10 Exciting Ways to Experience Michigan in the Fall
BEst THings to Do in the Fall in Michigan
Michigan is filled with beautiful scenic drives perfect for fall leaf-peeping.
Michiganders know that fall colors are worth stopping for.
But, if want to immerse yourself in the fall color and add a little adventure to your autumn, here are some thrilling things to do in the fall in Michigan.
Move over, fall color tour, these are the ideas that will get you out of the car and into the action.
We suggest using the Michigan.org Fall color map to help with timing your fall color adventures. The prediction tool predicts that 100% of the mitten state will be past peak color by the end of October.
Things to Do in the Fall in Michigan
The big questions are, who will you invite to join in on your fall color adventures?
And which one to do first??!
Take a look at this map to help you decide and then hit the road for your Michigan fall adventure!
Map of Delightful Things to Do in the Fall in Michigan
Saddle Up and See the Colors on Horseback During a Guided Trail Ride
#1 Adventurous Things to do in the fall in Michigan
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Swap the car for a horse and you’re ready to off-road your way through the color-changing forests of Michigan.
Even novice riders can take in the beauty of fall on a guided trail ride.
Many places offer one-hour rides and will coach you through what you need to know for a successful horseback experience.
Where to Find West Michigan Fall Color Trail Rides:
–Karin’s Horse Connection in Caledonia, MI
–Healey’s Outback Ranch in Stanwood, MI
–Stony Lake Stables in New Era, MI
Ride a Chairlift for Maximum Color Views
#2 Adventurous Things to do in the fall in Michigan
On Saturdays and Sundays in October, you can ride the chairlift at Crystal Mountain to panoramic views of three counties during the peak of the fall color season.
Maybe even better than the view is the price: It’s just $10 per person. Ages 3 – 8 and under ride free with a paying adult. Free to houseguests.
Enjoy the views at the top for as long as you’d like!
Tickets are available for purchase at Crystal Mountain at the base of the Crystal Clipper.
*Dogs and beverages are not permitted on all chairlifts.
Double Fun: Autumn Color Train & Riverboat Tour Combo to Tahquamenon Falls
#3 Unique Things to do in the fall in Michigan
7195 Co Rd 381, Soo Junction, MI 49000
Get yourself to the Upper Penisula for this double delight.
The Toonerville Train and Trolley is special in the summer, but it’s even more divine come fall.
Because the colors in the U.P. change sooner than in Michigan’s lower peninsula, the tour dates only go into early October. This is one trip you’ll want to book ASAP.
When you go, be sure to plan to be gone for the whole day. This wilderness tour is 6.5 hours long.
You’ll start with a 35-minute narrow-gauge train ride, followed by a 2-hour riverboat cruise to Tahquamenon Falls, where you’ll dock for 75 minutes. Take this time to make the short hike to the Upper Tahquamenon Falls overlook.
After the stopover, rejoin the group and ride the riverboat and train as they retrace their route back to Soo Junction, MI.
You may see wildlife like bears and deer along the way.
Soar Over the Colors on a Fall Airplane Tour
#4 Adventurous Things to do in the fall in Michigan
2323 Airport Road, Manistee, MI 49660
Orchard Beach Aviation in Manistee will take you high in the sky for super fall color views – starting at just $40 per person.
Manistee is home to the far-reaching (over a half-million acres) Manistee National Forest, as well as miles and miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.
This sweet pairing makes for vivid lake views punctuated by endless acres of fall color.
When seen from a bird’s point of view, it’s unforgettable.
ATV Your Way Through a Colorful Canopy
#5 Adventurous Things to do in the fall in Michigan
4271 S Straits Hwy, Indian River, MI 49749
Big Bear Adventures in Indian River, Michigan is opening up their off-road ATV tours for fall colors this year and we think that’s a good thing.
Up to 12 riders can be accommodated for each fall color tour using their complete fleet of vehicles.
They have (1) 4-seat ATV, two side-by-side ATVs (2 seats), and two 2-up quad riders (2 seats).
Passengers must be 12 years or older to ride on a 2-up vehicle and 6 years or older to ride in a side-by- side.
Hike to the Empire Bluff Boardwalk
#6 Delightful Things to do in the fall in Michigan
Empire Bluff Trail, Honor MI 49640
The boardwalk at Empire Bluff Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a sight to behold at any time of year.
But in autumn? It’s otherworldly.
The 1.5-mile round trip trail starts by winding up and over forested hills and valleys until you reach the top of the dune.
It’s at this point you’ll find a lengthy boardwalk with dune-soaked views stretching for miles in all directions.
Plan to arrive for sunset and the color dial turns up in intensity even more.
Float Down a River
#7 Adventurous Things to do in the fall in Michigan
9590 M-37, Wellston, MI 49689
If you’re prone to tipping, floating a river in the fall might not be at the top of your idea list – especially if I told you there’s a river in lower Michigan with a little whitewater.
Well, there is such a river – the Pine River – and I have a solution for you: fall river rafting.
The Pine River has a section of Class I rapids that will definitely test your canoeing abilities but are easily handled by a river raft.
If you put in at Peterson and get out at Low Bridge, you’ll experience the rapids. It’s about a 3.5 hour float time for that trip.
» River Map
Work with the good people at Pine River Paddlesports to hook you up with equipment, drop-off, and pick up.
Wind Your Way Along the Au Sable River Road National Scenic Byway and End at Lumberman’s Monument
#8 Delightful Things to do in the fall in Michigan
5401 Monument Road, Oscoda, MI 48750
Stand over the high banks of the Au Sable River in the fall and you’re in for a treat.
Pack water bottles and granola bars, because if you have time and the energy, you’ll find yourself hiking many of the trails along the 22-mile National Scenic Byway in the Huron National Forest.
Be sure to save time to visit Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center and Grounds, too.
And, if you need a place to stay, we recommend the Hale Beach House AirBnb (get a pontoon boat!) or the nearby PRIVATE ISLAND!
Zip Line Your Way Through Fall Colors
#9 Adventurous Things to do in the fall in Michigan
1 Boyne Mountain Road, Boyne Falls, MI 49713
Running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, the Zipline Adventure at Boyne Mountain Adventure Center is another adrenaline-pumping way to experience the Michigan fall colors.
This 2.5-hour tour takes you from the top of the mountain down the hill and through the canopy.
If you’re looking for fresh air, speed, and big views, this is a must-do.
Zipline Adventure Tours are available through fall 2021.
The full rate is $69, and you can save $13 off available if you book a tour more than 21 days out.
You can also make Boyne your homebase with a variety of area and onsite lodging options available.
» Zipline Details
» Michigan Zipline Places
Take a Horse-Drawn Elk Viewing Carriage Ride Through the Colors
#10 Unique Things to do in the fall in Michigan
27800 M-32, Hillman, MI 49746
Most people don’t realize that, in addition to their popular golf course, Thunder Bay Resort, is also home to a 160-acre Elk preserve in Northeast Lower Michigan.
Thunder Bay offers Elk Viewing Carriage Rides (and sleigh rides) most any time of the year, but they are extra special in the fall when the colors are most vibrant.
You can even book a package getaway that includes a fall color Elk Viewing Carriage Ride, Gourmet Dinner & Wine Tasting if you’re so inclined!
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Leave a comment and let us know – we’re always on the hunt for more fall fun!