Is anyone up for an autumn adventure — perhaps a slow drive on a two-lane road under an archway of trees with leaves of red and gold? Many of these canopied drives can be found across the Great Lakes State, along with unique tastes and experiences of a Michigan fall. Just ask your bed and breakfast innkeeper to steer you in a promising direction.
The most famous of these stunning Michigan drives and the only one designated as THE Tunnel of Trees is the 20-mile stretch of M-119 between Cross Village and Harbor Springs in Northwest Michigan. The Tunnel of Trees is a Michigan bucket list item for any time of year, but especially ideal for an autumn adventure. Nicely located to several Charlevoix area B&Bs.
Another famous drive takes you through the UP’s Keweenaw Peninsula from Houghton to Copper Harbor, about 50 miles one way. You can take US-41, but in the spirit of true autumn adventure, experience the less-traveled and more twisty and scenic M-203. This road will take you to an outstanding log-home B&B in Eagle Harbor, Dapple-Gray, featuring Lake Superior views, antiques collected over a lifetime, and Eeyore the donkey.
Don’t miss a stop at the nearby Jampot, where the Poorrock Abbey monks make and sell wild berry preserves, jellies, and other sweet temptations.
Bear Lake B&B in Bear Lake and Dempsey Manor B&B Inn and Victorian Tea Room in Manistee are the starting point for two great drives: Take scenic M-22 north toward Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore or head east into the vast Manistee National Forest. Both routes offer beauty and the opportunity to see wildlife.
Two-lane tree-tunnel drives, some of them unpaved, can even be found close to Metro Detroit. Innkeepers at Maple Cove B&B in Leonard in North Oakland County can direct you to all the lovely byways and bountiful farm stands in the area.
For fall kayaking and canoeing, beauty awaits you on the chain of lakes connecting Bellaire, Central Lake, Ellsworth and Torch Lake. The large photo above by Janet Meteer shows Six-Mile Lake, one in the chain. The innkeepers in any of the excellent B&Bs in these highlighted towns will get you fixed up with a way to get out on the water if you didn’t bring your own vessel.
Or, so long as days are warm, try the Urban Kayak Adventure offered by The Kalamazoo House B&B on the Kalamazoo River. Kayaks and everything else you need are included plus a $25 gift certificate for Arcadia Ales brewery, where this unguided autumn adventure ends.
Tree canopies also envelop parts of many Michigan bike trails, some of them with verticality but many of them oh-so-easy. If you’re one of the many people who abandoned bike riding because of joint problems or because of seats that numb your nether regions, get thee to a quality bike shop. You’ll find many choices today of bikes appropriate for a wide range of physical abilities and fitness levels.
The Hart-Montague Trail is a favorite in NW Michigan. Three reasons to stay at Hart House B&B in Hart:
- The trail’s northernmost trailhead is close.
- The innkeepers offer items for bike repair as well as storage.
- And then there’s the warm, soothing water of their outdoor hot tub at the end of your ride.
If you start at the southern end of the Hart-Montague trail, choose from three excellent B&Bs in Whitehall.
Fall provides many new and fleeting reasons to belly up to a bar. Brews like Bell’s Cherry Stout, Founder’s Harvest Ale and the many pumpkin beers are available only in autumn and in limited distribution.
For best access to seasonal beers that may be in short supply, go to the sources. For example, the craft beer walking tours offered by Kalamazoo House B&B let you sample brews at multiple pubs and breweries that enrich Kalamazoo’s great beer scene — all without getting into a car.
Three craft breweries that are making a reputation for themselves in Ludington are within walking distance or a short drive from your choice of three B&Bs.
Of course, Grand Rapids is also famous for its craft beer scene, and you’ll find outstanding B&Bs there.
Mugs fill to overflowing at stops all along the Michigan craft beer trail, which winds through almost every Michigan town of size, from Ann Arbor to Zeeland. And in so many towns like these two you’ll find an obliging innkeeper — at Stone Chalet B&B Inn in Ann Arbor or at Baert Baron Mansion in Zeeland — who will refrigerate your growler so you can enjoy it at home.
And then there’s the harvest of wine grapes. Loyal Michigan oenophiles are practically obligated to tour, to taste, to compare. You’ll find many fine B&Bs located within five minutes or less of a winery or tasting room.
When you stay at Chateau Chantal on Old Mission Peninsula, you have a commanding view of the surrounding vineyards and of East or West Grand Traverse Bay from your room or from the large patio. Wine tasting, wine-paired multi-course dinners, and Wine Boot Camp are just some of the experiences you can enjoy here.
Glen Arbor B&B and Cottages takes full advantage of its location on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail by offering two winery-immersion weekends in early November. Each weekend includes touring select vineyards by chauffeured coach with a ticket that gets you food-wine pairings at each stop plus two-night stay and third night complimentary.
If you stay at Glen Arbor B&B on other fall days, the wineries are open, the shops are discounting their goods, and the Heritage Trail is great for biking.
On a sunny late afternoon drive, both M-22 around the peninsula and Pierce Stocking Drive into Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore can provide that golden tree-canopy experience that only an autumn adventure can provide.
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