For those who couldn't imagine a life without seasons, there is a special love affair with the vibrant foliage that accompanies late-September and early-October in this corner of the world. Michigan's Gold Coast was the first spot mentioned in Travel + Leisure magazine's list of America's Best Fall Color Drives. Just 20 miles from the tour that winds along scenic M-22, Crystal Mountain is rated by Fodor's Travel among the country's 15 Best Resorts for Fall Getaways. So here are as many ways for you to feel the love this autumn:
1. Point Betsie Lighthouse
Just nine miles north of Frankfort, this historic site is one of Benzie County's most breathtaking year-round but never more so than color season.
22 miles from Crystal Mountain
2. Pierce Stocking Drive
Good Morning America called it the Most Beautiful Place in America. We agree.
33 miles from Crystal Mountain
3. Empire Bluffs
A very manageable hike, but even if it weren't, the effort would be totally worth it for the view.
24 miles from Crystal Mountain
4. Pyramid Point
It's a 2.7-mile loop but Lookout Point is only .6 miles from the trailhead. Of course, with colored leaves all around, you might not even notice.
37 miles from Crystal Mountain
5. Narrows of Big and Little Glen Lakes
Take a few moments to pause between the two pristine bodies of water to appreciate their beauty and then wander into Glen Arbor for a drink at Art's Tavern.
28 miles from Crystal Mountain
The drive north to Leland is worth it alone, but the early-1900s fish shanties now housing quaint shops and eateries makes it even more so.
42 miles from Crystal Mountain
7. Chairlift Rides
Every Saturday in October, enjoy the ride up the Crystal Clipper high-speed quad, but get out your camera for the ride down; you'll want a photo for Facebook or Instagram.
Behind the Lodge
8. Michigan Legacy Art Park
The 48 sculptures take on new life with the change of every season. Fall is no exception along nearly two miles of hiking trails as well as the "Access for All" trail for those with limited mobility.
9. Stormcloud, St. Ambrose and Iron Fish
Nationally renowned craft beer from Stormcloud (18 miles away in Frankfort) and award-winning mead and wine from St. Ambrose Cellars (8 miles from Crystal) are great locales to toast the harvest season along with our new neighbors at Iron Fish Distillery (3 miles from Crystal).
10. Leelanau County Wine Country
Leelanau County sits on the same parallel as Burgandy, France, a region known for its wine. The wines themselves are matched only by the breathtaking landscape. We'd recommend paying a visit to our friends at Black Star Farms and Brengman Brothers.
46 miles from Crystal Mountain
11. Grand Traverse Commons
Hop out of the car for awhile to take a stroll among the historic buildings, explore the boutiques and galleries and sample cuisine, craft beer, wine and coffee.
30 miles from Crystal Mountain
12. Apple Cider & Pumpkin Donuts
While the region has a reputation for cherries, it's actually the third largest producer of apples in the nation. The cider is pretty outstanding and paired with a pumpkin donut, perfection!
13. Betsie Valley Trail
This bike trail extends from nearby Thompsonville to Frankfort, but the nine-mile ride from Beulah to the trail's end includes a nice stretch along Crystal Lake and the Betsie River.
14. Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Whichever direction you choose from the Dune Climb, whether the easier ride to Glen Arbor or the more challenging trip toward Empire, you won't be disappointed.
15. A River Runs Through It
If your time on the Betsie or Platte River has been relegated to the summer, give this color tour some serious thought.