hot tub, laundry facilities, and an onsite restaurant.

Tahquamenon Falls Exploration

Tahquamenon Falls

Embark on an adventure to Tahquamenon Falls and you’ll be treated to a dual spectacle of two unique Michigan waterfalls: the grandiose and impressive Upper Falls, and the series of five cascading falls that compose the Lower Falls.

Tahquamenon State Park is a favored destination throughout the year, although its appeal tends to peak during the quieter autumn months. At this time, the reduced number of visitors allows for a more tranquil experience, ambling along the trails to the soothing symphony of cascading waters.

Immersed in a vibrant blend of hardwoods and pine trees during the fall season, these are the most substantial falls to the east of the Mississippi. They are an essential stop on any fall color tour in Michigan.

Plan Your Journey: Consider lodging at this charming, immaculate three-bedroom cottage in the nearby town of Paradise, MI. This spacious and bright accommodation boasts a fully-equipped kitchen, and features a fireplace and various games for your entertainment on cool autumn evenings.

Port Austin

Discover Vibrant Autumn Hues in the Lower Peninsula

Port Austin

The allure of this quaint town at the apex of Michigan’s Thumb persists well beyond the summer months. Port Austin, with its picturesque, walkable waterfront, is encircled by a rich green forest and farmland. This landscape transforms into a riot of color in the fall, just in time for your autumn color tour.

Turn it into a weekend getaway: venture into the neighboring town of Caseville, stroll along the pier and discover the downtown area. Later, return to Port Austin and explore Port Crescent State Park. Wander through the dunes and let the crashing waves of Saginaw Bay serenade you.

fall-colors

Alpena

Should you seek a Michigan town that promises to astonish you, look no further than Alpena, MI.

Situated in northeast Michigan on the banks of Lake Huron, this seemingly tranquil, historic town is brimming with activities and breathtaking natural landscapes. Alpena’s shoreline boasts a range of public beaches and parks, offering tranquil spots to contemplate the beauty of Thunder Bay and the sprinkling of little islands peppering the water.

Although the charming downtown shopping district appears compact, the larger region is home to seven Lake Huron lighthouses, four state parks and recreational areas, and multiple local parks and recreational spots.

One of our most loved locations for witnessing stunning fall colors is the trails in Rockport Harbor State Park. Don your hiking boots and hit the trails.

Plan Your Journey: Utilize our guide to the BEST activities in Alpena and commence planning your autumnal escape to this magnificent spot in northeast Michigan today. Consider a stay at the Ramada by Wyndham, a spotless and spacious place a mere 10-minute stroll from the beach. This accommodation is particularly family-friendly, offering a large indoor pool, an arcade/game room, and a fitness center. Alternatively, you might want to look into the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. It’s exceptionally clean and comfortable, offering an indoor pool and a complimentary breakfast served daily.

Ocqueoc Falls State Forest Campground: An All-Inclusive Experience

Positioned to the north of Alpena, right off US-23, Michigan’s northeastern seaside freeway, lies an underappreciated gem: Ocqueoc Falls.

Ocqueoc Falls is not just the most voluminous waterfall in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, but also the singular waterfall in the entire United States that offers universal accessibility. The waterfall is located on the Ocqueoc River, meandering through a dense hardwood forest teeming with lofty birch and maple trees.

An array of time-honored hardwood trees, including elms, oaks, and maples, along with quivering aspens adorned with strikingly vivid yellow, red, and orange leaves, contrasts with the perpetual deep green of cedar, spruce, and pine trees, painting a magnificent tableau of hues. Despite the falls’ modest three-feet height, the fresh, clear, and refreshing water is irresistibly enticing to many, making it a beloved locale for frolicking and water games during the balmy summer months.

Pathway with Universal Accessibility

The expansive, asphalted walkway following the river’s course ensures full ADA compliance, providing accessibility to the falls as well as the universally-accessible rock-climbing wall.

Two picnic zones, furnished with an accessible layer of crushed limestone, feature picnic tables designed for universal accessibility. Benches located along the pathway come with accessible open spaces, equipped with concrete pads adjacent to them, facilitating side-by-side seating for wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users alike.

The allure of the place extends beyond the waterfall. An elongated, twisting trail running along the river bank weaves through the woods, where you can discover the most captivating and unique rocks, worn smooth by the river’s constant flow over the years.

On a tranquil autumn day, the sound of the water rushing over the falls and flowing downstream offers an authentic Michigan experience. Add to that the gentle rustling of the quaking Aspen trees, and it feels like a serene, open-air concert… orchestrated by Mother Nature herself.

Plan Your Excursion: Nestled just a minute’s walk away from the breathtaking Lake Huron beach is the Purple Martin Inn. This quaint and immaculate bed and breakfast features a delightful sun porch and serves a scrumptious breakfast.

Mackinac Island

There’s something uniquely appealing about exploring this petite island, particularly as it bursts into a riot of colors during autumn. Enclosed by the invigorating breezes of Lake Huron, you can stroll or cycle around the eight-mile circumference of the island and witness some truly mesmerizing autumnal hues.

Don’t forget to capture the journey to and from the island; it’s a highlight in itself!

IF YOU GO: Before you set off, make sure to peruse our detailed guide to the TOP Things to DO on Mackinac Island as well as our Mackinac Island Hotel Guide, complete with a map. We recommend The Island House for its tidy and roomy accommodations. It’s a bit secluded from the downtown area’s hustle and bustle, offering a charming garden, lounge, and beach views. Situated directly opposite the Star Line ferry dock, the historic Murray House Hotel is another excellent choice. The rooms here are tidy and fairly spacious; the beds are remarkably comfortable as well.

Arboreal Passage

Tunnel of Trees

Let’s cut to the chase: the Arboreal Passage epitomizes the peak autumn hues of Michigan. If there’s one place you must visit this season, this is it.

Situated to the north of Petoskey and Harbor Springs, this picturesque 20-mile journey on the scenic M-119 will captivate you with photo opportunities at every turn. Hence, it’s best if you opt for the passenger seat. Start your trip by picking up the M-119 in Harbor Springs and commence your drive north on this heritage route, meandering under the towering arch of vividly hued hardwood trees.

As you make your way toward the historic Cross Village, you’ll traverse through Good Hart (DO NOT FORGET to stop by the General Store) and absorb the breathtaking views of Lake Michigan as the road snugly follows the shoreline.

Upon reaching Cross Village, a dining experience at the renowned Legs Inn is indispensable. Once you’ve savored your meal, hop back into your vehicle, reverse your direction, and relish the scenic spectacle once more on your return journey to Petoskey and Harbor Springs.

CAUTION: This drive can be addictive… in the most delightful way.

Plan Your Excursion: Stafford’s Bay View Inn in Petoskey is an elegant, historic establishment boasting stunning panoramas of Little Traverse Bay. This mansion, now a boutique hotel in European style, has been a favored destination for countless travelers smitten by its vintage charm and exquisite dining options.

Charlevoix

As enduring enthusiasts of Fisherman’s Island State Park, we make a point of revisiting every autumn, just to behold the radiant yellows and reds of the trees contrasted against the vivid blue of Lake Michigan.

Fisherman’s Island is a truly distinctive place. It offers ample room for a sense of seclusion (with campsites tucked away among the trees), even though it’s just outside of Charlevoix.

This is an ideal place to wrap up warm and amble along the shoreline in pursuit of the highly sought-after Petoskey and Charlevoix stones… you’re almost certain to find at least one, particularly after a storm.

The beauty of Charlevoix-the-Beautiful is not diminished in autumn. So ensure to allocate enough time to meander through the enchanting downtown area and soak in the autumnal views of Round Lake.

Plan Your Excursion: Utilize our Ultimate Charlevoix Guide to learn more about this captivating town. You’ll adore Charlevoix Inn and Suites, offering a complimentary breakfast each morning. The rooms are generously sized, even the standard ones, and they’re exceptionally clean, too. Relish the pool and hot tub after a day spent exploring the autumn hues.

North Bar Lake in Sleeping Bear Dunes

If you’re acquainted with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, you may have heard of the legendary North Bar Lake, a concealed treasure nestled among the dunes. Or perhaps you’ve spotted it from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Accessible by meandering roads that guide you through a forest of majestic hardwoods, ultimately giving way to sandy dunes, North Bar Lake is a sandy, inland body of water separated from Lake Michigan by a narrow sandbar.

North Bar Lake is a favored summer retreat for locals and fortunate tourists privy to its whereabouts. This special location’s charm is centered around the slim stretch of sand that separates the two water bodies: on one side lies the fresh, clear North Bar Lake, and just a hop across the sand reveals the cool, deep turquoise expanse of Lake Michigan.

You could easily spend an entire day alternating between the warm embrace of North Bar Lake and the refreshing plunge into chilly Lake Michigan, as many do during the long summer days.

Enchanting Autumn in Northern Michigan

During the autumn season, the vicinity surrounding North Bar Lake undergoes a remarkable transformation, exuding an almost mystical ambiance.

The dense forest that envelops the area comes alive with a vibrant array of red and golden hues, while North Bar Lake takes on a deep, inky blue shade. To the west, Lake Michigan retains its azure brilliance, adorned with frothy white waves that gracefully crash upon the shores as the weather gradually cools.

The striking contrast between these elements and the dazzling sand of the beach, with the distant presence of the dune bluffs, creates a picturesque scene that could be likened to a masterpiece. In fact, it is not uncommon to spot artists meticulously capturing the beauty of this panoramic view on their canvases.

Located just north of Empire, in the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore, North Bar Lake is a destination that should not be missed. When you visit North Bar Lake, make sure to explore the nearby towns as well. The charming towns of Empire and Glen Arbor offer scenic vistas that are truly worth experiencing during a fall color tour in Michigan.

Plan Your Trip: Opt for a stay at the M22 Inn, an impeccably clean and comfortable establishment. Its ideal location allows for convenient exploration of the dunes and Glen Lake. Another personal favorite of mine is the Empire Lakeshore Inn. It offers exceptional cleanliness and coziness, and being situated in downtown, it is a mere eight-minute walk away from the stunning Empire Beach.

Frankfort and the Enchanting Point Betsie Lighthouse

Can any place be more reminiscent of New England during the fall than Frankfort?

If such a place exists, it must be in New England itself, for this charming destination in northern Michigan may make you mistake Lake Michigan for the vast Atlantic Ocean. In this area, Lake Michigan feels larger, and its waves roar forcefully along the shores surrounding the iconic Point Betsie Lighthouse, particularly during the autumn season.

The scenery is simply picturesque: towering golden poplars and aspens set against the backdrop of a red-roofed white lighthouse, all harmonizing with the moody, blue expanse of Lake Michigan. Don’t forget to bring a sweater or hoodie, as the winds tend to be stronger here. You’ll want to be comfortably attired as you wander along the beach and trails, immersing yourself in the tranquil ambiance for at least an hour.

Plan Your Trip: Consider staying at the Hotel Frankfort, ideally located downtown and just steps away from Lake Michigan. This beautiful historic establishment is renowned for its immaculate upkeep. The beds are luxuriously comfortable, and each room offers unique and distinctive touches, such as a balcony overlooking Main Street or an in-room hot tub. Furthermore, the rooms are spacious and inviting.

Holland
Holland

The Netherlands

The Netherlands offers numerous destinations worth exploring, such as the Holland State Park and Centennial Park situated in the heart of Holland. Despite both parks being in Holland, their unique features warrant spending a whole weekend to truly immerse yourself in the essence of Holland and the western part of Michigan.

Holland State Park – ADA-Compliant

Holland State Park is among Michigan’s most frequented state parks, yet its tranquility in autumn belies its popularity.

The park is a popular spot nestled in serene southwest Michigan, enveloped by sandy dunes and strategically located where the Black River (originating from Lake Macatawa) merges into Lake Michigan, creating a breathtakingly beautiful scenery.

During fall, the number of visitors dwindles, offering you an opportunity to experience the raw and striking beauty of Lake Michigan in solitude.

Holland’s Iconic Red Lighthouse

Holland State Park is easily identifiable by the towering Big Red, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse, a beacon of safety for sailors for over 150 years.

The Lighthouse, positioned on the southern side of the channel, is a favorite among tourists who come to witness the emblematic light firsthand. Being one of the most photographed lighthouses, this nearly 40-foot bright red structure, topped with a twin-gabled roof, is a testament to the area’s deep-rooted Dutch heritage.

The vivid red hue of the lighthouse against the deep blue backdrop of the lake is quintessentially Michigan, particularly during the fall season. The park features a broad expanse of Lake Michigan Beach, beautifully maintained with expansive, paved paths to ensure accessibility for those using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

The nearby gentle, sandy hills provide excellent spots for hiking and soaking in the autumn views featuring vibrant trees and the backdrop of Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan in the Fall

Lake Michigan takes on a captivating aura during the chilly fall season.

The lake mirrors the sky, sometimes showcasing a deep, dark blue hue, with powerful waves crashing onto the shoreline and drenching the pier. At other times, the water is peaceful and serene, with gentle waves caressing the sandy beach.

Regardless, Lake Michigan is consistently a remarkably picturesque sight.

Mt. Pisgah

The vast beach at Holland State Park offers panoramic views of the Lake Michigan bluffs to the north. In the distance, you can spot the towering (and climbable) Mt. Pisgah overlooking Holland’s Lake Macatawa.

These wind-buffeted bluffs come alive with colors during fall, swaying with the lake breeze and presenting a quintessential Michigan autumn foliage display.

Lake Macatawa and its Link to L. Frank Baum

Nestled on the southern edge of Holland State Park, the elongated Black River channel bridges the gap between Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. This six-mile-long inland lake boasts a captivating history.

It was within a humble abode by the waters of Lake Macatawa that L. Frank Baum, a celebrated author, penned the timeless children’s masterpiece, “The Wizard of Oz”, over a century ago. Baum, known for his prolific writing, spent his summers by the tranquil waters of Lake Macatawa, where he found inspiration to create the enchanting tale of Dorothy and her companions.

Centennial Park: The Wizard of Oz’s Link to Holland

Should you find yourself exploring Holland State Park, don’t miss the opportunity to take a detour into Holland’s charming downtown shopping area. A grand floral exhibit acknowledging the city’s tie to the Wizard of Oz is showcased in downtown Holland’s stunning Centennial Park, a park reflective of the Victorian era.

Widely considered one of the most picturesque parks in Michigan (a commendable feat in a state abundant with magnificent parks), this location becomes even more breathtaking during the fall season. Centennial Park is endowed with brick walkways and blooming flowerbeds that guide you past a gazebo, a classic Dutch fountain, and a fish pond… all the way to the local library.

This Victorian-era park, a stone’s throw away from the bustling 8th Street filled with charming shops and eateries, greets you with brick paths, intricate floral arrangements, and a gazebo.

Accessibility in Holland: ADA-Compliant

Centennial Park is ADA-compliant, furnished with broad, paved pathways to ensure a smooth journey for wheelchair users and others reliant on mobility aids.

The nearby Holland State Park also champions accessibility, holding a reputation as one of the most wheelchair-friendly state parks in Michigan.

The park’s high accessibility ranking is well earned: a paved walkway along the channel leads to a paved north pier that stretches into the lake, permitting those reliant on mobility aids to appreciate a panoramic view of the shoreline.

However, during autumn, the waves can become rough, rendering the pier potentially hazardous, so it’s crucial to stay updated on the weather conditions. Holland State Park features numerous accessibility enhancements, such as wide paved trails throughout the park that facilitate easy navigation for wheelchair users, along with accessible picnic tables, benches, and more.

Discover Autumn Splendor in Southeast Michigan

Explore Edwards Hines Drive

Experience the Perfect Timing (utilize our Peak Fall Color Map for an awe-inspiring spectacle of vibrant autumn hues adorning both sides of the road along Hines Drive).

Meandering at a pleasant speed limit of 40 miles per hour, the 17-mile-long Edward Hines Drive, situated in the western suburbs of Detroit, offers more than just a scenic drive. It encompasses various historical landmarks worth exploring.

Nankin Mills, once a thriving farming community in the late 1800s, now stands as a picturesque white grist mill, serving as an interpretive center resembling a museum.

Kensington Metro Park

Encompassing nearly 5,000 acres of lush rolling hills and forests, Kensington Metropark surrounds the serene Kent Lake and provides a stunning backdrop for Michigan’s autumn foliage.

Make the most of your visit by dedicating a full day to this picturesque destination. Delight in the charming petting zoo, where you can intimately interact with friendly cows, horses, goats, and more.

Take pleasure in the beautiful lakeside beaches and seek solace in the shaded grassy areas beneath the trees, allowing yourself to unwind and relax.

Huron River in Ann Arbor

For a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of metro Detroit, head to Argo Park Kayak and Canoe, our favored spot, and embark on an adventure along the Huron River.

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking fall colors that adorn the riverbanks and extend far beyond as you navigate through the water. The scenery is simply mesmerizing, and you’ll soon forget you’re not in a remote location up north.

Stretching across 104 miles, the Huron River gracefully winds its way towards Lake Erie, meandering through bends and twists.

Once you’ve enjoyed your river excursion, treat yourself to an unforgettable culinary experience at Zingerman’s Deli, where their macaroni and cheese will leave a lasting impression.

Refer to our comprehensive Ann Arbor Ultimate Guide to uncover more delightful activities in this quintessential American college town.

Port Huron and Lexington

The Port Huron area holds the title of one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets, and during the fall season, it becomes a prime destination for scenic beauty.

The coastal waters along Michigan’s Thumb Coast, extending to Lexington and beyond, showcase a breathtaking shade of aqua blue, creating a striking contrast against the vibrant reds, oranges, and rich yellows of autumn.

As you follow Michigan’s M-25 highway north towards Port Austin, you’ll encounter charming little towns and picturesque harbors waiting to be explored.