I never knew Michigan could look like this – be this beautiful. However as the autumn air begins to turn brisk, the foliage in Michigan reacts in the most lovely way. The landscape transforms from showing different shades of green into rich hues of red, gold, orange and brown. While I can agree that there are several amazing places within the state of Michigan to enjoy these beautiful colors – there are three specific places that my family loves to travel to see Michigan transform into what we can only describe as a stunning work of art.

Boyne Falls, Michigan

Boyne Mountain in the Fall. Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

View from the top of Boyne Mountain in the Fall. Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Within the city of Boyne Falls, Michigan sits Boyne Mountain – a popular ski resort. However, before the snow starts to fall and the slope fills with winter adventure seekers, this same mountain fills with people seeking something a little bit different – an incredible view. From the top of Boyne Mountain you can see out several miles over the sea of colors in Northern Michigan – all while sipping a hot toddy (or hot chocolate) from the mountain top cafe which is open to guests during the fall color season. There is also staff present to help you get up and down the mountain via the ski lift – which offers a different perspective of the colors and a relaxing ride on a brisk evening.

Ski Lift at Boyne Mountain Resort. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Ski Lift at Boyne Mountain Resort. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

While this incredible view is enough to bring my family back to Boyne Falls, Michigan year after year, Boyne Mountain Resort and the surrounding city area offer us several reasons to stay and play.

  • Zip line Course – Also on the grounds of Boyne Mountain sits a zip line trail that allows riders to zip through the trees – offering an immersive view of the fall colors. There are different levels of zip lining participation available: a quick two time run or a zip line tour which takes you on several difference courses through the woods surrounding the resort. Our first time we did the short two time run, but this year we are looking forward to doing the full tour.
  • Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark – Boyne Mountain Resort has it’s own indoor waterpark complete with waterslides, a lazy river, a surf simulator and a kids pool.
  • Amazing hotel or cottages to rent – We’ve stayed in both, each amazing. However since we normally take this trip as a multigeneration trip, we’ve enjoyed renting a house up on the hill overlooking the resort. These mountain cabins are perfect for larger families and still offer access to the resort activities.
  • Daily and Nightly activities – The resort is great about offering fun activities for guests, such as hayrides, bonfires and smore’s!
  • Boyne City is nearby and offers an eclectic shopping experience, plus awesome restaurant options.

Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey, Michigan. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

View of Petoskey, Michigan from the Lighthouse. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Only about 20 minutes away from Boyne City is Petoskey, Michigan – another place we always stop on our autumn color tour. The view of the autumn colors combined with the gorgeous downtown architecture is stunning. While we are in Petoskey we also like to do the following things:

  • Stop by the lighthouse and search for Petoskey stones on the beach.
  • Shop the colorful and funky downtown area.

Mackinaw City, Michigan

View of the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

View of the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

While the view of the Mackinac Bridge is always stunning, there is something special about seeing it in the fall. The mighty bridge structure looks painted next to the vibrant colors of nature. Plus, the surrounding city of Mackinaw is just as lovely – also extremely less crowded than a typical summer’s day. We usually make this our last stop on our tour and spend the day going to our favorite places in Mackinaw City, while enjoying the beauty of the season around us. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Mackinaw City, Michigan during the fall.

  • Visit the Fort – Before the fort closes for the season, as fall comes to an end, is the perfect time to visit. It is not as crowded as the summer and we were really able to interact with the exhibit and performers.
  • Shop the Downtown area – Depending on when you go, some of the shops might already be closed down for the season – however many do stay open.
  • Eat at Mama Mia’s – This restaurant has been my families’ favorite pizza place for many years and we always return to it to close out our trip.
  • Visit the Lighthouse – Simply taking a walk around the ground of the lighthouse is stunning in the fall, but it is also fun to go to the top and look out over the area.
Mackinaw City Lighthouse. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

Mackinaw City Lighthouse. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

A trip to Northern Michigan has always been our favorite way to ring in the autumn months, but how do you know when the best time to visit is? This can be tricky as you will want to time your visit just as the foliage peaks. There are several websites which can help you track the change in colors in Northern Michigan or check the area specific tourism sights for up to date information.

Do you have a favorite place to visit to see the colors of autumn? Share your favorite locations with us in the comments. 

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