Plenty of Michiganders know that there’s no better place to get a taste of fall color than Northern Michigan. Every fall, Cross Village floods with visitors from all over the state (and the world) looking to catch a glimpse of the famous autumn glow. But there is much more to Cross Village in autumn than just fall foliage, spectacular though it may be!
In our many fall seasons at the Cross Village shopfront, we’ve learned a thing or two about the lesser-known treasures that hide around Northwest Michigan. Here’s our guide to the best experiences of autumn in and around Cross Village.
We had to start with a classic, right? The Tunnel of Trees is widely known as the spot for prime fall colors. But we’ll let you in on a little secret: our favorite places for spectacular foliage are the smaller side roads. Take a look at the map below to see our favorite routes, and a few other spots with beautiful views.
Taking less-visited roads will likely give you a better shot at some wildlife-watching and foraging. Autumn is a great time to look for all sorts of mushrooms hiding around tree stumps! If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a quintessential Northern Michigan bird, like the pileated woodpecker.
If you’re an avid bird-watcher or you want to learn a little more about the abundant wildlife, plants, and fungi of Michigan, take a look at our book section! We have various nature guides, from more detailed Michigan birdwatching guides to travel-friendly laminated pocket guides for North American mushrooms.
If you’re trying to time your weekend trip with “peak” fall color, be sure to follow us at @mipeninsulas on Instagram and Facebook. It can be tricky to get the timing right, and there’s a lot of watching and waiting. But when the color hits its peak, we always make a social media post announcing it!
Fall is a great time to visit us at our shop in Cross Village! It’s also your last chance for the season because we close our northern shop for the winter. So don’t forget to take advantage of that golden fall light and take a photo in front of our Cross Village mural!
The Cross Village shop is worth taking a look around. A historic gift shop, Co-owners Robert and Sherri purchased the building several years ago and used their combined talents to refurbish and redesign it into a charming, retro-styled cabin. Robert and Sherri also have a passion for finding and displaying vintage treasures like old canoe paddles and deer antlers. You’ll never know what you might see!
And, of course, our shop items are the perfect complement to the fall season. Whether you’re looking for a warm Stormy Kromer cap, a cozy sweater for the fall chill, or simply a well-designed souvenir magnet, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s where we get into our lesser-known fall favorites. This picture-perfect barn is called the Pumpkin Barn, and it’ll have you going out of your gourd! ;-) Some talented farmers run this barn because you can find almost every variety of pumpkin and squash you could think of. Cream and orange, knobby or smooth, spotted-green, big or little, it’s all here.
A peek into the shopfront reveals more treats like locally made jams and jellies, apple cider, and crafted goods. Plus, they’ll often sell bags of Michigan apples, which provides the perfect opportunity to get some fresh apples for an Autumn Apple Crisp!
If you’re the type to pick up a pumpkin (or two, or ten) on the way home, this is a must-visit.
The autumn season in Michigan just doesn’t feel complete without at least one trip out to a cider mill or apple orchard. Other folks might swear by Blake’s Orchard or Gull Meadows, but our favorite cider spot in Northern Michigan is Pond Hill Farm.
Pond Hill Farm is a great visit no matter the time of year, but they offer all sorts of extra activities in autumn. Of course, there are all the traditional favorites, like cider and doughnuts, hayrides, and a pumpkin patch, but that’s not all. They also have some fun twists on the tradition, like pumpkin bowling!
Pond Hill offers the widest variety of activities on the weekends. Many a Peninsulas team member has spent the afternoon petting goats, walking the grounds, and having lunch at the onsite patio bar there.
You might balk at the idea of swimming in the fall, but it’s not uncommon to see Michiganders don a hoodie over their swimsuit before heading off to the shore! The water can be a little chilly, but you’ll find folks who prefer to think of it as refreshing. Besides, even if you don’t go for a swim, just a walk in the fresh lake air with the cool sand under your feet is worth it.
The lakes tend to get a little less crowded when the temperatures dip, so the Lake Michigan shoreline in fall is the perfect place for a peaceful walk. It also means there are fewer folks around to find the good Petoskey stones, which is a plus for any visiting rockhounds.
Speaking of rocks, why not take the opportunity to practice a little rock-skipping? Robert is a pretty skilled stone-skipper. If you visit the Cross Village beach after store hours, you might even find him out there, teaching a friend the perfect stone-skipping technique.
And of course, like in all other seasons, Lake Michigan fall sunsets are radiant. They just happen a little earlier this time of year.
Now that the nights are cooler, that bonfire will feel so much cozier! This is the perfect time to scout out a space for a good old-fashioned campfire. Pack some warm socks, pour a hot cup of coffee, and gather some friends. The Peninsulas family has tons of fun telling stories, riddles, and jokes around the bonfire. Don’t forget the s’mores! Find 6 of our favorite twists on the classic s’more recipe here.
Several nearby state parks are perfect for a night under the stars if you want to make it an overnight camping experience. Try the campgrounds north of Cross Village at Wilderness State park and Headlands International Dark Sky Park, or to the south at Petoskey State Park. Want to keep track of any last-minute camping spots that open? Use the “Notify Me” feature on the Michigan DNR website at https://midnrreservations.com/.
We’re huge fans of stargazing at Peninsulas. Wilderness and Headlands are well-known spots for seeing stars, planets, and comets! If you’re looking to get a glimpse of a constellation or the Milky Way, we recommend this star gazing guide: lightweight, laminated, and perfect for the beginner and experienced! For an intro to the wonderful world of stargazing, read our Top 6 Tips for Stargazing in Michigan.
Fall in Northern Michigan is a beautiful time of year. We at Peninsulas hope you enjoy these fall activities that have brought us so much joy over the past few years!
Are you planning your next Northern Michigan adventure? Did you visit one of our fall favorites? Tag us @mipeninsulas and show us what you’re up to!