Southwest Michigan,the beautiful transitions from deep green leaves to brilliant yellows, orange and reds, typically begin in mid-September and peak the first two weeks of October. Companioned with our gorgeous autumn sunsets along our Lake Michigan shore, you are never far from breathtaking views from dawn to dusk. Take a day, a weekend or a week to welcome this colorful season by following these three favorite routes.
Your Fall Color Tour starts on US Route 12 at the Gateway to Michigan, New Buffalo, just north of the Indiana/Michigan border. Begin your morning with a refreshing walk along this harbor town's pristine Lake Michigan beaches, find "must-haves" at its sophisticated shops and galleries or catch your favorite hot brew in one of the downtown restaurants.
As you head north on Blue Star Highway, don't hesitate to duck in to visit any of the resort towns along this dune-lined stretch of Lake Michigan. You'll find places to go antiquing, shopping or beach hiking. However, plan to catch a late lunch in St. Joseph. The walkable downtown is steps away from riverfront parks, a tree-lined bluff and Lake Michigan public beaches. It offers an eclectic selection of shops, restaurants, wineries and craft breweries. Visit art galleries, children's museums, historical sites, one of the nation's most picturesque lighthouses and a magnificent carousel (open year-round).
This quaint port town offers a century-old lighthouse, shops, restaurants and large expanses of public beaches. Come kick your feet through the rustling fallen leaves, tour art galleries along the coast, shop and treat yourself to an ice cream cone.
Watch fall colors from the deck of this electric-powered river launch as it plies the Black River waters. Hour-long tours are available through the middle of October, five launches a day, seven days a week. Tickets can be purchased onsite or online.
260 Dyckman Avenue, South Haven
Return to St. Joseph and stop for dinner at Silver Harbor Brewing Company. With at least 12 different craft beers on tap, you will have fun tasting them to find your favorites. A must-try is their smoked beer. Order a Kumbaya Brown Ale and ask them to inject hickory smoke into a glass chamber and bring it to your table. The smoke flavor infuses itself into the beer. A full menu of snacks to brewer plates will satiate your hunger.
We will have your room ready in a nearby lodging so you can wake up to more leaf-peeping in the morning.
721 Pleasant St, St Joseph
Start your day in our beautiful countryside at Fruit Acres, conveniently located just off I-94 exit 39. Spend your morning picking a variety of eating and baking apples fresh from the trees. Plan your visit for u-pick and hayrides to the orchards on Saturdays and Sundays, from early September to mid-October. Or stop by the market every day of the week, June through October, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Find bins and shelves filled with fresh-picked apples, cider, pumpkins, jams, jellies, caramel apples and your favorite fall fruits and vegetables.
Drive south on Friday Road for more fall fun.
3452 Friday Road, Coloma
The Jollay family has been perfecting the craft of growing fruit for over 150 years! Come pick apples (eight different varieties) and pumpkins in every imaginable size from September through October. On the last three weekends in September and all of the weekends in October, enjoy their annual Fall Festival. Hayrides, a haunted house, animal farm, fishing pond, cornfield maze and flavored cider tastings (peanut butter is a popular choice) make this a memory-making tradition.
Throughout the week and on weekends, the Jollay Orchards Farm Market is a great start to any day with its fresh cider donuts, apple pies, jams, jellies, preserves, salsas, mustards and much more. Jugs of some of the sweetest cider in Southwest Michigan, including Jollay’s flavored ciders, are reasons to come back year after year. (Buy extra cider and freeze it to serve it hot-and-spicy this winter.)
1850 Friday Rd., Coloma
This is a great place to relax with family or friends in downtown Baroda. Not only do they specialize in Round Barn’s craft beers on tap, but they also serve their estate wines and refreshing cocktails mixed with spirits from the Round Barn Distillery. There are plenty of appetizers to pair with your beverage choices, but a local-favorite is their beer cheese. You can gather around a table starting at noon, Wednesdays-Sundays.
After your break, don’t be in a hurry to leave the heart of wine country! Several Makers Trail wineries, breweries and distilleries are in the area, including your next stop, Lemon Creek Winery. Take in the beauty of the vineyards and colorful tree-lined roads while you are here!
9151 First St., Baroda
Take time to sit and breathe in the rich scents of fall at this family-owned and operated artisanal producer of estate-grown wines. Come pick apples or grapes in September and October. Taste award-winning wines year-round. A Harvest Festival in mid-September and home winemaking events make this a popular fall destination.
After a relaxing afternoon, head north 20 minutes to St. Joseph and enjoy dinner at one of the area's many restaurants before watching the sunset from Lake Bluff Park or one of the nearby beaches. Rest up at one of our nearby lodgings for another colorful day exploring tomorrow.
533 East Lemon Creek Rd., Berrien Springs
Open sunrise to sunset, this beautiful 13-acre park is one of the most popular fall destinations in Cass County. It features a Class A trout stream (popular with anglers) and 4 miles of hiking trails. Take the Big Tree Loop (1.6 miles) to see what remains of the largest tulip tree in Michigan (a violent storm took down 2/3rds of it in 1984).
20379 Marcellus Highway, Decatur
This unique brewery destination opens for lunch at 11 a.m. on Monday and Friday-Sunday. Gather around a table on this certified organic farm! You’ll find a tantalizing menu of craft beers, wines, non-alcoholic beverages, botanical elixirs, basil cream rigatoni, autumn sunset sandwich, harvest bowl, farmhouse salad and many other seasonal choices. If you have never sipped a farmhouse beer, this is the place to try one. Extend your fall fun playing bocce, cornhole or other lawn games.
15475 Walton Road, Buchanan
This gem offers 105 acres of cultivated and natural areas along the scenic St. Joseph River valley. Open Tues.-Sun., there is a small admission fee. If you didn’t catch lunch at River Saint Joe, check ahead to see if Fernwood's café is open. The food is delightful!
Take time to explore the art gallery, fern conservatory, multiple outdoor gardens and nature trails brimming with autumn beauty. Special classes, including yoga in the gardens, are available during the week and weekends. Check Fernwood's online September and October calendars for details.
13988 Range Line Road, Niles
This first tour is along the West Michigan Pike. The Pike is the first continuous paved road in West Michigan from the Indiana state line to Mackinaw City. It's a great way to combine fall colors with unforgettable beach moments along the two-lane US Route 12 (Red Arrow Highway) and US Route 31 (Blue Star Highway).
Learn more about the West Michigan Pike.
After breakfast in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph or Stevensville, follow this route for a flavorful, fall day adventure.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast or brunch in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph or Stevensville – you'll burn lots of calories walking on this last day of our fall color tour.
We hope you enjoyed your travels throughout Southwest Michigan. Check out other trips that you can take on our itineraries page. Happy trails!
There are more colorful roads to travel after sunrise tomorrow.