Coastal Colors

From Pointe aux Barques to Tawas, enjoy autumn’s dazzling beauty with a day trip along Huron’s shore and beyond.

Dynamic colors along Michigan’s tree-lined coastal and country roads feature rich and breathtaking beauty. Lake Huron’s shoreline offers a spectacular autumn panorama in vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow—the perfect backdrop to enjoy and explore Huron’s treasures.

Celebrate the season with a drive along Lake Huron’s shore, and be prepared for a fun-filled day exploring the region’s magnificence. Wear sturdy shoes as you listen to leaves crunching underfoot while hiking along trails in the finest tree-filled state parks along Lake Huron. Explore two shoreline lighthouses, each offering a unique vantage point to witness the blazing glory of fall.

Stop at one of Michigan’s biggest and best farmers markets to find a plethora of autumn’s bounty. Pack a cooler filled with picnic delights to sample on an inland adventure or while watching the sun set over Tawas Bay.

Lace your shoes for a lofty view.

Tour the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse, which is still an active aid to navigation (7320 Lighthouse Rd, 6 miles north of Port Hope or 12 miles south of Port Austin, just off M-25 in Lighthouse County Park, Port Hope, 989-428-3035, www.pointeauxbarqueslighthouse.org), and climb the 89-foot-tall, 103-step tower, with its attached keeper’s dwelling, for a bird’s-eye view of the season at its finest. One tower window provides an endless view of Lake Huron’s waters, and another offers a fall-inspired palette of colorful treetops. (Call ahead for scheduled tower climb dates.) The Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Museum displays its restored 3rd Order Fresnel lens, along with historical artifacts relating to the lighthouse and its keepers, the surfmen who risked their lives to save sailors off the rocky shoals of the Pointe, and area shipwrecks.

Tantalize your taste buds.

The Port Austin Farmers Market (W State St and Line St, downtown Port Austin, 989-738-7600, www.portaustinfarmersmarket.com) is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. through mid-October. With over 150 vendors, the market is a cornucopia of autumn goodness: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, gourds, potatoes, pumpkins, apples, pears, and more! Taste the tang of apple cider and crunch freshly canned garlic pickles as you stroll around the tantalizing choices. Decorate with homespun crafts, stock the pantry with homemade jams and jellies, spruce up home and yard with fall blooms of sunflowers and a rainbow of mums, and ward off autumn’s chill with a handmade blanket or afghan. The Port Austin Farmers Market is as tantalizing to the taste buds as it is visually pleasing—a must-stop on your fall color tour adventure!

Experience the wonder of nature.

With 600 acres of woods and three miles of sandy shoreline on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, Port Crescent State Park (1775 Port Austin Rd, 5 miles southwest of Port Austin on M-25, Port Austin, 989-738-8663, www.michigan.gov/portcrescent) is a mecca for nature enthusiasts. In the day-use area, a wooden boardwalk parallels the shoreline, offering scenic views of Saginaw Bay, and 3½ miles of wood-chipped trails welcome birders, hikers, and joggers with an invitation to enjoy nature’s simplicity. Red oak and cottonwood colors peak at September’s end through mid-October. (A Recreation Passport is required to enter Michigan’s state parks and waterways.)

Venture inland.

The Country Village (2787 N Van Dyke, 12 miles south of Port Austin on M-53, Bad Axe, 989-269-2113), with its century-old, authentic, wooden barn and church, along with four village buildings, is a shopper’s paradise with a huge half-price sale throughout the store. The Country Village offers high-end decor and beautiful furnishings at cost or below wholesale, from quality silk floral arrangements and furniture to clocks and chandeliers. Stroll through this quaint village, and enjoy its festive displays. Autumn-themed garlands, statuaries, door wreaths, and accents of decorative pumpkins and gourds will add a festive touch to your home. The Country Village is open daily from Memorial Day through December 1 (call for hours of operation near the season’s end).

Explore!

The Bay City State Recreation Area (3582 State Park Dr, Bay City, 989-684-3020, www.michigan.gov/baycity) is the perfect place to appreciate autumn’s splendor. It is home to Tobico Marsh, one of the largest remaining freshwater coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes and an ideal staging area for migratory birds. Varied trails offer opportunities to see wildlife, wooded wetlands, forested beaches, and the open shoreline habitat, complete with trailside displays containing recorded messages to aid visitors as they explore. Native trees showcasing spectacular colors by early October include maple, oak, paper birch, hackberry, basswood, and black cherry. Shoreline spotting scopes and a boardwalk offer panoramic views of the bay, and two 40-foot observation towers offer a magnificent lookout over this wooded wetland decked out in autumn finery.

Pack a picnic.

Williams Cheese Company (998 N Huron Rd, just off I-75 on M-13, Linwood, 800-968-4492, www.williamscheese.com) started its cheese business using an old barn as a warehouse along Michigan’s Saginaw Bay. Today, Williams Cheese Company produces, ages, and packages more than 6 million pounds of cheese annually. Plan a picnic for dinner, complete with cheese spreads, dips, and sauces manufactured in Linwood. Celebrating its 70th year, Williams Cheese Company is the oldest family-held cheese company in Michigan. Traditional cheese varieties include Mild Cheddar or Extra Sharp Pinconning, and more adventurous flavors include Hot Jalapeño Pepper or Roasted Garlic. Williams Horseradish Cheese Spread, renowned throughout the Midwest, and the award-winning Smoked Swiss Cheese Spread are must-haves. Williams Cheese Company has all the supplies you’ll need to enjoy a tasty picnic on your shoreline tour.

Savor the sunset.

Travel north and enjoy your picnic at Tawas Point State Park (686 Tawas Beach Rd, East Tawas, 989-362-5041, www.michigan.gov/tawaspoint), and after, explore the Tawas Point Lighthouse (989-362-5658, www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse). Located within Tawas Point State Park, the Tawas Point Lighthouse is a Victorian-style station in operation since 1876. Tour the lighthouse, and work off dinner with an 85-step tower climb. Check out the museum’s displays, and walk the grounds to see historic structures, including an oil house and a fog signal area. Hike along the park’s trails and walk the beach. Tawas Point is also a birder’s paradise, particularly during the spring and fall migration seasons, so bring your binoculars and camera. End the day with a spectacular view of the sun setting over Tawas Bay.


From Pointe aux Barques to Tawas, enjoy autumn’s dazzling beauty with a day trip along Huron’s shore and beyond.

Dynamic colors along Michigan’s tree-lined coastal and country roads feature rich and breathtaking beauty. Lake Huron’s shoreline offers a spectacular autumn panorama in vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow—the perfect backdrop to enjoy and explore Huron’s treasures.

Celebrate the season with a drive along Lake Huron’s shore, and be prepared for a fun-filled day exploring the region’s magnificence. Wear sturdy shoes as you listen to leaves crunching underfoot while hiking along trails in the finest tree-filled state parks along Lake Huron. Explore two shoreline lighthouses, each offering a unique vantage point to witness the blazing glory of fall.

Stop at one of Michigan’s biggest and best farmers markets to find a plethora of autumn’s bounty. Pack a cooler filled with picnic delights to sample on an inland adventure or while watching the sun set over Tawas Bay.

Lace your shoes for a lofty view.

Tour the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse, which is still an active aid to navigation (7320 Lighthouse Rd, 6 miles north of Port Hope or 12 miles south of Port Austin, just off M-25 in Lighthouse County Park, Port Hope, 989-428-3035, www.pointeauxbarqueslighthouse.org), and climb the 89-foot-tall, 103-step tower, with its attached keeper’s dwelling, for a bird’s-eye view of the season at its finest. One tower window provides an endless view of Lake Huron’s waters, and another offers a fall-inspired palette of colorful treetops. (Call ahead for scheduled tower climb dates.) The Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Museum displays its restored 3rd Order Fresnel lens, along with historical artifacts relating to the lighthouse and its keepers, the surfmen who risked their lives to save sailors off the rocky shoals of the Pointe, and area shipwrecks.

Tantalize your taste buds.

The Port Austin Farmers Market (W State St and Line St, downtown Port Austin, 989-738-7600, www.portaustinfarmersmarket.com) is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. through mid-October. With over 150 vendors, the market is a cornucopia of autumn goodness: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, gourds, potatoes, pumpkins, apples, pears, and more! Taste the tang of apple cider and crunch freshly canned garlic pickles as you stroll around the tantalizing choices. Decorate with homespun crafts, stock the pantry with homemade jams and jellies, spruce up home and yard with fall blooms of sunflowers and a rainbow of mums, and ward off autumn’s chill with a handmade blanket or afghan. The Port Austin Farmers Market is as tantalizing to the taste buds as it is visually pleasing—a must-stop on your fall color tour adventure!

Experience the wonder of nature.

With 600 acres of woods and three miles of sandy shoreline on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, Port Crescent State Park (1775 Port Austin Rd, 5 miles southwest of Port Austin on M-25, Port Austin, 989-738-8663, www.michigan.gov/portcrescent) is a mecca for nature enthusiasts. In the day-use area, a wooden boardwalk parallels the shoreline, offering scenic views of Saginaw Bay, and 3½ miles of wood-chipped trails welcome birders, hikers, and joggers with an invitation to enjoy nature’s simplicity. Red oak and cottonwood colors peak at September’s end through mid-October. (A Recreation Passport is required to enter Michigan’s state parks and waterways.)

Venture inland.

The Country Village (2787 N Van Dyke, 12 miles south of Port Austin on M-53, Bad Axe, 989-269-2113), with its century-old, authentic, wooden barn and church, along with four village buildings, is a shopper’s paradise with a huge half-price sale throughout the store. The Country Village offers high-end decor and beautiful furnishings at cost or below wholesale, from quality silk floral arrangements and furniture to clocks and chandeliers. Stroll through this quaint village, and enjoy its festive displays. Autumn-themed garlands, statuaries, door wreaths, and accents of decorative pumpkins and gourds will add a festive touch to your home. The Country Village is open daily from Memorial Day through December 1 (call for hours of operation near the season’s end).

Explore!

The Bay City State Recreation Area (3582 State Park Dr, Bay City, 989-684-3020, www.michigan.gov/baycity) is the perfect place to appreciate autumn’s splendor. It is home to Tobico Marsh, one of the largest remaining freshwater coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes and an ideal staging area for migratory birds. Varied trails offer opportunities to see wildlife, wooded wetlands, forested beaches, and the open shoreline habitat, complete with trailside displays containing recorded messages to aid visitors as they explore. Native trees showcasing spectacular colors by early October include maple, oak, paper birch, hackberry, basswood, and black cherry. Shoreline spotting scopes and a boardwalk offer panoramic views of the bay, and two 40-foot observation towers offer a magnificent lookout over this wooded wetland decked out in autumn finery.

Pack a picnic.

Williams Cheese Company (998 N Huron Rd, just off I-75 on M-13, Linwood, 800-968-4492, www.williamscheese.com) started its cheese business using an old barn as a warehouse along Michigan’s Saginaw Bay. Today, Williams Cheese Company produces, ages, and packages more than 6 million pounds of cheese annually. Plan a picnic for dinner, complete with cheese spreads, dips, and sauces manufactured in Linwood. Celebrating its 70th year, Williams Cheese Company is the oldest family-held cheese company in Michigan. Traditional cheese varieties include Mild Cheddar or Extra Sharp Pinconning, and more adventurous flavors include Hot Jalapeño Pepper or Roasted Garlic. Williams Horseradish Cheese Spread, renowned throughout the Midwest, and the award-winning Smoked Swiss Cheese Spread are must-haves. Williams Cheese Company has all the supplies you’ll need to enjoy a tasty picnic on your shoreline tour.

Savor the sunset.

Travel north and enjoy your picnic at Tawas Point State Park (686 Tawas Beach Rd, East Tawas, 989-362-5041, www.michigan.gov/tawaspoint), and after, explore the Tawas Point Lighthouse (989-362-5658, www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse). Located within Tawas Point State Park, the Tawas Point Lighthouse is a Victorian-style station in operation since 1876. Tour the lighthouse, and work off dinner with an 85-step tower climb. Check out the museum’s displays, and walk the grounds to see historic structures, including an oil house and a fog signal area. Hike along the park’s trails and walk the beach. Tawas Point is also a birder’s paradise, particularly during the spring and fall migration seasons, so bring your binoculars and camera. End the day with a spectacular view of the sun setting over Tawas Bay.

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