Autumn is the season of splendor in Traverse City. Take a bite out of fresh local apples in September, explore a corn maze in October, and get a head start on holiday shopping in November. How we love fall, let us count keep counting the ways …
While color tours are top of mind, they aren’t the only activity that should be on your bucket list. Here are other recommendations.
Go Wine Tasting
At the start of the season the vineyards are lush with ripe fruit. Mid-season is harvest, and just before winter, many of the tasting rooms create a cozy vibe that is just right for a romantic afternoon. Try the wines in the recommended tasting order and always remember to designate a driver.
Wine trail events to consider: Harvest Stompede, Reds of October and The Great Macaroni and Cheese Bake-Off. Details are on the calendar.
Coast Along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
No visit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore would be complete without a leisurely drive through this section of the park. At 7.4 miles long, it’s not a long route. At stop #2 you’ll be greeted by the iconic Covered Bridge and at #9 you might just be swept away in the endless blues of Lake Michigan.
Tips for the road trip: Dress in layers, the wind is often stronger in the park. Charge your phone or camera – you’re going to want it for photos!
Pick a Pumpkin
Yeah, yeah, it’s cliché, but how can you go through autumn without running through a pumpkin patch? The kids will love it and the memories of finding just the right one will last forever.
Suggestions on where to go: Jacob’s Corn Maze and Gallaghers
Try a New Beer
Fall color and beer, they seem to naturally go together. Ambers, golden IPA’s and stouts they’re all on the menu during Traverse City Beer Week. If you can’t make it during TCBW, don’t worry, a beer tour can be done at your own pace anytime of the year.
Do’s and Don’ts: Do taste beers in a sampler flight, don't sample beer like wine. And always remember to arrange for transportation.
Go for a Hike
Whether you have an hour, or a whole day, you will find plenty of natural spaces to get moving on the trails. Sleeping Bear Dunes is a go to park for visitors, but there’s also a diverse selection of trails located within the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Leelanau Conservancy.
Suggested trails: Empire Bluff, Whaleback Natural Area, Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area.
Fill Up Your Basket at a Farm Market
Browse the aisles and be delighted by the vibrant reds and oranges of ripe tomatoes, the sweet smell of apples and the golden stalks of sunflowers. Fill up a bag of produce and snack your way through the rest of the day or bring home local honey for a long-lasting sweet memory of your visit.
Markets to visit: Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market and The Village Farmers Market
Participate in a Race
Set a goal and complete it in Northern Michigan. The rolling hills and natural scenery provide challenging but beautiful courses for a variety of athletes. 5k, 15k runs are options along a 30 mile point-to-point bike race, also known as The Ice Man Cometh.
Suggested runs: Harvest Stompede, Sleeping Bear Half Marathon and The Zombie Run. Details are on the calendar.
Sip Some Cider
You’ve heard about Traverse City’s wine and beer, but do you know about cider? On tap, in a growler and even in a six pack of cans, cider is now available at many of the local wineries. And if you’re not into the hard stuff, there’s always sweet cider (and donuts!).
Where to sample: Tandem Ciders, Forty-Five North Winery and Left Foot Charley
You know those pictures of people holding up trophy size fish? Well, fish like that swim in our waters. Lake Michigan, the Boardman River and many of the inland lakes are prized areas for sport fisherman. Fall brings forth plenty of opportunities for salmon and small mouth bass.
Additional resources: Obtain a Fishing License
Go for a Picnic
In a foodie town like Traverse City, picnics are often forgone in favor of visiting restaurants for lunch or dinner. But during the fall, alfresco dining doesn’t get much better than a picnic under the colorful trees. Order to go or stock up at a local market.
Suggested picnic locations: Piazza at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons and Clinch Park