The leaves are changing, the temps are cooling off and fall is officially here. If you and your family want to experience Michigan at its finest this season, there’s no better place to do that than Traverse City. There’s plenty of fall family fun in Traverse City.
“Fall is my favorite season. I love fall. I love the changing of the colors here. I don’t think there’s a better place to experience the foliage than in our area because of the proximity to the water, especially when you get out on Leelanau Peninsula or Old Mission Peninsula,” says Trevor Tkach, President of Traverse City Tourism. “That direction along the shore, you just get these unbelievable panoramic views of the leaves changing and the vibrant blue water and of course the sunrises and sunsets. It’s just a magical time.”
Want to experience everything this town has to offer this season? Here are some top choices for fall family fun in Traverse City.
Trek through a corn maze
Tkach, who is a dad of three kids ages 11, 14 and 16, has done everything in the region and considers a visit to Jacob’s Farm a must this fall. Be sure to make your way through the corn maze.
“This corn maze is unbelievable,” he says. “Every year it has a remarkable mapped-out course to get through and it’s kind of a mesmerizing experience where you get your kid off the phone for an hour and have them actually enjoy it.”
The design of maze, which is on 10 acres of farmland, changes each year so it’s worth going back annually. This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland, and it takes about two hours to make your way through the corn maze. While there, enjoy a tractor ride for $2 per person, or enjoy cider, doughnuts or even some adult beverages for mom and dad.
Visit a farmers market
Located just across the street from Jacob’s Farm is Gallagher’s Farm Market. Here, you can shop for local produce that’s in season (think pumpkins and apples), along with jams, jellies, maple syrup and more.
Gallagher’s is home to the Northern Michigan Pumpkin Patch, which gives you the chance to pick your very own pumpkins to take home to carve or decorate.
Browse this list of farmers markets in Traverse City for even more places and some u-pick spots, too.
Take a color tour
Old Mission Peninsula and the Leelanau Peninsula are just two scenic routes worth driving to experience all the beautiful changing colors. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore also gives visitors the opportunity to take in the sights.
Those who want to hike or bike their way around can explore trails into the Frankfort area, Tkach says. “They have the lighthouse on the water for stunning sunsets,” he adds, plus there is amazing view of the Dunes there, too.
“I have found numerous trails that are part of the Grand Traverse Land Conservancy that are equal to or would rival any trail I’ve ever found at Sleeping Bear Dunes,” he says.
If you prefer to bike your way around to see the leaves change color, there are places to rent bikes or take bike tours, such as Grand Traverse Bike Tours, Brick Wheels and The River Outfitters. And for trail rides to thrill every member of the family, check out Crystal Mountain in Benzie County — you’ll be able to enjoy the gorgeous color of the season from atop the mountain!
Consult this fall color tour guide to find the best views in the area.
Take a horse ride
Ranch Rudolf offers 1- and 2-hour trail rides for ages 8-plus. The 1-hour ride, known as the Wrangler, is $45 per person and $40 for overnight guests, offered Fridays-Sunday through mid-October. The 2-hour Bronco ride is $82 per person and $80 for overnight guests. You must email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservation details.
Shop and see (then eat)
The weather can turn quickly, but Traverse City attractions aren’t limited to the outdoors. Head over to Grand Traverse Commons for some shopping. Or, visit downtown Traverse City for even more places to shop.
“You’ll definitely find more shops and galleries in downtown Traverse City than anywhere else in the area, but you’ll get a lot of really interesting flavors from the smaller towns,” he says of the port towns such as Frankfort.
If you want to catch a flick on a bad-weather day, take one in at the historic State Theatre, which offers $1 matinees for kids on Saturdays at 10 a.m.
And when you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a bite at one of the city’s many eateries, which can be found listed here.
For more information on Traverse City, or to plan your stay, visit Traverse City’s website.