Dow Gardens | @michigan_made98
Take These
Paths to Peak
Color-Viewing

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

Leaf-Peep on a Tall Ship

There are plenty of places in the Great Lakes Bay to see fall color from the water. 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.

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Explore a Colorful Oasis

110 acres of breathtaking beauty to begin with, Dow Gardens comes even more alive when everything's drenched in fall color. Explore its plentiful fall plantings and florals, best viewed from architectural bridges throughout.

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See Fall Hues From New Heights

An elevated walk that soars four stories into the brightly tinted treetops, Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens and its canopy walk are not to be missed come fall. Overlook woodlands and ponds, meadows and streams — even an orchard dotted with heirloom apple trees — and lay back in giant cargo nets as you absorb all of autumn's beauty!

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Take This Colorful Trek

One of the largest private, non-profit nature centers in the country, Chippewa Nature Center shines in fall with its 19 miles of scenic trails (open dawn-to-dark and free to explore), plus an Arboretum home to 100+ species of Michigan-native trees and shrubs.

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Explore the Awesome Wilderness

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is 10,000 acres of unspoiled nature — and up-close encounters with spectacular species — whether you'll boat through with Johnny Panther Quests, or wind along its 6.5-mile Wildlife Drive.

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Hit the Tree-Lined Trails

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail is a stunner in all four seasons. But in fall? It'll leave you absolutely speechless. Find your own favorite miles (with close to 100 to choose from), or rent bikes for a ride beneath the colorful canopy. The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail offers 142 miles of sightings, too, if you'd rather spot bald eagles and egrets than autumn leaves!

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Bayne's Apple Valley Farm | @rachelwazhere
Find Peak
Local Freshness,
Ripened to Perfection

Crisp, juicy apples and perfect carving pumpkins. Cinnamon-sugared hands from scratch-made cider donuts, and colorful leaves crunching under boots. They're just the sweet added touches to a fall afternoon spent on one of our local orchards or farms.

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.

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Sample This Colorful Ale Trail

Ambers, red ryes, goldens, and browns. Rich porters and creamy stouts. The brews here are just as colorful as the views! Whether you'll catch the tail-end of outdoor beer garden season or cozy in at one of our breweries, taverns, or taprooms — enjoy each pint!

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Pedal With Porters + Stouts

For colorful rides through two downtowns (where you can bring your favorite adult beverages with you), book a 16-person group trolley bike from PedAle Trolley in Frankenmuth or Sunrise Pedal Trolley in Bay City. Or, try Frankenmuth's Circle Cruiser for smaller groups of four to six.

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The Tridge | @puremichiganguy
Find a Spot to
Drop In +
Kayak to Color

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

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 fishing tactics from local anglers, or charter a guided fishing excursion so you can troll for walleye with the ones who know these waters best!

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Savor Autumn, Al Fresco

Just because it's fall doesn't mean you can't dine like it's still 75 & sunny! Find a spot on one of our outdoor patios, where sun umbrellas get traded in for toasty heat lamps and fire bars come fall. (And blame it on the ambiance if you wind up staying longer for a couple of cocktails!)

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Go Out for a Comforting Cup

From a roaster named Michigan's best by Food & Wine to a shop with hand-poured coffee, house-made syrups, and a cozy fire crackling in the chimenea — our coffee shops are even more inviting in autumn! Try seasonal favorites (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.

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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!