Fall Color Dates in Michigan

Though we love our summers here in West Michigan, autumn comes in a close second. What's not to love about the thousands of trees that proudly display their vivid yellows, oranges, and reds. The crispness in the air feels so refreshing, and beckons you outside to enjoy a walk through the woods or a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore.

Temperatures greatly affect fall color. When days are sunny and warm in autumn, the colors turn a vibrant red and orange. Cloudier days will produce leaves with more yellows and browns.

Here's a brief timetable for fall color throughout Michigan:

Late September, Early October

You can begin to see color sprouting on various maples and oaks, with many of the trees maintaining their green color. The Upper Peninsula will start to see color change.

Mid October

Fall colors inland in the Lower Peninsula peak around this time, but the trees along the Lake Michigan shoreline will not be as colorful.

Late October

The last of the trees in the Lower Peninsula along the lakeshore will be peaking in the last two weeks of October.

Fall also brings its own unique entertainment--from Harvest Festivals and hayrides to corn mazes and barn dances. This is the season to visit a pumpkin patch, enjoy the goodness of fresh apple cider, or book a charter for some terrific salmon fishing. Residents head to the local football fields for that exciting Friday night showdown. Downtown West Michigan businesses in places like Ludington, Arcadia, Bear Lake and Onekama display their "Scarecrows on Parade," and you'll find them both funny and creative. Grab a warm cup of coffee or a bowl of soup at one of the area restaurants, where the friendly staff always makes you feel welcome.

Fall Color Tours in West Michigan

In this part of Michigan, along the Lake Michigan shoreline, the colors are most vivid from mid-late October. Temperature, soil moisture and sunlight play a major part in when the trees begin turning. Abundant sunlight means earlier color. Heavy winds and rain will drop leaves before they turn color. Perfect conditions are a growing season with ample moisture, a dry and cool autumn, followed by warm days and cool nights.


Mason County is especially beautiful in the fall. Plan on attending Ludington's Octoberfest , plus restaurants and shops are open and ready to greet you with great bargains and warm meals.

A bit further south in Oceana County, you'll truly appreciate the beauty of fall in the back roads, where fruit fields come alive with spectacular color. Pentwater has its Art and Crafts Festival in late September, with Oktoberfest and Spooktacular Weekend in October. Stop into one of Pentwater's dining establishments for a warm drink and gear up for some shopping in their downtown region.

Manistee, Benzie, and Leelanau counties are home to the famous M-22 route, over 100 miles that travel along Lake Michigan. This is easily one of the most beautiful drives in Michigan, and a must-see in the fall. The canopy of trees and the low traffic make for such a relaxing day drive. The communities along M-22 welcome you into their shops and restaurants...with perhaps some bargains and great prices! For more information, read our story about the M-22 Color Tour.

The West Michigan area is truly blessed with four seasons, and fall is the most colorful of all! This quieter tourism season may be one of the best-kept secrets of travelers who enjoy less traffic and great travel discounts at lodging facilities in Ludington, Manistee, Pentwater, Silver Lake and other West Michigan communities. The air is crisp and clean, so come on--snuggle into your sweatshirt and enjoy what Mother Nature brings us, year after year.

Also see:

Mason County Fall Color Tour
Oceana County Fall Color Tour
Manistee County Fall Color Tour

Fall Festivals & Events in West Michigan: Ludington, Manistee, Pentwater, Silver Lake, and more...

More to Love About Autumn in West Michigan...

For more activities & attractions, check out these additional links for Things to Do in West Michigan:

West Michigan Map
Ludington Activities & Things to Do -- Play on a beautiful beach, take a tour at Historic White Pine Village, or explore the barn quilt trail, murals or sculptures in the county--Ludington offers many fun things to do for the entire family!
Have Fun in Manistee, Michigan -- Explore Manistee's historic downtown district and riverwalk, hike the Manistee National Forest, canoe on the Manistee River, and more.
Hamlin Lake -- Just 4 miles north of Ludington, Hamlin Lake is a great destination for boating, fishing and climbing dunes! The Hamlin Lake shoreline is also part of the Ludington State Park.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes -- Visiting the Silver Lake Sand Dunes makes for a terrific vacation because you can take your off-road vehicle for a spin on the scenic sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan and Silver Lake.
Things to Do in Pentwater, Michigan -- Nothing is quite like the quaint, artsy, harbortown village of Pentwater. Don't miss the popular Charles Mears State Park beach on Pentwater's Lake Michigan shoreline.
Lots of Activities in Scottville, Michigan -- Explore the Riverside Park along the National Scenic Pere Marquette River.
Canoeing or Fishing on the Pere Marquette River -- Many boat liveries offer canoe rentals.
Also, check out West Michigan Guides and our locally produced WestMichigan.MichBiz.com directory for our largest lists of Things to Do in West Michigan.
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Last Updated: 11-03-2020 05:55 PM ID: 104