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

 


 

Deep crimsons, burnt oranges, and warm-honey golds: autumn sweeps Pure Michigan in color you have to see for yourself. And the only thing better than a slow-winding drive through it all? Heading straight here to the Great Lakes Bay for a closer front-row seat!

 


 

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

📍Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens 📷 @_dineshdon_

 


 

When you're ready for leaf peeping that goes way beyond watching through a car window — and even takes you right up into the trees — head to these one-of-a-kind color spots in the Great Lakes Bay!

 


 

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_

 

Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens

For a fall color experience that soars, four stories high into Whiting Forest — look to the country's longest canopy walk, right within Midland's Dow Gardens. Peeking down at an autumn-tinted orchard from the glass-floored overlook or staring up at the trees from a hammock tucked into a grove of spruces, suffice to say you've never seen fall color quite like this!

Watch For: Three unique arms to this Canopy Walk — a Pond Arm, Orchard Arm, and Spruce Arm — each ending at its own unique viewing platform.

 

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

📍Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens 📷 @travelingmichigan

 

BaySail

For the chance to be completely surrounded by fall color and sparkling freshwaters, all you need is a ticket to board one of BaySail's Appledore tall ships! Offered in October and departing from Downtown Bay City, their Autumn Color Tour River Cruises come with all the added fall touches — like warm apple cider and fresh donuts served on deck!

Watch For: Fall foliage surrounding you on either side of the Saginaw River, and maybe even a few kayakers paddling by!

 

Chippewa Nature Center

For 19 miles of open-dawn-to-dark trails — woven through mature forests and wetlands bursting with fall foliage and wildlife — visit this hidden gem in Midland (that also happens to be one of the largest, private, non-profit nature centers in the country).

Watch For: An Arboretum that's home to more than 100 species of Michigan-native trees and shrubs!

 

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

📍Chippewa Nature Center 📷 @calvinmarteen

 

Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips

Already dubbed the "Everglades of Michigan", our Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is even more breathtaking blanketed in fall color. And seeing it all while wildlife spotting with a guide who's been navigating these waterways his entire life? It's an autumn outing you'll never forget! Join Johnny Panther Quests to stay you've tried it.

Watch For: Deer drinking from streams right in front of you; wildlife from bald eagles to great egrets; and fall foliage all around as you fly by on a shallow-draft boat!

 

Wildlife Drive

Winding along the outskirts of the Refuge, too, for a totally different experience — the 6.5-mile Wildlife Drive is a color-cruising route through the awesome wilderness, and one you can enjoy without ever getting out of your car!

Watch For: Canada geese, great egrets, and abundant fall color around every bend.

 

Guided Boat Tours

Stepping onto Bavarian Belle's 150-passenger paddlewheel riverboat, Bay City Boat Lines' excursion boats, or Frankenmuth FunShips' 12-passenger electric boats (where wine tasting's offered on board) — consider these guided tours your ticket to a fall color show from the water!

Watch For: Signature Bavarian rooftops along the Cass River in Frankenmuth, and sights like the towering World Friendship Shell in Bay City's waterfront Wenonah Park!

 

Frankenmuth FunShips boat gliding across the Cass River with fall-colored trees in the background

📍Frankenmuth FunShips 📷 @pierrenasralla

 

Frankenmuth Aerial Park

A leaf-peeping excursion that'll whisk you right through the trees, this aerial adventure park in Frankenmuth offers six unique ropes courses for ziplining and climbing. Pause just long enough on each platform to take in the brilliant fall color — then feel the real rush as you zip through the shaded canopy of reds, golds, and greens!

Watch For: The fan-favorite FrankenZip course, with seven ziplines that'll have you zooming all over the forest!

 

Woman ziplining through the trees at Frankenmuth Aerial Park

📍Frankenmuth Aerial Park 📷 @ashsmithphoto

 

Sunrise Pedal Trolley & PedAle Trolley

A different kind of color tour altogether, these group trolley bikes will have you pedaling through Bay City (Sunrise) or Frankenmuth (PedAle) to take in fresh air and fall beauty — while sipping on the brews you brought on-board!

Watch For: Plentiful harvest-time decorations throughout both downtowns!

 

Kayaking & Paddleboarding

Single or tandem, sit-in or sit-on kayaks: epic views of the autumn hues are the same no matter which style you rent! Find Float Paddle Center in Bay City, Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures in Frankenmuth, Ike's Mobile Kayak Rentals in Midland, or Cattail Kayak Rental in Pinconning to paddle with autumn's gorgeous palette as the backdrop!

Watch For: Iconic bridges you can kayak beneath — like the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke in Frankenmuth or The Tridge in Midland!

 

Kayaking beneath the Tridge in Midland

📍Kayaking Near The Tridge 📷 @puremichiganguy

 

Hiking, Biking & Birding Trails

A more traditional leaf-peeping route — to views that are anything but ordinary — set out to hike or bike any stretch of our almost-100-mile Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail. Or, watch for birds like bald eagles and egrets, warblers and terns (all amidst autumn's beauty) when you travel 142 miles of shoreline and surrounding lands along the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail.

Watch For: Pocket parks, fishing holes, and picturesque riverwalks along the way!

 

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

📍Bay City State Park 📷 @dee_dorsey