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Find the Best of Leaf Peeping in Traverse City, Michigan

by Mary Melnick

Aug 11, 2023

© Traverse City Tourism


With cooler weather and autumn around the corner, the coastal Midwest town of Traverse City in Michigan offers the perfect destination for discovering the colors of fall. Travelers and locals alike can celebrate the changing of the seasons in Traverse City as the onset of harvest season is a prime time to explore the Traverse Wine Coast and enjoy leaf-peeping opportunities.

For those hopping in the car on a road trip throughout the region, stop at these top spots:

Old Mission Peninsula

The nearly two-hour scenic drive through Old Mission Peninsula features orchards, vineyards, forests and villages decorated with the colors of fall. Take the M-37 north from Traverse City and enjoy charming restaurants, wine tours, road-side fruit stands and the stunning East Bay shoreline. Continue to the quaint village of Old Mission, the oldest permanent settlement in the region. While there, stop by Mission Point Lighthouse, a quintessential piece of Michigan’s maritime history. During the fall months, beautiful orange and yellow forests surround the lighthouse.

© Traverse City Tourism

Benzie County

Just to the northwest of Traverse City, framed by miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, lies Benzie County, known for being exceptionally hilly and forested. It’s also home to a half-dozen cozy towns to explore, one being Lake Ann, the halfway point from Traverse City to renowned Sleeping Bear Dunes. As one of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, featuring sweeping vistas, freshwater beaches, massive sand dunes and miles of hiking trails, it’s one of the region’s top attractions. For vibrant fall colors, take Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and be fully submerged in the changing leaves of the surrounding trees.

The Leelanau Peninsula

From Traverse City, visitors can explore the fall colors of the Leelanau Peninsula while driving north on iconic M-22, which offers the best views of Grand Traverse Bay when looking to the right. At the tip of Leelanau Peninsula, Leelanau State Park offers more than 1,550 acres of foliage. The restored and historically accurate Grand Traverse Lighthouse offers beautiful views of the surrounding woods and waters, as well as tours for visitors.


© Traverse City Tourism

Crystal Mountain

For a unique stop with loads of fall programming, family-owned Crystal Mountain Resort offers a beautiful stay just outside of Traverse City. The resort features more than 260 lodging units, downhill trails, cross-country skiing trails, golf courses, Michigan’s only alpine slide, an outdoor pool and water playground, and rooftop terrace. During the fall, the property’s surrounding trees turn shades of red, yellow and orange. Starting Oct. 7, guests can experience the colors in a unique way through Scenic Chairlift Rides.







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