Today I’m bringing you one of my biggest joys: FALL FOLIAGE!!! In my opinion, October is the prettiest and best month of the year. While planning my usual fall road trip, I knew I had to see the Traverse City fall colors in Northern Michigan.
Considering how much nature surrounds that area, we were able to easily drive through other towns and see more Michigan fall colors including the beautiful Old Mission Peninsula.
Autumn seriously makes my heart sing. I love when the temperature starts to drop to that (usually) perfect degree where it’s cool enough to wear your light jacket and finally order a hot chocolate.
I always look forward to that “cozy” feeling (especially during the muggy summer days). I’m sure I go against the grain here when I say that I’m a cold season girl through and through.
But of course, the absolute best thing about October is the foliage. The abundance of color that takes over the towns is just breathtaking. I forever want to take as much of it in.
So that’s why I plan these life-giving getaways. It gives Jorge and me a chance to relax, enjoy nature at its prettiest, and explore a new city.
Traverse City Fall Colors
Traverse City is my favorite place in Michigan, but I’ve only visited a handful of towns in that area so far. The city is a good base if you want to explore the nearby parks or do some wine tastings in Old Mission Peninsula (and beyond).
Traverse has a lot to offer, but the colors are worth the visit alone. You’ll find the peak fall colors in Michigan are around mid to end of October. The Upper Peninsula hits peak sooner than that.
Lodging Near Traverse City Michigan
We’ve been to Traverse City twice already and each time we loved our stays. I’ll link those for you below. If you plan to visit Michigan during the fall season make sure you book way ahead of time because those are popular dates!
Tamarack Lodge– My favorite stay so far! We didn’t stay here during our fall trip, but we did visit in the wintertime to take advantage of their in-room fireplaces. It’s located near everything including the road that leads to the Old Mission Peninsula.
The Tamarack is situated right along the lake. I believe each room is an actual condo. They each have a full kitchen, fireplace, and balcony. I wanted to move in! The condos are “cabin-like” in their decor, the staff is friendly, and parking is included.
We stayed in the Pine Cone room and it was perfect for our relaxing getaway. The windows in the photo below are now doors opening to a patio. Check availability here.
Fireside Lodge and Cabins– We had a good experience in these little cabins. They’re more like small homes, less like cabins. They are located 20 minutes away from Traverse City in Kingsley, Michigan but the drive in the fall is beautiful.
The inside decor was unique, and the place was spotless. The area was great, quiet, and peaceful. I slept wonderfully that weekend. It was so relaxing to get away from the noisy city even if only for a few days. This was the drive right down the road:
Unique Places to Stay in Michigan
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The photos on this post are half of the Old Mission. It’s a beautiful area and a simple drive up one single road.
Places to Eat in Traverse City
Mama Lu’s– It’s a modern-day taco shop. I’m usually not into these types of places, but the reviews were excellent so we gave it a shot. All the food we had was delicious! So much so that we went back the next day (for takeout), and revisited when we returned to Traverse in the winter. Their tacos change often but don’t miss the street corn, it’s some kind of wonderful.
Morsels Espresso + Edibles– Definitely get their biscuit sandwiches. And, don’t leave without getting some of their morsels. They’re bite-sized pieces of goodness (think tiny cupcakes).
Higher Grounds Coffee– Jorge is always seeking out the best coffee shops in any city and he loved this one!
BLK MRKT– Another great cafe with fantastic interiors. There’s also a cute shop connected to it where you can browse and pick up something for your home.
Trattoria Stella– We didn’t get a chance to try this place, but we want to if we head back to Traverse. It’s a well-rated Italian restaurant inside a former insane asylum. Interesting right?
Northern Michigan Road Trip
After checking into our cabin, we drove from Kingsley to Sleeping Bear Dunes but had a hard time finding anywhere to pull over for photos. The drive sure was beautiful though. We then drove up to the town of Leland, and back down and around Lake Leelanau. Stopped here for some photos:
If we had more time we would’ve driven up to Northport and down past Sutton Bay as well.
Old Mission Peninsula
My favorite part of the whole drive has to be the Old Mission Peninsula. It’s just a straight shot up M-37 from Traverse City’s main Front Street. You can likely drive the entire way straight in 20 minutes, but with all the great stops it will take a lot longer than that.
It took us hours to drive the road. I couldn’t stop taking photos and that’s a good problem to have. In the spring, the peninsula is dotted with beautiful cherry blossom trees.
The town has a cool festival (sometime in May depending on the bloom) to celebrate the arrival of nicer weather and you can join wine tours making stops along the road.
In the winter, you can join the locals on the frozen lake and do some ice fishing, or go sledding, snow tubing, possibly even winter hiking.
Best Winery in Traverse City
As mentioned, Old Mission Peninsula (which runs right out of Traverse City) is lined with fantastic wineries. You can also find some great wines in other nearby towns like Bel Lago Vineyards in Cedar, MI or Rover Estate near the center of Traverse City, MI.
So far we’ve only tried a few on the peninsula, but Northern Michigan is a place we’ll be returning to again and again so I’m certain this list will grow.
Bowers Harbor Vineyards– We started off by supporting this dog-inspired winery. They have different wines named after all of their dogs, and tons of dog-loving stuff in their shop. We tried cider for the first time and bought one too many bottles of wine to bring home.
We even brought back a treat for our good friend Wallace (a terrier mix we’re both kinda in love with). The lovely lady who was teaching us about the wines also told us about the views at Brys Estate Vineyards, so we had to head over there as well! Keep in mind most wineries close at 5-6 pm.
Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery– She wasn’t lying about these views.
We found great seats and ordered some drinks, a cheese platter, and just sat back to take it all in. It was the perfect end to our foliage-filled weekend.
If you want to do several tastings, it may be best to check out the wine tours available. There are actual shuttles that will drive you from Traverse City up and down the peninsula! You can check out more of those options HERE.
Love fall drives as much as me? Check out these guides next:
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