5 Reasons to Explore Michigan This Fall

From city festivals to quiet moments in nature, you’ll find autumn’s bounty overflows throughout the Great Lakes State.

Downtown Detroit during fall
Downtown Detroit in the Fall | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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Ask anyone in the state and they’ll be able to come up with at least 20 reasons why they love autumn in Michigan. From bright foliage cascading down the Upper Peninsula to fall festivals galore, you can visit at any point in the season for an incredible time. But if you need a little inspiration to plan your trip around, consider using one of these events as the cornerstone of your autumn visit.

Fall Salmon Run


Surrounded by four Great Lakes and full of winding rivers and tributaries, Michigan boasts a diverse fishery that includes several types of salmon. Early fall is the best time to catch them as they begin their runs into the deep waters of Lake Michigan to spend the winter. Chinook and Coho salmon are the most plentiful, with pink and Atlantic salmon being a rare catch.

You’ll have the best chance to hook the “kingly” Chinook along the coast of Lake Michigan – including off piers, in tributary streams – and in the Manistee River, Pere Marquette River and St. Joseph River. When casting for Coho, head to the Manistee River, the Platte River in northern Michigan, the St. Joseph River and the Anna River in the U.P.

Barrier-Free Hikes

All Season

A man in a wheelchair on a paved path in a forest.
Hartwick Pines State Park | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

With hundreds of miles of trails that pop with reds, yellows and oranges during fall, there’s more than one way to enjoy Michigan’s brightest season. The glistening dunes and sparkling turquoise waters of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore make for stunning views from gentle Empire Bluff Trail as well as from the hard surface of the accessible Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Several barrier-free, crushed-stone paths in Rosy Mound Natural Area provide routes with handicapped access points through forested and open areas on the Lake Michigan shore that offer plenty of leaf peeping, water gazing and bird-watching.

The universally-accessible Overlook Trail in the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve outside of Arcadia provides everyone access to its 3,600 acres of woods, dunes and lakeshore that are made even that much more beautiful by autumn’s splendor. If you’re looking for more relaxing and accessible trails to enjoy the changing of the seasons, there’s no shortage in Pure Michigan.

Detroit Month of Design

Stop into Detroit any day during September to experience a unique exploration of design and creativity. The Detroit Month of Design takes over the city with indoor and outdoor exhibitions and installations centered around the theme “United by Design.” As one of only 40 cities in the world to be given the UNESCO City of Design designation – and the only city in the U.S. – Detroit shines as a hub of design expression, education, innovation and celebration.

The festival invites attendees to do more than just experience great design; you’re invited to participate by joining workshops, listening to panel discussions and lectures, and taking special tours. Featuring around 200 artists at more than 80 events spread across Detroit’s neighborhoods, you can fully immerse yourself in design and Detroit.


Downtown Grand Rapids during fall.
Downtown Grand Rapids in the Fall | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

For over a decade people have flocked to Grand Rapids for the world’s most-attended public art event: ArtPrize. This exciting international art competition featuring over a thousand fresh works of art that are displayed for 18 days. In a 3-square-mile block of downtown, local venues and public spaces host the eclectic works so you can browse a variety of art in a museum, church, park or even in a brewery!

Workshops and educational opportunities engage visitors to this entirely free event, while festivals and live performances keep everyone entertained. The best part? Visitors to ArtPrize vote to determine award winners, with the new Visibility Awards that give $15,000 to each winning Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ+ artist.

Frankenmuth Oktoberfest

Frankenmuth’s Oktoberfest is the most authentic you’ll find this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t take our word for it – in 1996 the Lord Mayor Christian Ude and the German Parliament of Munich proclaimed that this celebration in Michigan is the first to operate with the blessing of the original Oktoberfest. It also became the first to import the world-renowned Hofbräuhaus beer from Munich, now the official beer sponsor of Frankenmuth’s Oktoberfest. In addition to celebrating German culture with authentic brews, bites, music and dancing, there are also live performances and a wiener dog race!

The fresh air, fun festivals, vibrant foliage and unparalleled views found in Michigan will transform the way you experience autumn. Explore Pure Michigan’s culture and innovative expression before trekking deeper into the state for peaceful moments in nature.