Hillsdale - Homer - Sturgis

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Catch the last act of Michigan's fall color show in the central Lower Peninsula near the state's border with Indiana and Ohio. Best enjoyed from mid-to-late October, the 155-mile loop travels through countryside known for agriculture, antiques and Amish communities.

Best Enjoyed: Mid to Late October
Approximate Length: 155 miles

Soybeans, corn, wheat as well as beef cattle, dairy cows and other livestock occupy the land that woolly mammoth roamed, Native Americans lived off, fur trappers traversed, and, beginning in the late 1820's, was settled by white men. The ancient Sauk Trail (US-12) slashes across the center of this fall color route, populated by hundreds of inland lakes and spring fed rivers and streams.

The soil is rich and the terrain features hills and dales-which gave name to Hillsdale County and the city in the center of it. Begin your color tour with a drive along tree-lined streets past fine examples of Victorian homes and businesses of Hillsdale, established in 1839. Next, enjoy the native plantings and trees of Slayton Arboretumon the campus of Hillsdale College, which dates to 1844 (at its present location since 1853). Stroll the nature trail and admire the water features and 1,100 species of plants at the 40-acre Slayton Arboretum. Drive by the cobblestone Poor House made famous in an 1872 verse by local poet Will Carleton.

Depart Hillsdale and travel south on M-99 to Montgomery Rd. (You could detour south on M-49 and wind your way to the very southwest corner of Hillsdale County, where a marker announces the approximate location where three states-Michigan, Indian and Ohio meet.) Travel Montgomery west to Wildwood Rd., then go north to Null Rd./Copeland Rd. Watch for slow moving Amish buggies in the area called California Corners, near the intersection of Copeland and Ray-Quincy Roads. Stop for a pop at Safford's General Store on S. Ray-Quincy Rd. Continue on Copeland Rd. west past the undeveloped Coldwater State Park.

Take I-69 north to the Coldwater exit (US 12) center of town is the Little River Railroad for pumpkin rides and more. Continue out of town on US 12 towards the city of Sturgis.

Travel north from Sturgis on M-66 to M-86 and head west to Nottawa Fruit Farm for weekend Fall Family Fun that includes a hayride, pumpkin picking and a petting farm (through October). Purchase a picnic basket lunch and fresh breads and pies from the bakery. Then head out to explore Amish Country, where you'll find an abundance of hand-crafted furniture, quilts and homebaked goods.

Continue your fall color tour north on M-66 to 66/60. Jog west to Mendon for shopping and refreshment at this old stagecoach stop, the halfway point between Detroit and Chicago. Continue eastward on M-66/60 toward Union City, founded in 1833 and named for the union of the Coldwater and St. Joseph Rivers. Don't miss a drive by the renowned Victorian Villa Inn, a romantic B&B that also houses the 19th Century Lighting Co., specializing in fine, authentic lamps and fixtures of the era. The Greek revival style Hammond House Museumwas built as a residence more than 150 years ago.

Travel east on M-60 to Homer, with a historic downtown, pleasant Grist Mill Park and the Linear Park along the Kalamazoo River. Ready for refreshments? A detour east of Homer to Sweet Seasons Orchard on Alman Rd. near Concord will yield a bounty of fresh fruit, baked goods and cider, as well as and pumpkins, squash and Indian corn. Get back on M-99 south through Litchfield to Jonesville, at the intersection of the Old Sauk Trail (M-12). Jonesville is home to The Munro House Bed & Breakfast, which dates to 1834 and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Grosvenor House Museum, home of a Lt. Governor of Michigan, was designed by the architect responsible for the state capitol building. The 32-room Victorian Italianate mansion, built in 1872-74, is open only weekends through September; with special tours by appointment.

If you feel like browsing old treasures, travel west 5 miles on US-12 to the junction of M-49, and hit hundreds of dealers in Allen, the Antiques Capital of Michigan. Then return to M-99 and head south toward Hillsdale. Complete your fall circle tour with a visit to Glei's Orchards & Greenhouses, just northwest of Hillsdale on Milnes Rd., east of M-99. Since the first orchards were planted in 1918 the Glei family has been a growing local tradition, offering perennials, bedding plants and garden supplies in spring-summer, Christmas trees and Poinsettias in season, and a variety of apples and cider each autumn.

Slayton Arboretum, Hillsdale College
Barber Drive
Hillsdale, MI 49242
Phone: (517) 607-2241
Educational facility devoted to trees, shrubs,flowers with a pleasant walking trail, unique stonework, running water and ponds, with wildlife as a additional attraction.
Little River Railroad
29 W. Park Avenue
Coldwater, MI 49036
Reservations: (633) 366-4667
Phone: (260) 316-0529
The Little River Railroad offers scenic train rides powered by antique steam locomotives. Round trip rides leave from Coldwater and travels to Quincy every Saturday and Sunday. No reservations needed, just arrive approximately 1/2 hour before each scheduled departure. Train rides last about 1 1/2 hours. Trains operate rain or shine. We offer train robbery, fall color, Halloween train and more. Visit website for complete schedules and more information.
Nottawa Fruit Farm
24977 M 86
Centreville, MI 49032
Phone: (269) 467-7719
Seasonal home-grown produce, u-pick strawberries, raspberries and pumpkins. Old fashion farm bakery, picnic lunches and a big selection of jams, jellies, honey, etc. Fall family fun activities on weekends in October. We offer packages that include hayrides, straw tunnels, pumpkins and more. Open May - October.
The Victorian Villa Inn
601 North Broadway Street
Union City, MI 49094
Reservations: (800) 348-4552
Toll Free: (800) 348-4552
Phone: (517) 741-7383
The Victorian Villa Inn, established in 1982, is situated on a charming, tree-lined street in the heart of the 19th Century river village of Union City, Michigan and is the center piece of two acres of beautifully landscaped grounds showcasing vibrant Victorian gardens & authentic Victorian Gazebo and Victorian fountain and koi pond. Each of the Villa's ten sumptuously furnished guest accommodations has a private bath and are each fitted in a popular style of the 19th Century Victorian era with authentic period antiques.
Hammond House Museum
210 Charlotte St.
Union City, MI 49094
Phone: (517) 741-7347
This stately Greek revival structure was one of the first fine homes in Union City. It was built a century and a half ago by Deacons Chester Hammond who came west from Smyrna County, New York in 1836. The House was originally part of a two hundred acre tract which Hammond platted in 1837, in anticipation of a proposed extension of the Ernie Canal. Hammond's influence on the Union City's early development is formidable. Before his death in 1849, he was Union City's first town clerk and an original stock holder in the Union City Iron Co. His wife and children were prominent citizens in their own right.
Sweet Seasons Orchard
15787 Allman Road
Concord, MI 49237
Phone: (517) 524-8535
A family owned and operated orchard with a bakery and a variety of natural products including apples, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, seed fruit and nut mixes, as well as, pumpkins, squash and Indian corn in the fall and Christmas trees. We also feature cider, jams, butters, jellies, honey and more. Open September until Thanksgiving 10 to 6 pm seven days a week.
Munro House Bed & Breakfast
202 Maumee Street
Jonesville, MI 49250
Toll Free: (800) 320-3792
Phone: (517) 849-9292
"The most comfortable lodging in Hillsdale County" is just 30 minutes south of Jackson at Highways 12 & 99 in downtown Jonesville. This historic pre-Civil War Mansion was once a Station on the Underground Railroad, is located along the Old Sauk Trail (U.S. 12) in South Central Michigan and may be the oldest B&B in Southern Michigan that was originally built as a private residence.
Grosvenor House Museum
211 Maumee Street
Jonesville, MI 49250
Phone: (517) 849-9596
The Grosvenor House Museum is the renovated home of E.O. Grosvenor, one time Lt. Governor of Michigan. Mr. Grosvenor was head of the commission in charge of building the Michigan state capitol building, and his home was designed by the same architect as the capitol. A 32 room Victorian Italianate structure, the museum is open weekends from 2-5 pm from 1st part of June until the end of September each year, but call for more details if needed. admission is 3.50 for adults, 3.00 for Seniors and students 13 and older are 2.00, while ages 12 and younger are just 1.00. We do have a family rate of $8.00. Open Sat-Sun from 2-5 pm.
Glei's Orchards & Greenhouse
3500 Milnes Road
Hillsdale, MI 49242
Phone: (517) 437-4495
We are an orchard and greenhouse facility. We provide apple packaging, ground cider and fifty acres of a variety of Christmas trees. Tree wrapping, wreaths, flocked trees and living trees. We also grow our own plants. Open 8am-6pm Mon-Sat, and 10am-5pm on Sun.