Gas up your car and head out to find some of the best scenic spots in Michigan and surrounding areas for 12 Scenic Fall Road Trip Ideas In The Midwest
12 Scenic Fall Road Trip Ideas In The Midwest
My goal each year is to find new places to explore around the Midwest. Although winter and spring around here are iffy, summer and fall in Michigan are downright gorgeous. There are a ton of great outdoor activities, scenic views, beaches, and other attractions that make Michigan one of the best places to be in those seasons. As a life-long Michigander, I’ve seen quite a few of those scenic places to vouch for its glory, but I still have a lot to cover. I’ve put together a list of really cool and scenic fall road trips ideas in the Midwest. Most of these locations are in Michigan (hey, I’m biased), but I’ve included a few other spots that are worth the drive throughout the Midwest!
Taking a road trip means I will be fueling the Sorento up a few times since most of these destinations are several hours from my starting location. I’ve shared before how I’m fueling my road trips, with Shell and the *Fuel Rewards® program. It’s a great way to save money on gas when you fuel up, shop online, dine out, travel, make day-to-day purchases from participating merchants, and other card-linked offers, you are earning Fuel Rewards®.
Right now is a great time to sign up because Shell is offering Instant Gold Status to all Fuel Rewards program members. Having Gold Status means you will earn 5 cents off per gallon (up to 20 gallons/visit)! It’s free and it took me less than a minute to sign up.
Plus, once you’re signed up, you can send your referral link to friends and family through 2017 so they can join the Fuel Rewards program. The first time a friend uses the program after using the link to sign up, and earns a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station, you will instantly earn 25¢/gal. And there's no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn.
Sign up here and start taking advantage of Gold Status on your fall road trips!
Traverse City, Michigan. Known as one of the best places to take a road trip to in the fall and summer, is the picturesque Traverse City. With the turning of the leaves, the cool weather, and all of the wine tours and good food, fall is my favorite time to visit Traverse City! With wineries like Black Star Farm, and the well-known Jolly Pumpkin Distillery and Brewery, Traverse City gives you the food and spirits, as well as scenic views from Sleeping Bear Dunes. And of course, you have to make a stop by Grand Traverse Pie for sweet treats.
Mackinaw Island, Michigan. Another beautiful island to visit this fall is Mackinaw Island (and Mackinaw City). It’s easy to see why this beautiful spot is the #1 destination vacation spot in Michigan and brings in visitors from all over the world. Leave the car on the mainland, and hop a ferry over to the Island to take in fudge at Ryba’s, go on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the island, and have dinner while enjoying the sunset at the Inn at Stonecliff. The next morning you can get up early to catch the sunrise from Arch Rock. Trust me, I’m not a morning person, but it was worth all the sleep I lost to capture nature waking up. While you’re there, you can kayak under the Mackinaw Bridge (such a cool experience), go on a hike throughout Mackinaw State Park, as well as take a bike ride around the island. A favorite for many families and a place you may have visited as a child is Fort Mackinac. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Straits of Mackinac was once a strategic landmark for the American, British and French forces. This is definitely a must-do on the Island and in the City.
Hocking Hills, Ohio. I recently came back from a brief visit to Hocking Hills. My friends have been telling me about this area for a few years, but I had to see it for myself. Just an hour from Columbus, this spot is a great destination for road trippers to spend time outdoors inhaling the peace and beauty of nature.
Marquette, Michigan. This is a popular destination for many Michiganders during the summer and fall seasons. Located in the Upper Peninsula, and along the shorelines of Lake Superior, Marquette, the biggest city in the U.P. has a lot to offer. You can take a 2-hour hike to Hogsback Mountain or Sugarloaf Mountain. You can quickly capture the pure essence of fall by the Dead River, a 42-mile river broken up by waterfalls and rock faces over 30 feet high. You can also take a jump off Black Rocks cliff, and check out the many beaches and foodie spots around the city.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore/Munising, Michigan. Known as America’s First National Lakeshore, stretching 37 miles, this beautiful spot features 15 miles of multicolored sandstone cliffs, 12 miles of sandy beach and 5 square miles of sand dunes. Munising is not far from Marquette, so it’s easy to visit both areas in a day. For the best views of Pictured Rocks, I suggest taking a kayak out to really inhale one of Michigan’s top beautiful spots in the state. Tip: Miners Falls, Chapel Falls, and Chapel Rock, is also located in the same area, so be sure to add those spots to your list.
- Visit 300 falls in the Upper Peninsula. The U.P. is home to all of Michigan’s waterfalls, except one. You will find 300 falls throughout the Upper Peninsula, ranging in size from 5 feet to 48 feet vertical drops. They are beautiful to capture in the fall with brown and orange leaves floating in the background.
Road Trip around Michigan’s Shipwreck Coast. Since you’re already planning to visit Pictured Lakes, touring the Shipwreck attractions in the U.P. is a definite must to your travel bucket list. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum will give you a ton of great information on how this area of the U.P. got its name. You can also take a glass-bottom boat tour to see how the sailing ships sunk to their demise in the clear and frigid waters of Lake Superior.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan. The state’s only national park, Isle Royale is a must-visit place on our bucket list. If you love being outdoors and adventurous, Isle Royale is the place to go. Do keep in mind they close the Island (due to extreme weather conditions) at the end of October. Not only can you soak in all of the beautiful fall colors, but you can also backpack over 165 miles of trails, sea kayak, fish, canoe, scuba dive on Lake Superior, and even capture some of Michigan’s wildlife. Tip: You will need to take the ferry to get there, and reservations are highly recommended.
Wooster, Ohio. Another little gem from Ohio is the town of Wooster. Visiting during the fall months means cooler, but comfortable weather. It’s a great road trip destination for foodies. One of the main attractions to the Northeast Ohio area is Pine Tree Barn. Pine Tree Barn is a restored Dutch bank barn featuring over 25,000 square feet of furniture, home decor, and all things Christmas. You can step out on to the back porch to get a beautiful view of fall and Christmas at the same time. You can also head down to the Kidron area (also known as Amish country) for a stop at Lehman’s, another popular destination. There you will find everything homestead related, including the kitchen sink. While you’re in the area, walk across the street to Quince Bakery for a huge breakfast sandwich.
Indiana State Dunes Park/Chesterton, Indiana. I’ve had friends tell me this is a beautiful destination for a fall road trip. Just off the coastline of Lake Michigan, many visitors have nicknamed this area the “Grand Canyon of the Midwest”. You can also get a great view of the Chicago skyline from this location, as well as take easy-to-moderate hikes around the area.
The Grand Canyon of Michigan. Did you know Michigan has a version of the Grand Canyon? Officially known as Canyon Fall and Gorge, located in the U.P., this spot offers breathtaking views. To get to the falls, a short hike takes you through a forest, where you will see Michigan’s falling of the leaves at it’s finest. Once you get to the falls, just shortly past it is where you will find the Canyon Gorge or “The Grand Canyon of Michigan.”
Petoskey, Michigan. I’ve grown to love this area over the past few years. The drive up north from Mid-Michigan is a trip within itself, but the little town of Petoskey offers a lot! This quaint town offers wine tours, shopping downtown at Grandpa Shorter’s, plus a stop at the McLean & Eakin Booksellers is a fun treat. For those who love books (and cats), this is a certified jewel. This fine establishment is rated one of the top independent bookstores in the country. Be sure to have lunch at City Park Grill; they have the BEST rolls! Get more ideas on what to do in the Petoskey area.
Take a Fall Color Tour in Michigan (or other parts of the Midwest). You can easily google Fall Color Tours in your area, or head to a CVB’s website to find information about a Fall Color Tour near you. From the thumb to the tip of Michigan, you will find a variety of ways to see why this state is a great place to be during the fall. Depending on your location, many tours are offered via a train ride across the state. Most colors peak at the beginning of October, so that’s the best time to plan your tour.
Whew, what a list! I will not be able to cover everything on this list, but my plan is to pick 2-3 destinations this fall and tackle the rest next year. What are some of your favorite places to visit during the fall? Drop me a line below and let me know.
Plus, be sure to sign up for the Fuel Rewards® program, and get .5 cents off per gallon with the Instant Gold Status!
Other things to do this Fall:
- The 25 Best Fall Bucket List Ideas for Families
- Spectacular Fall Travel Destinations To Visit Soon
- 99 Free or Cheap Fall Date Night Ideas
- 5 Free Fall Date Night Ideas
*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period.” If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period.” The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period.” You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period.” During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shell. The opinions and text are all mine.
AnnMarie John says
Maybe if I visit you’ll be able to take me to a few of those places. They all sound lovely! I got my Shell card this summer when we were on our own road trip but I don’t use it as much as I should since my closest Shell gas station isn’t too close. 🙁
Mimi Green says
I haven’t taken a nice fall road trip in years. Growing up my Mom would take me to Shanendoah to see the beautiful leaves. I need to do this with my kids so they have the same memories.
Nancy at Whispered Inspirations says
I love taking fall road trips! It is so beautiful. The colours, the sweaters, the breeze. Great memories created on these kind of road trips.
We went on a road trip to the Blueridge Parkway a few years ago when the colors were at their peak and it was gorgeous. I have a friend who lives in Michigan. I hope we get to visit her one of these days and visit those places too.
I love your beautiful photos. Fall is my favorite season. The red and orange leaves are always picture perfect. We still have a bit before the leaves change here. I can’t wait.
You featured some beautiful destinations. It is so fun exploring new areas. I havent been to the Midwest area yet. Hopefully one day.