Dow Gardens | @michigan_made98
Picture Yourself in
All-Encompassing
Autumn Color

From glorious botanical gardens covered in color to the United States' longest canopy walk carved out through fall-tinted forest, you'll find more than a few capture-worthy moments!

Midland

With its streams, paths, and architectural bridges all lined in captivating color, you'll easily lose track of time wandering through Dow Gardens in autumn. Pack a cozy blanket and some picnic provisions to spread out on the grassy lawns, so you can slow down a little longer to fully savor.

Watch For: Tranquil water features and interesting bridges that'll make the perfect backdrop for your fall color snaps!

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Midland

For a fall color experience that soars — four stories high into Whiting Forest — look no further than the country's longest canopy walk within Dow Gardens. Catch views of an orchard from the glass-floored overlook or see autumn's beauty reflected on a tranquil pond — and enjoy every heightened leaf-peeping experience here.

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

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Midland

Offering 19 miles of open-dawn-to-dark trails that wind through scenic woodlands and wetlands, Chippewa Nature Center is an absolute must come fall. Enjoy the kayak launch and observation tower, and be sure to check out the log cabin Homestead Farm.

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

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Bay City

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 Downtown, these Autumn Color Tour River Cruises come with all the seasonal extras — like 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!

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Saginaw

Locally referred to as the "Everglades of Michigan", Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge becomes even more breathtaking in fall. And seeing it all while wildlife-spotting with a guide who's been navigating these waters his entire life? It's an autumn outing you won't soon forget; join Johnny Panther Quests on a boating ecotour to say 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 cruise on a shallow-draft boat.

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Frankenmuth

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

Watch For: Autumn foliage punctuated by signature Bavarian architecture along the Cass River.

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The Tridge | @puremichiganguy
Set Out On A
Tranquil
Leaf-Peeping Paddle

Rent from a local kayak shop to paddle with autumn's palette as the backdrop, and watch for iconic bridges you can float beneath — like the Bavarian Inn Holz Brücke in Frankenmuth or the three-legged Tridge in Midland.

Saginaw

A 6.5-mile color-cruising route through Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge — and one you can enjoy without ever leaving your car — the Wildlife Drive puts incredible sightings at the press of a window button.

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

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Frankenmuth

A leaf-peeping excursion that'll whisk you through the trees, this adventure park in Frankenmuth offers six unique ropes courses for ziplining and climbing. Pause just long enough on each platform to take in all the hues around you — then feel the real rush as you zipline through the canopy!

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

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Frankenmuth + Bay City

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 beverages you brought with you!

Watch For: Plentiful harvest-time decorations throughout both inviting downtowns.

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Take This Route To
Views That Are
Anything But Ordinary

A more conventional leaf-peeping option — but one that leads to some pretty surprising views — enjoy any stretch of our almost-100-mile Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail. Or, watch for rare birds amidst autumn's beauty when you travel 142 shoreline miles of Saginaw Bay Birding Trail.

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!