- Things to Do
- Eat + Drink
- Places to Stay
- Plan Your Trip
Crimson hues & tailgating. Warm cups of tea & hearty bowls of chili. Fall is almost in the air and there are so many ways to enjoy this scenic time of year in Michigan!
Take picturesque hikes and colorful boat tours, peruse apple orchards and sip on cider, pedal tandem bikes through leafy streets and ride ziplines right through the trees!
Pull on your boots, bring a light jacket, and be ready for these must-experience fall excursions in the Great Lakes Bay!
Journey through fall foliage 40 feet in the air along a 1,400-foot Canopy Walk that’s both handicap accessible and the longest in the nation — and dare to step out onto its glass-floored overlook! Take time to explore the exquisite gardens and 54 acres of lush forest trails and ponds. Grab coffee at the on-site Whiting Forest Café and enjoy the stellar views!
Not only will you discover Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest wetland ecosystems in Michigan and almost 10,000 acres of rich wildlife habitat, but you’ll also experience a Fall Color Trip with one-of-a-kind guide, Johnny Panther! He refers to the Refuge as the “Everglades of Michigan” and he’ll show you hidden gems and gorgeous fall hues.
Located across the street from one another, climb in with Fantasy Carriage Company or Frankenmuth Carriage Company for a memorable loop through Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Enjoy the authentic Bavarian architecture and festive harvest-time decor all throughout town!
Combine thrill and excitement with picturesque beauty! Fly through the air, swing through fall leaves, and challenge yourselves on obstacles that include ropes courses and ziplines! Check out the FrankenZip, a fan-favorite with seven ziplines at heights ranging from 15 – 35 feet off the ground!
With more than 19 miles of trails, including the 3.7-mile paved Chippewa Trail that’s also open to biking, be sure to visit Chippewa Nature Center’s River Overlook for serene fall views. Check into guided paddling trips for more adventurous sightseeing, and the Fall Harvest Festival in October to observe all from cider-making to woodworking on the Homestead Farm.
Discover lush natural scenery from two four-story observation towers that overlook the 2,000-acre Tobico Marsh at Bay City State Park. With wetland woods, meadows, cattail marshlands, and oak savannah prairies, look to the Lagoon Trail for wildlife spotting and waterside views along the shores of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.
Sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, take an enchanted trip into one of the largest and most productive wetland ecosystems in Michigan at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. See wildlife and fall scenery galore along the Woodland Trail and Ferguson Bayou Trail — but keep your eyes peeled for special trail closure dates due to hunting season!
All are welcome (kids, too) aboard Frankenmuth FunShips for a 30-minute or 1-hour River Tour — or a Wine & Chocolate one, if you choose! Take in the autumn display while sampling five chocolates with five Michigan wines (kids receive sparkling juice). Everyone gets to keep their souvenir glass!
Discover the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail — totaling almost 100 miles — and spot more than 200 species of beautiful birds along the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail. Or, hop on a trailhead and enjoy the view from miles of pathways within Chippewa Nature Center, Midland City Forest, Tobico Marsh at Bay City State Park, and Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, all favorites. Find more top hiking trails here.
Float languidly down the Cass River aboard the iconic Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Enjoy the Bavarian-themed village of Frankenmuth from the water, the fall colors on full display, and the narrated tour filled with interesting information about the area.
Belly up for custom-made Drift brand beers alongside Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and North Peak Brewing Company selections at Drift Shoreside Beer Garden, right on the Bay City waterfront. Pets can party, too, at Larkin Beer Garden, a converted shipping container turned outdoor bar that food trucks regularly frequent. Toast to fall flavors with a German brew at Schnitzelbank Bier Garten, and be sure to enjoy autumn at Drydock Beer Garden, a seasonal hangout in a pocket park at the heart of Downtown Bay City.
Walk with leaves crunching underfoot at Leaman’s Green Applebarn and sink your teeth into fresh-baked donuts and delicious cider sundaes. Take pictures in the colorful orchards of Bayne’s Apple Valley, chill in an outdoor igloo with sips from on-site Bayne's Hard Cider House, and don’t leave without your apple cider slushies!
Let the wee ones feed goats, wander through a corn maze, and pick from the patch at Johnson’s Giant Pumpkins, or take a Cow Train Ride and hayride at Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch.
Visit the working historical Grandpa Tiny’s Farm, where you can pet & feed farm animals and enjoy the Amazing Maize corn maze. Test your wits at Frankenmuth Corn Maze with two game options, the Farm Scene Investigation and Farm Treasure Hunt, plus a straw mountain, hayrides, and more!
Dip into a Fall Color Tour with Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals or book a custom trip with Nor’East Outdoors, both in Midland. Set out in single or tandem kayaks (or on stand-up paddleboards) at Float Paddle Center in Bay City, discover the Saginaw Bay with Cattail Kayak Rental, and take in fall splendor with Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures. Plan your fall paddling trip with these tips on where to rent & where to launch.
Visit one of the largest farmers markets in the state, Midland Area Farmers Market, for food trucks, live music, and vendors galore. Shop from hundreds of vendors throughout the season at Frankenmuth Farmers Market, and be sure to order up their wood-fired pizzas on Wednesdays. Explore all the flavorful farmers market options!
Discover Feet on the Street, or magical outdoor spaces in Bay City, to dine & drink al fresco and even dance to live street acts. Frolic in live turf areas with trees and plants at The Commons Pedestrian Plaza in Downtown Midland, and enjoy adult beverages and a bite to eat outside at The Commons Refreshment Area. Read more about our social districts here!
With cold brews (or warm coffee) in-hand, pedal your way through streets lined with fall splendor! “Sit. Smile. PedAle for Awhile.” on the 16-person PedAle Trolley in Frankenmuth — and check out their four- to six-person Circle Cruiser. Or, catch a colorful ride when you book the 15-person Sunrise Pedal Trolley in Bay City.
Decide between singles or tandems, and hit the streets or ride the trails on rental bikes! Choose from well-known brands including Fuji, Surly, Breezer, and Detroit Bikes at Jack’s Bicycle Shop in Downtown Bay City or chart your two-wheeled adventure at Ray’s Bike Shop, with three convenient locations across the region.
Jen is a Saginaw native and owner of Feel These Words, an independent copywriting studio & home to the free "5 Day Website MiniBoost". Jen specializes in writing that connects, delivered through website copy, branded content articles, and WingWoman writing services. You'll find Jen camping with her family, laughing, and at feelthesewords.com