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Find your favorite view as you explore these one-of-a-kind places to leaf-peep around the Great Lakes Bay!
Lose yourself in captivating color while wandering through Dow Gardens in autumn. With meandering streams, winding paths, and architectural bridges, you’ll want to slow down and savor the sights, sounds, and scents of fall. Get a bird's-eye view of beauty from the nation's longest canopy walk, hovering over 54 gorgeous acres of natural landscape. Pack a blanket and provisions, and spread out on the grassy lawns for a picture-perfect fall picnic.
Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips: Take in breathtaking views of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge with an expert who’s been boating these waters his entire life! Join Johnny Panther Quests on an adventurous outing that will immerse you in fall color — as you watch deer drinking from streams, bald eagles diving and fishing, and egrets at leisure. Enjoy your cruise on a shallow-draft boat through what’s lovingly referred to by this local guide as the "Everglades of Michigan”.
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge: Discover radiant hues, spectacular color, and wildlife sightings galore at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is one of the largest and most productive wetland ecosystems in the state and home to migratory birds, fish, turtles, and other wildlife. Enjoy the bounty of fall scenery along the Woodland and Ferguson Bayou trails, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and other migratory birds — and be sure to watch for special park closures during hunting season.
Frankenmuth Aerial Park: Take your color tour to new heights with six unique ropes courses for ziplining and climbing right through the trees at Frankenmuth Aerial Park! A leaf-peeping excursion like no other, pause just long enough on each platform to take in the brilliant hues around you, and feel the rush as you zipline through the trees! Check out the fan-favorite FrankenZip course, with seven long ziplines at varying heights.
Bavarian Belle Riverboat: Float in tranquility down the tree-lined Cass River in Frankenmuth aboard the iconic Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Get your tickets to see the spectacular fall color show from the water, and learn about the history and architecture of Michigan's "Little Bavaria". Enjoy your one-hour narrated tour aboard this 150-passenger vessel on the upper or lower deck, your preference (and depending on the weather).
Venture out to an arboretum with more than 100 species of Michigan-native trees and shrubs, all in full fall color, at Chippewa Nature Center! Boasting 19 miles of multi-colored, leaf-lined trails that wind through woodlands and wetlands, CNC is a must-visit in autumn. Consider dropping in at the kayak launch for a new perspective, or climb the two-story observation tower for sweeping marsh views!
Frankenmuth FunShips: Take a one-of-a-kind boat ride through autumn foliage along the Cass River with Frankenmuth FunShips. Relax aboard an electric-powered, 12-passenger tour boat for a 30-minute or one-hour River Tour, and relish in the hues of Frankenmuth and surrounding countryside. Or experience spectacular fall colors and flavors — on a one-hour Wine & Chocolate River Tour! Sip five wines while you’re on the water, each expertly paired with a handmade chocolate, and enjoy the souvenir glass!
Bay City Boat Lines: Board the Princess Wenonah or Islander ferry boats with Bay City Boat Lines to experience fall in all its glory along the Saginaw River. Watch the hues change along the bank from green to gold and everything-in-between as you drift away on a smooth cruise (and maybe even dance on deck)! With Free Weekday Morning History Tours, Sunday Fundays, Carefree Cruisin' Dinner Cruises, and even Rock the Boat Concert Cruises, float your way through fall!
Bay City State Park: In crisp fall air, stoke the campfire and relax underneath the starry night sky at Bay City State Park. See deer and wildlife play under the canopy of color, or take a kayak or paddleboard for a spin to get a view of fall from a whole different perspective. Watch waves roll up on the nearby sandy beach, and wrap up in cozy blankets with unforgettable views all around.
Tobico Marsh: Leaf-peep on high! Climb skyward on two four-story observation towers at Tobico Marsh inside Bay City State Park, each overlooking 2,000 acres of lush wetlands, meadows, cattails, and oak savannah prairies awash with autumnal colors! Spot wildlife amidst golden brown cattails and marsh foliage while wandering the trails!
City Forest: Two trail systems mean double the opportunity for gorgeous fall color at the 520-acre Midland City Forest! Take your mountain bike or hiking shoes to Midland's largest park, and join bikers, runners, hikers, equestrians — and anyone who enjoys fresh air and picture-perfect leaf-peeping! Stop into Ray’s Bike Shop on-site at City Forest to try out Specialized, Salsa, Surly, Trek, Chumba, and Electra bikes out on the trails.
Dahlia Hill: Fall colors never looked like this! Wander through picturesque terraces and row-upon-row of bursting blooms at Dahlia Hill. Experience an impressive assortment of flora, a kaleidoscope of more than 300 unique dahlia varieties across more than 3,000 tubers! Stop into the art gallery at the top of Dahlia Hill to discover original designs in cast paper and bronze after enjoying the floral fall splendor of this beautiful place.
Experience fall scenery from the 239-foot, 230-ton Bavarian Inn Holz Brucke, a German-styled covered bridge made completely out of wood. Marvel at the beautiful piece of craftsmanship and the world of autumnal beauty on either side! Walk or drive across the Holz Brucke, and enjoy spectacular colors over the picturesque Cass River.
The Tridge: Discover autumnal hues and Midland's Tridge, a three-legged pedestrian footbridge spanning the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa Rivers. Walk along the 180-foot spans that link recreational areas with Downtown Midland, or relax alongside the Tridge, savor the scenery, and enjoy a peaceful picnic on the river bank. The Tridge is iconic to the area, and it’s a can’t-miss spot for leaf-peeping!
Grandpa Tiny's Farm: Get lost and find your way back to the working historical Grandpa Tiny’s Farm — the towering stalks of golden corn line a Corn Maze purposely plotted to stump even the best of puzzlers! Sip on cider and enjoy sweet donuts while you experience the harvest season. Pick a pumpkin from the patch, pet and feed farm animals, and enjoy rural heritage in the heart of Frankenmuth.
Fantasy Carriage Company: Climb in, cover up with a cozy blanket, and let the clip-clop of horses’ hooves rhythmically lead you through leaf-lined streets with Fantasy Carriage Company. Book your memorable trip through "Little Bavaria", and take in the hues of Frankenmuth while you pick up tidbits of history and lore amidst the sights of autumn.
Frankenmuth Carriage Company: Take a relaxing 20- or 30-minute carriage ride through charming downtown with Frankenmuth Carriage Company. Enjoy spectacular views of tree-lined streets abundant in seasonal decor and neighborhoods alive with the sights and sounds of autumn!
Take your color tour to a whole new level of serenity by paddling your way through picturesque scenery. Join Chippewa Nature Center’s Family Kayaking on the Pine River, or float beneath the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke (wooden bridge) with Frankenmuth Kayak Adventures. Look to local outfitters Float Paddle Center, Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals, Cattail Kayak Rental, and Nor’East Outdoors to float your way through fall’s splendid display.Read More +
Walk, hike, bike, or just wonderfully wander the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail! Spanning more than 100 miles, with multiple trailheads and paths that connect downtown cityscapes to sprawling countryside, listen to twigs snap and colorful leaves crunch through scenic woods and wetlands! Or, spot more than 200 species of beautiful birds along the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, a lush habitat covering 142 miles of autumnal shoreline that could only be defined as a birder’s paradise.Read More +
Sip cider, pressed daily, and bite into warm, freshly made donuts at family-owned Leaman’s Green Applebarn and Bayne’s Apple Valley Farm. Choose your apples, take a hayride, shop for baked goods and artisan crafts, and toast to fall with refreshing cider slushies!Read More +
Fresh pumpkin pies and quintessential cider & donuts, visiting the likes of Johnson’s Pumpkin Farm or Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch is a seasonal must! Take pictures in fields filled with pumpkins and pick your perfect jack-o-lantern, pet farm animals, find your way through a corn maze, and don’t forget your extra cider & donuts for the road!Read More +
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
Pull on your boots, bring a light jacket, and be ready for these must-experience fall excursions in the Great Lakes Bay!Read More +