Dow Gardens | @_tomhughes._
Explore in Gardens
+ Kick Back
in the Trees

From an award-winning Children's Garden on the ground to the country's longest canopy walk aloft in its Whiting Forest, Dow Gardens offers something enchanting for all ages.

Dow Gardens | @jes_salvador7

Find Adventure in Gardens + Forest

See 110 acres filled with colorful flowers — and follow the country's longest canopy walk, high up into the trees — in a visit to Midland's Dow Gardens and its Whiting Forest. Here, the kids can roam the gardens, run free on a nature-inspired playground, lay in giant cargo nets stretched between the treetops, and connect with nature at every twist and turn.

Stand on the glass-floored overlook together — four stories high above an orchard — and pose for a keepsake family photo so you'll always remember your epic day in the trees!

Play Out in the Wilderness

For up-close wildlife-spotting encounters — like bald eagles nesting and deer drinking from streams — an ecotour of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is just the ticket. Join Johnny Panther Quests on a kid-friendly boat tour customized to your crew's level of adventure, or wind along the scenic Wildlife Drive from the comfort of the family car.

At Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, you'll find completely free wonders to explore — on 19 miles of nature trails, topped off by a family visit to the log cabin Homestead Farm!

Bayne's Apple Valley Farm | @adamkostus
Leaman's Green Applebarn | @epiceatswithem
Indulge In
Cider, Donuts +
A Day on the Farm

Share cider slushies and cider donuts after an afternoon of apple picking or stop to pet some farm animals before you track down the biggest pumpkin in the patch. Fun is always ripe and ready at these farms and orchards!

Leaman's Green Applebarn | @elle_em_twins

Find Fresh Fun at Apple Orchards

Sticky, cinnamon-sugared hands from donuts fresh out of the fryer, just-pressed cider, and gigantic caramel apples: could there be a sweeter ending to a perfect fall day spent with family? Head to one of our apple orchards (the smells alone will pull you in) and find out for yourself!

Try two local favorites — Leaman's Green Applebarn and Bayne's Apple Valley Farm — for treats like caramel apples, cider donuts, cider slushies, cider sundaes, and (of course) plain, fresh cider. The best part? They're only four miles apart, so you can pack even more goodness into one trip.

Pick the Right Patch

Spend an afternoon picking massive pumpkins and the funkiest gourds at Johnson's Giant Pumpkins in Saginaw, or bring the kids to Grandma's Pumpkin Patch in Midland. Both have corn mazes — and adorable farm animals — and both will set you up with souvenirs to carve with the kids at home. Or, head to Tomac Pumpkins in Chesaning, featuring 200+ varieties grown on a fourth-generation farm.

Grandpa Tiny's Farm | @x_stina

Go for More Fun on the Farm

See a real-life, working Centennial Farm — with the chance to pet, feed, and even snuggle some animals — when you bring the kids to the big blue barn on Grandpa Tiny's Farm in Frankenmuth. After, you can let the kids pick their own pumpkins, sunflowers, and lavender (because you'll all enjoy the smells the whole way home).

Conquer the Corn Mazes

Wind through a sea of golden stalks, kids in tow (and totally in awe). Each maze's offerings are a tiny bit different, but try any of these for a fun family challenge: Johnson's Giant Pumpkins in Saginaw, Leaman's Green Applebarn in Freeland, Frankenmuth Corn Maze and Grandpa Tiny's Farm in Frankenmuth, or Grandma's Pumpkin Patch in Midland.

Frankenmuth Aerial Park

Swing Through the Forest

Take tree-climbing to a whole new level — and even higher heights — when you bring the kids to brave six unique ropes courses at Frankenmuth Aerial Park. Ages seven on up can zipline and climb — and anyone sitting this one out can cheer the rest on from comfortable benches on the grounds.

Go Sailing with Donuts + Cider

If sailing doesn't come to mind when you think of a fall family outing, prepare to be amazed, because BaySail's Autumn Color Tour River Cruises are exactly that: fun for both parents and kids! If the big, billowing sails of these tall ships don't convince the kids how cool this outing is? The donuts and warm apple cider served on board most definitely will!

Share Campfire Stories + S'mores

Sleeping bags under starry skies and s'mores roasting over a crackling fire: there's no better way to reconnect than by taking a family camping trip! From one of "The 20 Best State Parks in Michigan" to spots that'll put you right by incredible fishing, we've staked out some of the best family campgrounds around.

Saginaw Children's Zoo | @thekatierex

Explore Two Incredible Zoos

Get up close 150+ animals (like African penguins and a too-cute, two-toed sloth) at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo, or encounter a Reptile Sanctuary and Rainforest Experience at Birch Run's Wilderness Trails Zoo. Actually, try each for two totally different outings!

Find Inexpensive Fun for Four

For a fun fall excursion on (not in) the water, rent an AquaCycle from Frankenmuth FunShips. Just $20 for a family of four, these paddleboats will take you up and down the Cass River — by sights like the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke and Frankenmuth River Place Shops' waterfalls.

Rent Tandem Rides

Whether you'll paddle in tandem crafts from a local kayak rental — or pedal on tandem rides borrowed from one of our local bike shops — these cool, calm waters and winding trails are perfect for some family time. You can even rent PedAle Trolley's four- to six-person Circle Cruiser, so the whole crew can pedal one circular bike through the Frankenmuth streets!

Author
Blair Cook

A Great Lakes Bay native, Blair is the Founder at Brandscape — a boutique creative company specializing in content. Her favorite part? Sharing stories about the Pure Michigan places she loves!