As the leaves begin their spectacular transformation from lush greens to fiery reds, vibrant oranges, and golden yellows and browns, there’s no better time to visit the Glen Lake area. Nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan, Glen Arbor is a hidden gem among fall color destinations. This charming town, located on the stunning Leelanau Peninsula, offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural experiences that make it a must-visit destination for those seeking the quintessential autumn experience.
M22: A Scenic Fall Drive Like No Other
Glen Arbor’s fame as a fall color destination is partially thanks to the legendary M22, which has been voted one of the USA’s best scenic fall drives. This iconic route takes you through enchanting forests, along the winding Lake Michigan shoreline, and over rolling hills adorned with a kaleidoscope of autumn hues. Plan a leisurely drive (or bike!) along M22 to soak in the breathtaking views and snap photos of the colorful foliage reflected in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan.
Leelanau Peninsula: A Treasure Trove of Fall Activities
The Leelanau Peninsula offers a diverse range of activities for fall enthusiasts. Here are some of the highlights:
- Wine Tasting: The peninsula is home to numerous wineries and vineyards, making it a paradise for wine lovers. Take a scenic wine tour and savor the region’s award-winning wines, all while surrounded by fall’s stunning palette. (Glen Arbor Wine Trail • Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail)
- Shopping and Dining: Glen Arbor boasts charming boutique shops and local eateries that are perfect for browsing unique gifts, enjoying a cozy meal, or sipping on cider and pumpkin-flavored treats.
- Art and Culture: Explore the local art scene with galleries showcasing the works of talented artists. The vibrant fall colors serve as inspiration for many of these creative minds.
- Hiking and Scenic Trails: The crisp autumn air and mild weather make it an ideal time for hiking and exploring the numerous scenic trails in the area. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, just a short drive away, offers some of the most iconic trails in the Midwest. (View the Shops)
- Perfect Weather for Outdoor Adventures: Fall in Glen Arbor comes with mild temperatures and lower humidity, and less bugs, creating an ideal environment for outdoor adventures. Whether you prefer hiking, biking, boating or simply taking leisurely strolls along the shoreline, the weather during this season is sure to enhance your experience. Don’t forget to pack your camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes. (Browse Things to Do)
- Fishing at its peak: One of the highlights of fishing in the Leelanau Peninsula during late September and early October is the salmon running. They start migrating from Lake Michigan into the rivers and streams to spawn. This provides an excellent opportunity for anglers to target these prized sportfish. Whether you prefer freshwater fishing in the inland lakes and rivers or heading out onto Lake Michigan for some offshore action, the Leelanau Peninsula offers a wide range of fishing opportunities. From casting your line in quiet, scenic streams to trolling for big game fish in the open water, there’s something for every angler. In addition to salmon and trout, the Leelanau Peninsula offers opportunities to catch a variety of other fish species, including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pike, perch, and more. (See local Charter Fishing companies)
- Less Crowded: The peak tourist season typically winds down after Labor Day, which means fewer crowds on and off the water. This can lead to a more peaceful and enjoyable experience without the hustle and bustle of the summer months. (Browse our Business Directory)
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: This iconic drive is a must-visit destination if you’re seeking breathtaking views that this area of northern Michigan is known for. Located within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on the Leelanau Peninsula, this 7.4-mile loop winds through dense forests, climbs towering sand dunes, and offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan and Glen Lake. Plan an hour to be on the drive. A Park Pass is required. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is typically open from late April to early November, but it’s best to check the official National Park Service website for current hours and accessibility.
Glen Arbor, Michigan, and the Leelanau Peninsula are an idyllic setting for creating unforgettable memories. From the mesmerizing drive along M22 to the delightful wine tastings, shopping sprees, and outdoor escapades, Glen Arbor has something for everyone to enjoy during the autumn season. Make this charming lakeside town your fall color destination.
Watch our video on YouTube promoting travel to Glen Arbor for your Leelanau fall color tours.