Woman walking through the fall-tinted trees on the Canopy Walk at Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens in Midland

📍Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens 📷 @_dineshdon_

 


 

If all autumn gave us were colorful leaves, cool sweater weather, and plenty of pumpkin spice lattes — that'd be more than enough. But, here in Pure Michigan, fall's cozy goodness only unfolds from there.

 

Wine tasting boat rides through a tunnel of trees, tall ship cruises with donuts and cider on deck — and a canopy walk where you can color peep from four stories high in the forest? Come autumn in the Great Lakes Bay, they're all yours to enjoy!

 


 

Woman walking on a fall leaf-covered trail at Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens in Midland

📍Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens 📷 @_dineshdon_

 


 

Start planning your fall trip to Michigan (bonus: built-in color tour on the drive!) with over a dozen of our favorite things to do this season:

 


 

Pond Arm of the Canopy Walk at Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens, reflecting on the water with fall-colored trees in the background

📍Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens 📷 @_dineshdon_

 

Find the Best Fall Color

Eyeing the foliage from high in the treetops or sailing right through on an autumn color cruise — these top places to see fall color go way beyond watching through a car window!

 

Gorgeous views of fall color from the Pond Arm on the Canopy Walk at Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens in Midland

📍Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens 📷 @michigan_made98

 

Try 15 Top Outdoor Attractions

From a canopy walk that stretches four stories high in the forest to an aerial park where you can zipline through the trees — these top outdoor attractions are all must-do's while you're here.

 

Woman ziplining through the trees at Frankenmuth Aerial Park

📍Frankenmuth Aerial Park 📷 @ashsmithphoto

 

Color Cruise on a Tall Ship

There are tons of great places in Michigan to see fall color. But seeing it from a tall ship deck while you snack on fresh donuts and sip warm apple cider? That's a fall treat you'll only find with BaySail! Get tickets to an Autumn Color Tour River Cruise on the Appledore this October and enjoy.

 

Fall color surrounding the Pond Arm of the Canopy Walk at Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens in Midland

📍Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens 📷 @travelingmichigan

 

See Fall Hues from New Heights

Home to the longest canopy walk in the country, Dow Gardens is 110 acres of absolutely breathtaking, especially drenched in fall color. Woodlands and ponds, meadows and streams, and an orchard dotted with heirloom apple trees — experience it all on an elevated walk that soars four stories high above the Whiting Forest floor! After, explore the rest of Dow Gardens' colorful oasis — with beautiful fall plantings and flowers, best viewed from its iconic red bridges.

 

Woman walking over the Red Bridge with it reflecting on the water at Dow Gardens in Midland

📍Dow Gardens 📷 @namitha_hegde

 

Explore the Awesome Wilderness

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is 10,000 acres of unspoiled nature — and up-close wildlife encounters — whether you'll boat through freely with Johnny Panther Quests, or wind along the 6.5-mile Wildlife Drive! Or, in Midland, explore Chippewa Nature Center — with 19 miles of tree-lined trails and an Arboretum home to 100+ species of Michigan-native trees.

 

A canopy of brilliant, fall-colored trees over the trails at Chippewa Nature Center in Midland

📍Chippewa Nature Center 📷 @calvinmarteen

 

Pick Farm Freshness

There's something special about biting into an apple while you stand on the ground where it was grown. Or picking out that just-right carving pumpkin straight from the patch. Everything else? Cinnamon-sugared hands from a scratch-made cider donut, colorful leaves crunching under boots? They're just the added touches to an already-perfect fall day spent on one of our favorite local orchards or farms!

 

Woman smiling & holding a pumpkin in front of a trailer filled with them at Johnson's Giant Pumpkins in Saginaw

📍Johnson's Giant Pumpkins 📷 @andweheldhands

 

Go Wine Tasting on the Water

For some laid-back leaf peeping (with a splash of pinot) — or an hour-long boat ride through the autumn trees, paired with Michigan wines and scratch-made chocolates — find Frankenmuth FunShips and instantly unwind.

 

Young woman smiling and laughing while wine tasting at Frankenmuth FunShips

📍Frankenmuth FunShips 📷 @brittanybydesign_

 

Kick Back at a Beer Garden

Ambers, red ryes, goldens, and browns. Rich porters and creamy stouts. The brews here are almost as colorful as the views! For a nice, long sampling session out in the autumn air, give these outdoor beer gardens a try: Drydock Beer Garden in Bay City, Larkin Beer Garden in Midland, and Schnitzelbank Bier Garten in Frankenmuth. All open through September or longer, each has its perks — some with local food trucks, others live music. And if you miss the boat on beer garden season, try one of our breweries or taprooms instead.

Kayak to Color

On those rare, not-too-cool fall afternoons when you can still get out on the water? Do. Spend them here on peaceful, sparkling ones, and let one of our local kayak rental shops lend you your ride — maybe even your guide!

 

Kayaking beneath the Tridge in Midland

📍Kayaking Near The Tridge 📷 @puremichiganguy

 

Hit the Tree-Lined Trails

Our Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail is a stunner in all four seasons. But in fall? It'll leave you speechless. Find your own favorite miles (there are almost 100 to choose from), or rent bikes from Ray's or Jack's for a smooth ride under the colorful canopy. The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail is 142 miles of remarkable birdwatching, too, if you'd rather spot bald eagles and egrets than autumn leaves!

 

Fall-colored trees over a boardwalk trail at Bay City State Park in Bay City

📍Bay City State Park 📷 @dee_dorsey

 

Pedal with Porters & Stouts

For colorful rides through two beautiful downtowns (where you can bring your favorite adult beverages aboard) book a group trolley bike from PedAle Trolley in Frankenmuth or Sunrise Pedal Trolley in Bay City!

Savor Autumn, Al Fresco

Just because it's autumn doesn't mean you can't dine like it's 75 & sunny! Find a spot on one of our favorite outdoor patios — where sun umbrellas and sangria pitchers get traded in for toasty heat lamps come fall. And blame it on that cozy-cool ambiance if you end up staying for a few cocktails (maybe a smoked Old Fashioned by the outdoor firebar?).

 

A glass of wine by the outdoor firebar on the patio of Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie in Frankenmuth

📍Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie 📷 @ashhhleysmith

 

Plan a Fall Fishing Trip

When Saginaw Bay's world-class walleye start showing up in lower parts of the Saginaw River come October, locals like to say the "run is on". Get in on the autumn bite with these fall walleye fishing tactics from local anglers, or book a charter fishing excursion so you can troll for trophies with the ones who know these waters best!

Go Out for Coffee

From a roaster named Michigan's best by Food & Wine to a shop with hand-poured coffee, house-made syrups, and a cozy outdoor igloo — our coffee houses are as original as the stuff in your cup. Try seasonal favorites from our local shops (like a smoked rosemary-caramel mocha or a spiced turmeric ginger latte), then find a nearby natural space where you can sip and soak it all in.

 

Outdoor patio seating at Harless + Hugh Coffee in Bay City

📍Harless + Hugh Coffee 📷 @harlessandhughcoffee