Fall | Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council
Fall Leaves

Why Southwest Michigan is your best fall vacation destination

When the summer crowds dwindle after Labor Day Weekend, Southwest Michigan catches its breath but not its simple joys vibe. The air and water temperatures are still warm in early September, so don’t think your beach days are over. It’s just easier to find places to stake your spot on the sand and there are far fewer people to make footprints around as you stroll along the shore.

As the weeks roll into October, Lake Michigan’s waves lap the sand one day and then roar wildly with frothy white caps the next. It’s exhilarating to be here during this freshwater sea’s changing moods.

But the best reason to vacation here is for the color shows that start at our century-old family farms, spill into our markets, and pour into our wine, beer, cider, and spirits glasses. Then, from mid-October to early November, the cooler days and crisper nights drench our hardwood forests and dunes in jewel-toned amber, ruby, orange garnet, and brown topaz foliage. You won’t drive a road, stroll a city sidewalk, comb a beach, hike a trail, golf a fairway, or paddle a river without our stunning color displays surrounding you. 

Whether you come for a cozy, romantic getaway, a harvest adventure with your children or grandchildren, catch-up time with friends, or a cozy retreat just for you, grab your favorite sweater or sweatshirt. Fall will easily become your favorite season in Southwest Michigan!

Biking at Warren Dunes State Park in the fall.

Where to find the best fall color in Southwest Michigan

We have two recommendations:

Download our Fall Color Guide.

This guide directs you to six easy-to-follow routes:

Fall Color Guide

Southwest Michigan Fall Color Report 

[watch for weekly updates from October to early November]

Download the free Makers Trail Passport App, starting in September, and earn cool rewards. 

If you like seeing fall colors on the trees and in your glass of craft wine, beer, cider, spirits, or cocktails — then this tasting color tour is the way to go. Following the Southwest Michigan Makers Trail takes you to some of the best wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries in Berrien County, each with its own urban to rustic ambiance. Many offer harvest festivals and live music on weekends, too. All offer new favorite beverages to bring home.

To entice you to see as many Makers stops as you can between Labor Day and the end of May, download our free Passport app and Makers Trail map (a printed version is available at area hotels). The more Makers Trail sites you visit, the more stamps you can collect and the more cool rewards you can earn. Learn more.

Visit Southwest Michigan App

Apple Store Google Play

Download the Makers Trail Map


Apple picking in Southwest Michigan.

Fall activities in Southwest Michigan

Celebrate the harvest and this beautiful season at our fall festivals and events

One thing is clear on our fall events calendar, you will find lots of ways to enjoy this fun-filled season between September and November. Here are a few favorite festivals and events:

September-Early October: St. Joseph Farmers Market is your Saturday source for fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, fall flowers and decorations, locally sourced meats and cheeses and more. Antiques on the Bluff, held on the first Sunday of the month, features more than 50 vendors and their treasures. 

September-November: Check the list of events for the dates of the Speaker Series that brings national and international political and scientific leaders, actors, writers, and more to The Mendel Center. You can also catch music concerts, symphony orchestra performances, plays and acrobatic or comedian shows at The Mendel Center, Twin Cities Players, The Acorn, and Four Winds Casino with ticket prices that fit most vacation budgets. 

September: South Haven hosts its annual Antique Engine & Tractor Show, one of the largest in the state, at the Michigan Flywheelers Museum.  Fall Fest in St. Joseph is a must-attend with its petting animals and Pumpkin Festival. 

October: Dowagiac also hosts the Under the Harvest Moon Festival and you also can find several spooktacular Halloween-themed events in and around St. Joseph. 

Take in the flavors, aromas, and beauty of the season with our fall outdoor activities in Southwest Michigan.

To enjoy the fall color up close, this is the season to get outside and play. Here are some ideas:

A concert at the Acorn.

Make enriching Creative Connections in Southwest Michigan and earn artsy rewards.

Autumn is a favorite time to meet some of the finest artists, singers, musicians, and actors, as well as explore historical and culturally rich places in Southwest Michigan. Add to your art and cultural adventures by playing the Creative Connections Game. The more of the 15 participating art galleries, museums, and theaters you visit, the more stamps you can collect and the more prize levels you can complete. Visit any of the Creative Connections destinations or the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council to get a game brochure and have fun playing!

Planning your fall vacation in Southwest Michigan is simple.

It’s easy to put together a day trip or multi-day visit in Southwest Michigan. Check the weather, then pack a few warm and lightweight layer options, plus a pair of gloves — the temperatures and weather conditions can easily change several times on any given day in Southwest Michigan. 

Average High/Low Temperatures

Most places take debit or credit cards but bring some cash for those that don’t. 

As you put together your route for each day you are here, check our itineraries that highlight some favorite things to do. If you have questions, please contact us. We are ready to help you make this fall vacation one of your most memorable!

Book your Southwest Michigan fall getaway now.

While booking your stay in Southwest Michigan is easier in the fall than in the summer, there are still some peak weekends that you will want to make your reservations as early as you can. Our Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Stevensville hoteliers and their staff are some of the friendliest and most hospitable in Michigan. You will find the amenities you want, including views of Lake Michigan and the harbor, romantic packages, indoor pools, breakfast, fitness and spa facilities, and tail-wagging accommodations for your pet. 

You also have our assurances that our lodgings follow cleaning protocols to keep your room and the public areas safe. Many offer contactless check-outs and can provide temperature checks if you request them. Your comfort is a top priority while you are visiting. 

So, come find the simple joys of fall in Southwest Michigan. The trees are eager to give you one of the best fall color shows in the Midwest!

Book your stay today

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