The Best Michigan Fall Colors Tour Road Trip

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Fall may be the perfect season for a Michigan road trip. The leaves are changing and you can’t help but feel like it’s time to get out and explore new places.

We’ve created this Michigan Fall Colors Tour Road Trip guide to give you an idea of some great destinations in the state that will make your fall experience complete.

Michiganders are as divided over the way we feel about winter as we are over team Michigan or Michigan State, but I don’t know a single one of us who doesn’t love the fall season. How could we not?

Michigan has a long and impressive history of being known for its amazing fall colors. From the Northwoods to Lake Michigan, you can find some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

michigan fall colors tour

The horizon catches fire as leaves turn to stunning shades of burnt orange and red.

Each year thousands of natives and tourists alike load up their cars and flock to our major interstates on what we call a “Michigan Fall Colors Tour.”

These road trips are best experienced over a long weekend and offer more than just gorgeous scenery.

Along the way, road trippers will find scenic cities, historical light-houses, wineries, farm markets, sand dunes and breathtaking sunsets over the great lakes.

Stay in quaint Bed and Breakfasts, locally owned hotels, or luxury spas from major hotel chains.

Take it from a native, and try some of the best fall colors tour road trips in Michigan.

3 of the Best Fall Colors Tour Road Trips in Michigan

Grand Rapids – Grand Haven – South Haven – Kalamazoo

This 195 mile tour through West Michigan shares all of Michigan’s sights.
From city scenes to sand dunes, wineries to farmers markets, wooded freeways to Lake Michigan sunsets – this is the best route to see it all in the month of October. 
michigan fall color tour


Traverse City – Northport – Frankfort-Ludington

Heading a little further up the coast, from late September to mid-October the Traverse City area is painted in fiery hues.

The Grand Traverse area encompasses more than 250 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and offers numerous ways to take in the foliage.  

A few of the local favorites include kayaking tours from off the shore or hot air balloon rides to see the colors from up above.  

traverse city michigan fall colors tour

You can also ride aboard the twin-masted schooner Manitou for a sail across Grand Traverse Bay.  

In addition to the fall colors, you will find hay rides, corn mazes, cider mills, wineries, historic lighthouses, and Sleeping Bear Dunes.  

ludington michigan lighthouse

A few of our favorite area hotels include the Cherry Tree Inn  and the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa  

We also recommend grabbing lunch at House of Flavors in Ludington.

Mackinaw City – Petoskey – Charlevoix

This Northwestern Michigan fall color tour includes hilly, forested countryside, resort towns nestled along Lake Michigan and incredible views. 

Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island

Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island are one of the local favorite weekend getaway destinations.

Mackinaw City is a city in the Straits of Mackinac, located on Lake Huron’s southern shore.

It has a population of just over 2,000 people and is only accessible by ferry or boat.

Mackinaw City

Located directly across from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City offers visitors an opportunity to explore the regional history with museums and historic sites that are scattered throughout the town.

For those looking for more excitement, Mackinac Island can be reached by ferry from this small harbor town.

The island offers many attractions including the Grand Hotel which was built in 1887 and has hosted American presidents as well as celebrities like Charlie Chaplin who stayed there during their visits to the area!

Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey Michigan is a quaint coastal town has many things to offer and is full of charm.

With its beautiful views and friendly people, it’s the perfect place to visit.

It has been called “Michigan’s playground” for its many recreational opportunities.

Rent a bike from a local shop and ride on some of the country roads through scenic farmland.

Old Blady Trailhead Petoskey
Old Blady Trailhead Petoskey

Or head out on your own adventure on one of the public access trails that lead you through old growth forests and along rivers with beautiful views.

If golfing is more your style, they have three different courses in town.

Charlevoix, Michigan

Charlevoix is a gem of a Michigan destination. It’s home to the longest freshwater shoreline in the world, and there are many things to see and do here.

The Charlevoix lighthouse overlooks Lake Charlevoix and the views are absolutely breathtaking.

Charlevoix Lighthouse

There are many restaurants in this area that offer fresh seafood dishes including some local favorites.

If you want to enjoy the view while eating lunch at one of these restaurants, make sure you have your camera ready!   

I highly recommend McLain’s Restaurant, located right on Lake Street in downtown Charlevoix.

You can choose something from their menu or if you’re feeling adventurous, they also offer freshly caught fish off the dock for dinner guests!

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