After a long winter, spring is such a delight; and summer is obviously so much fun, but it is hard to beat autumn in Michigan. Crisp air, crunchy apples, and a cornucopia of color that changes daily…what’s not to love? Thrillist just ranked Michigan #5 among the most fantastic states to take in fall, and these are some of the experiences that make spending the season in Michigan exceptional.
1. Pick Some Apples
Sure, you can buy some from a store, or better yet, a farmer’s market, but there is nothing that makes an apple taste sweeter than when you pick it yourself. First of all, you can’t get any fresher than a fruit plucked right from the tree. Plus, once you’ve stood in one of these enormous orchards and imagined the time and effort it takes for each apple we consume to be picked by hand, you’ll never take them for granted again. It’s a great life lesson for kids as well. Michigan is full of U-Pick orchards, select one near you and enjoy.
2. Visit a Cider Mill
Speaking of apples, there isn’t a better way to take a bite out of a crisp fall day than to visit a cider mill. Freshly baked doughnuts washed down with hot or cold cider, is the quintessential taste of fall in this state. The Historic Dexter Cider Mill near Ann Arbor is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in Michigan, but with more than a hundred around the state, you’re never very far from one. Most also have activities for kids like hay rides, tire courses, petting zoos, and more, especially on the weekends. Quite a few are now also serving hard ciders, to make a visit to the mill even more fun for adults.
3. Tailgate at a Football Game
Lions, Wolverines, and Spartans, oh my! If those aren’t your faves then how about Chips, Broncos, Bulldogs, Eagles, Warriors, or Wildcats? Fall means football season and we are fortunate to have plenty of teams to rally around. Whether you live and breathe for the start of the Lions season, or couldn’t care less who wins, tailgating can be fun for everyone. Fire up a grill with Koegel’s franks and Better Made chips, or create an elaborate spread like Zingerman’s. The best part is enjoying the camaraderie with friends and family, sharing scrumptious food and drinks, and maybe a little friendly rivalry with your neighbors.
4. Drink a Pumpkin Craft Beer
It’s hard to imagine tailgating in Michigan without including some of our delectable craft beers. This time of year brings out many harvest-themed ales, and of course many a pumpkin brew. Some are spicy, some are sweet, some even have a caramel accent. Try one for the experience, or several to find an annual favorite.
5. Drive Through a Tunnel of Trees
With 19 million acres of woods, not to mention shorelines, streams, and sunsets, it’s no wonder Michigan is one of the most beautiful places in the world to experience autumn in all its glory. Taking a road trip nearly anywhere in the state will bring unexpected vistas and splashes of vibrant colors, but few drives are more renowned than the Tunnel of Trees along M-119. The magical, scenic road winds from Harbor Springs to Cross Village, and its lined with hardwoods that branch out across the road, aflame with color. Cap of the experience with a meal at the infamous Legs Inn.
If you’ve ever taken a road trip through Michigan in the summer then you know just how much corn this state grows. After the cobs have been harvested, the plentiful stalks take on new purpose. Some are cut down for holiday décor, but these days, even more remain as giant puzzles to entertain and make fools of we mortal humans. Many cider mills and farms have taken to creating corn mazes, and you can’t beat them for wholesome family entertainment. Corn mazes are one of the few places in the world where getting lost is half the fun.
7. Unwind on Mackinac Island
Most people tend to visit this incredible gem in the summer, but if you haven’t gone in the fall, you are truly in for a treat. The island takes on an amazing calm. As relaxing as it may seem in summer, autumn brings an uncanny ease. Locals are out and about more with the tourists gone. Each clomp of a horse’s hoof sounds musical as it breaks the morning silence. Workers from around the world are anxious to share stories of their homeland with you as they eagerly await a return to their family and friends. Aside from all that, you don’t wait in line for anything, and the foliage is spectacular.
8. Go Winetasting
Any time of year is an enjoyable time for Michigan wine touring, but autumn is special. The harvest begins in October so there is an excitement in the air. The natural beauty is abundant and friendly winemakers anxiously await visitors to taste and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Special events are plentiful and many can be found in this calendar from Michigan Wines.
9. Soar in a Hot Air Balloon
The only thing that might possibly be more enjoyable than hiking, biking, or driving through our colorful forests at this time of year, is floating above them. Sky Adventures has taken over 40,000 passengers on thrilling rides for more than 42 years. Bring along a camera for shots you won’t get any other way.
Of course the fall foliage in Michigan is legendary, partially because of the wide range of tree species to which the state is home, but one thing we don’t have as much of as states like Vermont and Colorado, are rolling hills and peaks. One notable exception is the Porcupine Mountains. The Porkies, as they are affectionately known by locals, provide amazing opportunities to hike, bike, canoe, kayak, fish, and unwind. There are several magnificent waterfalls, and breathtaking views above Lake in the Clouds and the Carp River.
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