It’s easy to think of many towns in Northern Michigan – like Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs – as resort towns, fit for visiting in the Summer. Or maybe in the winter, too, if you’re into winter sports. While these towns do have beautiful beaches to explore in Summer and lots of snow in the Winter, don’t overlook the fun things to do and see in the Fall! Keep reading and use this post as a guideline as you plan the perfect Fall weekend in Traverse City and the surrounding areas in Northern Michigan!
Where to Stay:
Hotels are generally cheaper this time of year than they are during peak tourist seasons, but prices can still be pretty steep. Explore your options at Airbnb.com and compare prices before you book. If you find an Airbnb you like, use this link to receive $40 in travel credit towards your stay!
Where to Eat:
The Village Cheese Shanty (affectionately nicknamed “Cheese Shop” by locals) closes up shop on October 26th. If you’re heading to the Traverse City area before then, it’s absolutely worth the 40-ish minute drive to Fish Town, Leland just for a pretzel bread sandwich. I highly recommend ordering the award-winning North Shore sandwich and subbing the swiss cheese for dill havarti. You won’t regret it! Fall time bonus: the drive along the water will double as a stunning color tour on your way to lunch!
Another summer spot that is closing for the winter soon is The Little Fleet! The last weekend for food trucks is 10/12 – 10/14.
Some year-round favorite restaurants include Bubba’s, Blue Tractor, Harvest, The Dish Cafe, Green House Cafe, Spanglish, Slabtown Burgers, and Paesano’s Pizza (go at lunch and get the lunch combo!). Traverse City is known as a foodie town, so pretty much any restaurant you choose is bound to be a hit!
Where to Grab a Great Coffee:
Where to See Fall Colors and Get Outdoors:
Fall colors on the trees are peaking right about now, so it’s a great time to take a long drive up Old Mission Peninsula, stop for some wine tastings at one of the many vineyards along the way, and visit the lighthouse, Mission Point Light. Old Mission Lighthouse, 20500 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686
On the opposite side of town, head towards the Glen Arbor area to visit the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. A popular summertime spot, Sleeping Bear is a great place to visit in the Fall for the beautiful sights! Drive through the Scenic Drive and make sure to stop at each marker to get out of your car and get a better look at the view! Great photo opportunities!
On the way to the dunes, make a stop at Pyramid Point or Port Oneida (or both!) for a hike with the family. Both paths offer stunning views of Lake Michigan that rival those at Sleeping Bear. Pyramid Point is definitely the more well-known and is the longer climb of the two spots! Port Oneida is a pretty well-kept secret and a much shorter hike (though kind of steep). There’s also beach access at Port Oneida. It might be too cold for a true beach day, but a walk along the water searching for rocks is just as enjoyable in the Fall!
Orchards and Farms:
What’s Fall without some corn mazes and pumpkin patches?!
Jacob’s Corn Maze is a local favorite, around since 1892! This year’s theme is Pure Michigan. Kid’s under 4 get free admission!
Buchan’s Blueberry Hill is great for more than just blueberries! If you’re taking a drive out to Old Mission Peninsula, this is a great place to stop with kids! Make sure to call ahead to check for U-pick availability.
Gallagher’s Farm Market has a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and farm animals, as well as homemade jams and fresh-baked pies!
Fall Events and Activities:
- Every Saturday: $0.25 kids matinees at The State Theater
- October 13th: Fall Festival at the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA
- October 27th: Downtown Halloween Walk
- November 10th: Flapjack & Flannel Festival @ The Little Fleet
And be sure to take a drive or walk through residential downtown Traverse City for a look at all of the houses that decorate for Halloween!